Classic France in the beautiful Dordogne valleyBack to Routes
Beautiful Beaulieu on the serene Dordogne
Rocamadour, clinging to the limestone cliffs
A sleepy afternoon in Autoire
A pretty country track
Mist in the valley
Loubressac, one of the 'plus beaux villages'
The imposing fortress of Castelnau-Bretenoux
The Dordogne at Meyronne
Cliff-top chateau at Belcastel
Thursday 22nd November | Posted by Simon Scuttview article
Route new for 2019
Travellers' reviews will appear here.
At a glance
Dordogne 7-night version (the full walk). Add extra nights in Beaulieu, Carennac, Meyronne, or Rocamadour.
How much walking?
Full days: 12-22½km per day, 3-5½ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 8-14km per day, 1½-3½ hrs walking
Hills and valleys, vineyards, bridges and chateaux
The River Dordogne, beloved of travellers for decades, courses its way from the Massif Central to the Atlantic at Bordeaux, and passes through some of the most beautiful countryside in France. Each section has its own character, but the stretch we have chosen reflects that variety, giving the walker a taste of the Middle Dordogne landscape in all its forms.
From the start at Beaulieu, where the wide river flows gently through the water meadows outside the old town, our route climbs into the hills above, with fine views and bucolic countryside on each of the first four walking days. You’ll then head over the limestone causse to the historic and dramatic pilgrimage centre of Rocamadour. The final day, should you choose to do it, takes you along the steep-sided valley of the river Ouysse, a tributary of the Dordogne, to Belcastel and the possibility of a late lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Stay in traditional inns and small hotels, many of them riverside, including a former château. And being France, the food is exceptional, with a lot of local specialities. The wines from the area are gaining a reputation too, and are worth exploring!
The walking is graded medium, but with built-in shortening options for those who would like to walk the route at a more leisurely pace.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Debbie
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to France, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
- The limpid waters of the Dordogne middle reaches
- Castelnau castle
- The Autoire waterfall and clifftop walk
- Medieval fortified villages
- Walking across the Causse
- The sanctuary of Rocamadour
- The valley of the Ouysse
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Villages and farms, Food, History
Extra nights in Beaulieu, Carennac, Meyronne and Rocamadour.
Eating and drinking
While the general standard of meals throughout the route is good, special mention should be made of the dinners provided by our hosts at Carennac (Petite Auberge) and Meyronne (La Terrasse) and, if your itinerary includes it (6- and 7-night routes only), the possibility of lunch at a starred Michelin restaurant in Belcastel.
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 8-14km per day, 1½-3½ hrs walking
The first day is not waymarked but the remainder is for the most part. The paths are generally in good condition.
Medium: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 500m (220m-745m) per day.
Easy-Medium: CUSs 350m (150m-425 m) per day using taxi shortening options (pay locally) most days.
GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
The best months to walk: April, May, June, September, October
Other possible months: early July, August (very end)
(In 2019, the route’s first year, we will be offering this route from May, but thereafter from April.)
Enjoy the Dordogne in April, May and June for the spring flowers and in September and October for the golden autumn warmth. Route not available between mid-July and late August. Please note that stays in Port de Gagnac are not possible on a Sunday night.
Temperature and rainfall in Rocamadour
Day 1 - Arrival day
Arrive and settle into your accommodation. Wander around the town to check out a restaurant for the evening, and perhaps enjoy an aperitif ...
Day 2 - Beaulieu to Port de Gagnac
This first, relatively easy day takes you across the river to the hills above Beaulieu, then across pretty countryside and through remote hamlets before descending to the River Cère at Port de Gagnac for your second overnight stop. (Easy medium – 3hrs, 12km, CUSs 400m)
Alternative: None – except to ride with the luggage.
Day 3 - Port de Gagnac to Autoire (or Loubressac)
A delightful day visiting the village of Glanes, walking through the vineyards of the Coteaux de Glanes and up to the majestic castle of Castelnau (we recommend delaying your start if you want to catch the opening times – see below), before winding along the Autoire valley to its eponymous historic village and your next accommodation in a traditional inn. (Easy-medium: 4¼ hrs, 18km, CUSs 430m) (If our accommodation in Autoire is fully booked, we will book our simple hotel in Loubressac, which adds another 1.5 hrs to your day … but of course that makes the next day’s walk 1.5 hours shorter!)
Alternative: Ride with the luggage to Castelnau (saving 2¾ hrs) – €15 supplement payable direct to driver.
Day 4 - Autoire (or Loubressac) to Carennac
Today’s scenic walk takes you to a dramatic waterfall, then out of the Autoire valley and up to a fine clifftop walk before descending to the pretty and historic village of Loubressac, which demands a ramble around the old part before continuing on (perhaps after a coffee at the Lou Cantou restaurant). The second part takes you through pretty countryside with views out over the Dordogne valley, to the lovely village of Gintrac, before a final ascent and then descent to Romanesque Carennac. (Medium-hard: 4½ hrs, 16¼ km, CUSs 745m)
Alternatives: Either travel with the luggage as far as Loubressac (supplement of €15) (thereby missing the cascade, but also a steep climb up!) or all the way to Carennac.
Day 5 - Carennac to Meyronne
A long (if done in full), beautifully varied day starting and ending with two very different aspects of the Dordogne, and leading through woods and wide-open countryside, over some limestone plateau and into small villages. There’s a lot of ground to cover, but there’s also a lot of opportunity for striding out over easy paths and tracks. (Medium-hard: 5½hrs, 22½km, CUSs 735m)
Alternatives: Lift with the luggage to Floirac (saving 2¼ hrs) or even Montvalent (saving 4 hrs). Supplement of €15 payable to the driver.
Day 6 - Meyronne to Rocamadour
An easier day largely through remote farmland on the Causse, belying the busyness of your destination – the tourist hub that is Rocamadour. The village’s dramatic setting grew up around a shrine to a black Madonna, and is now one of France’s “Grand Sites”, visited by pilgrims and travellers alike. (Easy-medium: 3¼hrs, 13¾km, CUSs 425m)
Alternatives: none except to travel with the luggage all the way.
Day 7 - Circuit from Rocamadour to Belcastel
Today you have a choice: a walk to Belcastel – an easy valley route, or an upper route of ups and downs, some steep, but nothing too long, with wide views at the top before a descent on quiet asphalt to the still-working Moulin de Cagnaguet, where it meets the valley route to wind alongside the river to Belcastel (for a late lunch – not Monday or Tuesday – at the Michelin-starred Hotel Pont de l’Ouysse perhaps). Return via the valley route, or take a taxi back for a second night in Rocamadour. The other option is obviously to spend the day exploring the extraordinary site of Rocamadour! (Valley: Easy– 3hrs, 13¼kms, CUSs 220m; Upper: Easy-medium– 3½hrs, 14km, CUSs 420m)
Departure from Rocamadour
Leave for home – or have another night to explore the village.
ARRIVING BY AIR
Three airports serve the route – Brive is the nearest, but quite seasonal; Bergerac, a little further, is also quite seasonal, and will need a taxi transfer all the way; Toulouse is the furthest, but may have the best choice of flights. Alternatively fly into one of the Paris airports and take the train almost all the way to Beaulieu.
Land by (for public transport options): Brive 12:00; Toulouse 15:00; Bergerac no limit – taxi needed all the way.
Return flight earliest (for public transport options): Brive 10:30; Toulouse 12:00; Bergerac no limit – taxi needed all the way.
No limit if opting to take a taxi all the way.
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway station:
Start: Bretenoux-Biars (nearest, but limited number of trains), Brive or St Denis Près Martel
Finish: Souillac or Rocamadour
Typical rail journey from Paris Gare d’Austerlitz to Bretenoux Biars:
4½ hour journey to Brive; local train Brive to Bretenoux Biars (c.1hr) – generally only 3 a day at 14:02, 19:36 and 22:16; pre-booked taxi on to Beaulieu.
Return from Souillac: local train to Brive (c.30 mins), then direct to Paris.
Return from Rocamadour: local train to Brive (c.40mins), then direct to Paris
See www.seat61.com for inspiration.
Getting to the start of the walk
The first hotel is in Beaulieu, and the last in Rocamadour, or Meyronne for shorter versions. Transfer times and methods are suggested for the three nearest airports below. For train arrival transfers see below.
Outward: taxi then SNCF bus then taxi: allow 3 hours from landing at Brive airport, not including long waits between SNCF buses.
Return: taxi (included) to Souillac (15 mins), train to Brive (30 mins), taxi to airport – allow 1-1½ hours.
Needs taxi all the way in both directions
TOULOUSE BLAGNAC AIRPORT
Outward: bus/tram to city then train or bus/train to St Denis près Martel, pre booked taxi from there to Beaulieu.
Return: taxi to Rocamadour station or Souillac; train to Toulouse; bus/tram to airport – allow 3 hours.
Transfers from train stations:
Outward: Pre-booked taxi from agreed arrival point (supplement)
Return: Taxi to Souillac station or local taxi (book locally – 15 min ride) to Rocamadour station
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information. For Pre-bookable taxi prices see “Prices”.
Where You'll Stay
The Dordogne is a popular holiday destination, and as such, there is a good variety of hotels and B&Bs – some very simple, such as those at Port de Gagnac and Autoire/Loubressac, others more sophisticated, such as that in Meyronne. Do consider an upgrade in Beaulieu or Rocamadour, or perhaps upgrade to a tower room or suite in Meyronne.
All accommodations have ensuite bathrooms and WiFi. Only Le Turenne (upgrade) in Beaulieu, La Terrasse in Meyronne, and the Beau Site (upgrade) in Rocamadour have aircon.
Small riverside hotel with comfortable rooms and terrace restaurant.
Charming family-run hotel on the riverside. Restaurant boasting local specialities.
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne – Hôtel Les Flots Bleus (B&B)
Small riverside hotel with comfortable rooms and terraced restaurant.Website
Port de Gagnac – Auberge du Vieux Port (dinner, B&B)
Charming family-run hotel on the riverside. Restaurant boasting local specialities. (Hotel closed Sunday nights.)Website
Autoire – Auberge de la Fontaine (B&B)
Renovated 18th century village house in a historic village.Website
Rocamadour – Le Terminus des Pélerins (B&B)
In the heart of the medieval town, overlooking the Alzou valley. Popular local hotel and restaurant, with cosy rooms.Website
Rocamadour – Hôtel Beau Site (B&B)
19th century house tucked below the cliff, with a panoramic view.Website
Total 7 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 3 picnics and 3 evening meals, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement: From £225
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement: From £155
Larger Party Saving: Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £30 per person.
Maximum Party Size: 10
Extra nights possible throughout the route: Contact On Foot for ideas and prices
Pre-booked taxi at start: from £42 Bretenoux/Biars train station to Beaulieu; from £93 Brive airport/train station to Beaulieu; from £288 Bergerac airport to Beaulieu, all 1-7 persons.
For those finishing in Meyronne, a taxi to Souillac station at the end is included in the cost of your booking; a pre-booked taxi to continue further will be: from £26 Meyronne to Brive airport/train station; from £200 Meyronne to Bergerac airport.
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK and Ireland: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Arrange locally: Local taxi as required
Route designed by:
This particular part of France has been part of Emily’s life since she was a little girl holidaying here with her parents. It was one of the first places she visited after meeting Jeremy and as keen outdoors enthusiasts, they spent many subsequent holidays discovering the area on foot and by bicycle. In 2005 they decided to move here with their young family in order to build a house, and now live in the hills above Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne where they run a small business managing holiday houses.