Walking Holiday in the Dordogne Region of France
Our walking holiday of the Dordogne Region was at first based in Rocamadour. On arrival you get quite a surprise for this town of Rocamadour is built on the side of a mountain. This is a religious center as well with a massive church which has plenty of visitors of its own, particularly in early September each year.
Even our hotel was interesting as the guest rooms were built against the mountain face and across the narrow main street (really a narrow lane) was the restaurant overlooking the valley. There are plenty of moderate level long distance hiking trails which cross this valley. If you do go be sure to take a side trip to nearby Gouffre de Padirac, these underground caves including a boat ride are well worth the price of admission.
The best feature of this walk is the vast valley which the trail crosses and we started our first walk by hiking across and up the other side along a section of the well signed long distance trail. The trail was mostly through forested terrain or the edge of farms. On our return we could see hot air balloons lifting off from the valley floor for what I am sure is an amazing view.
We made another stop in Beynec and our first walk was quite easy as it was a walk along the Dordogne River. We were passed by canoeists (an activity which we did with rentals ourselves the following day) and with the path fringed by vast vineyards and the the castles at Beynec and Castelnaud, dating from the 100 Years War in the hills above us. Be sure to leave the trail at Castelnaud, grab a coffee at the cafe and follow the road to this castle. Built by the English the exhibits of vaulting machines, the birds of prey show and medieval artefacts plus the great views make it worthwhile. The french castle at Beynec is only about 5 km along the trail with another uphill climb and is very different. This style is very different than my visits to the Canadian wilderness.
The next town we visited was Figeac where we met plenty of hikers in our hotel which catered mostly to walkers and cyclists. Coming out of town you have a major ascent up a hill no matter which direction you head. We headed to the east which presented a nice climb with excellent views of the Lot River below.
I know the Dordogne River region is not top of mind for a walking holiday in France but many groups visit this area. There are plenty of other popular regions in France including the Alps and Provence for this type of hiking vacation.