Customer reviews: Holidays in The Dordogne
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop and, where necessary, improve our services and ensure our all holidays continue to be the best they can be.
Eveyone who travels with Headwater will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their all holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their all holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
By Mrs Caruthers on 14/09/2016
If you like being outdoors and lots of exercise, this is a perfect balance to stay active and work up an appetite to indulge in the gastronomy and wine. Compared to the South East of England the lack of traffic and potholes is wonderful!
By Mrs Tod on 14/09/2016
Meysset's food was good but not Gourmand-Tuna kebabs? Monrecour was lovely but we were in annex and didn't eat there as a wedding had taken it over! We couldn't eat in the Chateau due to a wedding.The restaurant ( Petite Tonnelle) in Beynac was excellent instead. the owner of Chateau took us there! Glycines was over the top,to us, food wise, and they tried to suggest very expensive wines! Laborderie was the best for us, good food, nice staff/owner!
We had difficulty understanding the last day's route after Lac Rouge and there was an annoying delay at Meysset waiting for our bags due to a communication missunderstanding somewhere between hotel and taxi driver. We waited 90 mins plus for them when they were in fact there! We were not staying there that night so we were late arriving at our next hotel.Elisabeth is aware.
By Mr Stocks on 07/09/2016
Headwater provide gently active (this interpretation depends on one's level of fitness and expectation!) holidays in comfortable, interesting hotels and places. The restaurants vary, some are better than others, but in general they reach a very satisfactory standard. I think they are a great way to spend time exploring an area but with always the fall back of a pleasant hotel.
By Mrs Singleton on 23/08/2016
Elizabeth was friendly, efficient and helpful tour rep. The food and accommodation were generally superb, especially at Hostellerie Fenelon, where the staff made special efforts with our 9 year old. We particuarly liked reading about the experiences of others in the Headwater Blue Book, which gave us useful clues for what to do on the 'non-canoeing' days. It also helped us plan for the weather which was variable, ranging from very hot to thunderstorms. We would highly recommend canoeing and cycling the Dordogne which is a welcoming and very attractive area of France. Our children really enjoyed themselves. We are glad that we didn't try it with children any younger because after four canoeing days, our youngest (9) was tired! The pools at each hotels were a particular hit. QuercyLand, the children's water park at Souillac, proved something of a lifesaver when we realised that we weren't going to be able to cycle because of illness.
By Mrs Saxby on 23/08/2016
As a family of six, headwater is a great holiday choice for us. We enjoy spending the time together and the activities give us a shared focus and shared sense of achievement. The children age between 16 and eight, and they all enjoyed the holiday. It challenged their palates as well as their legs, as most of the hotels don't offer kids menus, but this worked out fine and they all discovered things they didn't know they might like. Canoeing was harder work than expected, but such a beautiful way to see the river. I really love headwater holidays, this is our third time and it definitely won't be our last. Now that all the children are confidently able to cycle we will try some more ambitious ones next time.
By Dr Monte on 19/08/2016
We had a wonderful mixed activity holiday cycling and canoeing down the Dordogne knowing we had excellent food and drink to look forward to after a hard days work. Pure bliss !!
By Mrs Davidson on 17/08/2016
An ideal combination of mild peril, moderate exercise and gluttony, in lovely and interesting surroundings.
By Mrs Moss on 17/08/2016
We have just returned from an excellent 10 days in France, having never been to this area before, we now are keen to return! The walking and cycling was definitely 2 boot, but worth the climbs. And we really enjoyed the relaxed canoeing down The Dordogne. All hotels were excellent with fabulous food. Sarlet is very pretty and well worth the extra night, although it is a long climb up back to the hotel from the town.
By Mrs Clark on 16/08/2016
The booking process was simple and supportive. The holiday exceeded expectation; not something I have said before. The accommodation was superb, food wonderful, welcome huge and help available when required.
By Mrs Lithgow on 25/07/2016
This was an ideal holiday for our family with three teenagers. The canoeing wasn't too demanding but was fun, and the 'rest' days could be as active as we liked. The Dordogne is a wonderful part of France, fantastically beautiful, and with superb cuisine. All the hotels provided fantastic meals and really good, friendly service. The kids had a triple room in three of the five hotels and these were well-sized, proper triple or family rooms so they had plenty of space.
I would normally put our family holiday together myself but it was wonderful being able to leave all the organisation up to someone else, knowing that all the pieces would fit together. They did our flights (from Scotland) - with dates that didn't match the canoeing holiday - and also car hire for those extra days at a very reasonable rate.
Just be aware that you will have extra costs when you are there. You will, of course, have to pay for drinks with your (half board) evening meal, and these prices varied quite a bit between the hotels, and the picnic lunches provided by the hotels varied between 7 and 10 Euros per person. We could add tips to our card payments at all but one of the hotels.
By Mr Cleugh on 15/07/2016
This was our first trip with Headwater (recommended by our New Zealand travel agent) and we are very pleased with our choice and will definitely look at another cycling trip in the future- most likely in France. We were particularly impressed with by the friendliness of all the hotel staff we encountered - and their helpfulness!!
By Mrs Triger on 15/07/2016
We had two varied weeks in France, interspersed with the 8 day walking holiday. I think we have come to the conclusion that staying based in one hotel (i.e. Kandersteg) is probably better for us than walking from hotel to hotel. We missed having a car on our 'rest' days in order to explore the surroundings. We also found 23kms rather too much for us! We got lost a couple of times following the instructions - better signposting in Switzerland! However, the food, wine and the beautiful countryside was much appreciated. Not often one walks only hearing birdsong and nothing else!
Thanks Headwater for all your arrangements.
By Mrs Colquhoun on 30/06/2016
This was not our best holiday with Headwater the weather in the Dordonge was just awful and we had to contend with a train strike none of which Headwater could have done anything about. We dried out on the last three days in Sete which was lovely. Electric bikes are wonderful
By Mr Richards on 16/06/2016
We went for a canoeing holiday. which didn't happen.Obviously, Headwater were completely blameless.We made the most of it, with excellent help from Elizabeth (our Rep), by walking. This area, especially at this time of year, wouldn't have been my choice for walking. For us,this was a very expensive walking holiday.
By Mr Hamilton-viall on 26/05/2016
We enjoyed it and had a lot of fun, but it could have been even better with a few tweaks. Some of the walking notes certainly need reviewing as we wanted to enjoy the walking, not stand scratching our heads wondering if we had the right path. An explanation of the GR markers would have been really useful as we had to find out what they meant by trial and error. Also there were markets or events on some days that it would have been nice to know and arrange our days off to coincide with.
As regards hotels the Monrecour was superb, the labourderie very good and the Meysset OK. Les Glycinees we found varied. The location was great, the room ok. The food at the hotel varied from some of the best ever eaten to some of the worst. Our picnic sandwich was inedible. Generally it did not have the same feel as the other hotels. Also tea or coffee making in all hotels would be appreciated.
By Mr Gower on 09/10/2015
An excellent way to see the countryside without the stress of organising all your own itinerary.
By Mrs Kirby-vine on 06/10/2015
Highly enjoyable overall. however either the price needs to be significantly reduced or the quality of two of the hotels needs to be significantly improved.
The rooms in the Hostellerie Fenelon were really shabby and the toilet got completely blocked. There was a really large dog in the room next door who kept us awake half the night!!
The rooms in the Hotel Le Quercy were good and clean, but there was absolutely no character to the place at all. The swimming pool and surrounding area was really poorly maintained and surrounded by what looked like derelict buildings with weed filled gardens: very poor.
The last criticism was the provision (or rather lack of provision) of meals for teenagers. I do not expect specially made menus for teenagers, but what I do expect is that if they chose to eat off the kids menu and do not have a starter then they should not be charged for a dessert if they chose to select it off the main menu. They have been charged a full adult price for the holiday so they should receive the equivalent of a full adult meal
By Mr Dransfield on 06/10/2015
Excellent, good location, helpful reps, fantastic hotels, good food, well maintained equipment with all necessary ancillaries. It all makes to an active but stress free holiday.
By Mrs Hamilton on 15/09/2015
Excellent holiday travelling through the Dordogne in a peaceful setting at your own pace and staying at well chosen establishments that provide some amazing standards of food quality relative to their star rating. The friendliness, helpfulness and availability of the reps Keith & Claire was excellent too.
By Mrs Woodard on 15/09/2015
I suggest you place the oldest persons in each group on ground floor hotel rooms. Hard for old guys to lug bags upstairs.
By Mr Norman on 14/09/2015
Wonderful holiday through a stunning and, at times, remote area of France with excellent food, drink and opportunity for activity. Very relaxing.
By Mr Valentine on 14/09/2015
Excellent routes, great hotels, fabulous countryside, lots to see and good food to fuel your journey!
By Mr Blunt on 14/09/2015
Lovely locations. There is so much choice of what to do on your spare days.
Although the walks are not too strenuous you do need to have enough food and water with you as there are few places on route where you can stock-up.
Do take your time following route instructions as markers are not always immediately obvious and can become difficult to see or disappear entirely.
By Mrs Carrington-bro on 14/09/2015
This was our second holiday with Headwater and again we had an excellent holiday. It was very well organised and the walking notes were easy to follow. The holiday certainly lived up to its name of being a gastrnomic walking tour - the food was delicious throughout and all four hotels were very friendly.
The walking was pleasant but suffered a litlte in comparison to our first hoiday with Headwater (Umbria) as the Dordogne is a busier area than Umbria.
Our top tip would be to visit Le font de Gaume when staying in Les Eyzies - there are a limited number of tickets issued each day and 52 of these go on sale each morning at 9.30am. The receptionist at the hotel suggested we shoud be there by 7.30am, as September isn't peak season and as she predicted we weren't the first, we joined the very orderly queque as nos 11 and 12; it was a magical experience seeing original paintings that are 14,000 years old.
We came home feeling very relaxed and ready to book another Headwater holiday.
By Mr Dale on 11/09/2015
Fantastic. The whole experience was wonderful. Travel was smooth - the 'local reps (Keith and Claire) were lovely, informed, committed and really, really nice couple. The itinerary was easy to follow and worked very well. Food superb and hotels great. thank you
By Mrs Powell on 08/09/2015
Would definately recommend this holiday to everybody! The whole package was brilliant.I was a bit nervous at first -never been in a canoe before but after a very short time i was thoroughly enjoying every minute! We loved everything about the whole trip - the region, the canoes,the hotels, the bikes - the reps were brilliant -really helpful and knowledgeable. We,ve had some great holidays over the years and this one certainly ranks as one of our best ones! I took a lot of photos along the way and friends and family were very complimentery about them - seeing what we had been up to!!
By Mrs Peters on 07/09/2015
Fabulous family holiday. We were very impressed by the high standard of equipment provided and managed by our two reps Keith and Clare - the kit was immaculate and in excellent condition (especially the bikes, panniers, locks etc). The canoeing was so peaceful with beautiful scenery and wildlife all the way (numerous kingfishers, herons, cormorants, little egrets etc) - the faster water was fun, the daily distances were very achievable. On our 'rest' days we were fairly active and put in many miles (steep hills and off-roading) on our bikes (we bought detailed maps online before we went) however, it would have been very easy to have complete rest and relaxation by the lovely hotel pools. Basically you can be as active or inactive as you feel - would suit nearly all abilities. Fabulous food and wine (although the wine in the hotels was quite pricey). Would highly recommend to anyone.
By Mrs Raynor on 07/09/2015
Excellent holiday. Good hotels, food & service. Wonderful countryside. Cycling challenging at times. We cycle regularly in the UK. One party member cycles four times a week with a club. Our feeling is that the cycling rating was 'moderate' by the club member's judgement but somewhat more than moderate for the rest of the party. We all struggled on some of the hills. Whilst all being of reasonable fitness the extra weight of the cycles compared with our road bikes and the higher temperatures made it extra challenging. Perhaps this should be emphasised in your holiday description.
By Mrs Parker on 01/09/2015
We as a family have canoed and kayaked in the past. I would have thought it would be quite tricky on the first day if you have never done it at all. I would suggest an hour demonstration for novices to get them try it out.
By Mr Sears on 17/08/2015
Wonderful food amazing canoeing in a brilliant location
By Mr Crockford on 17/08/2015
A brilliant and well thought out holiday, with super routes and excellent hotels - well worth adding extra days to.
By Mr Cumberlidge on 14/08/2015
Extremely enjoyable, well organised and busy with an excellent mix of quiet countryside cycling and fascinating places to see and visit.
By Mr Wilson on 11/08/2015
An excellent family activity holiday with a lovely range of hotels and universally excellent food. Chateau de Monrecour was a particular highlight. Look at the cycling routes carefully and plan the day especially with regard to food stops and water refills.
By Mrs Middleton on 11/08/2015
The holiday offered varied activities which were not too strenuous, although you needed some degree of fitness to enjoy them. The support offered by the local reps was excellent as was the food at the various hotels.
By Mr Robertson on 04/08/2015
Excellent Holiday with easy walking and kayaking
By Dr McGeorge on 31/07/2015
A wonderfully relaxing holiday featuring the opportunity to mix a range of outdoor activities in a beautiful part of France with the chance to explore its towns, villages, sights and cuisine.
By Mr Newman on 27/07/2015
All the accommodation was good, but the Hostellerie Fenelon, and the Hotel Quercy were outstanding in all respects - superb food and very friendly and welcoming.
Local reps Claire and Keith were also outstanding - available, informative, cheerful, nothing too much trouble, very well-informed - a pleasure to have them as reps
By Mr Powell on 27/07/2015
Well organised and did what it said on the can!
By Mrs Pattison on 21/07/2015
We were two couples of mixed ability cycling wise and most of us found the terrain challenging particularly with an average temperature of over 35 degrees! After a hot (41 degrees) and hilly last part of the first day we rang Keith, our rep, to enquire about ebikes!! Headwater very kindly sanctioned the supply of three ebikes from Day 3 and we are eternally grateful for this as it really made the rest of our holiday. I would urge non regular cyclists to consider this option particularly in high summer as there are some serious hills and the longer routes take in some beautiful places that would be a shame to miss. The sting was taken out of each day but with the pleasure of cycling still there - I am now a convert!
As for the holiday in general - overall we had a fantastic time - what a lovely region with beautiful villages. I would have no hesitation recommending it to anyone. The hotels were varied in location, comfort and cuisine but this made for greater interest and variety. There have been previous comments about Hotel Le Quercy which is fairly basic in comfort level - this was particularly noticeable when so hot with no fans or aircon, however for one night we did not feel too perturbed by it. This was also completely forgotten after having eaten at the allocated restaurant, La Vieille Auberge. We all felt the food and service in this establishment knocked spots off all the other places we stayed, wow!
Hotel Meysset was delightful as were the staff. It's only drawback was the distance to the lovely town of Sarlat, partly compensated by the view from the restaurant terrace. Shame we had to choose between a lovely cycling day trip and a leisurely walk around town! Too hot to do both with that hill!!
Les Glycines was our major disappointment - clearly a top restaurant with a snobbery and pretentiousness to match. The rooms were lovely and comfortable (with aircon - bliss!), there is a lovely garden and the town is on the doorstep to walk to which for us was a relief! The second night we enjoyed pre and post dinner drinks in town plus a pre dinner pizza (!) from lovely local restaurants with charming staff. Sadly we found the waiting staff and management aloof, uncaring and almost rude. The drinks are horribly expensive - top London prices - but when not matched by good service then you begrudge paying them. We paid â‚¬13 for a SMALL gin and tonic and the wine was also outrageous. The food was generally good and largely beautifully presented as you would expect - one menu was more nouveau than the other leaving us a little less than full! Some surprises we felt let it down but overall it was the service that let it down the most.
Finally, the charming Le Moulin de Mitou. Again another contrast. A bit isolated and quirky but none the less for it. Not sure how it got into the Relais de Silence as the road is quite busy but with aircon and double glazing this was not an issue for sleeping. Lovely food - more rustic French country cooking maybe but lovely flavours and well presented. We ate very well here!
We were all agreed at the end though that we could not wait to get back to La Vieille Auberge for one last meal and it lived up to our memories and expectations - an excellent way to end a wonderful holiday. Thank you Headwater. Claire (Sussex)
By Mrs Tomlin on 20/07/2015
Unfortunately we had a bad start to our holiday. On Sunday 28th June our train from Toulouse to Souillac was cancelled and we had a hot( 37 C) and weary ( left home at 4am for our flight) wait in Toulouse for 4 hours before finally arriving at Souillac. Rather than a relief the hotel room at the Hotel Le Quercy,was disappointing, small, hot and tired. We were revived by our evening meal, but we do not think this hotel gives a good impression at the start of the holiday it is certainly not the standard of hotel that we would expect from Headwater. The pool area and outlook is rather drab and while we appreciate that the temperatures were abnormally high for early July the rooms really need air conditioning or at least room fans in hot temperatures as it is uncomfortable to sleep. It is not of the same standard as the other hotels on the holiday. We were dreading returning to this hotel room at the end of the week, although staff were very pleasant and evening meals were good. Â The subsequent hotels were much improved and overall the cycling journeys were enjoyable. There is one section involving a gravel path which is almost impossible to cycle on, so an alternative route maybe a better option. The holiday did deliver on gastronomy , wonderful scenery and plenty of options for visits to places of interest. We realise we experienced a heatwave in the Dordogne as we were cycling in 42C on some days. Therefore the hill to Hotel de Meysset was particularly challenging and almost put us off for the rest of the week. Sometimes it felt like an endurance test but we were very grateful for the comfort of the middle hotels , delightful pools and air conditioning. The bikes were of good quality and the journey instructions were easy to follow. Our reps, Keith and Claire were on hand when needed, In all, the beginning and end accommodation was poor and spoils the whole experience.
By Mrs Bowring on 20/07/2015
As always with Headwater we had a fabulous holiday. However this year (and the reason two of the hotels scored poor on the comfort front) two of the hotels did not have air conditioning - I appreciate it was unusually warm but surely July in that region is usually hot. It made the rooms totally unpleasant and almost impossible to sleep. I would add though if Hotel Meysett had air con it would move to an excellent (all other areas were just lovely). The same however could not be said for the first and last hotels - these just did not match up to the overall standards of the rest of the holiday.
By Mr Strong on 02/07/2015
Beautiful region of France. Didn't see a soul whilst walking and the hotels were quiet which suited us! Representative was very friendly and helpful.
By Mr Heyes on 24/06/2015
Great time Well organised and well balanced with activities.
By Mrs Carroll on 15/06/2015
Fantastic holiday all round. Accommodation, food, service etc all excellent if a little bit variable. The cycle routes were well planned and took us through some lovely areas. Would definitely recommend an e-bike for anyone who is not a regular cyclist or accustomed to hill work. The food was very good all round if a little heavy on the gourmet- we will not want to see any more frois gras or duck for a long time! The one exception is the bistro at Hotel Pere Leon - best avoided and easily done with the plethora of good alternatives in Toulouse.
By Mr Burgess on 17/10/2014
This canoeing/ cycling holiday on the Dordogne rates as one of our best ever. In mid September, we had the river to ourselves, the weather fortunately was superb, the accommodation, locations and food were excellent and the logistics from Headwater and the support and advice from Keith our rep were outstanding. We plan to come again, especially in the quieter season.
By Mrs Dietz on 16/10/2014
We especially appreciated the well-chosen routes through beautiful countryside on little roads with little traffic. A highlight is the long downhills we enjoyed from ridges to river level.
By Mrs McQuillan on 24/09/2014
I am usually full of praise for your holidays but this one was not so enjoyable. I felt I needed much more help with the canoe, practising on the water first, and with the routes. Photographs of the stopping places would have been helpful as would a more accurate map with scale. I felt rather stressed at times not knowing what to expect and perhaps in retrospect, this was not the best holiday for me. The bike I tried had far too strong brakes, I came off at the hotel and was in pain all the holiday with a very bruised rib. I did not get on the bike again and paddling was painful. I would have so much have preferred to have had bike rides on our days off. We also had to walk in the heat with our equipment to the hotel in Soulliac, this was quite an ordeal. Without the other couple on the holiday, who were very helpful, I really would not have had the confidence to carry on with the canoeing. I have already paid a deposit for another holiday in February , if I hadn't done this, I think I might well have cancelled.
By Mis Bunbury on 21/09/2014
Generally an enjoyable holiday with well chosen hotels. However, the guidance notes were not always clear and in some cases out of date. We realise that conditions on the river fluctuate, but felt that Keith could have done more to update both himself and us on current conditions. As it was we spent time looking for landmarks which were no longer visible (e.g. pebble beach intended to warn us that we were approaching rough water halfway between Souillac and Sarlat). Rep must surely have been warned of the changes by other travellers and could have passed these warnings on to us. The laminated notes and maps would have been easier to handle if they had been bound into a folder in their logical order.
By Mrs Culligan on 05/08/2014
Thoroughly enjoyed our holiday the excellent hotels and food were welcome relief at the end of a challenging day's cycling. Beautiful countryside and villages to visit on route.
By Mr Kilby on 21/07/2014
A wonderful holiday, alternating canoeing with walking. The hotels were all in good positions and the meals were gourmet standard - a real treat. We were very well looked after - our bags always waiting for us at each destination. Thank you for a great experience.
By Mr Chaplin on 14/07/2014
This holiday was exactly what was described and expected. All accommodation, activities and equipment were excellent.The company reps were very friendly and helpful. It was a great experience which we will doubtlessly repeat in the next few years. Thanks.
By Mr Otiv on 14/07/2014
A very rewarding type of holiday. A very good way to get insight into a particular region.
By Mrs May on 11/07/2014
On this itinerary the length and gradient of the walks are not so suitable for the over 65s - we experienced them as three-boots rather than 2 on account of our age.
Your notes are very well written, congratulations. We never went wrong and rarely used the maps.
The menus on this gastronomic holiday were surprisingly limited - should have guessed they would be though. There was one evening when we could not face the foie gras and duck again so crept out for a cheap Italian despite having paid for the gastronomic bore. We cannot blame Headwater for this, please note.
Throughout the service was very good. The landscape and local attractions were outstanding. The routes were creatively chosen. Thanks!
By Mrs Mills on 22/06/2014
This was a fantastic hotel. The best hotel was in montignac, however the worst eating experience was in motignac at the terrace restaurant next to the building site of lascaux 4. In our opinion you should consider foregoing the 'gastronomic title' for one night and let your customers eat at one of the many riverside restaurants and save the taxi fare and let them upgrade their meal with the difference.
By Mrs Grover on 05/06/2014
This must have been 15th Headwater holiday for me and I have no complains about any of them. My late husband and I have used two other companies in the past (one in Germany and one in France) but always came back to Headwater. The formula is excellent (rest day between cycling or walking), the hotels are always good and very often really excellent. The reps are very helpful. You know someone else has done the background work researching for suitable roads to cycle and hotels to stay, yet it feels like an adventure as you have to find your way from one hotel to the other. I have recommended Headwater for several of my friends looking for active holidays and hope I will do many more myself in the future.
By Mr Hall on 27/05/2014
Wonderful countryside for walking and great walks - with a spectacular meal at the end of every day.
By Mrs Norris on 25/05/2014
Your questions are too black and white. Whilst we would use Headwater again we have serious reservations. Hotel rooms are almost always on the top floor. We pay you to carry our bags and carrying them down and sometimes up 3 flights is bad. Food was variable- certainly I would say we enjoyed the history and prehistory much more than the food. Before leaving your office staff wanted us to pay locally for a taxi at Sarlat to take us to the station. In fact Claire took us and it was very easy for her to do so. I do not understand why this should ever have been a problem. I felt that the 4 Canadians who perhaps booked before us were considered first in terms of transport arrangements. Inntravel never charges extra once an arrangement is made.
By Mrs Stewart on 21/10/2013
This was a really excellent holiday despite the cycling being a little harder than expected. The food throughout was outstanding. Keith and Claire were friendly and helpful giving excellent advice and support.
By Mrs Cornelissen on 08/10/2013
There should be more information on the routes available early in the process. We had a 23 km walk, which was fine for us but it was not clear that there were any walks of this length and it could cause problems for some guests.
By Mrs Love-fordham on 06/10/2013
The holiday was terrific. Lots of wonderful villages, castles, and caves. The biking routes were well planned and very enjoyable. This was our third Headwater Holiday and all of them have been phenomenal. The food was great too, The trip notes were excellent. The bikes were very good bikes. The holiday was not exactly leisurely. If one does just the trips on travel days, it still would not be leisurely due to many tough hills. If you do the optional trips on 'lay over days,' the accumulation can be quite exhausting. However, many of the really great things to see are on 'layover days' - so resting on these days is not really an option. Personally, we enjoyed the level, but agree with others that the level needs to be at least moderate. I would rate this trip as moderate to challenging. The good news is that even if you are not an active cyclist, you can always hop off your bike and push it to the top of the difficult hills - pushing is not as difficult as it might sound. And once you get to the top, it is worth the effort for long rides with great views on quiet roads. The sights Headwater recommends in the notes are perfect! The Headwater reps (Keith and Claire) were very helpful and went out of their way for us.
By Mr Ingram on 28/09/2013
The Dordogne is a very good area for a holiday, with plenty to see and do in all weathers. The Headwater walking holiday is a very good introduction to the many varied facets of the region - geography, towns and villages, food and places of interest. We enjoyed experiencing different styles of hotel - they all have their own individuality - and all looked after us extremely well. The walking notes were faultless and the maps some of the best I've encountered on the nine Headwater holidays I've taken. The rep was very informative and helpful and although we required only the routine service we were confident that if exceptional circumstances arose they would be dealt with professionally.
By Mr Stebbing on 27/09/2013
The Dordogne is a great area for walking with fantastic views and places to visit such as Chateau and cave/rock attractions. Mostly small hamlets along the route and limited facilities for refreshments so a picnic was essential. The walks were very strenuous in places with steep climbs and descents along stony paths. It was the toughest series of walks that we had undertaken (we live in Norfolk but have walked up Snowdon and other hills!) but we did it. Food at hotels in Beynac and Tamnies in particular was substantial and excellent but the walking helped burn off the calories. We flew from Norwich to Toulouse via Amsterdam and it was nice to be home within 40 mins of touching down in Norwich. Headwater helped us find a route to the Dordogne which didn't involve a long trip to and from London and didn't break the bank either.
By Ms Webster on 21/09/2013
Very good. We have always enjoyed our Headwater holidays.
By Mrs Wellings on 18/09/2013
The walking on this particular holiday was not very varied and was harder than we had anticipated a Leisurely/Moderate holiday to be. The long distances involved meant that there was not time to take in the suggested visits. It is confusing/misleading to have multiple walking gradings on the walk descriptions in the brochure, unless there are different options for each rating.
By Ms Tyler on 18/09/2013
Holiday generally let down by Beynac hotel. Standard of service to book holiday was poor. Notes were poor photocopies. When further ones were requested, the wrong notes were sent. Despite confirming we did not need a transfer, I was contacted to give transfer arrangements.
By Mr Flower on 17/09/2013
The right blend of activatity and relaxation in stunning scenery and beautiful locations.
By Mrs Duckworth on 11/09/2013
We thought this was an excellent holiday, and overall very good value. As last year, your office staff were at all times friendly, welcoming and helpful.
Accommodation: Hotel Le Quercy was disappointing. Spartan. Small rooms with irritatingly small double beds. On arrival, the bedrooms stank of stale cigarette smoke (thought smoking was illegal – but I suppose it is France). The rooms may have been clean, but the smell of cigarettes is off-putting. No air-conditioning. The restaurant down the road was OK-ish but we were seated in the secondary dining room which was noisy and crowded with a Danish Coach Tour. The staff promised that we would be in the real dining room thereafter, but we were not. The food was OK-ish too, but the ambience of the secondary dining room was too redolent of school to allow the meal to be enjoyable. We dreaded the return to Le Quercy.
The other three hotels were very good. The food at all three was of an excellent standard.
Bicycles: There were robust, safe and in excellent condition. The gears were well-indexed, and appropriate for the routes chosen.
The cycling itself was thoroughly enjoyable. The routes were well chosen. The scenery was stunning. We loved it.
The reps: Claire was incredibly helpful and friendly throughout. Keith was helpful in setting up the bikes for us, in particular in helping to fit a saddle that one of us brought. He was less helpful on return. We arrived back at Hotel Le Quercy earlier than expected, and went out for a walk. When we returned, Keith had, without asking, put our bikes away so there was no option to use them in the late afternoon had we wanted to. Also – infuriatingly – he had taken it upon himself to remove the saddlebags from the bikes, and had tipped our personal belongings into a large black rubbish bag. We didn’t like that. We wanted to chat and pass on information about the cycling (how good it was, how good the equipment was) but, as others have commented, he was not interested. He was not overtly unfriendly, but clearly did not want to engage, and soon disappeared. A shame.
The grading of the routes. This must be a nightmare for you. It is inevitable that, covering a reasonable distance, the routes cannot all be flat. There must be variation. Furthermore, a gentle slope to some is a nightmare to others. How can you give an objective assessment to meet all needs? Our group of six (age range 58 to 63) had a complete range of cycling ability from three keen regular cyclists (A,B,C) with high end road bikes at home, two occasional cyclists (D,E) and one person (F) who rarely cycles. Our most experienced cyclist, A, had done Lands End/John o’ Groats (LEJOG) a few weeks before the holiday. But, whatever our relative abilities, we all enjoyed the holiday. E and F had to push their bikes up a number of hills, and were slow. They were not bothered by this. A and B never pushed. C did once. The daily total mileage is not great and could easily have been done by lunchtime if necessary. Indeed, most of the routes could be walked in a day (albeit a long one), so there was plenty of time for cyclists of all abilities.
We have seen the comment on 2/8/2013 and, whilst we do not entirely agree with it, or the spirit of it, it is correct to say that the Dordogne holiday is not, within the ordinary sense of the word, ‘leisurely’. Whilst 120 miles in seven days is well within the reach of a ‘regular’ cyclist or even an ‘occasional’ cyclist, some of the ascents were disproportionately demanding. The ride up to Hotel Mysatt was challenging coming on the first day, but at least there was a clear warning about this both in the route notes and from Claire. Later on, the ride up to Domme was similarly challenging (Wow! Wasn’t it worth the pedalling though!) but, once again, we had been warned. In fact, there were challenges every day. The most demanding climb of all – steeper than the ride up to Hotel Mysatt - was the Day 5 ‘at Les Eyzies’ steep road up to Sireuil. Even our LEJOG cyclist nearly stalled on this one. But it was only 1K, and the three of our number who walked most of it did so in less than fifteen minutes. A pleasant walk, and worth it, because once up to the village, the scenery was beautiful. We suspect, however, that many might give up before getting to the top as there was no warning as to the length of the hill.
We conclude therefore that the ‘difficulty’ grading of your holidays needs attention. We did the Alsace wine trail holiday last year which was also classed as ‘leisurely’. Compared to the Dordogne, however, it was a free-wheel. The Dordogne should be upgraded to ‘moderate’. Furthermore, we would give a warning that all but the fittest cyclists can expect to be pushing their bikes for a few hundred yards on some days.
If we were to compare it to a French skiing holiday, which we often did, we would class this as a predominantly Red Route holiday, with some Blues and occasional Blacks. Alsace was a Blue Run holiday. But, whichever colour run you prefer, it is good to have the occasional challenge.
Overall, though, to repeat, an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable holiday, and all being well we will be back next year.
By Mrs Heller on 10/09/2013
1. Be prepared for one disappointing hotel amongst the other gems
2. If cycling, some training beforehand will enhance your holiday
By Mr Higgins on 09/09/2013
The Dordogne is a beautiful area for cycling, but be aware this is a hilly route. The benefit is that the cycling works off all the wonderful food you will be presented with at the hotels.
The hotels, with the exception of Le Quercy are first class,but the food is excellent at all.
By Mr Shannon on 31/08/2013
The canoeing days were excellent. However the days in between we less satisfactory. The bikes supplied were not of a high quality so hills were difficult, particularly for the weaker members and those who were experienced found them frustrating (front suspension is not helpful with hills). The other holidays we have been on with you have had excellent food and hotels with character and we were slightly disappointed by these ones - it may be because the choice was limited by having to be near the river. The food for meat eaters got very repetitive (foie gras and duck) and most people didn't know how to cater for vegetarians. You did warn us in advance about the vegetarian issue and we took the risk in the knowledge that it could be an issue. However, most hotels had not thought what to do at all, despite being told in advance and the standard response was an omelette. Also all but one hotel offered the same standard menu on both nights so meat eaters felt the choice was limited - the exception to this being Hotel Grangier.
By Mr Petch on 24/08/2013
The accommodation was excellent, it was great having meals already arranged so no need to go in search after a long walk. Walking was as described in the brochure and route notes very good with a couple of minor hiccups. Our rep Claire was 1st class and made some helpful suggestions which added to the enjoyment of the holiday. All in all we had a great holiday and would definitely recommend it.
By Ms Barton on 23/08/2013
We thoroughly enjoyed our walking holiday in the Dordogne. Accommodation and food were for the most part excellent. Walking notes were detailed and accurate. Our rep. was helpful and very informative.
By Ms Martin on 22/08/2013
The combination of activity (kayaking, cycling), and moving somewhere new without the problem of carrying heavy baggage, yet also having time to explore local towns and villages was perfect for us. Wish there were more kayaking options in southern france that you offered.
By Mrs Sautter on 02/08/2013
We climbed 11,000 feet and cycled over 120 miles in 35' C !!! That was not what we expected for a relaxing holiday aimed at occasional cyclists!! Luckily we were all regular cyclists with as much mental strength as physical! In your brochure you say it is leisurely with a few steep hills. The Hotel Mysatt is at the top of a hill which is fine for a one off and great view but every journey had hills that went on and on. We found it very difficult to get extra water as villages were very few and far between.
We will not be using Headwater again despite having had a good holiday as will not trust their descriptions. Honestly the cycling was so hard it made us laugh as it was such a joke! Keith kept his head very low. Didn't even bother to ask how it went when he came to collect the bikes. Guess he knew how hard it had been!!
By Mr Plant on 31/07/2013
Overall we had a great time but felt certain issues took the sheen off the experience which is a disappointment.
By Ms Dixon on 16/07/2013
Friendly Dordogne, repa and hoteliers alike. Helpful at all times. Good food if a little rich and large at times. Canoeing was excellent and good safety equipment and instructions. River is variable so guide lines only approximate. Very hot in July but trees provide shade as does starting out earlier than 10.00 a.m. On the four day canoeing( out of 8 days ) important on days 1 and 2 to wear a helmet. A hazard on each of those days and helmet was useful to one person ! Lovely hotel in Sarlat on first and last day with warm pool. Market exceptional in Sarlat. Trip out by air left us in Toulouse for over 3 houirs with luggage and heat of day waiting for train to Souillac. Very hard day travelling. Advise breaking it up or take euro star and train.
By Mrs O'Rourke on 08/07/2013
Disappointed with holiday overall given the cost. Hotels were not the standard we'd expected based on previous experience. Details in the holiday information were not up dated. It felt that this holiday, hotels and route were established a number of years ago and not revised to ensure they were of the best current standard. It often felt that we were given the poorer quality or less favoured room locations. Generally the food was a good standard. We would not recommend this holiday at price paid. Canoeing element was fine although not personally challenging for us. Obviously the river conditions and weather vary and are difficult to predict for individual customer expectations.
By Mr Haggis on 04/07/2013
Overall we enjoyed the holiday very much despite weather that was less than kind, especially for the time of year. The upside of going in June was that we had the river almost entirely to ourselves, and the faster-than-usual current made for some good entertainment and less strenuous paddling. We would certainly recommend it to people who - like us - have never canoed before. A couple of problems before we left: we were incorrectly invoiced (£500 was added for flights we weren't taking) and both our surnames were misspelt. Once we got there Keith did an excellent job, including sorting out rooms with a bath to soothe our aching bodies at each hotel. He also lent me his own waterproof bag for the week, and picked us up early as requested on the final day - he couldn't have been more helpful. As far as the hotels were concerned, the weak link is St Sozy (although it's worth going there just for Bernard, who is a hoot). I suppose you have limited options around there, but it's quite a walk from the river and it's a pain that it doesn't open till 1730. Also to be told that we are only allowed one croissant each for breakfast is not really acceptable. On the other hand Bernard sorted us out an excellent taxi driver who took us by various scenic routes to Rocamadour on our rest day. One general comment we would make - especially in view of the cost of the holiday - is that Headwater might consider putting its guests in slightly better rooms - we seemed often to be in the cheapest - and preferably ones with a bath. Overall, though, an excellent holiday, though we'd be grateful if another time you could sort out the weather...
By Mr Berry on 24/06/2013
Our holiday experience was let down by one very poor hotel (Hotel du Chateau at Beynac). The service was poor, the food less than average (nowhere near Gastronomic !), and resulted in one day of an upset stomach. The hotel swimming pool was an absolute disgrace, not at all fit for purpose. Service was hard to come by and there were aspects of the hotel room that were frankly dangerous and could have resulted in injury. In all conscience I could not recommend this holiday to anyone else while this hotel remains on your itinerary. We have had some 3 or 4 Headwater holidays and this has been the least successful by a wide margin due to this one hotel. I have answered
'No' to the last two questions because as things stand today that is how we feel. The other three hotels met expectations (why isn't Laborderie at Tamnies on your feedback form by the way ?) but the Beynac hotel, representing 25% of the holiday is a serious drawback. We gave our feedback to your reps at the end of the holiday along with another couple who were likewise very unhappy (The Sumners from Australia). I would like you to call us so that we can give your more detail on the problems we experienced.
By Mr Sharman on 01/10/2012
Excellent fun and loved the activity side of the holiday
By Mrs Owens on 29/09/2012
A thoroughly enjoyable 8 days. Lovely walks, interesting places to stay and a warm welcome everywhere.
By Mr Lenane on 10/09/2012
A really good adventure.
Wonderful reps who were obviously passionate about their jobs, and who always "walked the extra mile" when any request was made.
I expected the dinners to be ok/good, but in fact they were all exceptional, which cheered us up enormously when the weather let us down.
Thank you headwater.
By Mrs Hebden on 01/09/2012
We had an excellent holiday. The organisation in terms of transfers, provision of instructions and the moving of luggage from hotel to hotel was all exceptional, and the staff in all hotels were very helpful and friendly. The weather was perfect for the canoeing, and the fact that each hotel en route had a lovely pool waiting for us at the end of the day, was a great bonus. We will definitely be looking at booking with Headwater again.
By Mr Edwards on 29/08/2012
Very good trip. Main problem was weather too hot for me and several other members of the party so we didn't sleep too well - hardly Headwater's fault. Airconditionng would have been wonderful.
Agents were great.
By Mr Wilson on 07/08/2012
Well organised holiday with canoeing that was fine for beginners. The hotels are mixed - beds are not great in a couple, and the rooms can be small; our rep helped us change from the room we were given that was in a basement and smelled damp. We enjoyed most of the meals, and the welcome / service was generally very good in all the hotels. Highest praise for the local Headwater representatives who were extremely responsive and good at sorting things out. They even acted as taxi for me when my back gave up after two days in the canoe.
By Mr Davey on 07/08/2012
Really enjoyed the holiday. If possible would go later in the season when not so hot.
By Mr Allan on 23/07/2012
By Mr Hall on 07/07/2012
Except for a canoeing accident in the last hour of the last day of the holiday when my wife broke her wrist when we capsized, it was great and Keith and Clare looked after us very well.
By Ms Robson on 07/07/2012
Excellent as expected based on the last 11 . The route planning was excellent including the off day excursions. The detours from the main roads were lovely and well documented.
By Ms Howard on 16/06/2012
One of the most enjoyable holidays we've ever had.
By Mr Keenlyside on 16/06/2012
Fantastic - can't wait to do it again!