Forgotten river valleys, pinky-gold cliffs, beautiful mediaeval villages
Varied hotels, full of character, special gastronomic menus; swimming pools everywhere
World-famous Stone Age art; unrivalled pre-historic treasures
Wonderful flora, fauna and wildlifebaby deer, red squirrels, buzzards and kites; vibrant orchids, poppies, garlic and wild mushrooms
At a glance...
8 nights, hotel-to-hotel
Departs Every two days from 11 May '14 to 24 Sep '14
Continental breakfast and all evening meals
Sustainability rating: 82%
Headwater wine service
Route notes and maps provided
Holidays with gastronomic meals.
Holidays with wine-tasting opportunities.
Varied routes for nature lovers and botanists.
Discover stunning historic sites en-route.
Lots of swimming opportunities.
Holidays to enhance your wellbeing.
Perfect for couples.
Beautiful lakes and rivers.
Dordogne Gastronomic Walk
The Perigord is an area that makes for stimulating exploration. From dramatic limestone cliffs to wild wooded valleys, the region is cross crossed by marked paths linking some of France's finest fortified chateaux and hilltop fortresses. At the end of each day, you'll experience a delicious Perigord feast washed down with fine Cahors or Bergerac wines. Try the gourmet fare of foie gras, truffles, confits d'oie and the walnut liqueur eau de noix. You stay at a grand country manor, a beautifully preserved chateau and a family-run hotel with great views. All hotels have private swimming pools.
The captivating Valley of Pre-History shows how homosapiens lived around 20,000 years ago, and Sarlat's mediaeval magic will hold you spellbound. The towering strongholds of Beynac, Castelnaud, Domme and Montfort, built during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) have breathtaking views and your route also takes you to little-known chateaux hidden deep in the woods. You're never far from the Dordogne and Vezere rivers, so you often get the chance to swim; fishing and canoeing are also alternative options.
Not quite what you're looking for - then why not take a look at some of our similar holidays?
Our 3-star hotel is a lovely country house, set in 3 acres of private pine woods, overlooking the Sarlat valley.
Day 2 - Sarlat to Saint Vincent de Cosse 19km/12mi/5hr
Sarlat has the highest concentration of mediaeval, Renaissance and C17 facades of any town in France and its richly ornamented stone buildings are protected by law. You feel like a time-traveller as you wander the narrow streets peeping through archways into ancient courtyards. When it's time to leave, it's down through shaded woods and pretty villages before reaching Beynac with its narrow terraces and castle perched on top of a dramatic limestone crag. From here it's just a short walk to Chateau Monrecours, your stunning resting place for the next two nights.
Day 3 - At Saint Vincent de Cosse
If you didn't have time to enjoy Beynac you may wish to return to take the steep footpath lined with C15-C17 stone houses and enjoy a breathtaking panorama taking in the serpentine sweep of the river and the spectacular C13 hilltop chateau. Visit the beautiful Jardins de Marqueyssac or go swimming, fishing, canoeing or take a trip in a flat-bottomed boat.
Day 4 - Saint Vincent de Cosse to Les Eyzies 20km/12mi/5hr
From Chateau Monrecours you start off following the course of the Dordogne River along riverside paths, meandering through fields of maize, then climb up into the lively town of St Cyprien and via well marked paths through shaded woodland to your hotel set in lovely private gardens just outside Les Eyzies.
Day 5 - At Les Eyzies
Les Eyzies - an archaeologist's paradise - lies at the base of steep limestone cliffs crowned with evergreen oaks and junipers. The rock is riddled with caves and shelters inhabited by Stone Age man tens of thousands of years ago and the town is world-famous as the 'capital of prehistory'. The Grotte de Font de Gaume contains multi-coloured paintings of animals and a remarkable frieze of bison.
Day 6 - Les Eyzies to Tamnies 24km/15mi/6hr
Leave Les Eyzies taking the GR6 path through sleepy hamlets and shady wooded valleys. First stop is the Roc de Cazelle - a troglodyte cave complex excavated in the cliffs and inhabited from prehistoric to mediaeval times (and even, allegedly, as recently as 1966!). Then it's on through woodland to the hilltop village of Tamnies for a refreshing dip in the pool.
Day 7 - At Tamnies
The pretty flower-filled village of Tamnies looks down on the Vallee de la Beune. There is an interesting C12 church housing an amazing multi-coloured wooden crucifix. Not far from here is the C16 Chateau de Puy Martin, perched on a hill and renowned for its lush furnishings and tapestries. We provide full walking notes for a local circular walk; alternatively there's a sandy lake beach just 5 mins walk away where you can swim if you fancy a change from the hotel pool.
Day 8 - Tamnies to Sarlat 15km/9mi/4hr or 19km/12mi/5hr
Your walk from Tamnies back to Sarlat takes you through woodland and up through the hills - great views of the surrounding valleys - via Marquay and on through the sleepy village of Campagnac with its evocative chateau. Then you're on the outskirts of Sarlat, ready to savour its mediaeval delights again.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
Hotel de Meysset, Sarlat (3 star)
This 3* traditional Périgord hotel, set in 3 acres of pine woods and gardens, enjoys an elevated position just 3kms above Sarlat. It offers complete tranquillity, wonderful food and fantastic views from its terrace over the surrounding valley. All 26 rooms have en-suite facilities with bath/shower, hairdryer, TV and direct telephone.
The cooking here is based on the wonderfully rich and gastronomic cuisine for which this region is famous. Expect to be offered house specialities such as magret de canard, foie gras, pommes de terre sarladaises - slices of potato sauteed in goose fat, with garlic, parsley and wild mushrooms: don't come here if you're counting the calories!
Château de Monrecour, Saint Vincent de Cosse (3 star)
The Château de Monrecour is located in Saint Vincent de Cosse, just a few kilometres from stunning Beynac.
The guest rooms are all traditionally decorated and are equipped with a private bathroom, free WI-Fi access and a TV.
The hotel also has a swimming pool and a large south-facing terrace where you can enjoy a drink after your walk.
Breakfast is served in the château's ballroom, which is decorated with tapestries and features a large stone fireplace. During nice weather, guest can enjoy breakfast on the terrace, which has a view of the 15th-century Chateau des Milandes.
The evening meals are served in the hotel restaurant and are a real treat: be prepared to sample local dishes all prepared with fresh products.
This hotel is a real gem, run by the family Lombard, who have over the past 10 years carefully restored the building to its former grandeur. The hotel has a cosy bar, a modern bistrot and a light airy dining room which looks out onto the well kept gardens surrounding the swimming pool.
All rooms have views of the courtyard and are en-suite with a bath, hairdryer and television. Upgrades to larger rooms overlooking the gardens are available on request.
We are delighted to have found this friendly family run hotel in the heart of the Périgord Noir. The hotel's rooms are split over 2 buildings: the old original building and the modern annexe. All rooms in both buildings are ensuite.
The hotel's restaurant is situated in the main building, and here you are treated to the very best the Périgord region has to offer.
The Hotel Laborderie boasts an outdoor swimming pool, set within its own gardens, with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. A great place to relax on your free day!
If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.
Hotel Le Senat , Paris (4 star)
The 4* Le Senat is simply stunning! There are just 41 rooms, all stylishly furnished and a couple of suites with terraces, if you really fancy splashing out! All have satellite television, mini bar, air-conditioning, safe and hairdryer, plus Internet access.
The hotel has its own small bar - adorned with photographs of eminent artists, being in the heart of the artists' quarter - plus a reading room with complimentary internet access.
Breakfast is taken in the basement, where you'll find a copious buffet of viennoiseries, cereals, fruit salad, ham, cheese, bread, yoghurt, bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit juices, tea or coffee. If you prefer, you can have a continental breakfast served to your room at no extra charge.
Le Senat is perfectly located on a quiet side street just a stone's throw away from the Luxembourg Gardens and metro, and a 5 minute walk from the vibrant Latin quarter, where you'll find a plethora of restaurants to suit all budgets.
The Hôtel Père Léon is ideally situated just a short walk from the historic centre of Toulouse, with the main sights just a short walk away. Just 50 metres from the metro there is easy access to the rest of the city. The hotel is in Place Esquirol, a bustling, lively square and in close proximity to many bars and restaurants.
The hotel itself has a modern contemporary feel, which has been recently renovated. The ensuite rooms have soundproof windows and all mod cons. Breakfast is a buffet affair with a good choice of French staples, and a hot section.
The hotel has its own bistro restaurant with seats outside where you can enjoy a drink or dinner.
Transfers included from Souillac train station at 16:58 Mon-Thurs & Sat, 18:04 Fri, 16:31 Sun and back to Souillac train station at 12:45 Mon-Fri, 12:30 Sun, and back to Brive at 10:45 Sat. Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their 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 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.
Reviewed 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!
Reviewed by Mr Hall on 26/05/2014
Wonderful countryside for walking and great walks - with a spectacular meal at the end of every day.
Reviewed by Mrs Norris on 24/05/2014
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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed 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.
Reviewed by Mrs Owens on 29/09/2012
A thoroughly enjoyable 8 days. Lovely walks, interesting places to stay and a warm welcome everywhere.
Reviewed by Mr Keenlyside on 16/06/2012
Fantastic - can't wait to do it again!
Reviewed by Mr Propert on 06/10/2011
Enjoyable! Weather was good - which helped.
Reviewed by Mrs McGruer on 06/10/2011
Very enjoyable holiday. Beautiful area, lovely route. This is the first time we have had a walking holiday and we will do it again.
Self-guided walking, hotel-to-hotel. Managed locally by Headwater employed rep.
Every two days from 11 May '14 to 24 Sep '14, for 9 days (8 nights). This holiday departs every 2 days, however non-standard arrivals and altered itineraries may be possible - please call for prices.
If extra nights are required during the holiday, it is recommended to have 2 nights at a time. This will ensure Headwater's reps can transfer luggage.