Dordogne Holiday Barns
At Dordogne Holiday Barns we offer the perfect base for your family friendly Dordogne accommodation. Our converted barns offer plenty of space inside as well as the large lawned gardens which allow children to let of steam until their heart’s content.
Family Group Accommodation In The Dordogne
Our two converted barns can also be rented together to offer the perfect option for a large family gathering mixing generations and extended family.
In addition to the nearby swimming lake, there are plenty of activities (see our dedicated page) such as canoe trips to keep the little people more than happy.
The Sarlat Tourisme website has lots more information on family activities in the Dordogne.
Climate and Countryside
Although the Dordogne really is splendid throughout the year, it’s most impressive in spring. The fruit trees are in bloom, the vineyards spring to life and the sun shines as the days lengthen.
Spring in the Dordogne is also impressive as the wildlife returns: one of the most impressive sights is the return of the cranes which happens in early March normally.
Spring Activities in the Dordogne
The traditional activities of the Dordogne can be best appreciated in spring. Walking and hiking on deserted trails in the April sunshine is a real pleasure, as is visiting any number of historical sites without the hoardes – battling your way through the crowds at Lascaux in summer can be quite trying!
There are also plenty of local events linked to Easter and other festive periods. The Ringueta games of Sarlat are a celebration of traditional games, language (la langue d’oc) and culture. Tourists are encouraged to take part in the event which happens on Whitsun Sunday.
By far the best times to visit in terms of beating the crowds are spring and autumn. The summer months can be hectic, especially in the very popular tourist destinations such as Sarlat and Rocamadour. Springtime in the Dordogne offers guests the chance to take their time and really appreciate the medieval playground that’s on our doorstep.
Prices and Availability
Yep, prices go up in summer. Whether it’s flights, accommodation, car hire or just your everyday items, it’s a fact of life that things get more expensive when there’s higher demand. That’s why visiting the Dordogne in spring is perfect if you’re travelling on a budget, and if you can avoid the school holidays and half terms then even better.
Dordogne: A Brief History
The Dordogne really does possess and incredibly rich history with plenty of impressive finds dating back to pre-historic times, châteaux dating back to the middle ages and a strong Roman influence.
The paintings at the Lascaux Caves are one of the most impressive and best known manifestations of pre-historic art. Discovered in 1940 the caves are now open to visitors despite being beset by problems since opening up to visitors in 1948.
Lascaux II is in fact a replica of the Great Hall of the Bulls which was opened in 1983. It allows visitors to view the paintings whilst having a minimum impact on the originals.
Romans in the Dordogne
The major Roman towns of the Dordogne were Périgueux and Cahors. There are plenty of Roman ruins such as splendid villas which remind us of the lavish lifestyles the Romans had in the region.
There are also plenty of Roman churches (link in French) to visit which are, for the fan of Roman architecture, a real treat. A good place to start is Brantôme.
Wars in the Dordogne
Throughout history various invasions and wars have helped shape the political, economic and general make-up of the Dordogne. The Hundred Years’ War which pitted the House of Plantagenet against the House of Valois is one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, and one which helped shape not only the region of the Dordogne but the whole of France.
The Hundred Years’ War was still fresh in the memory when the War Of Religion took hold in the region, Catholics and Protestants fighting primarily over the Protestant stronghold of Bergerac.
Second World War in the Dordogne
The region really did find itself on the borderline of occupied and non-occupied France during the Nazi invasion.
This meant that – as with many regions of France – there was a strong sense of resistance and the Maquis (as pictured) were a very present.View Accommodation
Les Noix Du Périgord
Think Bordeaux, think vineyards. Imagine Provence and you picture olive groves. Well here in the Périgord it’s the walnut tree which takes pride of place, and has done for some 17,000 years. The residue of walnuts has been found in Cro-Magnon dwellings.
4 Walnuts in 1
We’re not talking Russian doll style walnuts here, with nuts of ever decreasing size neatly hidden inside each other. But there are 4 distinct AOC (appéllation d’Origine Contrôlée) varieties of Périgord Walnut:
- Corne – La Rustique
- Marbot – La Traditionnelle
- Grandjean – La Typique
- Franquette – La Courtisée
Each variety offers slightly different characteristics. You can read more on the Noix Du Périgord website.
Walnuts are generally harvested in the Périgord in the months of October and November. The ancient tradition of ‘Dénoisillage’ is still practised in some parts. This is where people will sit around a crackling fire, singing traditional songs or telling stories whilst cracking open the walnuts or sorting the ripe from the un-ripe.
Walnut Recipe Ideas
A very simple idea is walnut infused oil, which is perfect for salads. Simply boil a handful of walnuts for 3 minutes, bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so and then crush. Add to some olive (or other) oil and leave the entire mixture together in a jar for a few weeks. Strain and enjoy!
Frosted Walnut Layer Cake
If you have a sweet tooth and enjoy baking, you may wish to head over to the BBC website and have a look at Mary Berry’s frosted walnut layer cake.
Biscuits and Walnuts
The Biscuterie Artisanale Du Périgord in nearby Sarlat make some delicious walnut-based biscuits and cakes. They place a strong emphasis on local products and traditional methods, all of which helps create some very tasty treats!View Accommodation
Walking Holidays In The Dordogne, France
Many guests who stay with us here at Dordogne Holiday Barns enjoy walking in the Dordogne, discovering the many routes perfectly suited for all abilities. Late September and October are, in our opinions, perfect for walks as the colours remain vibrant and autumnal. The days are slightly cooler but there is still plenty of sunshine to keep everybody happy. Springtime, as everything comes into bloom, is also picture-perfect.
The Cicero Guide by Janette Norton is a good place to begin as it lists 30 lovely walks based around Sarlat and Bergerac, all with detailed maps and plenty of local information.
Walking Tours Around Sarlat
Sarlat is the perfect place for a walking trip as you can take in many amazing sites in one visit of this mythical medieval town. There are plenty of tips and even guided walking tours via the Sarlat Tourism website.
Walking Tours Amongst The Vineyards
Why not combine a walking trip with a visit to a vineyard or two? For those who enjoyed reading our piece on wines of the Dordogne you’ll no doubt want to get out there and discover the wines, wine-makers and vineyards for yourselves.
A good place to begin is at the Maison des Vins in Bergerac (web page in French), where we are reliably informed the staff will be more than happy to advise intrepid oenophiles on the best wineries to visit depending on your chosen itineraries.
Walking The Dordogne Off The Beaten Track
If you have an adventurous side and enjoy discovering places slightly further afield, then the Walking Dordogne website is a good place to start searching for inspiration. With information on the gloriously entitled ‘Trail of Wild Garlic’ and the equally impressive ‘In The Footsteps Of The Mammoth’ trail amongst others, this is the place for those who want to discover the real Dordogne.
Discover The Wine Regions Of The Dordogne In South West France
Sipping a glass of chilled rosé by the Dordogne river, basking in the warmth of the summer, it’s easy to let the mind drift and forget about the provenance of the fermented grape juice within the glass. But it’s at this time that the vineyard is at one of its most active phases of the annual cycle. The grapes are slowly changing colour under the heat of the summer sun in a process known as veraison.
Although not directly surrounded by vineyards in our little corner of France, we do have some little gems in this neck of the woods, slightly off the beaten track for those intrepid explorers who prefer to discover the slightly lesser-known wines.
To the south we have Cahors, renowned for its intense and tannic reds. Heading west, and before the Grande Appellations of Bordeaux, we touch on some delightful wines from Bergerac, Pécharment and Monbazillac.
You will find Dordogne Holiday Barns cunningly placed pretty much due north of Cahors and due East of Bergerac (map link at top of page for true location).
Wines Of Bergerac
The red wines of Bergerac are made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France and Merlot. So far so Bordeaux you might think. The lesser known local varieties of Malbec (or Côt as it’s known locally), Fer Servadou or Mérille may also be found in the blend.
The red wines tend to be heavier and fuller than Bordeaux, but what they lack in finesse they often more than make up for in a blend of intense dark flavours and hearty tannins which help soak up meaty bbq dishes.
The whites tend to be very dry with good amounts of fruit.
Wines Of Pécharment
The red wines of Pécharment are very similar to Bergerac reds, meaning they are perfect for accompanying local pâtés, charcuterie, confit and red meats.
Wines Of Cahors
In a similar vein, the wines of Cahors produce essentially full-bodied, tannic reds but almost only from the Malbec grape (Tannat and Merlot are allowed in the blend but Malbec must form at least 70% of the wine).
Wines Of Monbazillac
Monbazillac wines are sweet, white wines which are often compared to the more prestigious Sauternes. They are made from the same grape varieties of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle (with often a higher percentage of Muscadelle making up the blend) which benefit from botrytis (noble rot) in the vineyard. This is what helps give the wines their distinctive sweet flavours by concentrating the sugars present in the grapes.
Visit French Markets In The Dordogne
Whether it’s truffles, pink garlic from Toulouse, local fromages or traditional saucisson you’re after, a wander around one of the traditional French markets is sure to make your trip to the Dordogne even more special.
French Markets – Sarlat
Day Market (all year long)
- On Saturday: in the city centre – all products from 8.30 am to 6 pm
- On Saturday morning : Place de la Liberté – food market from 8.30 am to 1 pm
- On Wednesday morning : small food market – Place de la Liberté from 8.30 am to 1 pm
Covered market (all year long) : Former Sainte Marie church – Place de la Liberté :
- Off season : everyday (except on Thursday) from 8.30 am to 1 pm
- High season : everyday from 8.30am to 2pm. On Friday : from 9.30 am to 8 pm
Organic night market : From the 17th of June to the 16th of September, it takes place Place du 14 Juillet (in front of the Post Office) every thursday from 6 to 10 pm.
French Markets – La Roque-Gageac
Le Marché des Gourmets et des Gourmands is a lovely event which takes place on the banks of The Dordogne river in the picturesque village of La Roque-Gageac.
Not only are there over 50 stalls with plenty of fantastic local produce, but there is also a medieval feel with music, dancing and a traditional banquet. More details on the Sarlat Tourism website.
French Markets – Gourdon
Nearby Gourdon has plenty of weekly markets, especially throughout the summer months. Saturday mornings is traditional market day, whereas there are additional markets on Sunday and Wednesday mornings throughout the summer.
There is also the Fête de l’Asperge on the 3rd May, celebrating the asparagus season. More details over on the Gourdon website.
Dog Friendly Holidays In The Dordogne
You’re ready to pack up the pooch and head south for your holidays, the only problem is finding that Dog Friendly Dordogne accommodation.
Dog Friendly Dordogne Gîte Accommodation
As dog owners ourselves, we know a thing or two about what makes your life easier when coming on holiday with your pet. That is why we provide all of the following:
- secure fenced and gated back garden and decking area
- an information folder showing local walks and attractions
- details of local vets including contact numbers
- food and water bowls for use if required
- towels for use on those pets who like to get muddy and need a wipe down before coming back in the house
- stairgates so the dogs aren’t tempted to go upstairs (we do ask that they stay downstairs and are not allowed on the furniture)
- spare leads in case of loss
Out And About With Your Dog In The Dordogne
Here in South West France, we have noticed that many shops, restaurants and bars are more than happy to welcome well-behaved dogs. This is great as it doesn’t restrict you whilst here on holiday.
We also provide lots of useful information on dog walks and other attractions where you can happily take your canine companions.
Further Useful Information
There are tiled floors which are much cooler in the summer months.
We offer bags so that you can clean up any accidents on the grounds, but we do expect that they are toiletted away from the gardens and use is made of the refuse bins further up the lane outside.
We ask that dogs have had flea and worm treatment prior to arrival.
We can, subject to agreement and with at least 24 hours notice, provide a dog sitting service if required. There is a charge for this service.
Many gîtes accept one or two dogs but no more. We will, subject to prior confirmation, accept a larger number so please just get in touch. We are also happy to allow pets with people who require a longer term rental from October until April perhaps when house-hunting in the area.
What Others Say
“We and our golden retriever had a delightful relaxing holiday in this beautifully prepared gîte.”
Visit Château de Beynac
Just a stone’s throw from Sarlat and La Roque-Gageac, and a short journey from us here, is one of the region’s many amazing Châteaux. What sets Château de Beynac apart, however, is the quality of its restoration and upkeep, meaning visitors have access to an amazing piece of medieval history.
Château de Beynac Through History
When visiting you will be able to trace the story of the 12th century château and the many famous characters to have spent time within the fortress. Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard ‘Coeur de Lion’ are just two of the famous names from history.
The site fell into the hands of the English and Richard the Lionheart for a short period. It was also a crucial strategic post during the 100 years war.
Stunning Location And Views
The location of the château offers stunning views not only of the Dordogne River and the valley, but also the lush, undulating countryside for miles around.
Opening Times and Prices
The château is open for most of the year, and you are free to visit alone or join a guided tour. Full details of prices and up to date opening times are available on the local tourism website.
Have a look at the Périgord – Dordogne tourist information website (in French) for more details on opening times and prices.View Other Activities
Canoe Trips On The Dordogne
Say Dordogne to most people and chances are they instantly think of leisurely paddling downstream through dappled sunlight and surrounded by nature. Most guests here at Dordogne Holiday Barns come to canoe the Dordogne, or at least enjoy a few hours paddling about on this magical river.
Canoe The Dordogne – Short Trips
Most people will enjoy anything from a few hours to an entire day on the river. An excellent way to travel and soak up the local environment, day trips generally vary from 9km (2hrs) to 25km (5-6hrs).
Probably the most popular day trip for people staying with us here is a 16km paddle from Carsac to Laroque-Gageac. You will spend roughly 3-4hrs on the water and take in the sights of Vitrac, Cénac and Domme as well as some spectacular cliffs.
Canoe The Dordogne – Overnight Trips
More adventurous souls are tempted by overnight canoe trips on the Dordogne. Tour operators can transport you and all the equipment you will require up stream as far as Argentat (over 125km away) and let you descend the river at your own pace.
There are plenty of riverside campsites en-route and booking is not necessary. You can simply land, pitch up and enjoy a night under the stars.
As a rule of thumb you will expect to cover about 20km in a day and so you can plan your trip accordingly. The CanoeVacances website is a good place to start researching and planning your trip.
Canoe The Dordogne – Eye Witness
To get a true flavour of what the Dordogne can offer read this piece in the New York Times from Christopher Shaw. It gives nice insights into what’s on offer and some handy tips for those who have not ventured on the river before.
View Other Activities