- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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)
Covered market (all year long) : Former Sainte Marie church – Place de la Liberté :
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.
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.
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Enjoy Cycling In The Dordogne
Many guests who visit us here at Dordogne Holiday Barns comment on the lovely rides on offer for those who enjoy cycling in the Dordogne. In fact many come to visit specifically for the cycling.
The hills are gentle, the countryside stunning and the rewards are simply breath-taking for those who venture out on two wheels. And the good news is that you don’t have to be a lycra lover or Bernard Hinault to get out and enjoy the quiet country lanes.
Cycling Les Voies Vertes In The Dordogne
Les Voies Vertes are a network of cycle routes which run throughout France. Although many guests leave the barns here with their map or gps in hand ready to plough their own furrow, another great option is making the most of the existing network of cycle routes – Les Voies Vertes.
Voie Verte – Sarlat Dordogne
The routes displayed on the map below (from Sarlat Toursime) offer some great opportunities for the recreational cyclist in Dordogne. There are various start and end points and you will be treated to a wealth of châteaux and beautiful towns and villages along the way.
Our friends at Freewheeling France have a lovely route which takes in 10 Châteaux, Sarlat, La Roque-Gageac and many other stunning little places, all in under 60km of beautiful cycling.
Bike Hire In The Dordogne
We know that once you have packed the clothes, the children’s clothes, the dog and what seems like everything but the kitchen sink, well there isn’t much space left for bikes!
We enjoy working with Bike Hire Direct who offer good quality mountain bikes and deliver direct to the gîtes. If you’re looking for more specific bikes such as a good quality road bike you may wish to consult the Freewheeling France website or ask on their facebook page.View Other Activities
Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne, France
Sarlat is probably the Dordogne’s best known town. It is a delightful medieval town which developed around the Benedictine Abbey and the impressive cathedral. The Jewel of the region know as Périgord Noir, Sarlat attracts a multitude of visitors each year.
The History Of Sarlat
Sarlat is a Medieval Town which grew around the Benedictine Abbey which was initially founded in the 9th Century. Through Medieval times Sarlat became an extremely important market town and many of the impressive buildings and houses we see now were constructed by wealthy merchants during this period.
Following the French Revolution Sarlat, like the rest of France, took on a more secular feel and lost its Bishop. The town, although remaining an important market town locally, never gained national notoriety due to the distance from major trading routes. This is what undoubtedly means the many impressive buildings remained un-touched and manage to maintain their original beauty.
Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful old French town, jam-packed with nonsensical planning, maze-like streets and amazingly pretty old stone buildings. This is Sarlat.
The old town of Sarlat is a tourist’s dream, largely bereft of cars and a splendid hotch potch of cobbled streets and old stone houses. You will find yourself stumbling upon such delights as the last remaining ramparts, the Cathedral and the Jardin des Enfeus.
No day trip is complete without a lazy coffee in the mid-morning sunshine or lunch on the terrace of one of the town’s stylish cafés or restaurants.
Food In Sarlat – Le Gastronomie
The town of Sarlat, like many in SW France, is particularly renowned for truffles (les truffes) and foie-gras. Should you happen to visit in January then be sure to look out for the Fête de la Truffe, and February is when you may be lucky enough to stumble upon the Fest’Oie which celebrates the goose.
Sarlat Markets – Les Marchés
Sarlat grew as a commercial focal point, and so markets have played an important part in the town’s development since medieval times. This tradition continues today with a vibrancy rarely replicated. There is a blend of markets on most days in the town.
Saturday is the traditional Market Day, with a large market in the town centre all day long and a food market in place at the Place de la Liberté from early morning until lunchtime. Wednesday morning also sees a smaller food market welcomed to the Place de la Liberté.
Sarlat’s indoor market is housed in the former church of Sainte Marie and is open every day throughout the year (except Thursdays in the winter months). Generally open (and thriving) in the mornings, you can also shop throughout the day on Fridays in the summer season.
At specific times of year you will also find seasonal markets such as the truffle and foie-gras markets in winter or the organic food market in the summer.
As with all of the information, the local tourist office is very helpful.