OUR FAVORITE TOURISTIC SITES
There are many walking trails that you can follow, mostly well maintained. We picked 6 walks out of 30 walks, that you can buy at the Office the Tourisme from Sarlat. These 6 walks, you will find in the gîte. Please make sure to put them back after use!
In summer, there are cosy and colourfull foodmarkets organised in the region. Local food, beverages, déserts, that you buy at foodstands and eat while sitting at long tables and listening to (live) music. For example the markets in SAINT GÉNIÈS (15 km from Sarlat, wednesday), PAULIN (20 km from Sarlat, thursday), SALIGNAC (15 km from Sarlat, friday). For the most actual and accurate overview, see this website. The markets start at 18h.30 and the sooner you are there, the better you will be seated! The weekly markets are also listed on that website (Saint-Géniès: Sunday morning!). Make sure to go early to the market in Sarlat on Saturday, at 10.30 a flood of French tourists come in (who visit the market and then stay for lunch). This website shows the ‘fêtes de villages’ that are held in the région. Really good fun to see how the local community organises a flee market, activities for children, a bbq buffet etc.
Castles Castelnaud, Commarque, Milandes or Beynac
You can choose the rather touristic CASTELNAUD (13 km from Sarlat) where boys (of all ages) can enjoy the great arsenal of weapons. In COMMARQUE (17 km from Sarlat) you will walk literally through the renovation process of artisans and archeology students. They will offer you a flyer to show you what a room looked like in the middle ages and what a tremendous work they have ahead of them. You can take a walk in the surrounding meadows to check out the skyline of the castle. And sometimes there are shows or workshops, be sure to take your time. MILANDES (18 km from Sarlat) is a whole other experience. This castle was bought after world war II by singer, dancer and war-resistance-hero Joséphine Baker. She adopted children from all over the world and started the renovation of the castle in Art Deco style. Unfortunately, she lost all her money because of mismanagement by the contractors.. the museum will tell you how this ended and an impressive bird-show is held 2 or 3 times a day. In BEYNAC (12 km from Sarlat) the rooms are often used for the production of movies. You might see the tables being set for a big dinner, and surely there is a pig hanging in the kitchen, being roistered on a ‘real’ woodfire. With little children, we recommend to visit Castelnaud and it’s knights, without we recommend Beynac and it’s guides.
For a pre-historic experience, you can combine LA ROQUE SAINT-CHRISTOPHE (28 km) and the MAISON FORTE DE REIGNAC (25 km from Sarlat) in one day. Both were build in a ‘falaise’ (escarpment) overlooking the Vézère river. They document on the life of humans in the prehistoric settlements, up untill the middelages with more sophisticated tools and machines, to work, to build and .. to torture (in Maison Forte). Both sites are situated on the road between Le Bugue and Montignac, but they have their own parking lot and entrance fee. That gives you the opportunity to have lunch in Montignac at the waterside, in between the two visits.
Gardens of Marqueyssac, Eyrignac or Imaginaire
We love the gardens of MARQUEYSSAC (11 km from Sarlat), on a cliff overlooking the boats and kanoes on the Dordogne River. They will give you a beautifull plan at the entrance, which shows how the gardens are build in an existing forest. You can walk for over an hour and be surprised with art-and waterworks, a labyrinth, little sheds, hedges that curle like waves or clouds… It’s hard to tell where humans formed or followed nature. When you are very brave and at least 10 years old, you can buy tickets for the Via Ferrata: a climbing trail on the cliff that holds the gardens. And if one visit is not enough for you, go back on a thursdaynight in the summer, when 2000 candelles light the gardens. In the gardens of EYRIGNAC (13 km from Sarlat) you will find the symmetry and geometric cutting of a well designed and cultivated garden. We would recommend MARQUEYSSAC with kids, in EYRIGNAC they will get their own plan with questions… but they are not allowed to step on the grass! On wednesday evenings in the summer, there is a picknick with a white dresscode. In LES JARDINS D’IMAGINAIRE (35 km from Sarlat) they will explain the art, legends and symbolism to you of all different parts of the garden. This guided, mandatory tour might be a bit long if you don’t speak french.. But just enjoy the beauty of the garden with it’s water ornaments and views over Terrasson. Last but not least: Les JARDINS D’EAU (only 8 km from Sarlat) are definitely worth a visit. It offers the only European labyrinth ON water and it’s Asian influences are fun and relaxing. Don’t forget to visit the green houses and the souvenir-shop.
Terrasson (35 km from Sarlat) is a small, artistic, lovely village where you want to bring your walking shoes: you will cross many stairways from the parking on one side of the river (the Tourist Information is situated there, they have a beautifull free plan of the village), to the Cathédral on top of the hill. It’s less than 500 meters linear, so it’s not that bad… and there are 2 lovely restaurants on the square facing the Cathédral. You will meet (the work of) craftsman in the shops, on the weekly market (Thursday, on and around the ancient pedestral bridge) and on the walls in so called ‘trompes d’oeuil’, litterally ‘errors of the eye’. The old fountains and neatly clipped bushes are also a feast for the eye. If you like chocolate, be sure to visit the Chocolate museum Bovetti, where you learn about it’s ingredients and where you can taste and buy some hot and spicy (new) flavours. In summer, the Cathédral hostst a free light- and sound projection at 22h.00. Very entertaining! And walking back to the parking, have a look at the small house on the right of the pedestrian bridge: this is where the cargo of ships was being weighed and taxed.
Rocamadour (52 km from Sarlat) is a pilgrims village, build on three levels whereby The Castle overlooks the valley, the Cathédral is partially constructed IN the middle of the rock and the groundlevel is reserved for a small street with (souvenir-)shops and restaurants. We recommend you to park on top (Parking Le Château) and to walk down, following the path of Ordeal at first. After a visit of the Cathédral (you will be asked to cover your shoulders and legs) you take the Pilgrims- staircase to the commercial street. Walk on, until you’ve passed the old city- gate. On the left, in between the gardens, you can spot a small footpath that will take you to a ski-lift-like elevator, INSIDE the rock. This elevator brings you back to the Parking on top of the hill. It’s really worth the hour drive from Sarlat, especially when you combine your visit of the village with birdpark LE ROCHER DES AIGLES (shows included) or the Monty Python like knights-on-horses- show DURANDAL (check out the timetable, only 2 shows per day). The entrances of both attractions are situated ON the Parking Le Château.
La Roque Gageac
La Roque Gageac (14 km from Sarlat) is build against a rock overviewing the Dordogne River. When you take a tour de Gabarre (old sailingboat) or with a canoë, you will see all levels. On the ground level there are restaurants and shops, but we invite you to climb up and to discover a small church, hidden in the alleys. You will cross many information signs telling you about the history, géography and birds of the village. There is a tourist office and a tropical garden. But the main attraction is really the relaxing riverboattrip. No need to make a reservation, they come and go. Audio guides are offered in English, and the views are both stunning and calming. If you want to hire a canoë, we recommend to make a reservation in CASTELNAUD, for Vitrac-Castelnaud. A bus will bring you to Vitrac and once you are back in Castelnaud, after a calm trip of 2-2,5 hours, you can step in your own car (instead of waiting for the bus to bring you back!). You will see castles, rock walls and La Rogue Gageac when you’re halfway.
Cycling former traintrack
If you know how to ride a bike, we recommend to hire an (electric) one at LIBERTY CYCLE (in Sarlat) to make a tour on the VOIE VERT: it’s a biking trail, build on an ancient trail-way. This makes it relatively flat, and the views and it’s tunnel are spectacular. It’s an easy trip, but once you’ve past an iron bridge, that looks out over the roofs of a village on the left and a river with sunken boats on the right… make a u-turn! You don’t want to go in the direction of Grolejac (really downhill and it’s no longer a bikes-only trail): you should go back and turn right to Carsac-Aillac. A nice place to rest and eat is the bridge of Roufillac (1 km after the tunnel, 17 km from Sarlat). On the left is a good restaurant, on the right a brasserie. Or have your own picknick at the waterfront! You will drive the same way back, but you might not even notice that. You will notice that the last part to Sarlat asks you to climb, so save your strenght!
Réserve Zoölogique of Calviac
In the beautiful animalpark of CALVIAC (12 km from Sarlat) you will walk through the very wide cages of apes and other animals, over ropebridges between the trees. You are not allowed to touch or feed the animals, and they don’t react to you, what makes it a ‘respectful’ experience of observation in stead of interaction. The parc wants to breed and save species, and teach their visitors the positive and negative impact of humans in the original live environments of the animals present. Interesting, and it’s a nice day ‘outdoors in nature’.
Caves of Lacave, Lascaux IV, Padirac or Proumeyssac
There is a wide variety of caves. Our personal favorite are the caves of LACAVE (40 km from Sarlat, on the road to Rocamadour). In every hall, there is a new theme. A little train takes you in, and you will be walking a guided tour of approximately one hour. It’s not very well known/ promoted, but for us that is part of it’s charm. How different a visit to LASCAUX 4 is (27 km from Sarlat), a museum of LASCAUX, one of the most famous caves in Europe (drawings of over 17.000 year old). In this interactive, modern museum, you can experience and study a copy of a part of the original cave, in actual size. They will tell you about the architecture of the building, show you artwork based on ‘Lascaux’ and they will take you back to relive the discovery of the cave in a 3D show. Prepare yourself that you are visiting a museum that is created around the cave, not the cave itself. You should make a reservation for a timeslot on www.semitour.com. That’s also the case for the GOUFFRE DE PADIRAC (58 km from Sarlat) where you are descending into a great ‘well’ and boats are waiting to take you on an impressive tour on a subteranean river. The cave of PROUMEYSSAC (29 km from Sarlat) is called ‘the Cathédral’ because there is one immense hall to visit. With a light- and music show, and some other surprises… You buy a ticket and then you can wait outside, where a playground, cafétaria and picknick tables await you.
Things to do with children
- Children from age 3 and up, will enjoy the tree climb adventures at LA FÔRET DES ECUREUILS or MONKEYFOREST (both in Sarlat).
- Adolescents and adults without fear of heights can choose a VIA FERRATA at La fôret des Ecureuils or in the Gardens of Marqueyssac (11 km from Sarlat), to climb a rock wall, horizontally.
- With small children, we recommend the charming theme park LE BOURNAT (31 km from Sarlat) where you will find yourself in the year 1900. You will see artists and many craftsmen (bakery, windmill, glasswork, sheepkeeper, etc.)., you can amuse yourself on swings, in merry-go-rounds and rowing boats. Surely a slow, pleasant day. You can bring your own food or buy it there.
- In the chocolatemuseum Bovetti in Terrasson (35 km from Sarlat), children can create their own chocolat figure.
- For a day at the waterfront, we recommend the bridge of Castelnaud (pebble beach, 13 km from Sarlat), or the small Lac de Tamniès close to Saint- Géniès (sand beach, 15 km from Sarlat).
- For a Canoë, a minimum age of 5 is set.
- DURANDAL in Rocamadour (52 km from Sarlat) is real good fun for all ages, you don’t have to speak French, to understand it.
- In Sarlat you will find several ping pong tables, they are noted on the plan. Bring you own paddles! There is also a bowling: LOZMOZ, with pooltables, airhockey and a pizza restaurant.