Villages and Bastide towns in the Dordogne are breathtaking; set in peaceful hamlets amidst sunflower fields and rolling hills or carved into dramatic cliffs along the river valley. A drive out or a walk around them is a great way to soak up the history and beauty in the summer months. Every morning until noon, there is a clothes, craft and farmers’ market in one of these medieval villages where local producers sell seasonal produce. Try Lalinde or Monpazier on Thursdays, Vergt or Souillac on Fridays, Bergerac or Périgueux on Saturdays and Issigeac or Saint Cyprien on Sundays. If you like secondhand and vintage goods, keep an eye open for signs in villages advertising flea markets and car-boot sales at weekends (brocantes, vide-greniers and braderies).
There are some beautifully situated medieval castles to visit along the river Dordogne; such as Château de Beynac and Château de Castelnaud. Allow time to visit the gardens, historic buildings and cafés. Take a tour around Josephine Baker’s home at Château des Milandes – a day out not to be missed! As you drive alongside the banks of the river Dordogne, you may be tempted to take a dip or a canoe trip in the summer months. There are plenty of places to bathe and hire a canoe or kayak after visiting the castles. If you don’t want to swim or row down river, take a gabarre cruise (wooden boat) instead. From April to October, gabarres cruise from Bergerac, Brantôme, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and La Roque Gageac.
Head east of the Dordogne and visit the pre-historic cave art in the Vézère valley. The cave paintings, engravings and sculptures are a collection of Stone Age art created by Cro-Magnon people between 15,000 BC and 10,000 BC. To understand the history behind this artwork, visit the Musée National de préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. The most popular caves for visitors are Grotte de Font de Gaume, Grotte des Combarelles, Grotte de Rouffignac and Lascaux. Ask for more information on these activities at Les Cèdres.