Holidays in the Dordogne Valley, France.

Leisure and Sight Seeing Activities

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Details of the house and garden A look at the Area Around Le Roc Availability and Prices 

(The star ratings shown are those given in the green Michelin guide to the Dordogne.)
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The area is beautiful and many happy hours can be passed just wandering through the towns, villages and countryside discussed in The Area.

There is an abundance of prehistoric caves such as Les Eyzies de Tayac (**), Grotte de Rouffignac (*) and the Grottes de Lacave (*) and a little further Grotte du Peche Merle (**). The journey through the Gouffre de Padirac (***), with its subterranean galleries, includes 700m by boat.

Within easy driving distances is the magnificent mediaeval city of Sarlat (***), Cahors (**) with its surrounding vineyards and the Lot Valley (**) and the beautiful old city of Figeac (**). There are many picturesque villages within easy reach, such as Domme (**), Beynac (**), Loubressac (**), La Roque-Gageac (**), Carennac (*), St-Cirq-Lapopie (**) and Rocamadour (***), the castle at Castelnau (**) and the bastide town of Montpazier(*).

About an hour's drive away is Gimel-Les-Cascades. The village is very picturesque but the succession of three waterfalls falls created by the River Montane falling down a 450 feet ravine are quite spectacular (**).

Gimel-Les-Cascades - Click for larger image

The Three Waterfalls of Gimel-les-Cascade

Gimel-Les-Cascades - Click for larger image

Gimel-Les-Cascades - Click for larger image

In an area well known for its cuisine there are many excellent restaurants. One of our favourites is La Vieille Auberge in Souillac. Their "Menu Gormande" at about £30:00 will give you a memorable meal. The seven course "Menu Degustation" at about £50 per person is not for those with a small appetite! There is even a vegetarian menu!

Dining at the Vieille Auberge
© La Vieille Auberge - Souillac Lot.

For those who can take their holidays outside the normal holiday period, the Lycee des Hoteliers or catering college offers great value and interesting menus. They do both lunch and dinners, and whilst their restaurant is well appointed and spacious do remember that it is a school.. The menus are set as are the times of meals. so make sure you get a copy of the menus and the times of meals from reception in the college. Three or four course meals start at around £8:00 and can go as high as £15:00 the range of dishes reflecting the difference in prices.

We used to enjoy the restaurant "La Gabarre". Take the road to St Julien de Lampon from Le Roc and it is the first restaurant you come to. During the summer you can dine on the terrace high above the Dordogne Valley. It was closed for some time but the last time we were there we discovered that it was just about to re-open. We will report after our next visit!

As you would expect in an area that prides itself on its gastronomy there are many restaurants to choose from. Based on our own experience you might like to try the following:-

Name Location Comment
La Chastrusse
Nadiac de Rouge - on the hill above Le Roc
Menu typical of the region but beware of the pasties unless you have a very big appetite!
Le Gindreau
Catus St Medard
A top rated restaurant with a good range of dishes with interesting an gastronomic twist! You can find more details in the booklet "Les Bonnes Tables du Lot" in the house.
Musee Henri Giraude
Le Vigan
Yes, it really is a museum, well more an art gallery dedicated to the works of Henri Giraude. He has some interesting paintings about people, usually of interesting women and weedy men!! The restaurant is only open on Friday evenings and Sunday lunch times. At first sight the cost at about 40 Euro's looks expensive, but when you remember it can be up to ten courses including wine, it is really well worth trying.
La Terrasse
Another restaurant from the "Les Bonnes Tables du Lot".
Au Hazard Balthazar
A very interesting ambiance with good food at reasonable prices.
La Belle Etoille
La Roque Gageac
Superb meals from 25 to 45 Euros. If the weather is fine, you can dine on the terrace (booking essential) overlooking the Dordogne

Dordogne River with Railway bridge
Fishing on the Dordogne at Mareuil, Le Roc

Talking about catching fish, it is possible to get a fishing licence from the Marie. You can then spend many tranquil hours on the banks of the river. I understand that occasionally the tranquillity can be broken by fish that attach themselves to fishing lines, although I must admit I have never seen anybody catch a sandre!

For the energetic there are plenty of sporting activities in the area. Riding, tennis, fishing and mini golf will be found nearby with golf at Souillac, Cahors and Domme. There are several canoe bases along the river and for the adventurous there is a hot air ballooning centre some 14kms away at Chateau de Veyrignac. If gentle exercise appeals more, there are wooded hills behind the village and it is possible to hire bicycles in Souillac.

For many, however, it is the River that is essential to the character of the Dordogne Valley. The stretch of the river nearby is one of the most beautiful

For any bird watchers the area is a delight. As well as the "normal" birds in the garden we have black kites, buzzards, spotted and pied flycatchers, redstarts and black redstarts, greater spotted, lesser spotted and green woodpeckers, blackcaps and hoopoes.

The Dordogne River by Souillac
This part of theDordogne River is about 1km from our house

The squirrels are, of course, red squirrels and we sometimes get them in the garden. Hedgehogs are also quite common but you may be pleased to know that the wild boar do keep themselves to the surrounding countryside. The nearest I have come to a wild boar was at one of the local village fetes, when it was served roasted although we have seen them crossing the road between Souilla and Le Roc on a couple of occasions..

Scenes from the Market in Souillac

Market Fruit

Market Flowers

There are no shops in the village but most days a van will come round selling bread/cheese/milk/meat. The time of arrival varies but they announce their arrival by loud hooting of the horn. There are two supermarkets less than 10 minutes drive away along with all the shops one would expect in a small town. Souillac has a market on Fridays. The mediaeval town of Sarlat has the best market we have found in the area. A large market is held on Saturday and a much smaller one on Wednesday.

Market Olives

Market Vegetables



Other activities include the Museé d'Automat(*), the French national museum of automatons, with its fascinating range of moving models. Look out for for vouchers from restaurants that give a reduction on the entrance fee. There are many hundreds of exhibits including the beautiful Snow Queen from the 1950's and the Jazz Band with a full jazz band from the 1920's.

Talking of Jazz, during the third week of July, Souillac holds its Annual Jazz Festival. Free jazz concerts are held on open air stages and in many of the bars. Jazz players from all over the world come to play many different varieties of jazz from traditional to modern.

Rocamadour(***), built into the 500 foot cliffs rising above the Alzou Canyon is one of the most famous sites in the whole of France. It is a centre for mediaeval Christianity. As a child I have seen pilgrims climbing the two hundred or so steps from the floor of the canyon to the church on their knees to finally kneel at the altar of the Black Madonna to receive forgiveness for their sins. One of the best views of Rocamadour is from the terrace at L'Hospitalet on the road from Payrac.

Another well known village that has been built into the cliffs is La Roque Gageac(**) .From here you can take a trip in a "Gabarre" , replicas of the old trading vessels of the river. The trip goes down the River towards Castelnaud(*) and its castle. The castle stands on one side of the Dordogne confronting the castle of Beynac(*) on the other. Many battles were fought here during the 100 years war, and changed hands between the English and the French with great regularity.

La Roque Gageac

A Gabbarre atLa Roque Gageac


A traditional Gabarre
View of Castelnaud
Houses built into the cliff at La Roque Gageac

And Finally...

The range of restaurants, activities fairs etc, is so great that it is difficult to list them all here, especially from memory! We hope you find it interesting and helpful, but please remember, they are our own personal views. We plan to add extra thoughts to this page after we have been back to the house to check our facts!. There is a big file in the house with contributions from people who have stayed there over the years, including details of places to visit, sample menus from favourite restaurants; it is a valuable source of ideas for spending your holiday leisure time.


Click on the links below to visit other areas of our web site
Details of the house and garden A look at the Area Around Le Roc Availability and Prices 

If you would like to contact us you can either fill in the form on the Availability and Prices page of our web site or telephone Gill on  01460 54999