Dordogne Bike Tour
Quiet roads lead you through France’s historic heartland where medieval pilgrims and noblemen have left the countryside dotted with abbeys and castles. Our trip explores the Dordogne region, located near the world-famous wine area of Bordeaux. We will cycle from village to village, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Dordogne’s meandering rivers, rolling hills, stone villages, and châteaux. The local cuisine will tempt you with its foie gras, black truffles, strawberries, walnuts, and powerful Cahors and Bergerac wines. (Luggage is transferred by van. 1 night in Bergerac, 2 nights Monpazier, Les Eyzies and Sarlat. Trip ends in Bergerac.)
Trip Design: We have designed this trip to enable both novice and expert bikers to discover this beautiful part of France. We have picked our hotels so that you will experience village, country and town life. You will stay in a 12th-century fortified village, a converted 16th-century stone water mill, and finally in a 17th-century noble house in the town of Sarlat. Our visit of the prehistoric caves at the Font de Gaume is a truly moving experience while the story of Eleanor of Acquitaine, Richard the Lion Heart, and Henry Plantagenet is narrated by the dozens of châteaux and fortresses that dot the landscape. Join us for a week of beautiful biking and truly extraordinary experiences.
Dordogne Bike Tour itinerary
Independent arrival in Bergerac. Home of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” this pleasant southern town spreads out along the banks of the Dordogne River. Stroll along the river’s edge into the historic heart of town where 15th and 16th century half-timbered houses jostle each other for space. Our hotel is conveniently located in a quiet part of town. Overnight in Bergerac. Hotel included.
Meet your guide(s) at 9:00 and transfer to Monpazier, a medieval “bastide” or fortified hamlet, where you will be staying for two nights. After check-in and a brief orientation, we will start off on our first ride to the Château de Biron, one of the most impressive fortified castles in the Dordogne. It dates back to the 12th century and gives us a fascinating glimpse of medieval life. Lunch is at the Auberge du Château, a little bistro with a terrace overlooking the castle’s courtyard. Our hotel, the Hotel Edward 1er, is a 19th-century turreted château that has been transformed into a lovely four-star inn, complete with a small swimming pool. It is located in the walled village of Monpazier, one of the best-preserved of Périgord’s “bastides,” founded by King Edward I in 1284. One of the attractions of Monpazier, besides its beautiful arcaded central square, is a superb little restaurant with a relaxed and casual atmosphere that is the perfect spot to kick off the trip — following our apéritif in the town square, of course! Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
“Le tour des bastides” ride take us on a gorgeous route linking several of the 13th century fortified villages built by the French and English during the Hundred Years’ War. They had high walls, turrets, and bastions overlooking a central square and church, which was also often fortified. Today the defensive walls are likely to be topped with geraniums and the village square is alive with cafés and shops. We will stop at the 12th century Abbey of Cadouin, a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of the famous pilgrimage route to Santiago di Compostela. We then head towards the picturesque villages of Limeuil and Trémolat. Overnight in Monpazier. Hotel breakfast, and dinner included.
Today we have a lovely ride through chestnuts forests, winding valleys, and medieval villages to reach the winery at Le Bugue for a visit and tasting. Our host, Manu, will offer us a sample of wines not only from his own production but from the emerging appellations of Cahors, Bergerac and Pécharmant, as well as the golden sweet Monbazillac. Only a few more kilometers before our final destination: the village of Les Eyzies, famous for its cliffs and caves where Cro-Magnon man lived 20,000 years ago. Our hotel is a restored 16th century water mill. Tonight we dine together at the hotel’s elegant restaurant. Overnight in Les Eyzies at the Hotel Le Moulin de la Beune. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We have a visit to the extraordinary cave of the Font de Gaume, where 20,000 years ago prehistoric man expressed himself with delicate artistry on the undulating walls of the cave. The Font de Gaume is a narrow corridor 65 meters long leading to an awe-inspiring series of over 200 polychromatic paintings of horses, bison, reindeer and mammoth. It is one of the very few caves left in the world where the public can still gain entry to see prehistoric cave paintings. After our visit we have a pleasant half-day ride to the villages of Plazac and Le Moustier. Or, you can trade your bike for a canoe and paddle past the castles that line the Dordogne River. Tonight is a “free night,” so you can opt for a simple crepes or pizza, or go big with a gastronomique experience. Overnight in Les Eyzies. Hotel and breakfast included. Dinner not included.
We bike this morning to Sarlat, considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. Formerly an important trading center and home to a powerful Benedictine abbey, the city eventually fell off the trade route and into decline. Lucky for us, this meant that Sarlat is now one of the best representatives of 14th century French architecture. The center of the old town consists of beautifully restored stone buildings and is largely free of traffic. You'll have time this afternoon to explore the city before retiring to your hotel, built right into the old walls of town. Overnight Sarlat. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Ride to St. Amand de Coly this morning, a pretty village with the most impressive fortified abbey in the Dordogne. The 12th century abbey was once an important stopping point on one of the many pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. From there we pass through Montignac and on to the quaint village of Saint Léon sur Vézère, where we'll stop for lunch. The village boasts two castles and one of the finest Romanesque churches of the Périgord. Return to Sarlat and meet up again for an aperitif followed by dinner in town. Overnight in Sarlat. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.
Morning transfer by van to the Bergerac train station for connections to Paris or Bordeaux. The trip takes about an hour, so we should be there in time for the 10 a.m. train to Bordeaux (1hr20) or the 10:30 to Paris (4.5 hours).
The biking in the Dordogne is rolling and sometimes hilly. We ride between 45 – 65 km a day, with optional extensions as well as van support, which allows you to relax off the bike for a while. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, or explore the towns we stay in. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region.
Dordogne & Périgord tourism: general information on the region, with lots of photos and links. See the “Purple Perigord” link in “Towns, cities” for the Bergerac region.
Hundred Years’ War: interesting Wikipedia site on this interminable war, and Joan of Arc.
Prehistoric Cave Paintings: nice site; only in French but good photos of the caves
Getting to know Cro-Magnon Man: accessible BBC site tracing the evolution of man
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: look at all the fabulous things to see in France!
Activity rating: 3 out of 5 = Moderate. A mix of flat and gently rolling terrain with the occasional sustained climb of up to 4 kms. There are occasional short, steep ups and downs. Daily activity is 4 to 5 hours. Max distance up to 50-60 kms (31-38 miles).
Trip Cost includes: All accommodations in three and four star hotels (1 night Bergerac, 2 nights each in Monpazier, Les Eyzies and Sarlat); 7 breakfasts and 5 dinners; bilingual Customwalks guide or guides to accompany the tour and to provide van support; support vehicle; guided tours as noted in the itinerary including the visit of the prehistoric cave paintings in the “Font de Gaume”; all luggage transfers; final transfer to Bergerac train station; bikes (quality 27-speed hybrid-style touring bikes with front handlebar bags and rear racks). All departures are accompanied by two guides.
Booking: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
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Getting There: the trip starts in Bergerac, which is easily accessible by air and rail from other European cities.
Air: most international flights arrive in Paris, but the Bordeaux Airport now receives a large number of European flights and is much closer. There are direct flights from London, Rome, Amsterdam, etc. There is an airport in Bergerac but at the moment there are connections only from the United Kingdom, Paris Orly and Brussels (see the airport websites for latest schedules). For a complete list of French airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page. At the bottom of the page you will also find information about the French railway system (the SNCF).
Rail: trains from Paris take 4-5 hours (with one change), while trains from Bordeaux take 1 hr 20 minutes. There are frequent departures from both cities. Check the French railway website for the latest schedules: http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends at the Bergerac train station at 10 a.m. There are 10:00 trains to Bordeaux (1 hr 20 mins), or 10:30 to Paris (4 hrs 40 mins).
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e- mail us with any specific travel questions.