I was amazed on a trip to the Dordogne Valley. I’ve been to France many times for family holidays, university ski trips and even lived in Grenoble for 9 months too. I thought I knew what to expect from France, but I was totally unprepared for the beauty of the Dordogne Valley. Over the course of several days in the Dordogne Valley, I was fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful towns in France, go canoeing in the Dordogne River and ate so much good food. If you’re planning to travel to France and the Dordogne Valley, be sure to check out the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne, and indeed some of the most beautiful towns in the world, listed below. If you’re unsure about the best things to do in Dordogne, make sure to add these towns to your “places to visit in the Dordogne” list.
About the Dordogne Valley, France
The Dordogne is a popular holiday destination for Britains. It’s synonymous with a slower pace of living and rural lifestyle. It’s full of history, beautiful buildings and rich, green meadows and some of the prettiest towns in France. Thanks to this, it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions of France.
Centuries ago the valley was an important battle area during the Hundred Years War and because of this, you’ll find many a chateau on the hilltops as well as heavily fortified medieval towns in France. It’s also an important area for its gourmet delights especially foie gras, walnuts and truffles.
While the Dordogne Valley is increasingly geared towards tourism, there are still areas of peace and quiet if you venture into the hills.
Where is the Dordogne Valley?
The Dordogne region of France is in southwest France and the Dordogne department is at the centre of the Dordogne, France.
How to get to the Dordogne Valley
Getting to the Dordogne Valley from the UK and other countries in mainland Europe is easy thanks to the fact it’s well connected. There are a few more details below.
Flying to the Dordogne Valley
Flying to the Dordogne Valley from the UK is very easy and the area is served by two international airports in the Dordogne. You can fly into Brive Airport or Bergerac Airport direct from London. These towns also make a great base for exploring everything the Dordogne Valley has to offer.
You can also fly into Bordeau or Toulouse and hire a car to drive into the Dordogne Valley.
I recommend using Skyscanner when booking flights as that way it’s super easy to see what the cheapest flights. It’s always the first place I check when booking flights.
Trains and buses to the Dordogne Valley from the UK
You can also catch a bus or a train from the UK to the Dordogne Valley. I’d recommend taking a look at Omio who list all the possible options by bus and train, along with times and the best prices, to book this.
Getting a train will take about 8 hours with a change in Paris, and a bus will take around 18 hours.
Where to stay in the Dordogne Valley
The three main towns in the area are Brive, Bergerac and Périgueux. The hotels and campsites below are in and around these towns and all get great reviews on Booking.com.
Hotels in the Dordogne
These hotels are among the best places to stay in the Dordogne Valley area of France, all scoring above 9/10 on Booking.com.
- 5 Rue de la Forge: This holiday home sleeps 4and is just 28 miles away from the beautiful town of Rocamadour (see below!)
- Le Pavillon Saint-Martin: In a gorgeous XVIth century building in Souillac
- Les Jonquilles: Pretty guest rooms with an outdoor pool and a continental or buffet breakfast
- Hotel Maison des Peyrat: Beautiful farmhouse in a country setting within walking distance of the old town
- Domaine du Château de Monrecour: This castle is in the heart of the Dordogne Valley and has 2 heated pools, a pretty terrace and a gourmet restaurant
Camping in the Dordogne Valley
Love camping? Take a look at these best campsites in the Dordogne. They all have the option of staying in a mobile home or pre-setup tent so you don’t even have to take your own gear. They’ve also got pools and some have kids clubs making it great for a family Dordogne holiday.
- Camping La Ferme de Perdigat: Mobile home and tent camping with an outdoor pool and kids club too.
- Camping Les Charmes: This camping in Dordogne has an outdoor pool, free WiFi, a garden and a bar, you can stay in a mobile home or a pre-setup tent.
- Camping Le Val de la Marquise: Here there are mobile homes and chalets and all of them have mountain views.
- Camping Brin d’Amour: Super cool tents with beds and all amenities as well as plenty to do onsite and nearby.
France’s most beautiful towns
Did you know France have officially designated 155 villages and towns as the most beautiful villages in France (“Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” )? Of these, 10 of them are in the Dordogne, there’s then a further 6 in the départment of Lot which is included in the Dordogne Valley area. Altogether the Dordogne Valley has the highest concentration of these beautiful villages out of anywhere else in France!
And when they say “plus beaux” they really mean it. Here are my five favourite pretty French towns.
This map shows a few of the main regions in France that are popular with visitors. This map of the Dordogne region of France shows a couple of the bigger cities nearby to get your bearings.
5 of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne Valley, France
Here are 5 of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne and the Dordogne Valley and, indeed, some of the most beautiful places in France.
In the department of Lot is Souillac. When we visited the annual Jazz festival was in full swing and the sounds of saxophones and singers warming up could be heard throughout the town. The houses alone make it one of the prettiest places in France. Just look at it!
On top of that, this small, but lively French village is known for its agriculture which includes delicious strawberries (almost as good as English ones) and walnuts which make for great vin-noix aperitifs!
10 kilometres away from the bigger town of Sarlat is the impressive castle of Beynac-et-Cazenac, one of many castles in Dordogne. From here you get impressive views of the Dordogne River and a number of other castles upon the hills. I could have sat on the edge of this castle staring out onto the river, the fields and the canoeists for hours. The views alone make it one of the top French villages to visit.
Rocamadour is truly one of the most beautiful French towns and it’s clear to see why this is such a popular Dordogne destination.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site and been an important destination for pilgrims walking the St James’ Way for centuries. If you visit during the day chances are you’ll still see them climbing up the city’s 216 steps on their knees where they’ll worship the Virgin Mary.
We explored the sacred city by night having had a great view of it just before sunset from the other side of the valley. What makes Rocamadour so beautiful is the way it’s built into the cave, far different from anything I’ve seen before. You have to see it to believe it!
Collonges la Rouge
The red brick buildings of Collonges la Rouge in La Corrèze department are astounding. No, they’re not painted. The bricks are built of red sandstone so this colouring is entirely natural and makes it one of the prettiest villages in France, hands down.
Walking through the narrow alleyways you won’t see a building that isn’t red and it’s amazing. I loved the contrast of the green grape vines, the purple wisteria and the green hills. All together you’ll find it hard to forget this beautiful French town.
But I’m saving the best until last. Sure, Collonges la Rouge was gorgeous but the winner in my eyes was Turenne which is one of the most beautiful French villages I’ve ever seen.
This sleepy little village wasn’t packed with other travellers like Collonges la Rouge. There were just a few wanderers and a people sipping on coffee at cafés in the village’s charming square. The part that won me over was definitely the castle. Or, more specifically, the views from the castle. For just 5 euros you can climb up into this privately owned castle where a surprise awaits you.
How often have you stumbled across a garden this beautiful in a castle’s grounds? Surely that makes it one of the best villages in France?
Climb the tower and you’ll be rewarded with views of Turenne. Gaze out at the countryside, the beautiful French country houses and lakes in the distance.