Dordogne: tourism and sightseeing

Photo of Dordogne in France



Visit Dordogne, France

The Dordogne has stunning medieval castles, historical villages and towns, and the famous prehistoric caves of the UNESCO listed Vezere Valley to enjoy, each of them set in the attractive landscapes of the region, with rivers, forests and beautiful countryside, so it is no surprise that the Dordogne is one of the most popular destinations in France!

Dordogne tourism

MonpazierThe Dordogne is one of our favourite departments in France, and because there is so much variety the main challenge is knowing where to start when describing the highlights - and for you to decide where to stay when you visit!

To make your travel planning slightly easier we have divided our review further down this page into four distinct regions.

Note that the Dordogne area is quite large, perhaps two hours drive from north to south and a similar distance east to west, even more if the places are not close to the larger roads, so you are unlikely to see everything in one visit - no problem though, because you will certainly want to come back again!

Places to visit in Dordogne with reviews from France This Way

Below you can see a description of Dordogne and its highlights. For details of each place (town, village, attraction...) that we have reviewed here see places to visit in Dordogne

Dordogne travel guide and highlights

Perigord Noir - the south-east Dordogne

SarlatIn Perigord Noir you will find many of the most famous castles, towns and villages of the Dordogne region, many in spectacular locations, and with fascinating histories to tell - but you will also find more tourists and busier roads, especially in high season.

Sarlat, 'medieval capital of the Dordogne' and perhaps the most lovely town in France, is in Perigord Noir, as are a multitude of smaller picturesque villages and towns.

France This Way comment: this is certainly the most visited part of the Dordogne and contains many of the highlights although we would be inclined to visit outside high season if possible to appreciate it at its best.

See places in the South-East

Perigord Noir - the south-east Dordogne


The riverside setting, ancient village streets and castle make Beynac a highlight for visitors

See Beynac

Chateau de Montfort

Montfort is a fairytale castle on a hill a few kilometres from Sarlat

See Chateau de Montfort

Chateau de Puymartin

Puymartin is another of the lovely castles in Perigord Noir

See Chateau de Puymartin


The most extensive, and most visited, historical town in the Dordogne

See Sarlat

Chateau de Beynac

Attention to historical detail and views across the river make Beynac castle a treat for visitors

See Chateau de Beynac

La Roque-Gageac

The ancient stone houses along the river at La Roque-Gageac make it very scenic

See La Roque-Gageac


Domme is a hilltop village with some of the best views in the Dordogne, and extensive caves

See Domme

Chateau de Castelnaud

Castelnaud is both a medieval castle and an extensive museum of medieval warfare - children will love it!

See Chateau de Castelnaud

Chateau des Milandes

15th century Chateau des Milandes is well known because Josephine Baker owned the castle during the 20th century

See Chateau des Milandes


Another attractive Dordogne market town

See Saint-Cyprien


Perigord Purple - the south-west Dordogne

EymetAs well as well known medieval towns such as Bergerac, on the Dordogne river and with a lovely historic centre, this is a region to discover bastide towns (medieval new towns founded in the 12th-13th centuries) several of which are found in the southern Dordogne (and south into Lot-et-Garonne such as Villereal and Monflanquin).

The countryside north of Bergerac is generally forested hills, while to the south you are more likely to see fields of sunflowers and extensive vineyards.

France This way comment: many visitors love this region for its unspoiled nature, medieval villages, and also the lower visitor numbers and quieter roads and return year after year...

Places in the South-West

Perigord Purple - the south-west Dordogne


Beaumont is a small traditional bastide town

See Beaumont-du-Perigord


Belves is a very attractive village, listed as a 'plus beau village' and with a great deal of character

See Belves


The extensive 'old town' and riverside setting make Bergerac very popular, and the renowned wines of Monbazillac are produced just south of the town.

See Bergerac and Monbazillac


Cadouin is a very small village with an imposing abbey, listed as a UNESCO heritage site

See Cadouin

Chateau de Biron

The hilltop position and far reaching views make Chateau de Biron one of our favourite castles

See Chateau de Biron


South of Bergerac, Eymet is a traditional medieval bastide town

See Eymet


Issigeac is an unspoiled medieval village very well known for its Sunday market

See Issigeac

Le Bugue

Le Bugue is a small town on the river well placed to explore the centre of the region

See Le Bugue


Limeuil is a pretty village on the river classed as one of 'the most beautiful in France'

See Limeuil


Molieres might officially be an 'unfinished' bastide but there is still plenty to attract you!

See Molieres


Monpazier is among our favourite five villages in the whole of France. Unmissable.

See Monpazier


Montferrand is a very small village on a steep hill in a scenic part of the Dordogne

See Montferrand-du-Perigord


Saint-Avit is visited for its medieval abbey, a listed UNESCO heritage site

See Saint-Avit-Senieur


Tremolat is a picturesque village and nearby Cirque de Tremolat has incomparable views across the Dordogne river

See Tremolat


Villamblard is a very traditional French town in the countryside north of Bergerac

See Villamblard


Villefranche-du-Perigord is a bastide town in the valleys to the south of the Dordogne

See Villefranche-du-Perigord

Vézère Valley and Les Eyzies to Terrasson

Font-de-Gaume caves in the Vezere valleyHere you can explore the prehistoric settlements of the Vézère Valley as the roots of prehistoric man are discovered in the Dordogne region - much of the region is now a UNESCO listed world heritage site.

Although there are less 'large' towns here, this is the most central part of the region, so is a good choice if you hope to explore all parts of the Dordogne.

France This Way comment: the sense of contact with prehistory along the Vezere as you visit the caves and prehistoric dwellings make it a very interesting region, and it is also very scenic, perhaps the most picturesque part of the department.

See places in the Vezere Valley

Vézère Valley and Les Eyzies to Terrasson

Les Eyzies

Les Eyzies is a small village much visited as part of a tour of the Vézère valley

See Les Eyzies


Font-de-Gaume has the only prehistoric paintings in the Dordogne where visitors can see the originals

See Font-de-Gaume

Chateau de Commarque

Abandoned for several centuries, Commarque is now rediscovered and a fascinating castle to visit

See Chateau de Commarque


Very interesting prehistoric settlement set into the side of a cliff along the Dordogne river

See La-Roque-Saint-Christophe


Plazac is very tiny - but also very picturesque

See Plazac


St Leon sur Vezere is a very pretty village on the Vezere river centred around a lovely 12th century church

See Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere

Lascaux caves

Lascaux caves are probably the most famous prehistoric cave paintings in the world

See Lascaux caves


Montignac is a pretty riverside town most visited for its proximity to Lascaux caves

See Montignac


St-Amand-de-Coly is another of the exceptionally pretty villages to be found in the Dordogne

See Saint-Amand-de-Coly


The world renowned Gardens of the Imagination in Terrasson are the major highlight and attract visitors from all across France

See Terrasson

Perigord Vert and Perigord Blanc - the northern Dordogne

BrantomeLess visited than the southern Dordogne, the north also has its share of market towns and castles, beautiful scenery and picturesque villages, including Perigueux, 'capital' of the Dordogne.

Part of these northern areas fall within the Perigord-Limousin Natural Regional Park.

France This way comment: this region is quite different in character to the 'central' Dordogne and provides a quite different visitor experience, with less major sights but more peace and quiet. Lovely region to unwind!

See places in the North

Perigord Vert and Perigord Blanc - the northern Dordogne


Nontron is a quiet town to the south of the Natural Regional Park of Perigord-Limousin

See Nontron

Chateau de Jumilhac

The Chateau de Jumilhac, sometimes called the 'sleeping beauty castle', is especially famous for its multi-spired roofline

See Chateau de Jumilhac

Chateau de Puyguilhem

Chateau Puyguilhem is unusual in being a renaissance period castle - most here are medieval in origins

See Chateau de Puyguilhem


Thiviers is renowned for being the foie gras capital of the northern Dordogne

See Thiviers


Saint-Jean-de-Cole has a riverside setting and old stone bridge, a castle and many lovely houses. A highlight.

See Saint-Jean-de-Cole


Bourdeilles, and the castle around which the pretty village developed, make for a lovely stroll in the northern Dordogne

See Bourdeilles


Brantome is a town and abbey in a particularly lovely setting on the Dronne River

See Brantome


Riberac is a quiet town well known for its important regional market

See Riberac


Perigueux is an important regional centre with an imposing byzantine cathedral and interesting medieval town

See Perigueux


Excideuil is a market town near the Perigord-Limousin Natural Park

See Excideuil

Chateau de Hautefort

Often claimed to be the most beautiful of the many castles in the Dordogne, Hautefort also has very impressive views

See Chateau de Hautefort

Popular activities

We lived near Monpazier for 10 years and now live in Bergerac. Apart from exploring many of the towns and villages our personal favourite activities (and also those of our visitors) include:

  • Canoeing along the Dordogne river, available in many of the popular tourist destinations along the river and also in places along the Vézere and in Brântome
  • Visiting one of the popular Dordogne markets
  • Exploring the quiet backroads which are usually unknown to tourists and discovering the perfect picnic spot
  • Cycling through the small hamlets and rolling countryside on quiet roads
  • Horseriding is widely available
  • There are many other activities including several organised around the 'prehistoric connection' such as dinosaur parks and prehistoric village
See also:

Map of Dordogne and places to visit

More information

See more places, tourist attractions and local markets at visiting Dordogne

See an index of all Dordogne communes

Feature article: countryside and bastide towns in the southern Dordogne - Monpazier, Villefranche-du-Perigord and area

A common arrival point for visitors which has regular 'low cost' flights from the UK is Bergerac airport

French version: Dordogne (Francais)