Arrive in Bordeaux, known for its neoclassical architecture and grand public squares and of course also for its red wine. If you have time, stroll along the waterfront past beautiful Classical façades, visit some of the city’s excellent museums, and browse in fashionable boutiques. Then relax in a café and watch the world go by.
Your Route Descriptions guide you out of the city, into the quiet countryside, and into the Lot River Valley. You’ll be able to take a 2-hour walk from La Sauve right into the vineyards. Today’s destination is Mauroux, where there is a short stroll to the Église de Cabanac. (driving distance: 170 km/106 mi)
Explore more Lot Valley vineyards today. Visit the pretty town of Duravel and the majestic fortress of Bonaguil, an almost perfectly preserved example of military architecture from the late 15th and early 16th centuries, as well as the fortified village of Villefranche-du-Perigord. Walks today allow you to wander through the forest and savour lovely views of the Lot Valley. Return to Mauroux for a second night. (driving distance 94 km/58 mi)
Today’s drive is short to allow ample time to visit vineyards and stroll in the picturesque towns of Puy L’Éveque, in one of the most picturesque sites in the Lot Valley, and Luzech, with its ancient castle, once commanded by Richard the Lionheart. Arrive at today’s destination, Cahors, a small city dating back to Gallo-Roman times. Be sure to visit the beautiful medieval bridge of Valentré. Today’s walks are short and feature the beauties of the countryside. (driving distance 57 km/35 mi)
Leave the Lot Valley behind for the Dordogne region. Along the way stop at St-Cirq-Lapopie, perched on 100-foot-high cliffs. You’re in territory much fought over during the Hundred Years’ War and opposite Bouzies you’ll see a fortified cave, known as a “château des anglais”, used by the English. At Pech Merle cave you can see prehistoric paintings and human foot- and handprints thousands of years old. Arrive at breathtaking Rocamadour, one of the major pilgrimage destinations of the Middle Ages. (driving distance 90 km/56 mi)
Explore Rocamadour. In the Chapel of Notre Dame, you can see the Black Madonna, the walnut carving of Our Lady of Rocamadour, the patron saint of sailors. Drive to Loubressac and Autoire, two of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne. There’s a great walk from Loubressac to a secluded gorge where you’ll see the remains of a rarely visited “château des anglais” . Take a ride on an underground river at Padirac, then return to Rocamadour for a second night. (driving distance 97 km/60 mi)
See the very best of the upper Dordogne River valley, with broad valley views, walnut groves, and lines of poplar trees. From the red stones at Collonges-la-Rouge, take a walk to the “Devil’s Chair”, a large stone carved by the elements into the shape of a chair, occupied, according to legend, by the devil at midnight on the Saturday of a full moon. Stroll through Plus Beaux Villages such as Carennac and Autoire and the bustling town of Souillac. Your destination is Carsac, if you’re staying at the classic hotel. If you’re staying at the B&B, continue past Montfort Castle to Vitrac. (driving distance 134 km/ 83 mi to classic hotel; 140 km/87 mi to B&B)
There are many options today and some require minimal driving. Walk to the beautiful perched town of Domme, where you can enjoy coffee with a three-star view. Drive along the river to La Roque-Gageac, a fascinating village huddled at the base of cliff, then head for Beynac, which looms over the river and scowls at its rival, Castelnaud, on the other side. Explore Castelnaud’s fascinating museum of medieval warfare. You can walk or drive to Sarlat, one of the best preserved medieval towns in France. Or see the Dordogne from a whole other angle by renting a canoe. (possible driving distance 80 km/ 50 mi)
Take the long scenic route to Les Eyzies, which bills itself as the capital of prehistory because of the famous caves in the area. Visit the beautiful bastide town of Monpazier and the abbey of Cadouin, which once had its very own Holy Shroud that was eventually proven to be a fake. Walk to les Gorges d’Enfer (the Gorges of Hell) and to the village of Tayac, with its fascinating fortified church, once a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. (driving distance 100 km/62 mi)
Visit some of the caves around Les Eyzies, then head for Montignac to see Lascaux II, the reproduction of part of the original cave which is no longer open to visitors. Along the way explore the lovely villages of St-Amand-de-Coly and St-Léon-sur-Vézère and climb up to see the caves of La Roque-St-Christophe, which were inhabited from prehistoric times until the 16th century. (driving distance 85 km/53 mi)
Journey from a landscape marked by the steep cliffs and caves to the vineyards of St-Émilion, home to some of the most famous wines in the world. Follow the Vézère River, pause at Lemeuil, a village of golden limestone, and Monbazillac, a beautifully preserved medieval town and the start of a pretty walk. Arrive at St-Émilion, where you’ll stay for two nights. (driving distance 155 km/96 mi)
Spend a day exploring St-Émilion and visit the many wine shops. Drive into the hilly countryside, passing impressive châteaux and Romanesque churches. Take a scenic loop through the great wine estates of St-Émilion and Pomerol, each with its own beautiful château. Or follow a wine route on foot, visiting six of the thirteen Premiers Grands Crus Classés in St-Émilion. This is the time to indulge in some wine-tasting. (total possible driving distance 87 km/54 mi)
Enjoy a last stroll around St-Émilion before departing. Your Route Descriptions include instructions for getting to both Libourne and Bordeaux. Rental cars can be dropped off at the stations there. Of course, you’re free to head out in any direction you wish for a new adventure.
"We were very pleased with all the arrangements made by Randonnée. The background information, driving and hiking directions, sightseeing notes and very importantly, the accommodation arrangements were excellent. Thanks so very much for the high quality of your service and support."
- R. Harrisson