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Walking in the Dordogne - Sample Route - a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Walking in the Dordogne
Availability
Reprinted
Published
8 Jun 2015
ISBN
9781852844158
Edition
First
Size
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
Weight
290g
Pages
240
No. Maps
33
No. Photos
83
1st Published
1 Jul 2004
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Walking in the Dordogne

Over 30 walks in southwest France

by Janette Norton
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook describes 30 walking routes in France's beautiful Dordogne region, based around Sarlat and Souillac regions (Perigord Noir) and Bergerac (Perigord Poupre). The walks range from short walks to more lengthy mountain circuits, and explore the spectacular gorges, chateaux and medieval villages of the region.

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Description

The Dordogne region in southwest France conjures up a vision of England as it used to be 50 years ago - a green rural paradise of quiet little villages nestling in shallow valleys. It offers the walker a beautiful environment in which to walk, surrounded by delightful pastoral countryside, sweeping fields of crops and walnut orchards plus dramatic vistas from cliff tops.

The 30 routes, split between the regions of Sarlat and Bergerac, move through this countryside, taking you along valley bottoms and into woodlands and leave plenty of time for exploring the historic sites or just sitting in the delightful surroundings of a village café. Illustrated with the author's own colour photographs and sketch maps, this is a comprehensive guide to exploring the region on foot.

  • Seasons
    May and June, September and October are probably best for walking. Accommodation is full and expensive in the summer, closed in the winter.
  • Centres
    Sarlat and Souillac in the Perigord Noir, Bergerac in the Perigord Poupre.
  • Difficulty
    Straightforward half- and full-day walks, with grades from easy to strenuous (for the Dordogne, that is).
  • Must See
    The gentle river Dordogne, ancient towns and villages, chateaux, the food and wine, flowers early in the year, the grape harvest in the Autumn.

 

September 2015

Walk 1

This walk does not actually go to the Lascaux Caves, as might seem to be implied by the walk introduction. Also, the paths in this area have been renumbered by the local tourist office since this book was written. The walk initially numbered CP8 is now CP6 and there is a mixture of signage along the route. The forthcoming new edition of the guidebook will naturally make all this clearer!

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ARE CORRECTIONS SENT IN BY READERS AND HAVE NOT BEEN VERIFIED BY THE AUTHOR. THANK YOU TO ALL OF THEM.

From David George

Walk 2 - A walk around St-Geniès
The car park is on north side of road (D61) and not south, as shown on map.
No.1 (line 4).. on a narrow road with a (the track is now fully metalled).
No.1 (line 6) Do not take first turning right but continue straight on until you reach a wooden signpost.  Take left fork signed '4'.
You will pass the Salle.....
No.1 (line 10) - substitute road for track.
No.1 (line 13) - the yellow splashes are not only not obvious, I would say invisible.
No. 1 (lines 12-14) - I would just say:  bear to the left, passing a house with a ..... archway, on to a grassy track, with a high wall on the right.
No.15 (line 6) ...crumbling stone walls as you go up and left, crossing a field...
Walk 3 - St-Crépin
No.1 (line 7) - after (15mins)
Add - go left past this B & B on a long straight track.
No.5 (line 4) ... and continues down and then left past a stone culvert/well(?) and up along the side of a hill ......
Walk 4 - Round the Gardens of Eyrignac
No.2 (line 9) - Ignore first track to right and another left.  Left and right appear to have got reversed here.
No.8 (line 2) - No house name visible, no flowers in garden.
No. 10 (line 1) - We did not think that house that ugly! The track right is now easy to see as it hzas been widened and covered with white chippings.
No.11 - A bit confusing here:  As the road veers left up to the hamlet, go straight on, on a jeep track towards an intersection.
No.12 - Confusing. At the intersection, go sharp right down a gentle incline on a broad grassy track, leaving the hamlet directly behind you. There is a yellow junction sign on the tree but on the back of it.
Nos.13/14 - This track is now metalled until it crosses over the stream.
No.14 (line 3)  The track continues for about 500m, passing a line of poplars on the right, than an eroded bank on the left and then more poplars on the right (2hrs 45mins).
Walk 13 - Circuit round Mont Mercou
No.2 (line 6) - Go left past a field (not right).
No.4 - orange splashes now.
No.4 (line 4) - After oakwood add :
Look out for a good specimen of a 'gariotte' in field on right.
No.6 (line 1)  A few minutes later fork left (the road right goes to Pouchou).
No.6 (line 5) ..bearing up to the right signed Mt-Mercou.  In general the correct track is marked with indistinct yellow triangles.
No.7 (line 1)  Two tracks here, take farthest left of the two, going uphill.  The sign mentioned is some 10mins up the track just below the summit and shows info for hang gliders.
No.9 (line 5) - Presumably this means : If you go straight down the jeep track, which bears left off the GR46.  As written it gives the impression that the GR46 bears off left?
 Anyway we decided to do the shorter route, which turned out to seem as long as the recommended route. Going down the track we came to the garden of a house with some very unfriendly notices up beside the path as it lead into the front drive of the House, including some yellow crosses.  We therefore followed the track south and west that went around the house and by generally going left we eventually picked up the D23 arriving finally in Le Columbier.  Would not recommend as a short cut.  Obviously was a direct way through at one time, we even found the other end of it.
No.14 (line 9) - Saw no sign for 'Fontaine' or 'Gluges'. The 'diversion' path now has wooden signpost Mantel 3.5km, Gluges 2.8km.
No.15 - the Maize Maze is now a walnut plantation.
No.16 (line 3) - No map of any sort seen.
Walk 15 - Rocamadour
No.3 (line 5) At junction with railway line there is a new wooden signpost.
No. 4 (line 5) - Then at intervals there are further new signposts, the one before the bridge saying Moulin de Saut 2.2km, Gramat 8.5km.
No.7 (line 1) - the sign at the junction only indicates Lauzau, Gramat left, Moulin not mentioned.
No.9 (line 5) - After passing the mill, follow the river path, ignoring the path going left to a small bridge.  The path then follows the river for several kms and has to be crossed more than once, and occasional diversions made higher up the sides of the gorge, when too steep.Red and white GR signs appear at irregular invervals but not always where you would like to see one.
We got lost in Rocamadour:  We climbed the pilgrim steps but could see no way up from there.  Right seemed to be the entrance to a church or museum, left to start descending down hill again.  However, a kindly French lady understood our somewhat limited French and produced from her house a copy of a tourist leaflet.  This showed we had to go up the steps into the museum entrance and carry on through the alleways to the start of the 'Stations of the Cross' path which did lead us to the top of the cliff.  Some directions to this effect might be useful to the weary walker speaking no French.

From Helen Bee and Carl de Boor (USA)

Walk 1 - Around Montignac and Les Caves de Lascaux
No 3 - In the 2nd line at the end, you say that the sign will say walk No.8:  in fact, the first sign at that corner says Walk 6; later signs say Walk 8.
Walk 3 - St-Crépin
No.10 - At the point at which one needs to turn right to reach the churcgh, the path and the yellow splashes goes to the left. We walked a way along there before we realized we had gone too far.  It would help if your instructions noted that the splashes will mislead you here.
Walk No.8 - Walk around Beynac
No.9 - We all found the path through the "two attractive fields" very steep indeed.  Might mentioned that as a fair warning!
No.11 - Your instructions say that you will pass a vineyard and then enter woods with huge piles of logs, followed by a dog training field and a sign saying Royal Canin.  We saw none of this.  We kept going straight until we came to a gate blocking the track and then had to backtrack quite a ways to find the turning, which was clearly marked if you were coming from that direction, but not at all clear coming from the original direction.
Walk 9 - Around the village of La Roque-Gageac
No. 11 - The display of ironwork is no longer there.
Walk 12 - Roc de Monges, near St-Sozy
No.4 - The sign says Blanzaguet, not Roc de Coulon.
No.11 - When you come out into the fields there are two paths, one going straight and one going along the left, on the other side of the field.  There are no blazes ofr any kind, and we first went down the left hand one because your instructions seemed to indicate that.  Might make that clearer.
More general point :
With the first few walks, we would see the name of a village or hamlet on the map and assumed there would be a café or store in such villages - a place to get provisions or actual lunch.  But this was almost never true.  A couple to times you indicated that a particular spot was good for a picnic lunch, but it would be helpful to add to each walk some info on possible locations for refreshments - and if there aren't any an indication that one ought to take lunch.

From Connie & Charles Charlesworth

Walk 17 
No.5  Where it says "turn left towards a large house" the way is now blocked by a locked gate in a barbed wire fence, preventing access to and from the jeep track.  There are no notices either side.  Choice is to go back or negotiate the barbed wire
Note from author - the Tourist Office are hoping to redirect this walk to avoid the above problem.

From Victoria Rainsford - October 2009
Walk 21  Around Monpazier & the Château de Biron
No.8  Third paragraph should read :
At Les Potences (if you do not go to the château) go left by a wooden cross passing a small shuttered house into an open field.  Follow the track across this field to reach chestnut woods.  Approximately 100 metres after entering the woods bear right at a fork (yellow splash).  Note:  Follow the yellow splashes carefully ....
No.9  Careful - Take the second and narrower path right.  Note:  original text said between two pines but one of the pines has been felled!
Walk 31 - St-Félix-de-Villadeix
No.1 should read :
Exit the car park the way you entered.  Look left and you will see the spire of the church down the road.  Walk down the narrow road (ignoring a GR sign off to the left), passing the church on the left and a restored lavoir (wash trough) on your right.  Just before you reach a wider road turn left, signposted Garridade........

From Peter & Janet Seavers - November 2009

Walk 9 - Walk around village of Roque-Gageac
No.11/12   We started up the road signposted "voie sans issue".  After a gentle climb up and gentle curve to the left, we were signposted off the road to the right.  Clear yellow X ahead and a wooden sign to the path.  Clear path around the hillside (with good views of La Roque-Gageac and cables).  Slow descent then a short drop through rocks at an intersection of paths, left up the hill (presumably the old path?) and right down to the town, with a sign and yellow splashes.

 

Contents

Contents
INTRODUCTION
The Dordogne River
The Périgord Noir (walks 1–16)
The Périgord Poupre (walks 17–31)
A Short History of the Dordogne
Using the Guide
Travelling to the Dordogne
When to Go
Accommodation
Clothing and Equipment
Regional Specialities
Vegetation, Flowers and Wildlife
THE SARLAT AND SOUILLAC REGIONS (PERIGORD NOIR)
1 Walk around Montignac and les Caves de Lascaux
2 Le Chemin des Combes: A Walk around St-Geniès
3 St-Crépin and Carlucet: A Stroll in the Périgord Noir Countryside
4 Round the Gardens of Eyrignac
5 Les Eyzies on the Vézère River
6 Les Gorges de la Vézère
7 Around the Château of Les Milandes
8 Le Chemin de Cazenac: Walk around Beynac
9 Walk around the Village of La Roque-Gageac
10 La Bastide de Domme
11 Les Hauts de Veyrignac
12 Roc de Monges near St-Sozy
13 Circle round Mont Mercou near Martel
14 Walk around the Gouffre de Padirac
15 Walk around the Mills of the Alzou Gorge: Rocamadour
16 Circuit de Notre-Dame-des-Neiges
THE BERGERAC REGION (PERIGORD POUPRE)
17 Around the Trémolat Horseshoe (Cingle)
18 Around the Cliffs of Mauzac
19 A Walk around Lalinde
20 Couze to the Château de Lanquais
21 Around Monpazier to the Château de Biron
22 Around the Fortified Village of Beaumont
23 Around the Medieval Village of Issigeac
24 Conne-de-Labarde
25 Le Circuit de St-Aubin
26 Through the Vineyards of Monbazillac
27 Around the Villages of Flaugeac and Singleyrac
28 Round the Lac de L'Escourou
29 Around Monestier
30 St-Georges-de-Monclard
31 St-Felix-de-Villadeix
 
Appendix A Maps
Appendix B Tourist Offices and Syndicats d'Initiative
Appendix C Market Days
Appendix D Glossary of Local and Useful Words

Sample Route

WALK 2
Le Chemin des Combes: A Walk around St-Geniès
Depart fromLarge parking at the bottom of the village of St-Geniès
Ascent14.9km
DifficultyEasy, undulating walk
Time4hrs 15 mins plus extra time to look around the village
MapsCartes IGN 2036 ET Top 25 Sarlat/Souillac/Vallée de la Dordogne 1:25,000 and map from Syndicat d'Initiative Salignac
How to get there (from Sarlat)From Sarlat take the D704 signposted Montignac/Brive La Gaillarde and continue until you see a sign right to Salignac/St-Geniès on the D60. Then turn left on the D64, direction St-Geniès, for 5km (14km from Sarlat). Park in the large parking on the right at the entrance to the village (14km from Sarlat).
SignpostingGood – follow yellow splashes carefully as there is a lot of twisting and turning

A really attractive walk around typical unspoilt Dordogne countryside far from the tourist crowds. St-Geniès is a typical Périgord medieval village with its ocre-coloured houses and roofs covered with lauzes (traditional grey tiles). It has a 12th-century church and 13th–16th-century château, and the imposing square tower of the 15th-century Cheylard chapel dominates the village and Chironde valley. With its quaint squares and winding cobbled streets, all tastefully restored, it is certainly worth a visit, though the churches are always shut.

1 Go up the steps and cross the road, where you will see walking signs. Go right following sign ‘1, 2, 4, 5’ (these are the numbers of the walks – remember yours is No.4). Almost immediately you come to a crossroads, where you turn left on the D64 and then almost immediately right on a narrow road with a small park on the right, with a stream running through it and the village houses beyond. Do not take the first turning right, but continue straight on until you reach a wooden signpost. Take the left fork signed ‘4'. You will pass the Salle Abbé R.Delprat, who founded the Society of Saint Roch in 1947. This is a school of music and twirling (what sort of twirling one wonders – whirling dervishes spring to mind!). Beyond are some interesting carved doors.

The road turns to the right down a street with a high wall on the right (Chemin du Rouchou), although the name is not visible anywhere! Careful – at the end of the street bear to the left; this is indicated by yellow splashes but not obvious. (If you turn right and into the village proper you will be doing the walk the wrong way round!) This is a grassy path going by a house with a magnificent creeper-covered archway and there is a high wall on the right. The path comes out into fields, becoming more of a lane as it winds left and right and then left shortly after passing new houses to reach wooden signposts (20 mins).

2 Go right following a wooden sign saying ‘4’ and walk between fields and woodland on a wide track to reach another sign indicating left. As you go along here there are lovely views over typical rolling Périgord countryside.

3 Careful – Turn left in front of a long, low, red building just before reaching a large farm and the hamlet of Laboudie (30 mins). The grassy path reaches a narrow road by a farm, where you turn down left, and shortly after the sign marking the end of Laboudie turn up to the right into a chestnut wood. Keep to the main path through the wood following yellow splashes. After a few minutes the track bends round the edge of the wood and there are new houses over on the left. The track continues round the side of a field bending to the right and then plunges back into woodland again. It comes out into a field to meet the D704 (1hr).

4 Go straight across the road following yellow splash and signs La Fargeonnerie/Trémouille and Le Rousset and walk along the road for a few minutes.

Walking through the village of St-Geniès

5 Go left following a wooden sign ‘4A’ (4B goes straight on and is a shorter way back to the beginning of the walk – you will be taking this direction on the return journey). The track goes downward through chestnut woods, continuing along the edge of the wood with a cultivated field on the left to reach another sign at the end of the field (1hr 15 mins).

6 Go left at the sign ‘4A’ and then after a few metres bear right. (4B, continuing straight, is where you will join from on the return, as this is the second part of the figure-of-eight walk.) The path undulates along by fields and then up a hill on a wide jeep track to reach a ferme/auberge (farm offering food) called Les Genestes on the right. At the farm the track becomes paved and winds down to reach a T-junction. Turn left to reach a small crossroads (1hr 25 mins).

On the right you can see the hamlet of Le Rozel, which is worth strolling into to see some unspoilt Périgord houses.

7 Go straight onto a jeep track which takes you through open countryside and wide fields where you have extended views in all directions. You can see a number of little hamlets on the horizon. A few minutes later the track bears right by a clump of trees and then continues through open fields with no hedges to impede the views before it starts to descend gently to further crossroads (1hr 50 mins).

8 Turn right down towards the hamlet of La Pomparie (1hr 50 mins). At a fork by a farm keep right. The road bears round left (do not go straight on a jeep track here) and descends into the wide, shallow valley of La Beune to reach a T-junction by a weedy pond on the other side of the road (2hrs).

9 Turn left, and shortly after the road does a wide turn right and goes over a small bridge across a narrow stream.

10 Go up right a few minutes later on a jeep track signposted La Mouynarie (ignore another path to the left with a ‘Chemin Privée’ sign). This track bends back right and goes along the side of La Beune valley, slightly raised, skirting the edge of the woods and going through patches of woodland. Keep to the main track following yellow splashes to meet another narrow paved road (2hrs 20 mins).

11 Turn left (the road surface degenerates) to reach a tumble-down hamlet called Le Touron where most of the houses need to be renovated. There is an old four à pain (bake-house) here which has also not yet been done up – which is somehow refreshing!

Go left just after a dilapidated barn (difficult to see but it is marked) on a wide grassy track going up out of the Beune valley; there is a lovely view if you look behind you. Follow the yellow splashes carefully as the path enters woodland again and bears down right (proprieté privée up to the left). The track passes a large ruined house called La Vigne on the right. Keep to the main track bearing right (do not go straight), which widens before descending to another road (2hrs 45 mins).

12 Go left past an EDF (Electricité de France) holiday centre, where there are lots of green tents and an old building called the Château de Pelvezy with a huge tower in the middle which is an old pigeonnier (dovecot). You reach a crossroads where there is a dilapidated old chapel called La Chapelle de Pelvezy on the other side (2hrs 50 mins).

13 Go right and then up left following signs to Le Mazaud, Les Farges, Le Rozel, Les Genestes. Keep on the narrow road (do not follow the sign to Le Mazaud) through woodland and fields and then look for a yellow splash on a telephone pole indicating left (2hrs 55 mins).

Church in the village of St-Geniès

14 Go down left on a grassy path into a shallow combe (small valley), which you cross, and go along the other side with the edge of the wood left and fields to the right to the signposts passed earlier (see point 7, above). When we did this walk there were lots of lovely butterflies along here. We also picked tomatoes, which were falling off the plants! Go straight on at the signpost (3hrs 10 mins) to enter the same woods taken on the outward journey (this time the path is going upwards) and reach the road you came in by from the right (see point 6). Turn left (3hrs 20 mins) and continue along until you come to crossroads.

15 Turn right (to the left is signposted La Fargeonnerie) on another wide jeep track going slightly down and passing a vineyard on the right. Continue straight (do not follow the path round to the right), entering woodland going into another shallow combe which you cross and enter woodland the other side; there is a little gariotte (ancient stone refuge) hidden in the trees. The track is bordered by crumbling stone walls as you go up left crossing a field (there is a yellow splash on a walnut tree in the field). The path enters woodland and then goes down a grassy lane past a farm over on the right to reach the D704 crossed earlier (3hrs 45 mins).

16 Cross the road and take a stony track to the left of a garage (Garage Perez) past a field of abandoned old cars and through chestnut trees to reach signposts.

Turn left, signposted No.4 (you can go straight on here, which is an alternative way back). The track becomes sandy and seems to gain height again. On the right is a plantation of pines and newly planted oak trees (you can hear the road up on the left). Keep bearing round to the right (do not go straight on, or you meet the road before you need to). After a few minutes you reach a T-junction by a wooden cabin where you go down right to reach the D61 road (4hrs).

17 At the road go straight (there is a wooden post with a yellow splash in the field on the other side) across a large open field towards the village cemetery you can see ahead to reach the road and the cemetery wall (4hrs 5 mins).

Turn down right into the attractive renovated village of St-Geniès, initially down a pretty, narrow road with orchre-coloured houses each side bordered by stone troughs of flowers. Cross the D61 again and continue down a street (ignore no entry sign) past a little restaurant to the right to arrive in the main square. Follow the yellow splashes right and then left, appreciating the wonderful old houses and the magnificent turreted château and church alongside. You will notice the 15th-century Cheylard chapel standing on a rise near the entrance to the village. Inside are some lovely frescoes, but alas the church is often shut. Retrace your steps to the parking (4hrs 15 mins).

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