Diverse Directions: Self-Guided Cycling Tours in France

Dordogne Cycling Tour Itineraries

Wine, Castles, & Cave Paintings Tour


General Information

Tour Highlights

Tour Dates

Anytime between April 1 and October 31. See Scheduling Your Bike Tour for blackout dates and tour scheduling considerations.

Location

The Périgord Region of France, also known as the Dordogne. The train trip from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport to Libourne, the nearest station to St. Emilion, requires about 4 hours. Because of the time required to make the return trip to Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport from Sarlat (7+ hours), you should plan to layover at least 1 night in Paris on the back-end of your tour.

Format & Length

Circuit tour of 7 days / 8 nights.

Terrain

Easy to challenging. Long, relatively flat and rolling stretches are the norm. There are 3 long, challenging climbs on Day 3.

Distance

254 km / 157 miles. Average of 43 km / 27 miles per day.

  • Overnight destinations: the beautiful cities of Saint Emilion, Bergerac, Limeuil, Montignac, and Sarlat.
  • St. Emilion, a 1200 year old stone village set amidst the world's most exclusive vineyards.
  • Magnificent medieval castles (English guided tours available) set along the scenic shores of the Dordogne River.
  • The Troglodytic cliff dwellings and subtropical vegetation of La Roque-Gageac.
  • Phenomenal sites of prehistory including the Grotte du Font de Gaume and Lascaux II caves, home of some of the world's finest prehistoric cave paintings; and Les Eyzies with its much-renowned museum, cave, and cliff-dwellings.
  • Visits to seven villages officially classified as among the most beautiful in France.
  • The unspoiled beauty of the Valley of the Vézère.
  • Enjoy free wine tasting opportunities nearly everywhere along your route.
  • Sarlat, perhaps the most extraordinarily restored medieval village in Europe.
  • Delight over some of France's finest wines and tastiest cheeses and fois gras!

Tour Package Price

  • Per Person Adult Price: $1025.00
  • Per Person Child Price (16 years or younger traveling with 2 adults): $475.00
  • Tour Deposit: $250.00 per adult and $150.00 per child. Deposits are charged when tour materials are sent and hotel availability has been confirmed.
  • Discounts are available for parties of 5 or more adults.
  • See Terms & Conditions for Diverse Directions' payment terms, cancellation policy, and all terms & conditions.

Tour Package Price Includes...

Tour Package Price Does Not Include...

  • Tour Documentation: Route instructions, map, Pre-trip Preparation Guide, On-Road Quick Reference Guide, and Sights Guide.
  • Bike Rental for 6 Days: Excellent quality 27-speed touring hybrid with handlebar bag, map carrier, cyclometer, water bottle cage, rear rack, lock, repair kit, and helmet. Optional pedal cages. 30-speed road / racing bike model available with supplement.
  • Delivery and retrieval of your rental bikes
  • GPS navigation files
  • Baggage transfers
  • English-speaking support staff
  • Reservation of your accommodations
  • Postage charges for US customers
  • Basic SAG Support: If you choose not to cycle on one or more days due to weather, illness, etc., AND you notify your Diverse Directions support representative in advance so that you and your bikes can be transported along with your luggage, no additional charges will apply.
  • Accommodations: You're free to determine your own budget for accommodations. A complete list of accommodations options (with website links) is available upon request.
  • Meals: You're free to determine your own budget for meals.
  • Transportation from your home to Saint Emilion and from Sarlat to your home
  • Insurance & personal expenses
  • Postage to destinations outside the US (generally $20.00 - $45.00)
  • Expedited shipping of tour materials, if required.
Daily Itinerary
Arrive in St. Emilion. Spend 2 nights.

Arrive in St. Emilion at the time of your choosing. No activities are scheduled for this day.

Day 1: Free Day in St. Emilion.

St EmilionYou have the entire day to explore this gem of a town, to savor its rich ambiance, and to recover from jet lag. You are sure to be awestruck by the beauty of this medieval village's unique setting, which is rather like a sunken amphitheater surrounded by some of the world's most exclusive vineyards. The narrow streets descend steeply past medieval stone buildings that change color with the time of day and the weather. As beautiful as this ancient stone is on a cloud-smattered day, against the clear deep blue southern France sky the light on these stones is breathtaking. See St. Emilion for more information.

Day 2: Bike from St. Emilion to Bergerac - 67 km / 42 miles. Spend 1 night.

BergeracYour rental bikes will be delivered following breakfast. Your first day of cycling begins in the vineyards. In fact, your entire gorgeous day of cycling alternates between wooded stretches along the Dordogne River and miles and miles of vineyards. Enjoy peaceful traffic-free cycling through small villages until you arrive at Bergerac. Bergerac is a sizeable town with a beautifully restored medieval section where you will be staying amidst the half-timbered 14th century houses. Following your ride, enjoy the afternoon exploring this extremely friendly city on foot. You also have the option to visit the castle at nearby Monbazillac. See Bergerac for more information.

Day 3: Bike from Bergerac to Limeuil - 46 km / 29 miles. Spend 1 night.

If you thought yesterday's ride was just too indescribably beautiful, you're in for a surprise today. The riverside cycling just gets better and better. And then there's almost 10 kilometers of cycling on the paved towpath of the old Dordogne Canal where you're cycling between the river and canal until you reach the lovely bastide (fortified medieval village) of Lalinde. You'll want to stop here, both to enjoy the village and to rest up before tackling the cingles.

LimeuilThe cingles, French for buckles, are loops in the river which you will view from two tremendous vantage points along today's route: the Cingle de Trémolat and the Cingle de Limeuil. The climbs are long, but definitely manageable; and you'll feel most accomplished as you're admiring the stunning vistas. After your first climb you can stop for a snack in the lovely village of Trémolat before beginning your next climbs.

After you complete the third (and shortest) climb, you'll descend dramatically into Limeuil. Located at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers, this gorgeous village rises high above the valley with outstanding views of the two rivers. This evening is all about kicking back and enjoying the joie-de-vivre that is France. You'll not want to leave this peaceful paradise. See Limeuil for more information.

Day 4: Limeuil to Montignac- 40 km / 25 miles. Spend 2 nights.

St LeonFrom Limeuil you'll leave the banks of the Dordogne and begin following the Vézère River. We've kept this day's mileage fairly low to ensure you'll have plenty of time and energy to enjoy the many sights on your way to Montignac. If you're interested in things prehistoric, you'll want to spend some time in Les Eyzies, where you can visit the Museum of Prehistory, a prehistoric cave shelter, and the Grotte de Font-de-Gaume, site of some of France's most famous prehistoric cave paintings.

After leaving Les Ezyies, you'll enjoy particularly dramatic scenery along the cliff-studded banks of the Vézère River. These cliffs are full of caves that have been used as homes for millennia; many of these cave dwellings are open to the public. La-Roque-St-Christophe is particularly magnificent and is set in truly one of the most beautiful spots in all of nature. Just beyond La-Roque-St-Christophe you'll pass through yet another of France's most beautiful villages, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère. Here you'll want to enjoy a wine and cheese break along the pristine riverfront.

Your cycling day ends in Montignac, home of Lascaux II, the painstakingly created reproduction of France's most important source of cave art. Lascaux II was created when it was discovered that the breath of humans was damaging the paintings of the original. Today, the original cave is open only to scientists, but to continue sharing this awesome human treasure with the public, the French created the world-renowned replica. Montignac is a charming town, beautifully set, and with a wealth of services.

Day 5: Free Day in Montignac.

Visit Lascaux, the Château de Losse, and/or any of the sights you missed yesterday. Or perhaps you'll just want to relax by the river and enjoy being a spectator for a while.

Day 6: Montignac to Sarlat - 45 km / 28 miles. Spend 2 nights.

SarlatFrom Montignac you make a challenging climb out of the river valley to visit a series of medieval villages -- St.-Armand-de-Coly, Coly, and St. Geniès -- which can be explored at your leisure. Beyond St. Geniès, you'll enjoy pastoral riding that becomes more wooded as you near Sarlat.

Sarlat's entire medieval core has been designated protected status. Wander the medieval streets of this living museum and consider taking one of the published walks on the hillsides surrounding Sarlat. The Tourist Information Office will provide you materials needed to do a self-guided walking tour of the old town as well as hillside walks, in English. See Sarlat for more information.

Day 7: Circuit of the Dordogne Valley Castles & the Bastide de Domme - 62 km / 38 miles.

Beynac CastleThe castles are numerous in this area and there is no better way to see them than to do this 62 km / 38 mile circuit on bike. Your circuit includes visits to the following castles: Château la Malartrie, Castelnaud, Château Feyrac, Château de Beynac, and Château de Marqueyssac.  Don't worry about touring all the castles you'll pass. Some are closed to the public altogether and thus can be only appreciated from afar; others only open their extraordinary gardens to the public. However, the interiors of at least three of castles are open to the public.

Along your route you will also pass through the riverside village of la Roque-Gageac which, due to its unique setting, enjoys a subtropical microclimate. If you need to rest awhile, you can hire a boat in la Roque-Gageac for more relaxed touring along the river. Finally, you'll visit the bastide of Domme, one of France's most formidably positioned, fortified medieval towns. We'll take you up the back way to avoid an even more severe climb, but the views from the top are definitely worth the effort.

Rental bikes will be picked up at your hotel in the late afternoon.