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On yer bike
Less a sports activity and more a part of French culture, you too can experience your very own tour de France, but at a much more chilled pace. If you are driving to the Dordogne Valley you can of course strap on your bike to the back of the car and explore the country lanes at your leisure. Alternatively, you can hire bikes locally. It’s a great way to discover some of the major historic sites and attractions of the Dordogne Valley and at whatever pace you wish to discover them.
Sites and sights from the saddle
For the enthusiast or for those who just want to enjoy the countryside from the saddle, the Dordogne Valley offers unrivalled scenic beauty and routes for all levels.
Despite being a hugely popular region, you will never feel overrun by traffic or visitors when cycling through the vast tracts of beautiful countryside. You can pedal along country lanes with the breeze in your hair, surrounded by fields of walnut groves as you pass by. Or cycle through wild plateaus, alongside stone walls separating fields of ripening grapes or grazing sheep taking shelter from the sun.
The diversity of the landscape and number of possible rides you can take to explore it are varied and plenty.
For great road circuits and mountain biking trails click here.
Enjoy the ride
Road biking is common here and cyclists on often flat country roads will find little traffic. Where there is, closer to larger towns or major sites, French drivers in the main are respectful toward cyclists. More often than not any winding climbs and descents are not too difficult (it’s not the mountain stage of the tour don’t worry) and you will pass through the shade of the deep oak forests that cover much of the undulating hills and valleys of the Dordogne.
Around a bend in the road you can cool off in the Dordogne river itself or discover a medieval village or two to visit and stop for a breather. On the way, you can sample some of the region’s excellent food, some duck confit or a walnut salad with some local wine before working up the courage to get back on your bike.
The Dordogne Valley also has some dedicated bicycle tracks. From Cazoulès (near Souillac) to Sarlat-la-Canéda this bicycle route follows the path of now tarmacked over train tracks that used to link the two towns. Mostly in the shade, and almost entirely flat you can discover pretty little towns and admire the beauty of the countryside as you meander toward the historic Renaissance town of Sarlat.
A great day out for the family as the dedicated bicycle track is kid friendly and safe from the traffic of nearby roads.
Mountain Biking – Go OTT for VTT
VTT (Vélo Tout Terrain) or mountain biking to you and me is really popular here too. There are a variety of graded routes possible and any road sections tend to be on rural country lanes. The great news is that many hiking and walking trails in the Dordogne Valley also allow mountain biking.
Click here for mountain biking trails
If you are interested in a day trip and something not too strenuous it’s possible to hire bikes from a variety of bicycle companies dotted throughout the Dordogne Valley. Some offer top-end bikes for the serious rider or for long tours but all offer cycles that cater for the casual rider too. Some companies deliver bikes directly to where you are staying depending on the number of days you are hiring for. Increasingly, it’s also possible to hire electric bikes as they become more and more popular.
The ideal time for bicycle touring is from April to October when the weather is at its best but be aware that in the summer months it can get very hot so be prepared to ride early to avoid the midday heat and pack some sun cream. If you are travelling independently be sure to book your accommodation in advance too as the summer months do get busy.