Cycling on the banks of the Dordogne - @ C. Ory
For many, the urge to travel peaks when summer rolls around. So why not plan a trip to the Dordogne Valley for a bit of Fun in the Sun? Alfresco cafés, outdoor activities and hundreds of entertainment options... Discover all of the must-see locations and must-do events in the region this summer!
Summer is the most popular time to visit the Dordogne Valley when the countryside is a vibrant blaze of greens and yellows and nearly all attractions and restaurants are open for business. The region's landscapes continually change throughout the year with summer bringing a fabulous choice of markets, activities and events to enjoy.
Despite some busy roads in 'Dordogne central', most vacationers are positively delighted by the lack of traffic especially on the country roads. So if you're looking to dodge a bit of traffic, equip yourself with a decent map and explore the back roads that dish out tonnes of picturesque backdrops and unexpected finds.
The region's weather is almost always warm with bright blue skies and temperatures ranging from 25° to 35° degrees. However, don’t expect it to be a ceaseless round of sunny days: the landscape would not be so green if there was no rain (although it would be extremely unlikely for a holiday to be ruined by bad weather in peak season).
During July and August, storms can be quite common after a few consecutive days of high temperatures but at least if the weather’s disappointing, the Dordogne is always able to console its visitors with some local foie gras and a bottle of Coteaux de Glanes.
Messing about in boats has always been a preferred means of passing the time during hot weather in the region. These boats come in all sizes: gabares, canoes, kayaks... you name it the Dordogne Valley's got it! Canoe trips are one of the most popular water activities and hire companies are available all along the banks of the Dordogne and the Vézère rivers as well as at some of the larger leisure lakes. Drift through the beautiful landscapes and if you're feeling hot, throw out the anchor and head for a lazy swim...
Water tight canisters are provided by most rental companies so don't forget to swing by the local market for picnic ingredients in the morning and lunch on one of the pebbled creeks.
River, lakes and waterfalls
Although the Dordogne is only few hours drive from the coast, its rather large supply of beaches generously compensate for the region's inland position. The rivers, lakes and waterfalls are some of the cleanest in Europe with reliably warm water especially in July and August. But as much as a dip in the pool is nice and refreshing, nothing beats a swim in the sparkling waters of the Dordogne.
From Argentat to Bergerac, the river entices vacationers in search of a refreshing cool down with its grassy banks, pebbled coves and sandy beaches.
Many of the larger river beaches are ideal places for the children to enjoy the sun as the river shallows provide safe paddling or are equipped with life guards.
Visitor's looking for adventure can head along to one of the Dordogne Valley's smaller waterfalls for a jump in the pools and down the natural slides. And although some of the larger 30 metre high waterfalls aren't swimmable, many often offer shady walks with the promise of a cool paddle at the end.
If these don't do the trick, head to one of the numerous water parks or leisure lakes that boast family fun activities under the sun.
In the shade or underground
With exquisite green landscapes and plenty of pretty villages to stop in for refreshments, the Dordogne Valley is the ideal region for hiking and biking. However if you're planning a walk, it's advised to set off in the early morning or evening when things cool down a little and you can enjoy the sun drape its golden light over the countryside. The same goes with horse-riding and other similar activities.
If you can only do the afternoon, the many wooded landscapes make for tonnes of shady walks with many a surprise en route: a glimpse of a medieval church, endless strawberry fields and prehistoric remains. The area may be a little short of mountains to challenge even the most adventurous of travelers, but those who insist on exerting themselves can try a spot of hang-gliding or head to the umbrageous tree climbing parks where the kids (and parents) can swing and glide through the trees Tarzan-style.
Another 'cool' way of beating the heat and sightseeing at the same time is to go down under. Home to an infinite number of caves trimmed with extraordinary stalactites and/or prehistoric drawings, most of them show a constant 14 °c on the thermometre. The only downside to visiting one of these subterranean wonders in summer is the volume of visitors that can sometimes lead to hefty queues so try to book your tickets beforehand.
The ultimate summer highlight has to be a trip to one of the Dordogne Valley's gardens. As the scent of roses, lavender and pine trees fill the air, visitors can wander around a multitude of different gardens and take in the colourful, flowery scenes that summer has rewarded them. Many also host an array of events in peak season including the Jardins de Marqueyssac and its candlelit evenings and the Jardins d'Eyrignac and its White Night picnics.
Summer events and evening markets
A holiday to the Dordogne Valley isn't just about sitting on café terraces with a glass of wine in hand (although it is a big part). With bags of fresh produce and beautiful flowers, summer never fails to bring a large supply of succulent fruit and vegetables to its markets. Candy-sweet strawberries, melon, plums and asparagus flood the stalls and coax passers-by with tastiness. Evening markets are another great reason for visiting in summer as visitors get the chance to nibble their way around the region whilst basking in the evening sun. Shared barbecues and tables are usually set out on the village square for locals and visitors to savor their freshly bought meal al-fresco.
Live music, dancing and wine are also usually on the programme. Keep an eye out for posters advertising the village marché gourmand or marché nocturne.
During the tourist season, there are many events being organized by various village councils across the Dordogne Valley. On almost any day of the week, you'll have a choice between several fairs, open-air banquets, firework displays or concerts animating even the smallest of villages. There's often an engaging touch of whimsy in many events such as Beaulieu's 'Fête de la Fraise' where the streets are thronged with stalls and world-record breaking strawberry tarts are made in celebration every May.