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in the Dordogne Valley

As the vibrant greens of summer give way to a rich tapestry of golden colours, autumn descends on the Dordogne Valley with an irresistible charm.

Golden browns

As the leaves start to turn the light changes too. The rolling hills of oak trees look magnificent drenched in reddish autumn sunsets. The light and warmth of autumn make it the perfect time to explore sites, castles and villages as if they belonged just to you.

The weather allows for all kinds of outdoors pursuits such as cycling through the quiet countryside or hiking in the most beautiful landscapes.

It’s the height of walnut season and no doubt you will find a few to taste, lying on the walking paths. In the forests cep mushrooms are also ready for the picking. Luckily too, it’s the wine harvesting season and you can visit one of many wineries in the area for a sample of their vintages.

The warmth of the hearth

As November arrives, mist hangs over the castles and medieval villages, adding an air of mystery to cobblestoned streets.

Cosy fires flicker in rustic cottages, providing a welcoming retreat from the crisp air outside.

Most magical time of the year

Soon Christmas is on its way. Everywhere comes alive with seasonal markets, offering a taste of local delicacies and trinkets. It’s a time to savour the flavours of regional cuisine, relishing in hearty dishes and fine wines that warm the soul.

Whether it’s the vibrant colours of fall or the serene stillness of winter, the Dordogne Valley holds an irresistible appeal for those seeking a genuine and intimate escape.

Legends of the Fall

Almost all sites are open until early November, making October a privileged time to explore all the attractions the Dordogne Valley has to offer.

Busier in the summer months, historic places such as Rocamadour, Monpazier and the other medieval villages of the Valley see lesser crowds while shops and restaurants remain in full swing.

Some legendary castles, such as Beynac and Montal or even the gardens of Eyrignac are actually accessible all year round.

Autumnal activities

Autumn paints a perfect backdrop for hiking and cycling enthusiasts to explore the Dordogne Valley. The warm days and crisp air carry a sense of adventure. Hikers can enjoy a quiet yet invigorating experience on the hundreds of paths crisscrossing the region as the cooler temperatures make trekking through the scenic countryside a delight.

October boasts the ideal climate for cyclists to explore the Dordogne Valley’s greenways and quieter roads, through vineyards and villages or up to hilltop castles with breathtaking views. Don’t forget to make pit stops at local markets and cafés, where you can refuel your batteries with seasonal delights.

Markets and seasonal products

October is the month to enjoy a top culinary delight from the Dordogne Valley as walnuts are ready to be harvested. From walnut oil to walnut-based pastries, the Valley’s cuisine becomes infused with the earthy goodness of this seasonal treasure.

Autumn also marks the peak of mushroom season in the Dordogne Valley. The climate and forests create an ideal habitat for an array of wild mushrooms like the famous ceps while food enthusiasts venture into the woods, baskets in hand, in search of edible treasures.

Black truffles

Meanwhile, December kick starts the beginning of the most emblematic season of the year. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the famous truffle season. This exquisite delicacy, otherwise known as the Black Diamond, is the perfect accompaniment to the region’s top dishes.

If walnuts and cep mushrooms can be found in weekly markets all over the Dordogne Valley, the truffles demand their own special events, from specialised truffle markets to full on festivals.

Exploring the Dordogne Valley means immersing yourself in the art of seasonal gastronomy. Whether you’re indulging in walnut-based pastries or savoring a mushroom-based delicacy, you’ll be partaking in a culinary tradition that reflects the harmony between the land and its people, celebrating the abundant gifts of both the autumn and winter seasons.

Christmas is upon us

Spending Christmas in the Dordogne Valley is a truly magical experience that combines the charm of the region with the festive spirit and cosy atmosphere of the holiday season.

Christmas markets are the highlights of the seasonal celebrations with small and enchanting markets such as Carennac and Meyssac or bigger events in Brive and Périgueux. Both cities host a month-long market alongside wonderful boutiques where you’ll be sure to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

Winter Wonderland in Sarlat

Every year, the historic city of Sarlat organises a huge themed Christmas market throughout December. Locals and visitors meander through the market, sipping on mulled wine and hot chocolate as they soak in the festive atmosphere.

Stalls in chalets brim with artisanal crafts, locally made gifts and delectable treats, making it a perfect place to find unique presents and souvenirs.

Seasonal events

  • Truffle markets and Festivals

The Truffle Festival and gastronomic lunch in Cuzance marks the beginning of the season in early December. Later on in the month and through January, the lovely city of Martel also hosts several traditional truffle markets for an experience not to be missed.

If you are really serious about your truffles, then you have to partake in the yearly Fête de la Truffe in Sarlat. Every year the famous Truffle Festival organises competitions, introductory courses in oenology, cookery demonstrations, tastings and all truffle-based dishes.


  • Book fair in Brive

Every year in November, the city of Brive puts together the biggest literary event in France outside of Paris where famous national and international authors come and meet their avid fans for book signing and more.


  • Foires Grasses in Brive

If you love duck, foie gras, magret…then this is the event you have been looking for! Brive has been organising winter fairs since the 13th century. Called “Foires Grasses”, several take place in winter until the beginning of March.


  • Fest’Oie in Sarlat

You have probably guessed it by now but food is an essential part of the Dordogne Valley’s identity, hence the numerous fairs and markets taking place all year round.

Another one to add to your calendar is the Fest’Oie Festival in Sarlat. During the first weekend in March, geese are celebrated every which way with events including music, competition and gourmet dishes.


  • Aïcontis Festival in Saint-Basile de Meyssac

The Aïcontis Festival puts together two days of magic and fantasy, where festival-goers come dressed as Goblins, Trolls, Witches, Elves and other fantastic creatures… Entertainment for the whole family throughout the weekend. And it’s all free!


  • NAMMA Arts and Crafts Fair in Terrasson

In October, around 60 artisans showcase their unique skills in a free fair open to the public.