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Whether it’s drizzly, a summer downpour or just plain old raining don’t get drenched in despair. Some useful advice on what you can do if you feel a droplet on your face with top tips for doing stuff in the rain… To enjoy the Dordogne Valley in each and every season!
Rain or Shine
The major draw for visiting the Dordogne Valley is the abundant sunshine for most of the year. Hot summers, mild springs and warm autumns mean sunshine and good times but sometimes those little fluffy white clouds can turn dark. With such a luscious green landscape, even in the height of a scorching hot summer, it’s the rain that keeps the stunning countryside so green.
Whether its summer thunderstorms, or a front passing, a spot of rain is not uncommon even in the summer months. Don’t worry though as there are so many things to keep you occupied and entertained - a bit of rainy weather won’t stop you having a great time.
A rainy day out
For starters, it will give you a perfect excuse to tear the kids away from the swimming pool and go and do some sightseeing that’s been on your list. There are a multitude of beautiful villages and castles to visit and you can shelter from the rain while marvelling at some magnificent abbeys or chateaus.
There is nothing like exploring a secret passage in a castle or looking at catapults and crossbows (at the Chateau du Castelnaud for example) to keep the kids happy. Or take in the splendour and elegance of a 16th century building such as the Château de Montal near Saint Céré.
In over your head
Alternatively head underground to escape the heavens. The Dordogne Valley is known for world famous caves and you are spoilt for choice here. Visit Le Gouffre de Padirac, one of the largest chasms and cave systems in Europe. Descending 103 metres into an enormous hole you then take an underground boat river ride- the kids will love it.! There are many others that are equally impressive- including Les Grottes de Lacave or Grotte des Carbonnières.
20 000 year old Cave Art
Discover two mind blowing caves with prehistorical paintings in a grotte de Pech Merle , Grotte des Merveilles or the world renowned Lascaux 4.
While Pech Merle offers a chance to see some impressive original paintings, Lascaux 4 (near Montignac) is an amazing reproduction of cave art created by prehistoric humans 20 000 years ago. Adjoining is a leading international museum with video documentaries, interactive digital exhibits and other displays examining prehistoric art in this UNESCO world heritage site. A fascinating glimpse into art history before there was history.
Indoor Escapes - Museum suggestions
Musée de L’Automate
Check out museums such as the Musée de L’Automate in Souillac. A truly unique collection of ‘automata’ (robotic toys) from the Roullet-Decamps company that graced the window displays of high end Paris and European department stores at the turn of the 20th century.
The largest collection in Europe, this series of moving robots from the 1900s will be something to write home about.
La Roque Saint-Christophe
Step back in time to La Roque Saint-Christophe near Peyzac-le-Moustier. This remarkable 1km rock formation is home to natural rock dwellings that housed people from prehistoric time right through the Middle-Ages, the remnants of which can still be seen today.
A museum is located in the very rock that sheltered early human kind, with fascinating insights into prehistoric life. It will keep the rain off your head at the same time.
Museum Jean Lurçat - Saint-Laurent-les-Tours
In the castle overlooking Saint-Céré, visit the museum of Jean Lurçat, dedicated to the life of an artist and former French Resistance fighter in the Second World War. Find out how his tapestries influenced Picasso and led a come-back in French tapestry making in the mid-20th century.
Something for the kids
You can also take the family to Reptiland in Martel. You can get up close to the largest collection of reptiles in France, from crocodiles to a variety of slithery snakes.
Also on offer, farm visits such as La Borie d'Imbert, where you can sample and buy the famous Rocamadour goats cheese and meet the goats that make it happen. Or discover a functioning walnut mill and see how delicious walnut oil is made in either Le Moulin de Maneyro (in Pazayac) or the Moulin à huile de noix mill in Martel. You can also explore a 14th century fortified flour mill built by monks at the Moulin de Cougnaguet near Rocamadour.
Sipping in the rain
Pay a visit to the acclaimed La Vieille Prune Louis Roque distillery in Souillac where you can taste and buy plum brandy- a high end delicacy from the region.
If that thought is making you thirsty don’t forget the plethora of wineries and wine tasting (and buying!) that can be had everywhere from Cahors to Bergerac and Bordeaux just up the road. Buy AOC accredited wine directly from the winemakers in amongst the vineyards.
Do not miss the world leading La Cité de Vin museum in Bordeaux and find out everything you could possibly want to know about this global wine powerhouse- fascinating and extensive, with workshops and tours in English.
A long long lunch
If you’ve lost all hope and its tipping it down with no end in sight, pack up your sticks and head to one of a plethora of bars, restaurants, brasseries or cafes everywhere in the Dordogne Valley. Shelter from the rain and discover the rich and varied food on offer here. Make that lunch a long one and don’t forget a local red, rosé or white to go with it.