Classic 12 Days 3 Rivers Tour
An 11 Night, 12 Day Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe tour to the Perigord &
Lot regions of the south of France with canoeing on three different
rivers, visits to caves to see 25,000 year-old paintings, troglodyte
dwellings along the river, huge castles and beautiful châteaux, as
well as paddling through beautiful and dramatic nature and tasting
the local cuisine & wines
The Vézère is a medium sized river that flows down the famous ‘Valley of Man’ into the Dordogne. On the way it passes through several small towns and picturesque villages such as Montignac, St. Leon and Les Eyzies.
Along this river man has lived for tens of thousands of years. The famous caves of Lascaux are close to Montignac and many other cave sites are spread down the valley. The valley also has the remains of medieval dwellings along its course: we can see them at La Roque Saint-Christophe and Madeleine. We will also pass several Châteaux dating from the 13th and 14th C as well as the remains of a lock gate system which controlled the flow in the river when it was a major transport link.
The river and trails along this Unesco Heritage site will give an easy opportunity to visit many of the places mentioned.
The Célé is a small winding stream that flows down a steep sided valley into the Lot. On the way it passes through several small and picturesque villages such as Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie, Marcilhac, Sauliac and Cabrerets, which is the site of the famous Pech Merle cave which we visit.
Along the same valley a long-distance trail winds its way. Sometimes besides the river but mostly up high along the valley’s edge. This is the GR651 which is a small deviation off the famous GR65 more commonly known as the ‘Way of St. James’ or the ‘Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle’.
In an adjacent valley flows the Lot river with the famous cliff-hanging village of St. Cirq Lapopie.
The Dordogne is a large river that flows down to the Gironde before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean just north of Bordeaux. On the way it passes many large castles before the valley widens out into the famous vineyards of Bergerac and Bordeaux itself.
The castles along the stretch of the Dordogne we paddle are those that were built to defend the borders of England and France during 300 years of struggle which ended after the 100 years war.
- Fully guided whilst on the river & trail
- Full minibus support throughout
- Includes all accommodations
- Includes breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
- Canoe the Valley of Man on the Vézère river
- Visit cave sites at Castel Merle, Lascaux & Pech Merle
- Vist Castles and Châteaux: Beynac, Castelnaud & Milandes
- Hike along the route of the Way of St. James
- See the beauties of Rocamadour, Sarlat and St. Cirq Lapopie
Day 1. Arrival and first meeting
You will be met at our arranged meeting point by our guides for your
transfer to the Vézère valley. This is usually Brive-la-Gaillarde
Station for those guests arriving by train from Paris.
Alternatively arrangements can be made for arrivals at regional airports: Brive, Limoges and Bergerac are possibilities.
We will meet you off the train that arrives at Brive at 1pm or 2pm. The drive to St. Leon-sur-Vézère valley takes about 45 minutes. We will stop here for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together. It is a 10 minute drive from here to our accommodation, or a 45 minute walk instead.
Our first picnic and meeting place is under the willows on the banks of the Vézère.
On our arrival at the Relais de la Cote de Jor we will be met by our host Roland. If time and the weather allows we will be able to use the swimming-pool and relax before dinner.
Day 2. Our first day on the river
Today we will paddle the Vézère river from Montignac to St. Leon. When we pass the village of Sergeac we will stop to visit and look at the village and the old church. We will have our lunch on the river-bank here too. Later we can walk along the river bank and visit the cave at Castel Merle. This is a working excavation where a recent find is reputed to be the oldest known cave painting in Europe. We may also have time to visit the Château du Losse.
We will pass several Châteaux built out over the river today and also see the remains of a lock system built in the 18th Century. We remain at the Cote de Jor tonight.
If we have time we can take a stroll around the beautiful ruins of the Château de Commarque.
Day 3. Continuing down the Vézère river
We will continue our paddle from St. Leon down to Les Eyzies. We will stop for our picnic lunch at Tursac. Today we will pass under the cliffs of Roque St. Christophe which was a troglodyte city built into the cliffs and inhabited until the Middle Ages. Further downstream we will pass the Chapel Madeleine built into the cliff below a Roman Fortress. Today we move onto the Hostellerie du Passeur in Les Eyzies and have the choice of several restaurants in the town to choose where to have dinner.
In the town we can visit the National Pre-History Museum to examine the world-class collection of Neolithic artifacts.
Day 4. The Sarlat Market and Rocamadour
In the morning we will visit the open-air market in Sarlat and wander the streets of the picturesque town.
Later in the afternoon we will visit the world famous Rocamadour which is a set of numerous chapels built into a cliff-face with a château above and a village below. It is a renowned pilgrimage site.
We will then drive onto the Célé valley an hour or so away.
On our arrival at la Métairie Basse we will be met by our hosts Helen and Richard. If time and the weather allows we will be able to use the swimming-pool.
Day 5. Our First paddle on the Célé river
Today we will paddle the Célé river from St. Eulalie to Marcilhac. When we pass the village of Espingnac we will stop to visit and look at the ruins and design of the old tower. Later we will have our lunch on the river-bank around about Brengue. Before the days paddle we can walk on the limestone Causse and visit a Dolmen. We remain at the Métairie Basse tonight.
Day 6. Continuing down the Célé river
We will continue our paddle from Marcilhac down to Cabrerets. Before the paddle we can walk a short stretch of the GR651 and make sure we see the ruins of the old abbey in the village itself. We will stop for our picnic lunch at Sauliac. We remain at the Métairie Basse again tonight.
Day 7. A Cave, a paddle, a riverside walk and an arrival in St. Cirq Lapopie
We will walk from our lodgings across the causse and down to the Célé valley at Cabrerets. We will then visit the caves at Pech Merle to see the 25,000 year old paintings. We will then finish our canoe on the Célé with a short paddle down to Conduché and finish off the day with an hours river-bank walk to the beautiful village of St. Cirq Lapopie. Depending on timings we will have our picnic at the cave or beside the Lot river. Tonight we stay at the Auberge du Sombral in St. Cirq Lapopie. Instead of dining together you will have the opportunity to find your own restaurant in the village.
Day 8. A Hike on the Causse or a Canoe on the Lot.
Today we have a choice between several long hikes. Either the GR651 pilgrims trail along the Célé valley, or a walk along the cliffs above the Lot river or perhaps some walks around the forests and cliffs above St. Cirq Lapopie. We will carry our lunch with us today and find a suitable spot ourselves. Alternatively we can canoe along a section of the Lot river – completely different from the Célé. Tonight we remain in the Auberge du Sombral.
Day 9. The first day on the Dordogne river
In the morning we will drive to Souilliac and then later we will paddle the Dordogne river from Cazoules to Montfort. We will have our lunch on the river-bank somewhere near St. Julien. The size of this river will allow us to explore various routes around several islands before we arrive under the massive Castle at Monfort. Tonight we will be staying in the Hotel Plaissance.
Day 10. A day of Castles and Châteaux
We will continue our paddle from Montfort down to Beynac. Today we will pass under the village of Domme before arriving at the cliff-hugging village of Roque-Gageac. Further downstream we come under the watchful gaze of Castelnaud before arriving at another cliff-top castle at Beynac. We will take time to visit these places as we pass. Lunch will probably be taken on the river-bank at Castelnaud.
Tonight we stay at the Hotel de Château in Beynac or at the Château Monrecour.
Day 11. A final day on the Dordogne river
Today we will continue our paddle down the Dordogne from Beynac down to Siorac.
Before leaving Beynac we will visit the castle and the village and then paddle down to the Château des Milandes for a visit. After our picnic lunch we will continue to meander downstream and have some fun exploring a number of islands. We remain in the Hotel de Château for tonight.
Day 12. A visit to Lascaux and the time to leave
After a leisurely breakfast we will return to Brive in time to catch the 1pm train to Paris, but before that we can visit the world famous painted caves at Lascaux.
For the first two nights we are at the Relais de la Côte de Jor just
outside the village of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère. Sitting high above the
valley of the Vézère with beautiful views from from the garden and
balconies the small hotel is a short 10 minute drive from the
village or an easy 30 minute walk down a trail.
The hotel has a pool in which we can relax after a busy day on the river
For those that wish to walk before breakfast we have a couple of ideas. Firstly along to the Côte de Jor itself which is a viewing point looking down on a bend in the Vézère river with the village of St. Leon and it’s château and church in the distance. A second possibility is to take the trails through the chestnut woods and down to a couple of small fishing ponds before returning past a private château with ornamental gardens.
The Relais does not do evening meals so we shall drive into the village and visit the Restaurant de la Poste on one night and choose from a selection of other nearby restaurants for our second night.
- High on the valley side above the village
- Relaxing garden and swimming-pool overlooking the valley
- Access to hiking trails with fabulous views over the Vézère valley
- Easy walk down into the village takes about 20 minutes
- Friendly welcome by our host Roland
- In autumn watch the mist in the valley and hear the deer rutting in the forest
On the third night we are at the Hostellerie du Passeur in the small
town of Les Eyzies. This charming and comfortable hotel is at the
heart of the village off a small square opposite the National
When in Les Eyzies we can choose our own restaurant for the evening. The hotel itself is available as are a number of restaurants in the town: they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
If you are in the mood for an early morning walk then we have a circular ramble that takes us across the river and up through some forests to the Causse past some remote farms.
- 10 minutes walk from the river-bank where we take-out
- Lovely welcome from Jérôme et Jérôme
- Opposite the treasure house which is the Nation Museum of Pre-History
- Lovely small town to wander around
- A delightful selection of restaurants for dinner/li>
- Beautiful location with fabulous riverside walks
For the 4th, 5th and 6th nights we are at the Métairie Basse which
is situated high above the Célé valley on the Causse above the
village of Sauliac. Our hosts Richard and Helen have converted a
farmhouse from almost a complete ruin to provide fabulous
accommodation in this quiet area.
In the grounds we can look at the market garden and chickens and also use the outdoor swimming-pool which nestles surprisingly in a converted barn.
Early morning walkers can enjoy some trails out onto the Causse and visit an ancient Dolmen: a Iron-Age burial site perhaps 8,000 years old. We can also walk the long, but downhill trail, to the village of Cabrerets on the Célé river to begin our third day with a visit to the cave at Peche Merle.
Richard and Helen will provide us with some delicious home-cooked meals featuring regional specialities and using ingredients from their own garden. They will also introduce us to some local Apéritifs such as Vin Noix, a Ratafia or perhaps a Fénelon.
- Big friendly welcome from our hosts Helen & Richard
- Family run Chambre D'hôte with swimming-pool
- Great hikes out onto the Cause - with a Dolmen to visit
- Fantasic evenings with home-cooking and local specialities
- Hosts of Orchids to see in the spring season
- Beautiful location with stunning views
On the 7 and 8th nights we stay at the l’Auberge du Sombral in the
heart of Saint Cirq Lapopie. This picturesque village perches on the
side of the cliff above the Lot river and is looked over by a ruined
castle and abbey and surrounded by the remains of a fortified wall
with entrance gates at the top and lower ends. The village has a
single street from which vehicles are barred (excepting access for
locals) and is riddled by a network of tiny cobbled pathways.
Our hotel sits in the main square almost at the top of the village within easy walking distance of the restaurants and small shops. On our first evening here we are able to choose our own restaurant but on our final evening we will all dine together again either in the village itself or close by.
For those that like to walk we have plenty of choices of all lengths and difficulties. The village is surrounded by woods and the top of the Causse can be easily reached to offer superb views over the valley. Other walks take the winding trails down to the river and we can follow the Chemin de Haulage which is the path previously used by the Bargemen and their horses to pull boats along the Lot.
- Stunningly beautiful village built into the valley side
- Lovely hotel in the village square
- Immediate access to hiking trails: to the Causse, the forest and the stations of the cross to a chapel above the village
- Walk up to the viewpoint, examine the ruined castle and the huge church/li>
- Village has several restaurants and cafes
- Really a classic location with views over the Lot river
On the 9th night we are at the Hotel Plaissance or La Trielle in the
village of Vitrac itself and both are only a step away from the
An early morning walk visits the Château Montfort which can look spectacular in the early morning light when the mist is rising on the river.
- 2 minutes walk from the river-bank
- Large swimming-pool and garden
- Morning walk to the Château Montfort
- Classic French restaurant
- Relaxing terrace
For the final two nights we are at the Hôtel du Château in Beynac.
The hotel sits at the heart of this small village directly
underneath the Château Beynac which looms above us. It is directly
on the river and no more than a two minute walk from where we
take-out the canoes in the afternoon and put-in the next morning.
The early morning walk takes us up to the castle via a secret path with smugglers caves and out into the countryside beyond, past some farms and through a mysterious wood before looping back home.
The hotel’s restaurant has tables on a terrace beside the river, and also a small swimming pool.
Alternatively we can stay at the Domaine de Monrecour which is a château close to Beynac in the village of Saint Vincent-de-Cosse. We will still have time to visit the Castle and village in Beynac which is only a five minute drive away.
- 2 minutes walk from the river-bank
- Hotel at the heart of the village
- Walk up to the fantastic Château Beynac
- Watch the boats to and fro on the Dordogne
- Close to small village with shops and cafes
- Beautiful location with stunning views