Situated right between the Loire Valley and Pyrenees mountains is the stunning and unique department of Dordogne, France. There is everything from pre-historic cave paintings to breathtaking cathedrals to medieval architecture. The Dordogne is home to a variety of villages that each boast its own unique culture, charm, and culinary scene.
Spending part of this summer in Bordeaux, it was too close to not go visit for a week-long trip. If you’re planning to visit the villages of Dordogne when coming from Paris, I would recommend going to Bordeaux first. Bordeaux can easily be reached by taking one of any daily direct trains from Paris. From there, you can easily rent a car and start your road trip as we did.
The Dordogne is home to a plethora of things to see, one of which can’t be missed — Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (which literally translates to “the most beautiful villages of France”) was created in 1982. It was designed as a way to boost tourism and garner interest in these historic and culturally rich villages. There are nine in the region, the seven villages below are my personal favorites (and note, not all are in this category).
That said, I hope you enjoy learning more about the seven most beautiful villages in Dordogne, France. Maybe it will inspire you to fall in love with these charming towns just as I have.
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The 7 Most Beautiful Villages in Dordogne, France to Visit
Travel Questions About Dordogne
Time of Year: Summer gets super hot and busy, so I recommend visiting during shoulder seasons. May to June or September to October would be ideal. Though the villages don’t get as busy as other places in Europe, they can get crowded in summer. The off-season allows you to avoid crowds and have a more intimate and authentic experience.
Amount of Time: In order to see everything you’ll want in these villages at their fullest, I would say that a minimum of five days is needed (but preferably more). Also, you’ll definitely need a car during your stay, so plan your rental out ahead of time.
Where to be based: When it comes to the ideal area to call home base, my personal favorite is the charming town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. There are several stunning hotels such as Les Cordeliers, Hotel Plaza Madeleine, and Le Mas de Castel. Finding accommodations shouldn’t be too difficult if planning ahead as there are a range of choices.
That said, there are also plenty of amazing Airbnbs to choose from. If you want to get a peak at my top picks and personal list of saved Airbnbs, join my private travel club The Lounge, and take some pressure off of planning!
The Best Villages and Towns to Visit in the Dordogne
Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful villages in all of France, visiting Domme offers a truly magical experience that is straight out of a fairytale. Domme is perched on top of a hill that overlooks Dordogne Valley and the flowing Dordogne River.
The breathtaking architecture and golden stones transport visitors back in time. It also makes Domme one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Dordogne Valley. The local market is great for stocking up on fresh cheeses, sausages, and other gourmet foods. There are tons of adorable artisanal shops and antique shops to explore.
Between the steep cobblestone streets and the famous Château de Beynac, Beynac village is perhaps one of the most idyllic and picturesque villages in the Dordogne. The château is incredibly well-preserved, and it is without a doubt the main sight to see when visiting Beynac.
Simply walking around the streets and under the archway to the entrance of the Château de Beynac will make your heart flutter. There are several stunning lookout points as well, I would recommend sunrise. Just be sure to wear some comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Many of the streets are pretty steep up the hill.
Brantôme is located on the northern edge of the Dordogne. It is situated on an island that is surrounded by the La Dronne river (it has somewhat of a similar vibe to Venice, Italy). The Pont Coudé bridge is a great place to take in some sights and snap some photos. However, walking along the river on Boulevard Charlemagne is another must.
There are also a couple of restaurants that are very worth visiting, including the ivy-covered Le Moulin de l’Abbaye, which has a lovely outdoor patio It’s known for its elevated cuisine with an incredible view. Those seeking a more adventurous excursion can travel behind the Benedictine Abbey to find some historic caves that look over the entirety of Brantôme.
La Rogue-Gaeac is home to breathtaking limestone bluffs perched right above the Dordogne River. This fairy-tale-like land truly looks like something straight out of a storybook. The village has undergone very few changes in terms of architecture and preservation over the last 300 years. This was my favorite village that we visited during the trip.
For the most part, the adorable homes in this village are on the modest side. But you will also find a few grand mansions and chateaus that showcase the more luxurious side of Le Rogue-Gageac. Architect-lovers and design fanatics will fall in love with the Renaissance Manoir de Tarde. It is without a doubt the most famous building in the village and features a round tower and mullion windows. On the main street, there are several restaurants to eat at like The Fat Pig or Les Courtines which are excellent.
From the Place des Cornières to the bustling bars and cafes, Monpazier is a vibrant village that is full of life. This charming village in the Dordogne was founded in 1284, and the medieval town center is incredibly well-preserved (in fact, it is almost 100% intact).
Unlike some of the other Dordogne villages, the houses of Monpazier all have their own distinct style and architecture. It creates a very diverse layout that is really unique yet stunning. There are excellent restaurants and adorable boutiques to explore right in the village. If you are looking for a breathtaking and transportive hotel, consider the castle Hôtel Edward 1er.
Sarlat-la-Caneda, also referred to as Sarlat, is one of the most visited villages in the Dordogne. Foodies will absolutely fall in love with this medieval town. It is home to aromatic markets — you can even get foie gras year-round here.
The markets operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so if you’re visiting, experiencing and exploring the culinary side of Sarlat is a must. Be sure to plan your trip around these days as they are a must-do. As they get quite busy, I would recommend an early start. From delicacies like foie gras to decadent cheeses, these renowned markets offer a culinary experience that is unlike any other. And what better place than an idyllic and historic setting as the backdrop.
Limeuil is a river-side village that sits right at the junction of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. Historically, Limeuil was incredibly important due to its location both for defense and trading purposes. That said, nowadays, Limeuil is one of the most popular places for canoeing and river beach lounging.
It is unbelievably picturesque, yet it is not as crowded or overrun by tourists as some of the other villages in the Dordogne. Thanks to the fun and laid-back river activities, this is also one of the better villages to explore with young children.
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