6 villages worth visiting in the Dordogne valley

Castles, a pilgrims sanctuary, incandescent stone houses and gastronomic experiences await as you travel through the countryside, from village to village, in the Dordogne valley. Discover six of the favourite villages of France.fr.

Breath-taking: Rocamadour

Suspended on the side of a cliff, seemingly hanging between heaven and earth 150m above the Alzou canyon, Rocamadour is a sacred city. Built in successive stages, this vertical village, with origins going back to Prehistory, is a heavenly hodgepodge of houses and chapels dominated by a castle. A place of pilgrimage, to reach the Sanctuary at the top, you’ll have to climb the 216 steps of the pilgrims' staircase. The chapel of Notre-Dame de Rocamadour is the highlight of any trip and at its heart is a 12th century statue known as the Black Virgin, carved from walnut wood. The statue has been a major attraction for pilgrims for over eight centuries. Rocamadour is also famous for its goats cheese. Discover how it’s made at the farm of Borie d'Imbert, situated at the exit from Rocamadour.

Rocamadour - French only (External link)
Ferme la Borie d'Imbert (External link) - French only (External link)

Colourful: Collonges-la-Rouge

With its blazing red facades and slate covered roofs standing out against the lush green countryside of Corrèze, the village of Collonges-la-Rouge is a showstopper! The distinctive red colour, which can be fabulously flamboyant in a certain light, is due to iron oxide in the sandstone used to build the village. Explore the streets lined with pretty houses, mansions and manor houses and stop at the church of St. Peter, the octagonal 12th century bell tower is really impressive. Don’t forget to take a look at the old halls with their medieval communal bread ovens which are still used for village festivals. In the summer, the 16th century Maison de la Sirène (house of the siren), now a museum, is open to the public.

The Chapel of the Black Penitents, a secular brotherhood, is worth seeing for its contemporary stained glass windows installed in 2016. But to really experience the magic of Collonges-la-Rouge, visit at nightfall, when it seems as if the town is lit from the glow of fiery torches. A great way to discover the history and legends of this village and its unique atmosphere.

Collonges-la-rouge - French only) (External link)

Panoramic: Loubressac

Loubressac is popular not just for its pretty village but also for its breath-taking views over the surrounding countryside. Atop a rocky peak, the village overlooks the valleys of the Dordogne, Cère and Bave. You’ll fall in love with the medieval houses made from the characteristic ochre coloured stone and brown tiles of the region, as you wander the narrow streets with their hilly staircases and flowering squares. As you approach the castle, which dominates the village, you can really understand why photographer Robert Doisneau said that Loubressac has "the most beautiful light in the world". You can admire panoramic views from the castles at Castelnau and Montal, as well as from the towers of Saint-Laurent.

Bourgeois: Autoire

With its manors, castles, mansions, they certainly knew how to live well in Autoire! This small village in Quercy was a favourite holiday resort of the wealthy from nearby Saint-Céré. It was even nicknamed "Le Petit Versailles". Its beautiful houses with pale stone facades, brown tile roofs and flower decorated streets will entrance you. The waterfall at the top of the town, which flows into the river Autoire, and afterwards winds its way through the village, is well worth a visit. On the return journey, take a detour to the Roque d'Autoire, also known as the Castle of the English. This semi-troglodyte fortress, built on a slight shelf, backed by the limestone cliff is only 2 metres wide.

Autoire - French only (External link)

Gastronomic: Curemonte

In Curemonte, everything is in threes! The history of the village is marked by three great families: Curemonte, Candaillac and Plas. There are three castles, the Château Saint-Hilaire, recognizable by its square tower, its neighbour the Château de Plas with its round towers, and the château de la Johannie. The first two welcomed the great French writer Colette, when she sought refuge here during the Second World War. Curemonte also has three churches, including the church of Saint-Hilaire, on the outskirts of the village – one of the oldest in Corrèze.

Also worth exploring is the village hall, once a grain market which retains its original oak frame. On the streets, don’t forget to look up as the facades of noble houses feature details such as mullioned windows, turrets topped with slates and other carved ornament - well worth seeing. And, aspiring adventurers can join a treasure hunt via the Terra Aventura app.

Finally, before taking off, make a stop at Lou Pé de Gil (Occitan for “feet of the Cricket”). Their specialty is an aperitif made from dandelion flowers. They also have hard-to-resist jams, jellies and cakes made with local flowers and fruits.

Curemonte - French only (External link)

Monastic: Carennac

Time seems to have stood still in this little medieval village perched on a rocky terrace on the banks of the river Dordogne. Carennac, a former monastic town, was built around an 11th century Cluniac priory. Visit St. Peter's Church with its famous Roman tympanum and 16th century Gothic tomb and linger in its half-Romanesque/half-Gothic cloister. Afterwards, stroll through the streets and admire Renaissance houses with wonderfully carved windows. Learn more about the area and its heritage with a visit to the 16th century chateau of Doyens which hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions. And, in summer, take a guided tour of the village.

Carennac - French only (External link)