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THE DORDOGNE: A Cradle of Masters of Arts
August 20, 2018 - August 27, 2018

Beynac-et-Cazenac
Village of Fanlac
Hautefort, garden of the castel
Sarlat, place du Marché uax Oies
La Roque-Gageac
Château de la Grande Filolie

What makes a vacation memorable for you? Discovering picturesque hilltop villages overlooking fertile river valleys, imposing stone castles, fortresses and churches built on steep limestone cliffs? Exploring the past--the history of the earth traced in rock shelters carved out of the limestone as slow drops of water patiently worked out their shapes; or the early tracings of prehistoric humans who left paintings of their world alongside stalagmites and stalagmites? Or do you prefer to enjoy the present--Saturday market in a small town, country walks that refresh body and spirit, gourmet meals prepared with the freshest local products and complemented with wines from neighboring vineyards? If these are your fantasies, come with us to the Dordogne. You'll experience first-hand the rich natural beauty of south-central France, appreciate its wonderful cuisine, walk through its prehistoric sites, and learn about its complex history as you visit some of the hundreds of castles, fortresses and churches that mark its countryside.

THE DORDOGNE

A Cradle of Masters of Arts

8 DAYS, 7 NIGHTS

August 20, 2018 - August 27, 2018

A CRADLE OF MASTER OF ARTS

  • HIGHLIGHTS:
    • Prehistoric cave paintings, including Font-de-Gaume and Lascaux II, a reproduction of the original Lascaux.
    • The animation of colorful village markets in the Dordogne.
    • Sarlat, a town with a wealth of vestiges of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, one of the rare sites in France to remain intact since the 17th century.
    • Rocamadour, built into near-vertical cliffs, and a medieval way station for pilgrims en route to Compostela.
    • Beynac-et-Cazenac, a 12th century fortress-castle overlooking the valley of the Dordogne.
    • Les Milandes, 15th century château once owned by the American singer-dancer of the 1920s and 30s, Josephine Baker.
    • Gourmet meals featuring fresh local products: foie gras, poultry, truffles, chestnuts, wines of Cahors--and more.

 

Day 1: August 20 (Lodging near Cahors)

  • Arrival day,
    • Your guides will meet you at the Toulouse airport.
    • Before heading to the Dordogne region, if time, your guides will give you a brief tour of the city before driving you to your accommodations near Cahors.
    • Welcome apéritif and orientation.

 

Day 2: August 21 (Lodging near Cahors)

Prehistoric caves and perched village

  • Morning
    • Like the Dordogne, the Lot is dotted with prehistoric caves, many with paintings and carvings that inform us about the inhabitants of the area over 10,000 years ago. This morning we visit Pech-Merle, one of the most important and most fascinating caves. Later we will stop to visit the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Perched atop a rocky escarpment high above the Lot River, the village is remarkable for its setting alone. After lunch, as the group wants, we can walk down to the Lot River.
    • Visit the wine village of Gigondas; if you want, we can take you for a gentle walk in the beautiful hills of the Dentelles de Montmirail ("Montmirail Lace") for panoramic views of the region.
  • Afternoon
    • Return to Cahors for free time to explore the medieval heart of this town, once a flourishing university and commercial center.
  • Evening
    • Dinner

 

Day 3: August 22 (Lodging near Montignac)

On the way to our next home

  • Morning
    • Visit Figeac, a bustling market center whose roots go back to the early Middle Ages, and a stopping place on the way to Santiago de Compostela. Jean-François Champollion, the first person to decipher and translate Egyptian hieroglyphics, was born in Figeac. The village is now host to the Champollion Museum, which features a fascinating collection of Egyptian artifacts and interactive displays tracing the evolution of the different writing systems of the world.
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon
    • Tour of Rocamadour, an extraordinary site. Its castle, mass of buildings and towers cling precipitously to steep cliffs high above a deep canyon. From the Middle Ages it has been, like Figeac, an important way station for pilgrims walking to Compostela.
  • Late afternoon
    • Settle into your hotel, rest.

 

Day 4: August 23 (Lodging near Montignac)

This is your day to discover prehistoric cave paintings

  • Morning
    • This will be our opportunity to discover the most famous prehistoric cave paintings of the Dordogne, starting with an informational tour of Lascaux II, a nearly exact facsimile of the original Lascaux cave. Here we will find a wealth of fine quality, prehistoric paintings that offer keys to understanding the life of the region's inhabitants 10,000 - 20,000 years ago. After visiting the cave, we will stop briefly in the nearby village of Montignac.
  • Lunch
    • Possible picnic at Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère or La Roque Saint-Christophe.
  • Afternoon
    • Drive to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac to visit Font-de-Gaume, a prehistoric cave with the most beautiful collection of polychrome cave paintings still open to the public. Les Eyzies' Musée National de la Préhistoire (National Museum of Prehistory) also houses a fine collection of prehistoric objects.
    • Free time in Les Eyzies. Some will want to visit the prehistory museum. Even those who are not dedicated pre-history buffs may enjoy the superb view from the museum's terrace, overlooking the town and the surrounding valleys of Vézère and Beune. Others may choose to visit the Abri Pataud (Pataud Shelter), which contains vestiges of civilizations as far back as 3500 BCE.
  • Evening
    • Dinner

 

Day 5: August 24 (Lodging near Montignac)

Traveling through time from 3500 BC to the 12th century.

  • Morning
    • Skipping from 3500 BCE to the 12th century, we will explore the castle and village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, overlooking the valley of the Dordogne far below. Originally the castle was built to defend the area when it marked the frontier between French and English territory.
    • Visit the village of La Roque-Gageac perched on a cliff alongside the Dordogne River. Possible boat trip on the river in a traditional "gabarre".
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon
    • A short drive will take us to the hilltop village of Domme, with its exceptional views and fine architecture. Free time to stroll around the town and possibly take a short walk in the surrounding countryside.
    • Visit the château of Les Milandes, where Josephine Baker, American singer-dancer of the 1920s and 30s, established a home for her adopted children of different colors and nationalities to create her "world village". Each room relates stories of her life through objects, photographs, short films and recordings.
  • Late afternoon
    • End the day with a visit of the Gardens of Marqueyssac and its 18C château. The main terrace of the gardens, laid out on a rocky spur overlooking the valley of the Dordogne River, is arranged in a geometric pattern which evokes the symmetry of the building.

 

Day 6: August 25 (Lodging near Montignac)

Saturday market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda

  • Morning
    • It's market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda. Spend the morning enjoying the animation of the most colorful and complete market in the Dordogne. Guided tour of Sarlat to appreciate its wealth of vestiges from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is one of the rare sites in France to remain intact since the 17th century.
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon
    • Explore other villages in the area: St-Geniès, with its Romanesque church and Gothic chapel; St-Amand-de-Coly, known for its abbey church, considered one of the most beautiful in the world; and the lovely farm château of La Grande Filolie.

 

Day 7: August 26 (Lodging in Bordeaux)

Saint-Émilion and Bordeaux

  • Morning
    • On our way to Bordeaux we will stop in Saint-Emilion, a vineyard village in the hills above the Dordogne. Known for its wine since the Romans first planted vineyards there in the 2nd century, Saint-Emilion later became a commercial wine production center thanks to the patient work of medieval monks. Discover the town's golden limestone buildings that cover a network of underground galleries.
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon
    • Drive to Bordeaux. Boat tour on the river for an overview of the city and the region.
    • Free time to appreciate the town, then dinner.

 

Day 8: August 27

"Au revoir." Tour ends after breakfast.

  • Morning
    • Your guides will drive you to the Bordeaux airport or train station for your next destination.

 

What our travelers say about Dordogne

  • Judie and Alain were great guides, friendly, helpful and so concerned every step of the way for our well being and our pleasure... The flexibility with a small group is wonderful. I have recommended this tour to friends and will even more since this was my second with En France. Billie, Judie and Alain are the best.
    • J. K. New Jersey
  • I would absolutely recommend this tour to a friend. Meals and excursions were exceptional... Guides extremely knowledgeable, conscientious and fun to be with... I especially enjoyed the tours of the countryside, the picnics and outdoor markets.
    • S. M. Florida
  • Judie and Alain were both wonderful guides! Appreciated the diverse gifts each brought to our adventure. Judie's empathy, charm and sense of humor lubricated all our activities... Alain's driving precision and expertise allowed us access to places where large tour buses dare not go! Thanks so much for a memorable week. ....
    • E. N. Saudi Arabia