A Cradle of Masters of Arts
Call for flexible dates
- Day 1: (Lodging near Cahors)
- Before heading to The Dordogne region, your guides will meet you at the Toulouse airport and, if time, give you a brief tour of the city before driving you to your accommodations near Cahors.
- Welcome apéritif and orientation.
- Day 2: (Lodging near Cahors)
- 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.
- Return to Cahors for free time to explore the medieval heart of this town, once a flourishing university and commercial center.
- Day 3: (Lodging near Montignac)
- 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.
- 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.
- Drive to the village of Martel for a brief visit to see classic examples of 14th, 15th, and 16th century buildings. Called the "town of seven towers," Martel is also known as a market center for regional specialties, including walnuts and gourmet products.
- Day 4: (Lodging near Montignac)
- 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.
- Possible picnic at Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère or La Roque Saint-Christophe.
- 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.
- Day 5: (Lodging near Montignac)
- 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".
- 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: (Lodging near Montignac)
- 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.
- 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: (Lodging in Bordeaux)
- 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.
- Drive to Bordeaux. Boat tour on the river for an overview of the city and the region.
- Late afternoon
- Free time to appreciate the town, then dinner.
- Day 8:
- "Au revoir." Tour ends after breakfast.
Your guides will drive you to the Bordeaux airport or train station for your next destination.
Lodging near Cahors
Carvings along the Lot River
Cahors, pont Valendré
Rosetta Stone, Pl. des Ecritures
Château de Losse near Montignac
Enjoying Dordogne's cuisine
Gabarre in La Roque-Gageac
Les Milandes, Josephine Baker
Sarlat, Place aux Oies
From the Stone Age to the Renaissance
8 days, 7 nights