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Canoeing on the Dordogne

from $2,549.00

Safe, undemanding canoeing holiday on the most celebrated river in France. Great choice for families – all hotels have pools and, for a limited period, all clients will have the option to rent a fully equipped bike for all non-canoe days making it easy to explore locally too.

  • Reviews 39 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely
    1/8
All about the Canoeing on the Dordogne.

This canoeing holiday offers a leisurely way to explore one of France’s most interesting waterways. The Dordogne River runs alongside glorious golden-pink limestone cliffs and passes the walnut groves and truffle woods of the Perigord; an area rich in history and striking views.
The canoeing is safe, not demanding, and we give you a lesson on handling your canoe before you set off. There are no major weirs to carry your canoe round, and the flow of the water does much of the work for you, so you can travel downstream looking out for imposing and magnificent chateaux, mediaeval villages and prehistoric sites including the Grottes de Lacave. There are plenty of diversions away from the river too; from Carennac visit the Gouffre de Padirac, or, from Meyronne, get to Rocamadour, a spectacular cliff-clinging town. The local gourmet markets at Sarlat are also a great way to experience Dordogne culture and taste amazing produce such as duck, goose, walnuts and cheeses.
We have chosen lovely, friendly hotels throughout, all with their own swimming pools. These include a converted C11 chateau, a **** Villa that sits on the ancient site of a vast Gallo-Roman farm and a country house overlooking two valleys. You’ll also savour delicious evening meals, taking in the best of the region’s delights.
NB: All customers must be able to swim at least 50m fully clothed. We provide 2/3 person canoes (minimum age 8 years). Single-person kayaks are also available if specified when you book. Only suitable for children over 12 unless experienced. Should the river, at any point, be deemed too high to safely canoe, we will provide Headwater bikes at no extra charge for all days affected.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • 8 Nights Accommodations, hotel-to-hotel
  • All continental breakfasts and evening meals
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Option to rent bikes for ‘rest days’
  • Canadian canoes or sit-on kayaks included
  • Standard transfers at the start/end of the trip (at designated place and time)
  • Buoyancy aid and helmet provided
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • One of France’s most celebrated rivers: wide, peaceful, calm, flat
  • Excellent for families, easy for beginners
  • Friendly hotels, all with pools; superb cuisine
  • Excellent views all along the river: picturesque perched villages and troglodyte cave dwellings
  1. Day 1 Day 1 Arrive in Martel

    Our lovely 3 star hotel is a former convent school, set in 7,000sqm of private gardens in the mediaeval town of Martel. (Staying at Le Relais Saine-Anne, Half Board)

  2. Day 2 Day 2 Martel to Carennac 13km/8mi/3-4hr

    After breakfast, we take you upstream to the small hamlet of Thezel, just south of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne for the briefing and canoeing lesson. Then it’s an easy paddle down to Carennac. This is one of the Dordogne’s most picturesque villages, with lovely C16 houses. Our hotel, with outdoor pool, is right in the heart of the village, overlooking the river. (Staying at Hostellerie Fenelon, Half Board)

  3. Day 3 Day 3 At Carennac

    A fairytale village with a jumble of cottages and C16 turreted manor houses along with the remains of the ramparts and the once-magnificent priory. Fenelon, still celebrated as the village’s most famous son, was the very popular bishop here in 1681, and a local aperitif is named after him! It’s fun exploring the narrow streets and alleyways and walks around the village, and on the causse, provide some of the very best views of the Dordogne. To explore further afield, you might like to hire a bike (request at time of booking) or take a taxi and visit the Gouffre de Padirac (9km away, via an uphill route), one of the region’s important spectacles where you’ll find amazing caverns, huge galleries, and a boat trip on the underwater lake. (Staying at Hostellerie Fenelon, Half Board)

  4. Day 4 Day 4 Carennac to Meyronne 20km/12.5mi/5-6hr

    On the first part of the journey you pass below massive cliffs, paddling past four impressive riverside chateaux before arriving at Meyronne and our spectacular C11 chateau hotel. (Staying at Hotel La Terrasse, Half Board)

  5. Day 5 Day 5 At Meyronne

    Why not relax at the hotel’s pool, or visit the south of the river, by the Rochers Sainte-Marie and the Grotte de Lacave? Rocamadour (only a 15km taxi ride away, or use our cycling and walking route notes), together with the Mont St-Michel, is France’s most venerated religious site. Kings once climbed the steps to the basilica on their knees, sailors prayed to the Black Madonna when in peril and the bell of her chapel rang each time she rescued another ship. The chapel is full of little model ships presented in gratitude. (Staying at Hotel La Terrasse, Half Board)

  6. Day 6 Day 6 Meyronne to Souillac 17km/11mi/4-5hr

    Today is an easy paddle, with lots of interesting things to see along the river, including some beautiful riverside chateaux (look out for Belcastel and the impressive Chateau de la Treyne in particular). (Staying at La Vieille Auberge, Half Board)

  7. Day 7 Day 7 At Souillac

    The prosperous farming country around Souillac was created from marshland by industrious C12-C13 Benedictine monks. Of the powerful abbey they built, just the abbey church remains, with outstanding bas-relief sculpture. Today Souillac is a bustling town, with good shops and a weekly local market. Visit the Musee de l’Automate, the largest collection of mechanical toys and dolls in France. (Staying at La Vieille Auberge, Half Board)

  8. Day 8 Day 8 Souillac to Carsac-Aillac 20km/12.5mi/4-5hr

    Today it’s relaxed canoeing down to Grolejac via St-Julien (a lovely village and a good lunch stop) through the heart of peaceful and prosperous Perigord countryside, with lots of time for swimming or lazing by the river. We pick you up from here and take you to your hotel in time for a dip in the infinity pool before dinner. (Staying at La Villa Romaine, Half Board)

  9. Day 9 Day 9 Leave Carsac-Aillac

    Please note that if hiring bikes, cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own. Please see our Planning you holiday page for full details.

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Where you stay
Le Relais Sainte-Anne
The rooms in the charming Relais Sainte-Anne are tastefully decorated with antique furniture. The grounds include a pool and extensive gardens to wander and relax in. Evening meals can be taken on the terrace in good weather.
Hostellerie Fenelon
This pleasant, traditionally Quercynois hotel is on the edge of Carennac – officially one of France’s ‘plus beaux villages’ – next to the river Dordogne. The hotel’s pool and dining terrace both overlook this mighty river. The hotel’s 15 rooms are all ensuite with either shower or bath. All are also equipped with direct telephone lines, television and hair dryers.
Hotel La Terrasse
The Hotel La Terrasse, ideally situated overlooking the Dordogne, is a converted C11 chateau, which has survived in spite of the turbulent history of the region. It was converted into a hotel in the 1920s by the Liebus family – who still own the hotel – but it still retains many of its original features – wooden beams, exposed stone walls, stone fire places and stone spiral stairwell. Period furniture completes the impressive, yet comfortable, interior. Your evening meal is taken in the hotel’s restaurant, where the menu reflects the local specialities. If you eat on the hotel’s terrace, you’ll also get to savour views over the river!
La Vieille Auberge
La Vieille Auberge, a coach house from Napoleonic times, has been modernised to create a charming auberge in a quiet part of Souillac. The restaurant serves traditional regional specialities with a modern twist.
La Villa Romaine
Dating back to the Roman occupation of the area, La Villa Romaine sits on what was once part of a vast Gallo-Roman farm. Bought by the De Bars family in C15 and developed in C19 into a prosperous farm, La Villa Romaine was turned into a hotel in 1948. The hotel now offers 17 large and comfortable rooms and suites, all equipped with air-conditioning, satellite TV, minibar and complimentary Wi-Fi and decorated in a modern style but with traditional twists. The hotel’s three buildings form a large courtyard and the extensive grounds hold an infinity edge pool, water gardens and terraces. There is a restaurant serving regional dishes made with locally sourced (and organic where possible) ingredients. Dinners are served in the dining room or on the terrace.
Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and evening meals included.

The Dordogne has a rich cuisine based on produits du terroir (locally grown produce). Typical first courses include tourain, an onion and garlic soup cooked in a broth with duck or goose fat, and ladled over slices of country bread and cheese. Pâté, often duck or goose, is equally popular, as is foie gras – ideally washed down with a glass of Sauternes or Monbazillac. Main course specialties also include duck and goose, often served in light cream sauces and, in the autumn, fresh cèpes. Duck or goose fat is also used for the accompanying pommes de terre sarladaises – slices of potato sautéed in goose fat, with garlic, parsley and wild mushrooms – delicious! Traditional desserts include tarte aux noix (walnut tart), gâteau aux noix, and flognarde, a type of flan with fruit and liqueur. A local cheese worth tasting is Bleu des Causses, similar to Roquefort, as well as Rocamadour goat’s cheese.

Some of the finest wines of France come from the south-west. Bordeaux is the largest wine region in the world, producing over 500 million liters a year. There are over 40 different appellations, including some of the most prestigious in France – Sauternes, Saint Emilion and Pauillac. Monbazillac is a renowned sweet dessert wine, while many of the lesser known regional wines are much cheaper but well worth trying. Bergerac reds and whites are also highly recommended; there is a delicious rosé too. Pécharment red is another one to try. See the section on Wine Service in our ‘All you need to know Guide’.

The canoeing is safe, not demanding, and we give you a lesson on handling your canoe before you set off. There are no major weirs to carry your canoe round, and the flow of the water does much of the work for you, so you can travel downstream looking out for imposing and magnificent chateaux, medieval villages and prehistoric sites including the Grottes de Lacave. There are plenty of diversions away from the river too; from Carennac visit the Gouffre de Padirac, or, from Meyronne, get to Rocamadour, a spectacular cliff-clinging town. The local gourmet markets at Sarlat are also a great way to experience Dordogne culture and taste amazing produce such as duck, goose, walnuts and cheeses.

Note: All customers must be able to swim at least 165ft/50m fully clothed. We provide 2/3 person canoes (minimum age 8 years). Single-person kayaks are also available if specified when you book. Only suitable for children over 12 unless experienced. Should the river, at any point, be deemed too high to safely canoe, we will provide Breakaway bikes at no extra charge for all days affected.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 21/07/2019
5/5

Mr Haggis

Overall we enjoyed the holiday very much despite weather that was less than kind, especially for the time of year. The upside of going in June was that we had the river almost entirely to ourselves, and the faster-than-usual current made for some good entertainment and less strenuous paddling. We would certainly recommend it to people who - like us - have never canoed before. A couple of problems before we left: we were incorrectly invoiced (500 was added for flights we weren't taking) and both our surnames were misspelt. Once we got there Keith did an excellent job, including sorting out rooms with a bath to soothe our aching bodies at each hotel. He also lent me his own waterproof bag for the week, and picked us up early as requested on the final day - he couldn't have been more helpful. As far as the hotels were concerned, the weak link is St Sozy (although it's worth going there just for Bernard, who is a hoot). I suppose you have limited options around there, but it's quite a walk from the river and it's a pain that it doesn't open till 1730. Also to be told that we are only allowed one croissant each for breakfast is not really acceptable. On the other hand Bernard sorted us out an excellent taxi driver who took us by various scenic routes to Rocamadour on our rest day. One general comment we would make - especially in view of the cost of the holiday - is that Headwater might consider putting its guests in slightly better rooms - we seemed often to be in the cheapest - and preferably ones with a bath. Overall, though, an excellent holiday, though we'd be grateful if another time you could sort out the weather...

Reviewed On 15/07/2019
5/5

Mrs Waller

This was an amazing holiday full of different activities but the highlight was the canoeing. The standard of accommodation was excellent and the food superb. The outstanding feature was our 2 lovely reps who could not have done enough for us. Initially Andrew collected us from Toulouse rather than have us arrive late for dinner if we had come by train. In the morning he showed us features on the river to be aware of which was a great help to a pair of novices.

He gave us a lift to Rocamadour which we would not have seen otherwise. We paid for a taxi 2 days before to go to the Goffre Padirac which cost 30€ for a 10min trip! He even brought us bikes to cycle back as the temps were in the high 30° and not fun to walk in. Overall they did a fantastic job and really made a difference to our holiday. We would contemplate doing this trip again in the future as we enjoyed it so much. Thank you.

Reviewed On 11/07/2019
5/5

Mr Haley

Our canoe trip in June 2019 was excellent. The weather was very hot (France’s recent heatwave) but the river was possibly the coolest place to be if you have all the right sun protection. Surprisingly, we were just about the only canoe on the river at this time. It made for a calm, surreal experience just for us. We found that the trip notes were misleading at times. Information on landing points and weirs/chutes could be updated and the maps made clearer. We brought a foam cushion for the seats and this made quite a difference when sitting in the canoe for up to 5 hours. Andrew and Janet were the reps in Souillac and they couldn’t be more helpful and friendly, even though they hadn’t been on the contract for long. They went out of their way to change the schedule to accommodate a wet day with a visit to Rocamadour. They were also keen to show us some of the key actual day 1 landing specifics which were ultimately essential in hindsight. The accommodations were good and we found that the food for dinner was generally high standard with good choices.

Reviewed On 18/06/2019
5/5

Mrs Willock

The holiday lived up to our expectations. Unfortunately the weather was not kind and we had a lot of rain but our reps Andrew and Janet bent themselves over backwards to make our days as enjoyable as possible. They went out of their way to juggle the itinerary and came up with great places to go on our rest day, always willing to provide transport. The canoeing was great fun and the scenery was spectacular! Most days, apart from an occasional fisherman, we had the Dordogne to ourselves! The food and accommodation throughout was very good and in some places absolutely brilliant! We both put on weight despite the canoeing! A great holiday, would thoroughly recommend.

Reviewed On 22/11/2018
5/5

Mr Brazier

A great holiday away from the crowds at a quiet time of year. Paddling was easy most of the time with some interesting parts where the river ran shallow or faster. Hotels and food were great with some characterful hosts.

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August 23, 2019
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$2,649.00
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