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Canoeing on the Dordogne

from $2,949.00

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 customers will have the option to hire a fully kitted-out bike for all non-canoe days making it easy to explore locally too.

  • Reviews 45 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 1th century chateau, a 4 star 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.
Note: 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 in a mix of **, *** and **** hotels
  • All continental breakfasts and 4 evening meals
  • Services of your local Headwater Representative
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Option to rent bikes for ‘rest days’
  • Canadian canoes or sit-on kayaks included
  • Buoyancy aid and helmet provided
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Room upgrades and extra nights at selected hotels (inquire for prices and details)
  • Option to rent bikes on rest days (inquire for supplement)
  • 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.

  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 16th century houses. Our hotel, with outdoor pool, is right in the heart of the village, overlooking the river.

  3. Day 3 Day 3: At Carennac

    A fairytale village with a jumble of cottages and 16th century 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.

  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 11th century chateau hotel.

  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.

  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).

  7. Day 7 Day 7: At Souillac

    The prosperous farming country around Souillac was created from marshland by industrious 12th to 13th century 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.

  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.

  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 11th century 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! The hotel also benefits from an outdoor pool.
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. It comes with all the 21st century creature comforts, including an outdoor swimming pool. 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 15th century and developed in 19th century 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 4 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 24/10/2019
5/5

Ms Ransome

Canoeing on the Dordogne was an absolute highlight of my travels in France. Headwater’s in-country representatives were outstanding in every aspect - from the moment they met my train until they dropped me back at the station nine days later. This was my first experience of a holiday kayaking trip like this and, whilst I am an experienced kayaker, I was quite nervous to be doing this on my own. The thoroughness of my first day briefing put me totally at ease and I was able to relax straight away and enjoy every moment. I also appreciated the detailed notes and activity suggestions for my stay-put days and enjoyed a couple of great walks, following the extremely accurate guiding notes provided by Headwater. I would thoroughly recommend this experience to anyone who enjoys nature and water-based activities.

Reviewed On 22/08/2019
5/5

Mrs Fitzmaurice

A well organised and relaxing holiday with great canoeing, lovely hotels and a beautiful area

Reviewed On 19/08/2019
5/5

Mr Granger

An awesome canoe holiday. Headwater were very thorough in all the preparation and organising. The reps could not have been more helpful in giving local advise and support. We will definitely be using headwater again for another holiday adventure. Thank you to all

Reviewed On 05/08/2019
5/5

Mrs Jones

Excellent experience - don't hesitate - book your holiday now!

Reviewed On 05/08/2019
5/5

Mr Dickinson

Spectacular holiday! Stunning canoe trip on the Dordogne- beautiful tranquil river. Fantastic accommodation and wonderful food!

Headwater reps Andrew and Janet brilliant.

Megan Wyatt at Headwater- thank you!

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