Your holiday summary

Holiday type Escorted tours
Country France
Resort Dordogne
Travel type Train
Price range From £1069
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 7 nights
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0330 333 6751

Dordogne, Albi and Carcassonne

The Dordogne is a rural landscape covered with chestnut forests as well as trout-filled rivers. It’s bisected by dry-stone walls, studded with isolated farm houses and medieval stone villages which spring into life on market days. Unchanged for centuries and blessed with a wonderful climate, there is so much to experience on this tour.

Included
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes seven nights dinner, bed and breakfast; guided tours of Sarlat, Albi and Carcassonne, all transfers, entrance to gardens at Marqueyssac, ‘garbare’ river cruise, journey on Martel railway, entrance to Lascaux, all touring as mentioned. Where hotel features a swimming pool, these will be open during the summer months according to weather conditions.

  • Return flights or return standard class Eurostar and Teoz train
  • Seven nights four and three star superior accommodation with dinner
  • Walking tour of medieval Sarlat
  • Tour of the pre-historic cave paintings at Lascaux
  • Travel by traditional boat through the river Dordogne valley
  • Visits to some of France’s most attractive medieval villages: Domme, Rocamadour and Roque-Gageac
  • Stroll around the formal gardens at Marqueyssac with their panoramic views over five castles and the twisting river below
  • See Cahors’ examples of medieval military architecture
  • See the collection of Toulouse-Lautrec’s work in Albi plus its remarkable Gothic cathedral
  • Walking tour of the dramatic 13th century fortress city of Carcassonne
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager
Day one

You should arrive at the airport to take your flights to Toulouse or take the train via Paris to Souillac. On arrival you will be taken to one of our selected hotels for four nights with dinner in Sarlat, probably the most picturesque town in the Dordogne.

Day two

The market town of Sarlat dates from Charlemagne’s time. Today it’s an architectural jewel constructed from the local golden stone with 13th century buildings lining its narrow twisting alleys. Such is its striking state of preservation, Sarlat has been the setting for a host of films, including Les Misérables and Joan of Arc. This is quintessential provincial France in its purest form. Unusually for this part of France, Sarlat was only under English rule for around ten years and during our morning guided tour, as we amble through the atmospheric cobbled streets, we learn how the area has stood the test of time after a long and troubled thousand year history.

This afternoon we travel to the famous caves of nearby Lascaux. Here, 17,000 years ago, at the very dawn of European human habitation, our pre-historic ancestors established the continent’s earliest known sacred human site and we have a glimpse back in time as we see their cave art. The original cave, was closed in the 1960s because of damage caused by CO2 exhalation from visitors, so what you are viewing is actually a copy. However, do not think the visit is any less fascinating for this as the entire site has been reproduced using original techniques. The replication took six years and has been achieved to a tolerance of just 3mm. If rock has fallen from the roof revealing a cavity and different colours – the resulting changes have been reproduced. The 2,000 figures, galloping herds of horses, groups of grazing deer and even a five metre long bull, make use of ‘perspective’ and illusionary ‘3D’ techniques to create a scene of remarkable beauty. Recent research suggests that the positioning of the various animals reflects the celestial location of various constellations at the winter solstice. The secrets of Lascaux are still being unravelled but this sophistication proves these prehistoric artists were far from primitive.

Day three

Today we follow the river Dordogne to one of France’s most recognisable sights – the village and monastery of Rocamadour. As we round the twisting ascending lanes, the view of this eclectic, almost vertical village assaults you. Hewn from the rock itself, dominating the turbulent riverbed below, its contours are highlighted by the bright sunlight. Following the discovery of St Amadour’s preserved body, Rocamadour became a pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages,the ‘Lourdes of its time’, famed for its healing powers and visited by numerous monarchs. The monument is the village itself so there’s time to explore under your own steam. In complete contrast, this afternoon, we take a trip on a restored 19th century train though the heart of the valley, twisting around cliffs affording yet more views.

Day four

Within a couple of meanders of the River Dordogne, is a collection of places embodying the melange of natural features, centuries of history and varied culture which make the Dordogne one of the most special parts of France. Firstly we see the fortress of Beynac, captured by Richard the Lionheart above the river. The views are amazing and the maze of narrow alleys and cobbled squares in the village below are recognised as one of the ‘most beautiful vllages in France’. Next we visit the unusual overhanging gardens of Marqueyssac. This formal display took 30 years to create and the relaxing path through clipped box hedges and indigenous trees, plus one of the best panoramic views in the Dordogne, puts these gardens in a class apart. Nestling next to the river with its creamy-coloured stone houses, Roque-Gageac is often winner of France’s ‘Prettiest Village’ contest. Here we board a traditional gabare boat once used for transporting wine amongst other things, for a sense of the way of life that once dominated the region.

This afternoon we visit Domme, a walled town with several fortified gates, yet more views, an array of medieval dwellings plus goldsmiths’ houses and a covered market. You could also explore the caves beneath the town, where once the Knights Templar were imprisoned.

Day five

This morning we bid farewell to the Dordogne travelling south to Cahors, with its 14th century fortified Valentré bridge spanning the river Tarn. Continuing, the countryside gradually changes from rolling wooded slopes of green to the more pale yellows, ochres and fields of sunflowers so typical of southern France.

You stay three nights with breakfast and dinner, in Carcassonne.

Day six

There are many historic 'old towns' in France but none quite compares to Carcassonne with its medieval citadel, its fairytale-like, cone-topped turrets and serrated cream-coloured battlements. You will have a guided tour wandering ancient cobbled lanes founded by Romans and trodden over the centuries by Visigoths, Saracens and rich medieval merchants. The citadel remains a living village and this afternoon you will have time to discover the more peaceful corners. We return for a final evening meal at your hotel.

Day seven

Albi came to prominence as a centre of Catharism, an unusual Christian sect but with some rather 'strange' views including the worship of two gods with the Pope being the representative of neither; all men being equal and all should have a vote. This was pretty radical stuff for the 12th century. The Pope declared them heretics and initiated a crusade against them. Today, on approaching Albi, you will see the brick built city, dominated by one of the finest gothic cathedrals crowning the opposite bank. The overall ambience here is different from the Dordogne, more Mediterranean in character and during our guided tour we will learn all about this once independent state featuring a visit to the cathedral, arguably the largest brick building in the world. Its interior is breathtaking in its detail and boasts one of Europe's most medieval works, an enormous mural of the last judgement. This afternoon you are free to explore as you wish. The renowned artist Toulouse-Lautrec was born here and a museum houses a collection of his most famous works.

Day eight

You will be transferred to the airport or Montpellier station for your homeward journey at the appropriate time.
Hotel De Selves four-star

The rooms themselves are larger than you would expect and the hotel is air conditioned. The lounge is airy with views onto the landscaped gardens. It is well situated just a few hundred metres from the historic centre of Sarlat in a peaceful and green environment. Dinner is taken at a nearby restaurant serving regional specialities.

Sarlat Relais de Moussidiere three star superior

Situated in 15 acres of rolling countryside with two lakes teeming with birdlife and deer - the ideal spot to take a pre dinner stroll. The hotel dates from a 17th century abbey and has been converted to a tasteful hotel in complete harmony with its rural surroundings. Constructed from local honey coloured stone, exposed beams, antique furniture and terracotta tiles are evident throughout and there is even a wine press outside. All have outdoor swimming pools open from from June to September, dependent on weather conditions.

Carcassonne

We use two hotels here, both owned by the same family who are third-generation hoteliers and very professional in their approach.

Mercure four star

Set at the medieval gates of the old-city thus making exploration very easy with contemporary rooms in pastel colours and of very good quality. The restaurant looks out onto the terrace from where there are views of the old city over a drink.

hotel Le Donjon three star superior

Within the old city itself and consisting of three separate medieval housesthis has been a superb restoration programme. Each room is different thus reflecting the 15th century features of each building. The quality is extremely good with traditional terracotta tiles, exposed wood beams and stonework all combined with the features of a modern hotel.
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Departure date Departing point Departure UK Arrive at Destination Nights Price  
24-Apr-2015 Manchester 06:45 10:00 7 1079.00 book
30-Apr-2015 Gatwick Airport 08:40 11:25 7 1069.00 please call
30-Apr-2015 Birmingham International 12:35 16:00 7 1069.00 please call
07-May-2015 St Pancras 08:31 11:47 7 1119.00 please call
07-May-2015 Bristol 07:25 10:10 7 1109.00 please call
21-May-2015 Heathrow Airport 07:45 10:30 7 1139.00 book
04-Jun-2015 Gatwick Airport 08:40 11:25 7 1129.00 please call
04-Jun-2015 Birmingham International 12:35 16:00 7 1129.00 please call
08-Jun-2015 Manchester 06:45 10:00 7 1159.00 book
17-Jun-2015 Heathrow Airport 07:45 10:30 7 1159.00 please call
25-Jun-2015 Gatwick Airport 08:40 11:25 7 1129.00 please call
25-Jun-2015 Bristol 13:00 15:50 7 1149.00 please call
04-Jul-2015 Bristol 13:00 15:50 7 1129.00 please call
17-Jul-2015 Manchester 06:45 10:00 7 1159.00 book
23-Jul-2015 Gatwick Airport 08:40 11:25 7 1129.00 please call
23-Jul-2015 Birmingham International 12:35 16:00 7 1129.00 please call
30-Jul-2015 St Pancras 08:31 11:47 7 1159.00 book
27-Aug-2015 Heathrow Airport 07:50 10:35 7 1169.00 please call
27-Aug-2015 Gatwick Airport 08:40 11:25 7 1139.00 please call
02-Sep-2015 Manchester 06:45 10:00 7 1169.00 book
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It was a very enjoyable tour and made a great break.
Jul 2012
Ms G Roberts