The 10-day tour is a circuit of approx. 120km, in the area of the Upper Dordogne Valley. This is a region largely away from normal tourist haunts in the Departments of Correze and Lot. The scenery is varied, taking in the limestone plateaux or Causses, covered mainly with rough pasture & scrub oak, and then later wooded hills, which slope steeply down to the Dordogne at the delightful former river port of Beaulieu. The route skirts the natural amphitheatre of the Cirque de Montvalent, whose great cliffs overhang the Dordogne between Carennac and Creysse, and visits the historic towns of Creysse and Martel. Six villages on this tour are on the unofficial but prestigious list of '147 most beautiful villages in France'. Curemonte, stretched out along a ridge; the gentlemen's houses or gentilhommieres of Autoire; Loubressac, on a high spur above the Dordogne valley; Carennac, with its elaborate abbey church; Turenne, encircling a hilltop castle; and the celebrated red sandstone village of Collonges-la-Rouge. Castles, stone-built mediaeval villages, ruins and caves lend daily interest to the circuit, 'une surprise a chaque pas'. The individual, family - run hotels offer the sort of cooking that people come to France for, and several have noted chefs. This is the land of truffles, foie gras, magret de canard and rich dark wines.
This tour is graded: ‘Moderate’. This should present no difficulties for anyone with a reasonable fitness level and accustomed to walking. Day stages: 14km to 22km per day with average altitude gains of 350m. 4 to 7 hours walking per day.
Arrive Meyssac. This is a small market town located in the Corrèze Department of central France. The town is maily built of the local deep red sandstone.
Accommodation: A comfortable 2 star Logis hotel with pool near the centre.
Over undulating country to Curemonte, a mediaeval village where the writer Colette once lived. The day ends with a long descent of an ancient cobbled mule-track into Beaulieu. The town is built on the right bank of the Dordogne and owes its fame to the Romanesque church of the former Benedictine monastery. Make sure you take the time to visit the Abbey Church with its magnificent doorway.
Accommodation: A well-appointed 2 star hotel in a quiet street, close to the Dordogne, where you can dine overlooking the water on a summer’s evening.
Great views as you climb out of the Dordogne Valley on the GR 480. From the crest you descend through splendid mixed woodland of chestnut, oak, and conifers, past a trout farm to the valley of the Cere, once a navigable river. One or two short sections of the day’s walk are little frequented and may be rather overgrown in summer. The village of Gagnac (1.5 km/1 mile) is worth a visit, particularly if you are lucky enough to find the church open. Y
Accommodation: Old established 2 star family-run hotel overlooking the River Cere. The restaurant is a favourite with many of our customers.
A walk through mixed farming country and the one serious wine-growing district on the tour (Glanes). It is a surprise to stumble upon the dramatic red bulk of Castelnau Castle, built on a shoulder of red ironstone. The village of Autoire with its 'gentilhommieres' or manorial house and waterfall is unforgettable. After a steep ascent past the limestone crags of the Cirque d'Autoire the next hour is spent crossing a typical limestone plateau of oak scrub and dry-stone walls to the village of Loubressac on its panoramic hilltop. The fortified village is situated at a height of 380m on the edge of a scarp and there are splendid views over the valley to the north.
Accommodation: A recently modernised 2 star Logis hotel in the middle of this very pretty village and opposite the 'village green'.
The 10 km/6 mile option follows the edge of the scarp past the ruined castle at Taillefer to Carennac. The 15 km/9.3 mile walk diverts to take in the Gouffre de Padirac Caves (pre booking advised) where a vast chasm in the limestone plateau opens into a most interesting cave system incorporating a short trip on an underground river. The day ends with an abrupt descent to Carennac on the banks of the Dordogne.
Accommodation: Two nights spent at an elegant family-run hotel 2 star Logis with swimming pool in the centre of this lovely and historic village on the banks of the Dordogne. Excellent restaurant with a good local reputation.
Time to explore this well-preserved mediaeval village. There are various possibilities for walks on both sides of the Dordogne. We describe a circular day walk of about 15 km /9.3 miles in your Route Notes.
A walk along the heights, with views over the Dordogne River, then close below the limestone cliffs overhanging the tiny village of Gluges, before crossing farmland to the ancient village of Creysse, clustered around a little rocky hill crowned by an ancient twin-aisled church.
Accommodation: Another family run 2 star Logis hotel in the centre of a delightful little village. A stream runs beneath the hotel and its terrace.
The day starts gently, heading north along a pleasant valley, before ascending steeply onto the limestone plateau or Causse de Martel. Martel retains its covered market square and the house is still visible where Henry II’s son, Henry Court-Mantel (so called from the new short cloak he made fashionable) died of his wounds after sacking Rocamadour in 1183. The route continues through scrub oak and along rocky paths to the tiny old village of Sarrazac.
Accommodation: The cellar of this 2 star Logis establishment was formerly a smithy where, three generations ago, the blacksmith’s wife would serve refreshments to waiting customers. The hoteliers are as hospitable as their ancestors, the smithy has vanished, and guests are housed in a venerable building with swimming pool nearby.
Passing through the ancient village of l'Hopital St Jean (the site of a mediaeval leper hospital), your walk takes in Turenne, the former capital of the region. Its houses straggling picturesquely down from the ruined castle. Woods and rolling farmland lead to the glowing red turrets and Romanesque church of Collonges la Rouge. The small town of Meyssac, is approx 2 km/1.2 miles further on where you return for your lasts night accommodation.
The tour ends after breakfast at Meyssac or Collonges. Depart for the train station and then on to the airport.
Per Person, Twin Share