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The Most Beautiful Towns in Dordogne, France

If you are planning a trip to France but aren’t sure where to start – let me help you. The Dordogne Region is gorgeous and reasonably under the radar – so why not visit the most beautiful towns in Dordogne? You won’t regret it!

What do you think of when you think of France? Paris maybe? Or the Cote d-Azure? Or maybe even the D Day Beaches of Normandy or the lavender fields of Avignon?

Me too. Well, until I went to the Dordogne. Now I think about the emerald green meadows, limestone cliffs, chateau dotted hillsides, and the winding river of the same name that runs through it all. The Dordogne is where it’s at!

Exploring Bergerac -one of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne

To be honest, although I have had a fascination with France from a young age, I had never heard of Dordogne. It only popped up on my radar after living in London for a couple of years. A few English friends had holiday homes there and I was told by many people that it is the most beautiful part of France.

I was intrigued.

When my Mum and stepdad were planning to visit me in London one summer and said that they wanted to go somewhere in France, where I would then join them for a few days, I suggested a couple of different regions that incorporated beautiful scenery and traditional French villages.

Lucky for me they chose the Dordogne because the Dordogne villages and towns are some of the most beautiful in all of France, and I loved exploring as many as possible.

Here are the best towns in Dordogne, France that you should definitely visit.

The Most Beautiful Towns in Dordogne

Most Beautiful Towns in Dordogne Map

Check out my interactive map of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne.

Bergerac

We based ourselves in Bergerac, one of the larger towns in Dordogne. My mum and stepdad rented an apartment there for a week.

Exploring the best Dordogne Villages in FranceExploring Bergerac - one of the best towns in Dordogne

Bergerac is a beautiful town with cobbled streets and a tidy main square lined with restaurants and boulangeries. Flower pots crowd the windowsills of half-timbered buildings with colorful blooms. 

There is a large fountain in the main square, watched over by an imposing statue of Cyrano de Bergerac – a dramatist of the seventeenth century who was immortalized in a play that centered on his unusually large nose. Souvenir Shops in Bergerac featured items relating to him and his snoz.

Exploring Bergerac in France's Dordogne Region

The town sits on the banks above the Dordogne River, with the historic center ringed by a modern, bustling hub of conveniences such as supermarkets and fashion boutiques.

The apartment we were staying in was a light-filled and airy loft, overlooking one of the narrow streets and a busy restaurant in the historic center. 

The day we arrived was HOT, so in the afternoon we traveled 40km to Le Buisson to swim in the fast-flowing Dordogne River. We picked a grassy spot beside the river, located beside a stone bridge and in front of a small restaurant playing music.

We joined a few other people and cautiously waded into the swift waters. The current was strong but we managed to stay rooted to the spot lest we be carried swiftly downstream.

Swallows darted around us as we let the cool water dry on our skin, lazing in the hot afternoon sun. It reminded me of my childhood on the farm, swimming in the creek at the end of our neighbor’s property.

Swimming in the Dordogne River in Le Buisson, a Dordogne Village in France

Back in Bergerac, we sat in the main square at an al fresco restaurant, enjoying a couple of sundowners before eating at a nearby restaurant where the waiter was friendly and helped us with the menu. It was a perfect first day in Bergerac.

Wandering the cobbled streets of Bergerac - one of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne Wandering the cobbled streets of Bergerac - one of the best towns in Dordogne

St Cyprien

The next morning we visited another of the beautiful Dordogne villages, the small village of St Cyprien, which sits beside a magnificent rock with a 12th-century Belltower perched on top.

Luckily for us, it happened to be market day and there were some incredible products for sale down the long and narrow main street.

Market day in St Cyprien - one of the best Dordogne Villages to visit

We bought some goat cheese and strawberries and sampled many other fragrant fresh cheeses and duck salami which was very good. We wandered leisurely up the winding roads to the belltower at the precipice of the town.

There’s something special about getting lost in the winding lanes of small French villages.

Wandering the back streets of St Cyprien in the Dordogne Region of France

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Further along the Dordogne River is Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and its magnificent chateau, one of over a thousand chateau in the Dordogne. Mum and Robbie went into the chateau but I was keener to explore the impossibly cute town surrounding it instead.

Castelnaud is one of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne Region of France

I meandered the narrow pathways to a small stone church with a spectacular viewpoint over the bucolic countryside of deep, rich green. More than anything, I wanted to just walk out into those verdant fields of French beauty.

Road trips are great but sometimes you just want to STAY somewhere and really soak it in. In my opinion, this is best done by walking.

Castelnaud in the Dordogne Region of FranceExploring Castelnaud - one of the best towns in Dordogne

I managed to restrain my wanderlust and I met Mum and Robbie back at the chateau before heading to a nearby restaurant that offered affordable three-course lunches.

We ate delicious goat cheese salads followed by a disgusting pork confit which was tough and jellied which reminds me all too much of cat food. Luckily dessert redeemed the meal and was a perfect creme brûlée. Cheese and desserts are my favorite things to eat in France anyway.

So far we were three for three with beautiful towns in the Dordogne!

Castelnaud - one of the best Dordogne villages

La Roque Gageauc

One of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne and definitely one of the most famous, La Roque Gageauc, just begged to be visited. My God, it was spectacular. It looked like a French Impressionist painting but with more vividity; a version of heaven on earth.

La Roque Gageau in the Dordogne Region of France

It is a small town perched on the side of a cliff overlooking the emerald waters of the Dordogne. Shuttered stone houses lined the river and traditional Gabarre, flat-bottomed wooden boats, cruised back and forth between the petite town and the cliff bound Chateau in the distance.

La Roque Gageauc is one of the most famous towns in the Dordogne Region of France

We did the cruise which took an hour to lazily navigate the short stretch of river and back again. The Chateau in the distance was in fact the Chateau de Castelnaud and it was an imposing sight, seeing it from below.

Perched high above, it became an impenetrable fortress. Along the way, there was also an ancient fort built into caves high in the cliffside but it was closed to the public due to rock slips, otherwise, I definitely would have wanted to go up there.

La Roque Gageau in the Dordogne Region of FranceLa Roque Gageau is one of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne Region of France

Back on dry land, we walked the cliffside paths past the elegant houses and flower-filled gardens with the gorgeous views only growing in grandeur the higher we walked.

I got lost (on purpose) and ended up coming down a gravel path and past small farms before reemerging by the river where I started. Wild poppies framed the pathway, a regular sight in spring and early summer in the Dordogne, like daffodils in English villages.

Exploring La Roque Gageau in the Dordogne Region of FranceExploring La Roque Gageauc, one of the most popular Dordogne villages

Sarlat-la-Canéda

Another day in the Dordogne meant another road trip to discover the small villages and countryside of this beautiful region, and busy Sarlat-la-Canéda was next on our list.

More of a bustling mid-sized town than a small village, we had finally found where all the other tourists in the Dordogne had been hanging out. Sarlat-la-Canéda is definitely one of the most popular towns in Dordogne and it definitely showed.

Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne Region of FranceSarlat-la-Canéda is one of the busier towns in Dordogne

Despite this, I thought it was stunning with the buildings hewed of honey-colored stone and accented with brightly painted wooden shutters and bursts of spring flowers. Wooden hand-painted signs hung above shop doorways.

Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne Region of FranceThe main streets may have been crowded but once we were exploring the small laneways, the cacophony abandoned us. Another day, another three-course lunch special, and this time, all three courses were incredible.

Foie gras with onion jam and crostini, panfried white fish fillet with potato dauphinoise, and walnut cake with custard sauce. All served in a beautiful courtyard draped in bougainvillea. It was worth the trip alone.

Wandering around Sarlat-la-Canéda, one of the most popular towns in the Dordogne Region of France Wandering around Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne Region of France

Sated and ready for a return to the smaller Dordogne villages, we continued our journey to the sky-high Domme.

Domme

Domme sits on top of a rocky plateau, rising high above the countryside and overlooking the lush Dordogne valley below.

The river looked like a tiny squiggle, sparkling in the distance. After the tight, winding streets of the other Dordogne villages we visited, Domme felt a lot more spread out with wider streets on a grid system.

Wandering around Domme, one of the prettiest Dordogne villages

We traced the town walls along the edge of a cliff and then down some small residential streets. It struck me as feeling almost English (Sacre Bleu!), mainly due to the grey stone cottages and a large number of roses in front yards.

It had an unhurried and relaxed vibe that I liked very much.

Wandering around Domme in the Dordogne Region of France

There was a smattering of tasteful souvenir shops selling homewares and crafts. Artists painted the valley below from the vantage point of a spacious square lined with park benches.

Domme felt quite different from almost anywhere else in France I had ever been. It was all the space.

Amazing views from Domme, one of the best towns in Dordogne

Beynac-et-Cazenac

Our last stop on our tour of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne was to the riverside village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, where the film ‘Chocolat’ was filmed. The village is even more beautiful than it looked on screen.

A grand chateau is perched high above town and houses squeeze close to the narrow roads that lead up to it. After scaling the heights we sat in the sun on a wall outside the chateau with ice-cream in hand. A brilliant end to our Dordogne adventure.

Beynac, the small Dordogne village where 'Chocolat' was filmed Beynac, the small village in the Dordogne Region of France where 'Chocolat' was filmed

The fairytale villages and peaceful countryside of this gorgeous region of France utterly captivated us and I was very reluctant to leave.

In a country that is already among the most beautiful in the world, we found its pure heart in the most beautiful towns in Dordogne.

Beynac, the small Dordogne village in France where 'Chocolat' was filmed

Where to Stay in the Dordogne

There are so many great options for places to stay in the Dordogne – you can camp, stay in a hostel, rent a room or apartment/house, or stay in a historic hotel.

I recommend staying in either Bergerac or Sarlat-la-Canéda, as the smaller Dordogne villages on the list sit between these two large towns in Dordogne, and there are more accommodation options.

In Bergerac, rent your own place through VRBO – this beautiful farmhouse with a pool on the outskirts of town and this beautifully appointed riverside apartment right in town are great choices.

For hotels in Bergerac, Europ’Hotel Bergerac and The Originals City, Hôtel de Bordeaux both have outdoor pools and are within a few minutes’ walk to the historic city center.

Wandering around Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne Region of France

In Sarlat-la-Canéda, stay in this restored cottage located in a quiet garden right by town, or in this luxury apartment in the heart of the city center.

The best hotels in Sarlat-la-Canéda are Hotel Le Mas de Castel which has a buffet breakfast every morning, a garden, and a heated swimming pool, and Hotel La Maison des Peyrat which has stylish rooms, a garden terrace, and a heated outdoor swimming pool. Both are close to the city center.

The Best Insurance For Your Dordogne Villages Vacation

Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with – it auto-renews every month unless you turn it off so you don’t have to think about it for longer trips

Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.

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11 Comments on The Most Beautiful Towns in Dordogne Region of France

  1. Oh my! This looks so stunning. I think I may have to swap my previous plan and visit here. La Roque Gageauc looks spectacular. I really want to go now. I was thinking of Annecy, but this looks even better! Stunning photos and great post.

    • I can’t comment on Annecy Sheri as I haven’t been there (I want to go!) but the Dordogne is incredibly stunning and one of my favourite parts of one of my favourite countries so I can definitely recommend it! Hire a car if you can as it is easier to get around all the villages 🙂

  2. Wow. Some amazing photos. Thank you for this post. Bergerac is definitely going on my list. What would be the best time to visit? Summer?

  3. All those villages and little towns you visited are so incredibly picturesque that it’s hard to decide which one takes the cake! A major upside of such small lovely places is that you can pack quite a few into a short vacation.

    P.S.: I google potato dauphinoise once I had finished reading and it looks delish! I’m glad you didn’t post photos, otherwise focusing on the text would have been a challenge!

  4. Just gorgeous! I wasn’t familiar with this area until reading your post and now you have me sold. Adding it to my list! The towns look so charming and the scenery is stunning. I love that shot looking down on the river in Domme.

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