Visit the villages of the Dordogne

Villages of character in Périgord

How can you fail to fall under the spell of the Périgord’s villages of character? The warm rays of the south-western sun highlight the yellow stone.

These villages and bastides are built on the banks of rivers, like the Dordogne, or clinging to the cliffs above them.

Les Chalets du Périgord, camping with spa in Sarlat, is the ideal starting point for discovering all these remarkable, picturesque villages steeped in history.

The Dordogne and its most beautiful villages in France

The Dordogne is France’s second-largest department in terms of the number of villages listed as “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. No less than 10 communes await you:

Saint-Jean-de-Côle in Périgord Vert, Saint-Amand-de-Coly near Lascaux, then Domme, la Roque-Gageac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and Beynac along the Dordogne, Limeuil at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers, and finally Belvès and Monpazier to the south.

One of the hallmarks of Périgord buildings is the Lauze roof, a stack of flat stones used as roofing. This process can be seen in the many bories that dot the region.

village roque gageac

La Roque-Gageac

La Roque-Gageac, a small village 10 km south of Sarlat, is bathed in sunshine. Its magnificent cobbled streets open onto numerous terraces, and provide access to the Manoir de Tarde, the troglodyte fort and Château de la Malartrie.

Nestled in the heart of the village, an oasis of freshness awaits you. An exotic linear garden created by a palm tree enthusiast. You’ll pass under banana arches and among Canary palms, papyrus, Japanese medlar and oleander.

To take a step back, and get a bird’s-eye view of the dwellings, climb aboard one of the barges that will guide you along the Dordogne, discovering castles and hanging gardens.

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Domme

The village of Domme is a former royal bastide, with a breathtaking view over the Dordogne from its belvedere. You can explore the narrow streets on foot or aboard the tourist train.

Once through the gates of the citadel, you can explore the picturesque little stores, the old windmill, the Oustal eco-museum and the cliff walk.

Surprisingly for a hilltop village in the Périgord, Domme has its own cave of concretions under the central market hall. Enjoy the 450 m of coolness, while admiring the draperies, pools and stalactites.

Beynac-et-Cazenac

The village of Beynac lies 10 km southwest of Sarlat, on the banks of the Dordogne. Its cobbled streets lead up to the château, and when you turn around on the way up, you can’t help but admire the panoramic view over the Dordogne.

Behind its fortified gates, this magnificent medieval village is home to typical houses with lauze roofs, a seigniorial chapel, a calvary and its castle, from which you can see the river and other surrounding castles.

To discover the town in a different way, take to the skies in a hot-air balloon or paddle down the Dordogne in a canoe.

Sarlat-la-Canéda: one of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne

Sarlat-la-Canéda, the cornerstone of medieval elegance in the Dordogne, is seductive at first glance. This village, one of the brightest stars among the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne, is a jewel where time seems to have stood still. The cobbled streets and stunningly beautiful 15th and 16th century houses are testimony to Sarlat’s rich history. The tourist office offers guided tours to discover the secrets of this former bishopric, whose old town is now one of France’s largest protected areas.

Sarlat-la-Canéda’s attractions go far beyond its built heritage. The colorful market offers a panorama of local produce, while the local gastronomy is a treat for the taste buds. The small shops sell foie gras, truffles and other Périgord specialities for which the region is famous, all just a stone’s throw from our campsite in Sarlat.

The hidden treasures of Limeuil, at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers

In Limeuil, the Dordogne and Vézère rivers meet to create an unforgettable natural spectacle. This lesser-known village is one of the most beautiful in the Dordogne. Its discreet charm is revealed in the flower-filled alleyways winding between ancient houses built of typical Périgord stone.

The panoramic garden is one of the best ways to take in the magical confluence of the two rivers. The calm and beauty of the area lends itself to moments of relaxation and contemplation, far from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy sites.

Belvès, ten centuries of history perched on a hill

Belvès stands proudly on its rocky peak, dominating the Pays des Bastides. A proud representative of Périgord villages, it is often cited as one of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne. Its history can be seen in the narrow streets and emblematic buildings, such as the Tour de l’Auditeur (Auditor’s Tower) and the 15th-century covered market in the central square.

Its seven steeples, visible from afar, are a reminder of thehistorical and religious importance of Belvès over the centuries. And for those curious enough to delve into the bowels of history, visits to the troglodyte dwellings, dug out of the rock, are a real journey to the heart of the Middle Ages. There’s no doubt that Belvès embodies the quintessential charm andhistory of the Périgord Noir.

Monpazier, royal bastide and jewel of Périgord

Monpazier is one of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne, a royal bastide that has been incredibly well preserved since it was founded in 1284 by King Edward I of England. Here, every step reveals a piece of history, with its straight streets and ancient houses that bear witness to the Middle Ages. The central square, framed by covered galleries and arcades that host traditional markets and local artisans, is the place to be. Monpazier is, without a doubt, a must for those seeking to discover the authentic heritage of the Périgord.

TheMonpazier Tourist Office offers opportunities to explore the bastide’s riches in depth with guided tours. The13th-century Gothicchurch of Saint-Dominique stands proudly, inviting visitors to contemplate the stained glass windows and sculptures that adorn its nave. The bastide town of Monpazier also hosts a selection of cultural and historical events throughout the year, celebrating the splendor of one of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne.

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère: charm and serenity in the heart of a historic village

Listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère nestles in a meander of the Vézère river. This village, one of the most beautiful in the Dordogne, is an invitation to stroll, with its peaceful banks, honey-colored stone houses and verdant surroundings. The serenity of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère also lies in its remarkable Romanesque church, a 12th-century gem that offers a journey back in time to the heart of medieval sacred art.

  • Romanesque church with cemetery and ancient sarcophagi
  • Le Manoir de la salle, a stately home steeped in history
  • Picturesque streets lined with traditional Périgord houses
  • Canoeing and relaxing along the Vézère, the natural heart of the village

The atmosphere of this village is conducive to escape and contemplation, enhanced by a preserved heritage and surrounding nature that make Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère a treasure of the Dordogne Valley.

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and its medieval castle: a timeless adventure

Overlooking the confluence of the Dordogne and Céou rivers, the village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is dominated by its impressive medieval castle. Now a museum of warfare in the Middle Ages, Château de Castelnaud attracts visitors for its exceptional panoramic views over the valley and its collections of weapons and armor. This historic site offers an insight into the defensive architecture and military strategies of yesteryear, key elements of the Dordogne’s heritage.

The village itself, one of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne with its sloping streets, stone houses and hanging gardens. Castelnaud-la-Chapelle also offers a range of cultural and leisure activities revealing traditional customs and crafts, inviting everyone to plunge into the heart of a rich and vibrant past.

Saint-Jean-de-Côle, a medieval architectural gem

3Saint-Jean-de-Côle is one of the jewels in the Périgord crown, and a notorious standout on the map of the most beautiful villages in the Dordogne. This medieval village features a magnificent church with animposing fortified bell tower and houses with brown-tiled roofs, a picturesque legacy of the Middle Ages. It’s easily recognizable by its castle, Château de la Marthonie, a majestic structure overlooking the village with its Renaissance elegance.

The Romanesque bridge at Saint-Jean-de-Côle, a listed historic monument, crosses the river Côle and contributes to the peaceful atmosphere of this village, which often hosts festivals and cultural events. With its flower-filled lanes, vaulted bridges and architectural splendor, Saint-Jean-de-Côle is an ideal stopover for lovers of history and beauty, embodying the charm and spirit of bygone days found in the most beautiful villages of the Dordogne.