Friends have often regaled stories about holidaying in the Dordogne.
“You simply must go,” they would insist.
I would nod and smile, masking my ignorance as to exactly where the Dordogne was located. Not any more. My French geography has been expanded following our own visit to the region.

The Dordogne river
The Dordogne river

For those similarly unaware, the Dordogne area is in south-western France and is named after the river Dordogne. It runs through the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees. It’s close to Bordeaux and well known for its vineyards and food.

We spent one week in the Dordogne in a large farmhouse close to the village of Gensac. The property was large enough to accommodate our party which consisted of 22 adults and 20 children! Yep, 42 of us. It was hectic at times but lots of fun.

Gensac, Dordogne France
In the heart of the French countryside, surrounded by vineyards, it was a tranquil spot (until we arrived) but in good reach of urban spaces such as Bergerac and Saint- Emillion. So what did we do on this week-long trip with so many people?

Gensac, Dordogne France
Much of our evenings were spent enjoying the local food and wine as the children slept soundly. We had a couple of nights when external caterers came in and a couple of nights out. For the remaining evening meals, we all mucked in and helped out. Breakfast was taken care of by two French ladies who laid out croissants, cereals and yoghurts for us and tidied up afterwards.

Wander Mum and Wander Dad

During the day we had a good mix of days out exploring the area and hanging out by the pool – a popular choice with the children! As there were so many of us, we broke off into smaller groups or simply did family outings.

Farmhouse in Gensac, the Dordogne, France

Day trips
Saint Emilion

Saint-Emilion was top of my list for a day trip. Its world-famous vineyards have made it a Unesco world heritage site. I’m a big fan of its wine and with 50 wine shops there’s plenty of opportunity to taste its produce. The town’s wine history goes back to the Romans who planted vineyards in the area during the 2nd century.

Saint Emilion’s steep, cobbled streets mean it’s not hugely buggy friendly so take a baby carrier if you have a young child.

Saint Emilion, Dordogne, France
We struggled a bit with our pushchair but Saint-Emilion’s historic buildings, piazzas and wine shops more than make up for its hilly position. We enjoyed wandering around the town and taking in the medieval buildings. Wander up to the 12-century Monolithic church of Saint-Emilion for beautiful views across the town. Climb its bell tower for even better vista.Saint Emilion, Dordogne, France
Of course, we couldn’t leave without sampling its wine. We came across a fantastic shop, The Wine Buff, owned by an Irish man called Paddy (who else?) and his Spanish wife. He amused us with tales of rugby, France and wine as we sampled some of his wares. They even organised a tapas and wine evening for us at our property which went down a storm. Thanks Paddy and Pilar!

Bergerac

Another place famous for its vineyards and medieval old town, Bergerac proved a very pleasant city to explore and have lunch. Located on the banks of the Dordogne river (where you can take boat rides), Bergerac is also home to a wine museum and the National Tobacco Museum.

River Dordogne, France

Just saying the word Bergerac triggers in my head the theme tune to the John Nettles’ detective drama (remember that?). Others may associate it with the 17th century French dramatist, Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac.

His oversized nose has been parodied in modern literature and film by the likes of Steve Martin and Gerard Depardieu. They were adaptations of the 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand. Although there’s a statue of Bergerac in its old town, his links to Bergerac are tenuous and he may have only visited a couple of times – if ever.

Cyrano de Bergerac, Bergerac

It’s worth finding his statue though as surrounding it are quaint half-timbered housing.Bergerac, Dordogne, France

The church, Eglise Notre-Dame, is also worth a visit. The 19th Century building is impressive from the outside and inside with some striking stained glass windows.

Eglise Notre Dame de Bergerac

River Dordogne beach visit 

I would have no idea how to find this tranquil beach again. It was thanks to friends that we discovered it in the first place. Very much a local beach, we went off road into a field to get there. After finding an opening in a line of tress, we descended down a muddy hill onto the banks of the Dordorgne river.

River Dordogne, France

A near-empty beach greeted us where we settled down for a couple of hours. The quiet oasis was a world away from the jam-packed house we’d left.

Aside from a fisherman (who probably wasn’t best pleased with our presence), we were the only ones there. The children played in the water, some of the adults had a swim and even our youngest, Cheeky, had a paddle.River Dordogne, France

After our time at the beach we stopped off at a restaurant ‘La Taverne du Belvedere’ which caught our eye as it boasted beautiful views over the valley and the river. La Taverne du Belvadere

The family-run restaurant had only just opened this summer (2017). As well as being in an incredible location, it served good food and delicious wine, made in their vineyards just up the road. The next day, we visited the small winery where La Tourbeille is made.

La Tourbeille winery, France

Set up by John and Mary (originally from the US) as a passion project, their hard work is paying off. John showed us around explained, in simple language, the wine process to my daughter. We happily took home a couple of cases and left a little more knowledgeable about how wine is made.

Château Carbonneau

After a couple of evenings seeing the men slope off from the house under the guise of going to the supermarket – but then ending up in the pub (conveniently coinciding with kids dinner time), us ladies decided to do the same. Château Carbonneau was our destination, a boutique bed and breakfast set on vineyards and owned by a New Zealand/French family.

Chateau Carbonneau, Gensac, France

It was a sunny day so we sat outside and had some delicious cakes as part of our afternoon tea as well as sampling its wine produce. It was so good we took a case of white wine back to the farmhouse. A much needed break from the noise and energy of the 20 children back at the property.

Chateau Carbonneau, Gensac, France

There’s a snapshot of some of our highlights of our trip to the Dordogne. As you can imagine, there was never a dull moment with 42 people to entertain you.

Thank goodness I finally discovered the Dordogne. Good food, wine, medieval towns, miles and miles of countryside and a laid back vibe. Never been to the Dordogne? Why, you simply must go.

How to get there
We drove to Gensac from west London via the Eurotunnel, stopping off in the charming city of Tours overnight. Other families from our group got a flight to Bergerac.

Wander Mum family in the Dordogne, France

Have you been to the Dordogne? What is your favourite part? If not, are you inspired to visit?

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The Dordogne, France: What to see and do with a family

45 Comments on Summer in The Dordogne: What To See And Do

    • Wander Mum
      September 25, 2017 at 8:58 pm (3 months ago)

      It was fantastic thanks Tanja.

      Reply
  1. Mini Travellers
    September 26, 2017 at 7:52 am (3 months ago)

    42 of you! Wow – what an amazing trip. I’m sure you had so much fun. We love the dordogne too.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:13 pm (2 months ago)

      Isn’t it great!! It was a fab trip

      Reply
  2. Lolo
    September 26, 2017 at 8:22 am (3 months ago)

    Whoa 42 of you! Goodness that must have been so fun and so hectic! Looks like a beautiful town! I’ve never heard of it, but I love the half-timbered houses and the winery! #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm (2 months ago)

      You must go…the half-timbered housing is right up your street!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 7, 2017 at 4:34 pm (2 months ago)

      Absolutely. Couldn’t recommend it highly enough!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:13 pm (2 months ago)

      It’s gorgeous!

      Reply
  3. Nicky @GoLiveYoung
    September 26, 2017 at 9:24 am (3 months ago)

    The farmhouse looks beautiful. Such a lovely spot. Can’t believe that there were 42 of you! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      September 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm (3 months ago)

      I know – it was a bit mental but great fun!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 22, 2017 at 9:43 pm (2 months ago)

      It was wonderful! Thoroughly recommend.

      Reply
  4. tracy collins
    September 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm (3 months ago)

    i have holidayed in the Dordogne twice but we have stayed in Sarlat. We had a couple of great holidays with plenty of good food and wine and some days kayaking down the river to work it all off! A lovely area of France to visit – we stayed in a gite owned by an Australian couple. Sounds like you had a great time with lots of friends! #citytripping
    tracy collins recently posted…16 travel accessories for South East AsiaMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:27 am (2 months ago)

      Have just looked up Sarlat and it looks beautiful! Another reason to return to the Dordogne!

      Reply
  5. Allison
    September 26, 2017 at 12:19 pm (3 months ago)

    Hidden, local beaches are the best. They often small and quiet and not overcrowded with people. #citytripping
    Allison recently posted…Cheering on the Chicago CubsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      September 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm (3 months ago)

      Absolutely! It was real gem to find – not sure if I could find it again though!

      Reply
  6. Cathy (Mummytravels)
    September 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm (3 months ago)

    What a blissful holiday – we went to the Dordogne when I was a child too, probably about 10 or 12. My main memory is canoeing along the beautiful river although I’m sure my parents must have tracked down some wine at some point 🙂
    Cathy (Mummytravels) recently posted…Ireland with kids: four road trip ideas from DublinMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:49 pm (2 months ago)

      Hehe no doubt they did! I’d love to canoe down the Dordogne!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm (2 months ago)

      Totally! You’d love it here then!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 22, 2017 at 9:44 pm (2 months ago)

      Hope you get to explore more soon! France has so much to offer.

      Reply
  7. Mellissa Williams
    September 26, 2017 at 4:37 pm (3 months ago)

    Wow 42 of you in one group, hope you all got on! I must admit I haven’t explored France much other than Paris but Bergerac looks beautiful, I love the architecture.
    Mellissa Williams recently posted…Creating A Study SpaceMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm (2 months ago)

      We all got on really well, unbelievably! There’s so much more to explore in France! It’s a great country.

      Reply
  8. Hilary
    September 26, 2017 at 5:29 pm (3 months ago)

    Wow! 42 people! Planning that must have been quite a challenge, but so fun! I’m so glad you shared this, because truth be told, I had no idea where this was either, but now I do!! #citytripping
    Hilary recently posted…Soaring Over Monument ValleyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm (2 months ago)

      Fortunately I have some lovely friends who are brilliant organisers! Glad I helped out with your geography!

      Reply
  9. Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me)
    September 27, 2017 at 11:26 am (3 months ago)

    What an amazing holiday! Wow – 42 people. I think the most I’ve ever holidayed with was 20-ish, and that was crazy. Sounds as though you made the most of the stunning surroundings, though. #citytripping
    Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) recently posted…London museum hop: Science Museum and V&AMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm (2 months ago)

      Thanks Nell, I think we got a great balance of days out and hanging out together.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm (2 months ago)

      Hehe – glad I wasn’t the only one!

      Reply
  10. Emma Raphael
    September 27, 2017 at 8:36 pm (3 months ago)

    Oh I love big get togethers like this – 42 of you is really impressive though! Love the Dordogne, it’s just stunning! Great post! (:

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm (2 months ago)

      It was a great experience and lots of fun!

      Reply
  11. Zenbabytravel
    September 28, 2017 at 10:08 pm (3 months ago)

    Dordogne brings back amazing memories – we spent a long week-end with Chateau Les Merles celebrating with close friends my 31st birthday. Absolutely loved the area, the gorgeous food and the winetasting! We need to go back with the kiddies, maybe May 2018;) Thanks for sharing your tips & gorgeous pics! X
    Zenbabytravel recently posted…Waddesdon Manor with kids. National Trust gem & Rothschild work of loveMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm (2 months ago)

      Oh wow, that sounds an incredible birthday 😀😀Hope you get back there soon x

      Reply
  12. Sharon
    September 29, 2017 at 7:46 pm (3 months ago)

    Inspired to visit! We are dreaming about our next trip to Europe, and the countryside of France is a top consideration! Love the ancient architecture especially.
    Sharon recently posted…The Doors of ParisMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm (2 months ago)

      That’s great to hear! France has such a rich history and architecture X

      Reply
  13. Jo - Mother of Teenagers
    September 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm (3 months ago)

    42 of you! Wow that is an achievement. We holidayed in this area about five years ago and loved it. We were surrounded by gorgeous sunflower fields too. We were there for the Bastille Day celebrations and saw a great fireworks display in Bergerac. Like you I had no idea about this little area until we went. Unspoilt and idyllic. Perfect. #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm (2 months ago)

      Oh wow! Great to hear about your experience. The sunflower fields are just beautiful and the lavender too! So idyllic! X

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm (2 months ago)

      Haha, you’d have struggled then!

      Reply
  14. Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays
    October 2, 2017 at 6:34 pm (2 months ago)

    Who knew that St Emillion was so pretty *grabs google maps to find out more* #CityTripping
    Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays recently posted…NEW DAWNMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm (2 months ago)

      It’s gorgeous! Definitely worth visiting!

      Reply

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