Village Life Dordogne

Program Overview

Experience Dordogne’s authentic provincial charms for a week in Sarlat-la-Canéda, one of France’s most beautiful and well-preserved medieval villages. Stay in the family-owned Plaza Madeleine Hôtel, formerly a grand 19th-century townhouse. Discover the region’s charming villages, medieval castles and prehistoric treasures through specially arranged excursions and Cultural Enrichments, including the medieval pilgrimage site of Rocamadour and the fascinating prehistoric cave paintings of Rouffignac and Cap-Blanc, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Enjoy the perfectly reproduced cave art at Lascaux and the exclusive Village Life® Forum with local residents who will share insights into daily life. Bordeaux Pre-Program and Albi/Toulouse Post-Program Options. A Spring version of this program also exists.

Program Details

October 6 to 14, 2022
From $3,495 plus air View Terms & Conditions
  • Uniquely designed, small group program.
  • Immerse yourself in the character and traditions of Dordogne, an authentic provincial treasure.
  • Unpack just once and stay in the family-owned Plaza Madeleine Hôtel in the heart of medieval Sarlat, across from the twice-weekly village market.
  • Most meals included, featuring two dinners in specially selected bistros in Sarlat; complimentary local wine with included dinners.
  • Visit up to five of France’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Enriching educational lectures.
  • Exclusive Village Life® Forum featuring local residents.
  • View prehistoric cave art in the state-of-the-art International Center for Cave Art at Lascaux and in Rouffignac.
  • Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion Pre-Program Option and Albi and Toulouse Post-Program Option, featuring medieval Carcassonne and lovely Cordes-sur-Ciel.
  • One of the most popular Gohagan & Company Village Life® programs.

Day 1 - Depart the U.S. or Canada

Day 2 - Bordeaux, France / Sarlat-la-Canéda

Day 3 - Sarlat-la-Canéda

Day 4 - Rocamadour / Souillac

Day 5 - Les Eyzies / L’Abri du Cap-Blanc

Day 6 - Lascaux / St-Amand-de-Coly

Day 7 - Rouffignac / La Madeleine

Day 8 - Beynac / Domme

Day 9 - Sarlat-la-Canéda / Bordeaux / Return to the U.S. or Canada

View detailed program itinerary >

A Spring version of this program also exists.

Plaza Madeleine Hôtel, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Enjoy the traditional pace of Village Life® during your stay in the family-owned Plaza Madeleine Hôtel, located just beyond the ancient walls of Sarlat-la-Canéda’s medieval quarter, a short walk from the village center. A grand 19th-century townhouse, this historical hôtel de charme marries traditional features with French esprit contemporain.

Each of the 39 stylish, air-conditioned guest rooms have been renovated and feature two twin beds or one queen bed, private bathroom, individual climate control, satellite television, phone, Wi-Fi access, safe, minibar, and hair dryer.

The hotel dining room—where continental breakfast is served daily featuring freshly baked breads, pastries, and charcuterie—is reserved for the exclusive use of hotel guests. There is a brasserie pub with lounge and private terrace, a petit lounge with computer facilities and Internet access, a heated outdoor swimming pool, solarium and spa with Jacuzzi and sauna. The dedicated hotel staff is pleased to provide attentive service.

Splendors of Bordeaux / Saint-Émilion Pre-Program Option

Long distinguished as the wine capital of the world, France’s verdant Bordeaux region has been producing, fermenting, and bottling the grape since the eighth century. Tucked away in the heart of the rolling French countryside and endless vineyards, visit the charming and legendary village of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for the Merlot grape grown here that produces rich, full-bodied red wines. Visit the impressive medieval monuments of Saint-Émilion, including the Église Monolithe, one of the largest underground churches in Europe. Experience the Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux’s distinguished wine classification, at a château and enjoy a tasting of their exquisite wines. Accommodations are for two nights in the deluxe Hôtel Burdigala, located in the heart of Bordeaux.

Albi and Toulouse / Cordes-sur-Ciel / Carcassonne Post-Program Option

The cobblestone towns of southwest France showcase the region’s storybook charm. Experience the classic refinements and medieval allure of Cordes-sur-Ciel, Albi, Carcassonne, and Toulouse on this four-night Post-Program itinerary, which brims with exclusive excursions. Sample Gaillac wines in the lovely Château Bouscaillous; explore cherished cathedrals and old-world villages, equal parts storied and spectacular; admire the largest collection of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s works; and enjoy the incomparable scenery of the bucolic French countryside. Accommodations are for two nights each in the Hôtel Mercure Albi Bastides and the Grand Hôtel de l’Opéra in Toulouse.

The Pre-Program and Post-Program Options are available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

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Program Itinerary

Day 1 Departure

Your trip will begin by departing the U.S. or Canada.

Day 2 Arrive in Bordeaux, France / Sarlat-la-Canéda

Depart the U.S. Arrive in Bordeaux and transfer to Sarlat-la-Canéda. Check into the Plaza Madeleine Hôtel.

Day 3 Sarlat-la-Canéda

Author Henry Miller called Sarlat “the Frenchman’s paradise.” Your charming “village home” is in the pre-French Revolution capital of Périgord Noir, a lushly forested corner of the Aquitaine region ideally located between the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers. It is a bon vivant’s dream, renowned for truffles, wild mushrooms, strawberries, walnuts, and duck—with close proximity to Bordeaux to procure the finest wines directly from vintners’ cellars.

Sarlat’s vieille ville has one of Europe’s greatest concentrations of medieval, Renaissance, and 17th-century architecture. Stroll through cobblestone streets illuminated by gas lamps and lined with Renaissance-style stone houses famous for their pepperpot chimneys. The cultural heart of Sarlat is the Place de la Liberté, where every Wednesday and Saturday one of France’s most storied markets is held, a tradition dating from the Middle Ages.

During the course of the program, immerse yourself in the joie de vivre of Sarlat. Experience the market at leisure among the backdrop of corbelled towers and rich ocher walls.

Day 4, Morning Rocamadour

Built on the face of a sheer 400-foot cliff, the UNESCO World Heritage-designated village of Rocamadour has one of the most dramatic settings of any village in the world. During the Middle Ages, pilgrims flocked here from across Europe to perform penance by ascending the 216 steps of Le Grand Escalier on their knees—seeking miracles from the sacred 12th-century statue of the Black Virgin and Child at the crypt of Saint Amadour. Embedded in the cliff above the doorway to the Chapelle de Notre Dame is a sword said to be that of the heroic knight Roland. Savor a lunch of regional specialties in a village restaurant.

Day 4, Afternoon Soulliac

Nearby, visit the quaint town of Souillac and its 12th-century Abbaye Sainte-Marie, noted for its magnificent Byzantine roof domes and treasury of Romanesque statuary and biblical carvings.

Day 5, Morning Les Eyzies-De-Tayac-Sireuil

Designated a national monument, the Eyrignac Manor, constructed in local golden stone and with a slate roof, has been the continuous family residence of 22 generations spanning over 500 years. On this 17th-century estate located just outside of Sarlat, view what many consider the finest jardins in all of France. Originally an 18th-century Italian design, the landscape was converted a century later to an English-style coniferous garden and has been immaculately manicured since that time to preserve the exquisite topiary patterns.

France’s capital of prehistoric humanity, Les Eyzies, is home to fossils of Early Modern Man. At approximately 35,000 years old, these fossils are some of the earliest known evidence of human life in Europe. Enjoy a guided tour of the National Museum of Prehistory, housed in a 13th-century castle, which contextualizes the area’s cave paintings, fossils, and early tools.

Day 5, Afternoon L’Abri du Cap-Blanc

See L’Abri du Cap-Blanc’s UNESCO World Heritage-designated prehistoric cave friezes that are distinctive for their life-size images of animals emblazoned across entire walls.

In Sarlat this evening, meet dordognais in the Village Life® Forum and hear candid perspectives on contemporary daily life in a medieval village.

Day 6, Morning Lascaux

In 1940, a quartet of schoolboys stumbled onto the Lascaux cave, repository of the most stunning works of prehistoric art and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Explore the perfect reproduction in the International Center for Cave Art at Lascaux, where the Paleolithic age is reanimated through interactive exhibits.

Day 6, Afternoon Saint-Amand-de-Coly

Continue to Saint-Amand-de-Coly, one of the “most beautiful villages” in France, dominated by the 13th-century abbey church, an unusual fusion of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Traces of the Hundred Years’ War remain in the ramparts and towers of the fortress-like church and the remnants of its abbey.

Sample regional cheese and wine in a specialty épicerie in Sarlat and savor a specially arranged three-course dinner in an authentic French bistro.

Day 7, Morning Rouffignac

Start your day at medieval Sarlat’s twice-weekly market and attend a private presentation in the hotel by a local expert on preserving Sarlat’s medieval architecture. Visit Rouffignac, “Cave of a Hundred Mammoths,” and marvel at the “giant kettles,” smooth, dome-like rock formations forged by swirling currents.

Day 7, Afternoon La Madeleine

Carved beneath a cliff overlooking the serene Vézère River, the prehistoric troglodyte village and UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Madeleine offers unique insight into the semi-nomadic Magdalenian culture, which prevailed in southern Europe from 15,000 to 9,000 B.C. Important prehistoric carvings discovered at the site include an antler carving of a bison licking an insect bite. Enjoy a private, 19th-century French folk music and dance performance after a three-course dinner.

Day 8, Morning Beynac

The fortified Château de Beynac, perched 500 feet above the Dordogne River, commands a medieval village of golden stone houses tucked into the steep hillside. The fortress’ strategic position made it a defensive stronghold during the Hundred Years’ War. This masterpiece of medieval military engineering was guarded by Europe’s most illustrious figures, including the chivalrous Richard the Lionheart (1157 to 1199) and Fourth Crusader Simon de Montfort (1175 to 1218). Traverse its elaborate series of stone walls, parapet walks, watchtowers, and passageways to an eclectic interior decorated with a magnificent 17th-century staircase and delicate 15th-century frescoes.

Cruise the tranquil Dordogne River aboard a private 19th-century gabare, traditional Périgord transportation for more than 150 years, followed by a lunch of Périgord specialties in a local restaurant overlooking the river.

Day 8, Afternoon Domme

Among the “most beautiful villages” of France, Domme is an authentic medieval bastide, or fortified village. Enter through its original ramparts and see graffiti etched by the Knights Templar on the inner village walls. The beauty of the 13th- and 14th-century architecture of Domme is surpassed only by its exceptional views overlooking the Dordogne River.

Day 9 Bordeaux / Return to the U.S. or Canada

Continue on to the Albi and Toulouse Post-Program Option or transfer to Bordeaux for your return flight to the U.S. or Canada.