Travel tips: Dordogne River Valley
PACKING for a holiday in France’s beautiful Dordogne River Valley is simple. Regardless of whether you prefer staying in a château or camping, the accepted attire in this region is: casual. If you plan spending time on our rivers bring some good waterproof sandals or slippers and compliment these with some comfortable and sturdy walking shoes for the cobblestone streets. Pack some Ziploc bags in various sizes for stuff you want to protect on the river, these are difficult to find here and will prove very handy if you’re kayaking or canoeing. Ahhh, c’est la vie en France!
YOUR STYLE IS YOUR OWN but be sure to check our weather link to see what temperatures you might experience. Generally, we’d suggest you think layers, don’t forget a good polar fleece and the rain jacket. There are large supermarkets throughout all major cities and rural areas of France so there will be no problems restocking sundries and other personal necessities during your stay.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IS OUT! It is virtually non-existent in this region so forget ideas of using a bus and local taxi services are very expensive. The ability to really see and enjoy the medieval villages & pre-historic wonders of this region require a car rental (that is… unless you’re seriously into cycling or are incredibly good on your feet and have the time!) Check-out the car rental/ lease options on this site.
CAMPING EQUIPMENT HERE IS NOT EXPENSIVE and you can eliminate the hassles of both transport and baggage costs by purchasing your gear locally. If considering the rental of a camp ‘chalet’ be sure to confirm with campground operator that pillows, bedding, towels, etc., are available (many campgrounds expect you to bring your own!). Our best outfitter/ camping/ sporting equipment superstore chain is: Decathlon and there is one located in Brive-la-Gaillarde, it’s just minutes away from a Carrefour hyper-market.
LEAVE MOST THE CASH AT HOME it is becoming increasingly hard to exchange foreign currencies and travelers checks for Euros in French banks. You will need cash while here because many rural businesses don’t accept credit cards. We suggest you pull Euros out of ATM’s, as required, so don’t forget to bring your credit or debit cards’ PIN numbers with you.
DRIVERS LICENSE yours, if valid, works in France. There is no need for an International Drivers License.
MOBILE TELEPHONE is yours a tri-band or smart phone? Call your provider to find out if it will work in Europe then request the unlock code. Once in France you can easily purchase affordable pre-paid rechargeable ‘sim-cards’ at both major supermarket chains here: Carrefour and E.Leclerc. These cards are a perfect low cost solution for calls within France and start at: €15.
LOCAL CUISINE IS EXCEPTIONAL and déjeuner (lunch) is the main meal of the day. For the best values try fixed multi-course menus instead of ordering à la carte.
Here are some of our favorite restaurants:
Aux Chant Des Oiseaux (05 65 10 82 47)
Velouté (05 55 91 14 51)
Prudhomat just below Château de Castelnau:
Les Remparts (05 65 38 52 88)
Saint Jean Lespinasse next to Château Montal:
Les Trois Soleils de Montal (05 65 10 16 16) Michelin rated
Martel on a 15th century farm:
Le Moulin à Huile de Noix (05 65 37 40 69)
Local wines? try the wines from Glanes: blanc, rosé, et rouge/ All Great!
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL? Is whenever you can escape! When asked… we suggest you try and avoid the peak summer holiday period which runs from the 3rd week in July through the last weekend in August. Outside that period, from spring into fall, you’ll enjoy having the rivers, villages and other rural attractions virtually to yourself and airfares are more favorable as well.
OUR BEST TIP? Have fun discovering the Dordogne River Valley, it’s magic!
à bientôt, Jack