10 iconic sites of the Lot and Dordogne (within easy reach of Gourdon!)

Gourdon is a great base for visiting the region's best sites. We take a quick look at some of the highlights:

#1. Rocamadour

The small medieval town of Rocamadour clings to the cliff face overlooking the Alzou canyon. A site of pilgrimmage for over a thousand years, today Rocamadour remains one of the most visited religious sites in France. An unmissable gem of the Lot region, visitors can explore the church, chapels and the château or shop in the boutiques selling local crafts and produce. The annual launch of hot air balloons over the canyon every September is also a sight not to be missed.
Visit all year round.

#2. Sarlat

One of the jewels of the Dordogne, Sarlat is steeped in medieval history. This attractive town is full of splendid
architectural examples of Dordogne-stone-built and half-timbered medieval town houses. The famous Saturday market fills the streets and squares of the historic centre.
Visit all year round.


#3. Cahors

Sitting within a bend on the Lot river lies the capital of the Lot département Cahors, a fine example of a Gallo-Roman and medieval French town. On a walk round the winding medieval streets you can discover the 20 or more hidden themed gardens. Also not to be missed are the cathedral and the famous Pont Valentré. One of the region's best markets takes place every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Don't forget to try the Cahors wine!
Visit all year round.


#4. Caves at Cougnac

Just a couple of kilometres outside of Gourdon you can discover the wonderful Grottes de Cougnac. Here you
can see cave paintings dating back tens of thousands of years! An authentic treasure not to be missed.

(If you find the video a little too fast, try slowing it down by clicking the settings icon in the bottom righthand corner.)
Visit from April to October.


#5. Château de Castelnaud

One of the Dordogne's finest fortified medieval castles, founded in the 12th century, Château de Castelnaud houses an important collection of weapons and armour. During the Hundred Years War, like other castles along the Dordogne river, Castelnaud often fell into the possession of the English. Following a siege ordered by the Charles VII in 1442, the castle became French once again. Discover some more châteaux in our blog...
Visit all year round.

#6. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Voted France's favourite village in 2012, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is an enormously picturesque village perched above the Lot river. The nearby Château de Cénevières is an absolute must-see.
Visit all year round.


#7. Figeac

Figeac is a beautifully preserved medieval town boasting the Musée Champollion. This museum is in the original
house of Jean-François Champollion who, in 1822, used the famous Rosetta stone to become the first person to dechipher hieroglyphic script. The fascinating permanent exhibition explores methods of writing from global cultures throughout history.
Visit all year round.



#8. Jardins d'Eyrignac and Jardins de Marqueyssac

We've grouped them together here but the Jardins d'Eyrignac and the Jardins de Marqueyssac each have their own distinct identity and are worthy of a visit in their own right. Both are gardens à la française, with clipped box hedge displays, but while Eyrignac is full of geometric forms and straight lines as one might expect, Marqueyssac is distinctive for its organic curves. Both are splendid examples of French formal gardens.
Visit all year round.


#9. Gouffre de Padirac

The Gouffre de Padirac is a subterranean marvel which is visited by boat at 103 metres underground. The gouffre  - meaning "abyss" or chasm"- is one of France's most spectacular geological sites.

Visit April to October.

#10. La Roque Gageac

An idyllic French village sitting on the Dordogne river, La Roque Gageac is the perfect place to pick up a tour on a gabarre (flat bottomed boat typical of the Dordogne river). Learn the fascinating histories of a handful of the many châteaux that have been built on this historical frontline between the French and English kingdoms, while enjoying the calm of the Dordogne waters.
Boat tours April to October.



On our Full French Course we organise visits to 4 great places, designed to get you listening and speaking in real situations, while taking in some of the Lot and Dordogne's best sites, but beware, a week won't be nearly enough to visit all that the region has to offer!