Dordogne really does have something to please everyone. And, when it comes to families, there’s heaps to do for the kids too.
In the footsteps of Indiana Jones
It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like outside, below us there’s a magical world of caves and grottoes that children just love. Like great stone underground cathedrals these underground worlds fire the imagination and are fabulous places to explore and tour.
The Gouffre de la Fage, in Noailles near Brive-la-Gaillarde, is small but has incredible stalagmites and stalactites. So too does the Gouffre de Proumeyssac, near Sarlat, nicknamed the “Crystal Cathedral”. Take a cave tour by train at the Grottes de Lacave, discover prehistoric paintings and learn about speleology with a guide. These guided tours are suitable for children over 5. At the Gouffre de Padrirac in the Lot, you can even take a subterranean boat tour of the deep cavern.
Castles and kids
Castles are a magnificent playground for kids. The immense Chateau de Castelnaud is perfect for the whole family with its remarkable collection of medieval armaments. The lofty Château de Beynac above a stone village which tumbles down to the river is unforgettable. And the Château de Commarque, a towering mass of ruins above ancient cave dwellings makes for a fascinating visit – don’t miss its 3D presentations of troglodyte habitats.
Real life Jurassic Park…
Medieval castles are sprinkled throughout the Dordogne Valley. But, it’s possible to go back even further in time here as there are an incredible 127 UNESCO listed prehistoric sites. Discover caves, rock paintings and evidence of daily life left by early man more than 20,000 years ago.
Don’t miss the truly impressive life-size reconstruction of the famous Lascaux IV caves at the Centre d’Interprétation de l’Art Pariétal in Montignac. See the real thing at the Grotte de Pech Merle at Cabrets. Take a tour of the Prehistoric Museum and be wowed by La Roque Saint-Christophe. This fascinating reconstitution of a kilometre long cave village is cut high into a cliff, inhabited 55,000 years ago by Neanderthals.
Bobbing about on the water
Take a guided river cruise or gabarre trip on a replica of a traditional wooden ship of the 18th century. It’s a great way to learn about the history of the river and enjoy stunning views. Cruises start from the legendary barge port of Bergerac.
There are numerous places to enjoy canoeing, floating gently along or paddling through rapids – loads of fun for everyone.
Lots of the beautiful lakes in the Dordogne Valley offer water skiing as well as wakeboarding – a sort of snowboard/waterski/surf sport. You’ll be towed by a boat or cable system – which enables you to try jumps and tricks! At ‘Base Nautique’ in Trémolat, you can water ski and wakeboard on the Dordogne River with the Ski Club Dordogne. And, they even offer “baby water ski” lessons for 3 year olds.