World-famous for the density and wealth of its prehistorical sites, the Vézère Valley is the perfect adventure playground for an open-air vacation.
So here we go for a 3-day immersion en famille in the land of the Cro-Magnon and medieval knights!
DAY 1 - 10:00 am: Explore the famous cave of Lascaux
We begin our stay by visiting the must-see facsimile of Lascaux, a prehistoric masterpiece. In Montignac, just a few metres from the original cave discovered in 1940, you'll stand open-mouthed at the International Centre for Cave Arts as you contemplate the beauty of mankind's first paintings and their incredible sense of detail. Everything has been set up to give you the impression you're in the real cave: temperature, lighting, muffled sounds, moisture levels...
Throughout the visit, you'll be equipped with an interactive tablet with fun and varied content for the kids.
Plan at least 3 hours for to visit both the replica and the various displays.
Remember to take a light jumper, part of the visit is in the open air and the temperature in the cave is 13°C.
2:00 pm: Climb to the tree tops
Adventure lovers, on your branches: ready, set, go! 15 minutes from Montignac, you'll find over 150 games, including 50 fantastic zip-cables, for young and old on over 11 acrobatic courses adapted by level. Monkey bridges, Tarzan jumps, Nepalese bridges, giant nets, surfs, walkways...the forest as you've never seen it before!
DAY 2 - 11:00 am: Admire prestigious sites as you cruise the river
If there's one thing not to be missed in the Dordogne Valley, it's a canoe ride down the Vézère or the Dordogne. Take the kids (over 5 years) and set off on your own to discover the prehistoric sites, troglodyte caves and medieval castles overhanging the river. The absolute "must" is to start late morning and picnic in a peaceful spot along the way.
For toddlers and the less athletic, opt for a 'gabare' wooden barge trip on the Dordogne near La Roque-Gageac. You'll see four of the most prestigious castles in the Périgord. What's a gabare? It's a flat-bottomed boat originally used for transporting goods.
3:00 pm: Interact with prehistoric animals
Who's afraid of mammoths, cave lions or prehistoric giant elks? Come and meet these extinct animals through the mirror of time. The Prehistoric Interpretation Centre and Animal Park, Le Thot is the ideal complement to a visit of Lascaux IV (International Centre for Cave Arts). Here you can compare the animals in the Lascaux paintings with their living descendants, and you can also enrol in an educational workshop (cave art, introduction to archaeological digging, animal-fat lamp making, etc.).
It's possible to purchase a combined entrance ticket for Lascaux + Parc du Thot for a visit at a preferential rate.
DAY 3 - 10:00 am: Delight your taste buds and your eyes at the Sarlat-la-Canéda market
There's nothing like wandering around in the medieval city to get a good flavour of local life... It's also the opportunity to pass on the good taste of fresh, regional products to your kids. Smile at the husky voices with their perigord lilt, as they welcome you basket on arm. Admire the gleaming stalls of brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables. Crack for local farm produce at tempting prices. In Sarlat, the open air market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays all year round, the covered market is mostly open every day of the week, not forgetting the famous truffle and foie gras markets, open from November to February.
Be sure to stop at La ferme des Roumevies stall, just at the entrance to the covered market (the ancient Sainte Marie church restored by the architect Jean Nouvel). Here you'll find plenty of local products: foie gras, duck confits and magret, ready-made dishes, and speciality of the house, figs stuffed with foie-gras. Everything you need in fact to take home a bumper hamper!
2:00 pm: Take on the château of Castelnaud
Initiation to Medieval games, blacksmith demonstrations, giant catapulting or chain mail suit making... at the château of Castelnaud, you can get acquainted with all things medieval and learn the customs of the time while having fun. Classified as an Historical Monument, this fortified castle looks out over the Dordogne and provides a beautiful panoramic view over the river.
5:00 pm: Take a dip under the cliff-hanging village of La Roque Gageac
Want to cool off after visiting the castles? Head to the Pendoilles beach at La Roque Gageac, 10 minutes by car from Castelnaud-la-Chapelle.
Where to stay?
The Domaine de la Rhonie, in Meyrals, for its absolute calm, beautiful countryside, preserved biodiversity, maximum security for the kids who can play safely and happily... Located between the valleys of the Vézère and the Dordogne, this is the ideal starting point for your trips in Black Périgord.