Things To Do In Dordogne: Families Welcome!

by farrah on August 10, 2014 · 10 comments

Being our second summer in a row vacationing in the Dordogne region of France, I don’t know how we’re going to top this one. From start to finish we were on the go every single day- and with an entire week in this magical countryside, I can easily say Dordogne is a perfect family vacation destination considering we never had to drive over 30 minutes to these places. Well worth the 10 hour drive from the NL!

Dordogne with kidsThe boys perfecting their tourist shot 

Dinosaurs, ropes & creepy crawler parks

Le Conquil DordogneAll the things at Le Conquil!

Last year on our way home we stopped at one of the many Cro-Magnon exhibit parks but it was closed. For an entire year, the boys talked about it and this year we promised it was going to happen. I ended up finding a park that was actually three in one, which was probably one of our best days out of the entire week.

Le Conquil has three parts to this park, and you pay your entry based upon what you want to do.

  • The boys had their first ropes course and zip lining among the trees on their ‘Parcours Enfants’ (little kid course). There is also a course for big kids as well as one for adults. Tip: If you can get there when they open they might let you go through the course more than once since no one is waiting! We did it three or four times. 
  • The second part of the park exhibits life-size dinosaurs which satiated this aspect of our mission. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse dino replicas- but what I really enjoyed about this was that the walk through the forest was lovely you weren’t sure what might be lurking around the corner.
  • And finally, there is the ‘Site Naturel Troglodytique’ which are caves and natural features that you can visit up close. We walked through a few of the caves that people inhabited a very long time ago, including La Grotte du Jugement– and tried to figure out what this was all about.

La Grotte du Jugement La Grotte du Jugement

Apologies, I can’t explain what this is and Google wasn’t much help either. I took this photo of the placard in front of it- but it’s also in French. Basically, I understand that there are three theories as to what this was (the dovecote troglodytique, a temple, or the columbarium) but overall it remains a mystery.

Le Grotte du Jugement

  • The staff was so nice at Le Conquil! Inside the gift shop we were given cute ‘diplomas’ for each of the boys filled out with their names and dates of conquering the park. I thought this was a really nice touch. The three parts of the park take about three hours to complete and you can find ticket pricing here.

We also managed to see the Aquarium Du Perigord Noir. I don’t think there’s a country we’ve visited where we don’t go to at least one aquarium! I liked the size, the exhibits and the fact that again it was basically three parks in one. The aquarium, the alligators and a mini golf course. Easy parking and a full service cafeteria where you can bring your own lunch won me over. Again, go early as it fills up quickly!

Aquarium du Perigord Noir

Castles & boats

CastlenaudChateau de Castelnaud

 The one castle we explored was Chateau de Castelnaud which sits high atop a hill overlooking the Dordogne river. The history goes back and forth between French & English dating to the early years of the 13th century. You can walk through and explore this modern-day museum as well as the courtyard and the surrounding village. Go in the morning, and note that children 10 and under are free.

Castlenaud

From the top of Castlnaud (the photo collage above) the boys noticed ‘pirate’ ships on the river. Since we weren’t able to kayak, we agreed that we’d find the ‘pirate’ ship and do that instead. When we drove to the town of La Roque Gageac we bought our tickets for Les Gabares Norbert boat tour and made sure to be back for our departure time.

Dordone river tour

You’re taken on a scenic 55 minute tour of the river and pass the incredible chateaus along the way. The boys had fun and it was a nice chance to have a tour that didn’t involve walking.

Stopping in Sarlat

Sarlat

Our last day on our trip we stopped in the picturesque city of Sarlat. Its winding walkways, charming shops and cafes are a huge tourist attraction and pretty packed in the summer. This is where one of my 3’s had his crazy meltdown and we managed as best we could to explore the area. It’s not very large- and as my buddy (ha, not really) Rick Steves says: there are no major historical monuments here. Yeah, it’s a big tourist town but we’re glad that we went and once again experienced the beauty of this region. I say give it a shot- who cares if it’s a big tourist draw? What matters is the experience and what you make of it.

Our favorite restaurant

de Laugerie Basse

So after the fiasco that was Sarlat’s infamous three-year-old tantrum, we ended up having our best meal of the trip (outside of Le Chevrefuille) at de Laugerie Basse– which is a completely regional restaurant built into the cliffs. Just order whatever is the special of the day, sit on the terrace and be surprised! We all had a great time, and I’m so glad that we stopped here. Super friendly service, thumbs up for kids, and the prices were very reasonable. (Random, we sat next to a table of Dutch from Amsterdam and the kids had so much fun- they had 4 year old twin boys.)

Our only regrets

We had to skip canoeing down the river. EVERYWHERE you go you’ll see canoes and kayaks with people coasting down the river. The minimum age is 5 (by law) to do it- and we didn’t feel right splitting up and taking just B as I know the twins would have flipped out. I was the one that actually wanted to do it the most, so I guess we’ll just have to go back in a year or so when they’re five.

Additionally we had to miss the fabulous gardens of Marqueyssac. We were told at night they’re lit by candlelight and are just incredible to see. Unfortunately, 10pm was just a little bit late for us, as by the end of every day were thoroughly exhausted. I guess we’ll just have to return! Twist my arm.

july14

And last year at Le Chevrefuille!

july

Overall, this is an absolutely fabulous region in France for a family vacation. Many people camp in tents or campers- which we’d love to try someday. Between our time spent in Normandy, Paris and now the southern part of the country- it’s amazing as to what a different feel each destination holds. Dordogne is my favorite above all else.

If you’d like more info on the best place to stay in the area, read up on Le Chevrefuille– where we’ve stayed both times and loved it.

Have you been to the Dordogne region? There’s so much to see and do I’d love to hear about your experience as well. 

All photos taken by me & nothing sponsored to disclose.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer F- American Mom in Bordeaux August 11, 2014 at 8:29 am

Looks like you had a blast!! Funny tidbit – you were literally around the corner from where my in-laws live in Le Bugue. My kids & I love to walk to the mini-golf and then there is a community pool down the road past Le Bournat. (If you are going again…that’s a fun park – turn of the century French history and old-fashion rides!). Too bad we weren’t around to meet up!! Another time – BTW – we LOVED our bike tour in Amsterdam!! Great city!!

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2 farrah August 13, 2014 at 8:40 am

We had a wonderful time- it’s such a sure bet to go with the family! You’re so lucky to be so close!!!!

And I am SO glad to hear about your trip- can’t wait to read all about it!

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3 Agata August 12, 2014 at 10:59 am

It all sounds great!!! We’ve been thinking about the region this year, but have decided for Denmark (and the place is awesome!), but might want to check it out next year. Now I know exactly where to go to 🙂 x

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4 farrah August 13, 2014 at 8:40 am

Denmark is on our list too 🙂 And you cannot possibly go wrong in Dordogne- it’s a sure thing, and the wine! oh the WINE…..

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5 Christie August 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm

This looks so amazing!!! I read your blog every time you post but don’t always comment. I love love love it.

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6 farrah August 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

Thanks Christie, that means a lot to me.

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7 Le conquil September 19, 2014 at 11:36 am

Thank you very much for your article on our park Conquil, it pleases us.
Concerning ” the cave of the judgment ” the explanation the most real is that of a place of religious myth, the religion ” mithraïque “.
In esperant to see again you in Conquil

Cordially

The direction

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