The Dordogne valley is best known for its lower course, between Bergerac and Bretenoux. It shouldn’t be forgotten though that this river has more than one trick up is sleeve. Its upper course, between Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and Bort-les-Orgues, is wilder, less touristy, and holds some nice surprises and fabulous panoramas on the confluences of the Dordogne.
You are off for a two-day tour in the lush Dordogne valley!
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The start of your tour is Argentat, an old river port on the borders of Limousin, Auvergne and Quercy and an important trading centre in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
From its quays, departing for Bergerac and Libourne, were the gabares, large flat-bottomed boats also called argentats. It was at this time that houses with balconies and sloping slate roofs, and elegant mansions with turrets and watchtowers, were built on the edge of the Dordogne, and now perfectly restored.
You leave this beautiful town and head towards the Chastang dam, the largest power plant in the Dordogne. At 1,500 meters beyond the dam, a path leads to a belvedere on the left bank for a view of the dam and its reservoir.
After La Ferrière, turn left towards Aynes and the Aigle dam, the largest in the region: its reserve extends for 25km. Pass on the other side and, between the two tunnels, you can walk to a belvedere downstream of the dam for a beautiful overview of the site.
Head back to the other side and take the road to Mauriac by Chalvignac. At the big crossroads, turn left towards Neuvic via the Saint-Projet suspension bridge.
The road descends first to the Ajustants bridge and then goes up on the belvedere of Gratte-Bruyère, now transformed into a picnic area offering superb views of the confluence of the Dordogne and Sumène.
Leave via St-Julien to join Bort-les-Orgues where you spend the night.
MyTripTailor Advice: after Roche-le-Peyroux you can turn right to access one of the views of the site of Saint-Nazaire.
After waking in Bort-les-Orgues set off early to discover the orgues.
The Aubazines belvedere, on the edge of the road, allows you to view 1,400 hectares of the reservoir. Turn right onto a small road towards the orgues of Bort. These impressive phonolite columns, 80 to 100 metres high, follow one another for a length of about 2km.
From the Orgues plateau, walk to the orientation table, before enjoying a second view on the right for a huge panorama of the Dordogne valley, Mont Dore, the Monédières Massif and the Plateau de Millevaches.
The return trip to Argentat takes in the route de plateau, far more rolling than that of the gorges of the Dordogne. From Bort-les-Orgues, the large curves of the D 922 take you to Mauriac. You’re now in Cantal! Allow some time to visit the Notre-Dame-des-Miracles Basilica, a major Romanesque monument in Auvergne.
As the day draws to a close, return to your starting point: Argentat.
MyTripTailor Advice: after Mauriac, and just before Ally, standing on the left is the château de La Vigne which contains a beautiful collection of miniature cars.
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