12 of the Most Delightful Dordogne Villages to Visit in France

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Dordogne villages are the quintessential essence of France. The Dordogne conjures up a dreamy image of picturesque rural France, idyllic rustic farmhouses, and creamy stone houses surrounded by rolling green hills. Medieval castles dot the landscape and life moves in time with the leisurely flow of its rivers and streams.

We were lucky enough to call the Dordogne home for nine months and adapted to French village life rather easily in a tiny Dordogne village called Villars, (pronounced Ville -arr). So we were in the perfect place to explore the towns in the Dordogne region. 

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To use this Dordogne Villages Map:

  • Expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and you will find the key on the left-hand side.
  • The purple icons are the Dordogne Villages and the green icons are additional attractions to see in the Dordogne.


From medieval castles to quaint market squares, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this delightful part of the country.

The Dordogne River meanders through the region, adding to the beauty and charm of the landscape. Whether you are a history buff, a food lover, or simply seeking a tranquil retreat, the Dordogne has it all.

Whether you explore the beautiful towns in Dordogne or escape to the peaceful countryside and small villages of Dordogne, this area offers a variety of options for a memorable vacation.


Bourdeilles is a small medieval town situated on the Dronne, a northern Dordogne River. The two main attractions here are the Chateau de Bourdeille and Bourdeilles’ charming stone bridge.

This interestingly designed bridge was originally built in the 14th century but had to be rebuilt in the 18th century following severe floods. 

The Bourdeille Bridge is extremely picturesque.

It not only has an unusual shape but as the river flows under it, swathes of emerald green mossy plants, just under the surface, melt into the river’s flow. A serene image as if it’s a moving watercolour painting.

Bourdeilles Bridge Dordogne
Bourdeilles Bridge over the River Dronne
River with willow trees along and in it
Bourdeilles in the Dordogne

The Bourdeilles Chateau, built on a rocky outcrop at the top of the town, is listed as a historical monument and dates back to the 12th century.

Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there but you can access its small gardens.

A great viewpoint over the river is at the top of the village.

Arched bridge over a river next to a town
View across the bridge to the Château de Bourdeilles in the background


Dordogne Village of Dordogne with river and abbey in view
Brantome, Dordogne

Brântome has to be one of the prettiest and most photogenic of the Dordogne villages.

The Dronne River flows through its centre, and the Benedictine Abbey, Brantome Abbey, flanked by wooded slopes, looks on grandly. 

A charming old stone bridge crosses the river beside an old working mill (now a restaurant) that adds to this idyllic picture.

Brantome Abbey
Brantome Abbey
Arched bridge over a river
Brantome bridge
the Dordogne Village of BrantomeBrantome
The old mill in Brantome

A local market is held here every Friday, and you will see Brantome filled with traditional French cuisine and the colours of the Perigord.

Local foods of le Perigord include paté de foie gras, walnuts and truffles. Depending on the season, you’ll likely see many chestnuts for sale, which grow prolifically in the region. And of course the classic French strings of garlic.

Brantome Garlic
Brantome bread

You can walk alongside the river between weeping willows and catch glimpses of the brightly coloured quintessential French shutters on the grey stone houses along the river.

Brantome-bridge Dordogne
Beautiful Brantome


This tiny Dordogne village of Villars was our home for nine months, and I must admit this little piece of the Dordogne holds a special place in my heart. 

Just 10 minutes from St. Jean de Cole, and 20 minutes from Brantome, this was the perfect retreat in rural France.

pink roses on a fence in Villars
Elianes-gite- with vines growing around windows

There are several things to see close by and if you are looking for somewhere to stay – I know just the perfect little gite run by the lovely Eliane.

Just up the road from the village centre is the Chateau de Puyguilhem.

Built in the Renaissance style, this chateau, reminiscent of the Loire Valley Chateaux, is classified as a historical monument.

You can wander the grounds and you can also take a guided tour of the chateau.

Chateau de Puyguilhem, Villars

Additionally, just a little bit further outside the village, you’ll arrive at the Boschaud Abbey ruins.

This Cistercian Abbey ruin is classified as a historical monument and is free to explore.

The ruins also are used to host various cultural events during the year.

Abbey-de-Boschaud- sign
Abbey-de-Boschaud- roof in Villars
Abbey-de-Boschaud- Villars Dordogne
Boschaud Abbey, Villars, Dordogne


Another of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne is St. Jean de Cole, a medieval village dating back to the 11th century.

The attractive village square is the epicentre. To one side, is the 12th-century Chateau de la Marthonie, and on the other side is the Byzantine church of St Jean Baptist, built in the 12th century.

At one time, the chateaux belonged to the Marthonie family but they upgraded when they built the more lavish Chateau de Puyguilhem in Villars.

St. Jean de Cole Village with half-timbered house
St. Jean de Cole, Dordogne

St Jean de Cole has also been awarded the iconic French award of being one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France.  This award was established in 1982 and small rural villages, with a rich cultural heritage, are judged on their tourist appeal and their tourism planning.

St.Jean-de-Cole Dordogne village view
Narrow laneways and medieval village houses in St Jean de Cole
Autumn colours in St. Jean de Cole
St Jean de Cole autumn colours
More autumn colours in St. Jean de Cole

There is a gorgeous little bridge near the edge of St.Jean de Cole village. Named the Donkey Bridge, its arches span the river Côle and date back to the 15th century.

If you are visiting St. Jean de Cole in early May then you mustn’t miss Les Floraliesa popular flower festival that attracts several thousand visitors. During the festival, the village is festooned with flowers and exhibitors share their passion for all things floral.


Perigueux, although not pretty to look at on its outskirts, has a historic centre which is worth a visit.

Here you’ll find the Cathedrale Saint-Front. Shaped in the form of a Greek Cross, with impressive domes, it is one of the largest in Southwest France. It is surrounded by Perigueux’s medieval houses and inviting boulevards.

Another local historical attraction is the Tower of Vesone. It is the only remaining part of a sacred temple dedicated to the goddess Vesunna, the ancient protector of the city. It is surrounded by gardens and the Vesunna Museum is nearby.

The Vesunna Museum houses the Roman origins of Périgueux, the remains of a large Gallo-Roman house, which is all now protected under glass.

Perigueux’s local delicacy includes its foie gras and truffles.

Perigueux photo
Perigueux, capital of the Dordogne


Rocamadour is a medieval mix of houses, churches and chapels built into the cliff face above the Alzou Canyon. From a distance, it looks like a set of a magical Disney film.

Rocamadour town built into a hill
The fairytale scene of Rocamadour from a distance

Listed as a UNESCO Heritage site, its ancient, arched gateways lead you onto its one street, Rue de la Couronnerie, and passed olde-world shops and cafes.

You’ll then encounter the numerous steps which bring you to another level housing eight chapels.

The most famous of which is the Notre Dame Chapel (sometimes known as the Miracles Chapel), which is home to a statue of the Black Virgin dating from the 12th century. 

Rocamadour is an important pilgrimage site and in the past centuries, pilgrims arriving here would climb the steps on their knees.

Rocamadour-street with bars and cafes
The main street of Rocamadour
Rocamadour Village in the Dordogne

Close to this Dordogne village, you’ll find the Rocamadour Monkey Sanctuary. (fôret des singes).

Not perhaps the place you would expect to find a sanctuary for Barbary Macaques (indigenous to Morocco and Algeria). But here you can wander alongside these monkeys, which are part of a conservation program to combat the endangerment of the species.

Mother and baby Barbary Macaque


sarlat-la-caneda Dordogne Village
Sarlat La Caneda

Sarlat-la-Canéda, often referred to as simply Sarlat, is a popular medieval town in the  Perigord Noir region of the Dordogne.

The best thing to do here is to wander the maze of old narrow streets through the old centre of town which will transport you back to the middle ages.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the town hosts one of the biggest food markets in the Dordogne region.

You can book a gourmet tour through the market, tasting the regional specialties like foie gras, walnuts, and Monbazillac wine.

Many of Sarlat’s buildings have been restored and it has the highest density of ‘Historic Monuments’ and ‘Classified Monuments’ of any town in France. 

Several day tours operate from Sarlat, including a Dordogne Villages Half Day Tour.

This small group afternoon tour lasts for about 4 hours and covers some of Dordogne’s most photogenic landscapes. You visit the medieval town of Domme, the 12th-century caste of Beynac and take a ride along the Dordogne River aboard a traditional wooden Gabarre.

👉 Find out more about this tour of the Dordogne | ⏰ 4 hours | ⭐️ 4.5/5 | Book Here

Here are some reviews by visitors who took this tour:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Beautiful tour! Gave a great overview of the region! — Michael_G, June 2023

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A Wonderful Excursion in the Dordogne Valley — Eileen_M, Oct 2022

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Wonderful itinerary, exceptional guide Martin — Johngerardallison, Jul 2022


Old stone built arch with towers either side
La Porte des Tours, Domme, Dordogne

Directly south of Sarlat is the charming town of Domme, overlooking the Dordogne River. Honey-coloured houses line the flower-filled lanes of what was once a fortified town.

The city walls are still well preserved with three of the old fortified gates still standing. The Portes des Bos, the Portes des Lacombe and the most famous the Porte des Tours. This was where the Knight Templars were imprisoned from 1307 to 1318 and evidence of their graffiti still remains.

In Domme, you will also find the largest natural cave in the Périgord Noir, the Grotte de Domme. The entrance to the cave is at the Marketplace and the tour takes about 45 minutes.


La roque-gagneac built onto side of mountain
La Roque Gageac, Dordogne

About 8km from Sarlat, is the picturesque Dordogne village of Le Roque Gageac. Yet another of the most beautiful villages in France.

We visited on a rainy day and yet still its charm shone through – as did the sun just a couple of times amongst the showers. 

Interestingly, the street climbing the hill behind the charming ochre-coloured houses on the main street takes on an exotic feel with banana trees, palms bamboo and lining its route.

A must-see when visiting the Dordogne village of La Roque Gageac is the magnificent Marqueyssac Gardens. 

Marqueyssac Gardens, near La Roque Gageac
Peacock at Marqueyssac Gardens

Set on chalky limestone cliffs, these gorgeous gardens overlook the Dordogne Valley. Filled with verdant hand-clipped boxwood hedges and woodland paths this is a  perfect place to spend an hour or two.

When we were there, we topped off our visit to the Marqueyssac Gardens with tea and cake at the Tearooms overlooking the valley.


Another charming village in the Dordogne is Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne. Since 2021, the village has been added to the list of being one of the most beautiful villages in France.  

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne view of a church with reflections on the river

You’ll find this beautiful part of France, on the banks of the Dordogne River, in the Upper Dordogne Valley.  The luscious green banks overlooking the Dordogne are the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or take a canoe and paddle up the river. 

In the main square, you’ll find the Abbaye Saint-Pierre. Once a Benedictine Abbey, in the 9th century, the church is most known for its 7 ft stone carving above the door. The carving depicts Christ’s resurrection, with an image of Christ surrounded by the 12 apostles. 

sone carving of christ and 12 apostles above the door of the Abbaye Saint Pierre in Beaulieu sur Dordogne
The carved tympanum (a semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window, which is bounded by a lintel and an arch), over the door of the Abbaye Saint-Pierre

Another attraction of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is its strawberries. More than ten different varieties are produced in this region in France, with its most famous being the gariguette strawberry, the emblem of the town.

In fact, the village holds an annual Strawberry Festival on the 2nd Sunday of May and produces a massive strawberry tart. 

For details of a multi-media tour around the village, visit the Tourist Office at Marbot Place (see map above).   

With its enchanting ambience, historical landmarks, and natural beauty, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is undoubtedly a delightful village worth visiting in the Dordogne region of France. 


On the far western reaches of the Dordogne, on the northern banks of the Dordogne River is one of the most famous towns in France, Saint-Emilion. If you are a lover of wine, you have no doubt heard of this charming medieval town.

hanging purple grapes
Saint-Emilion is recognised by UNESCO as an outstanding example of a historic vineyard landscape

Saint-Emilion is known for its historic architecture, picturesque streets, and world-class vineyards, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The town’s architectural highlights include the Monolithic Church, which was carved out of a limestone cliff in the 12th century, the remains of an ancient Romanesque church and a 53-metre bell tower. 

Most of all though, St-Emilion is known for its prestigious vineyards and producing some of the finest wines in the Bordeaux region. Wine enthusiasts can explore the numerous chateaux and wineries, participate in tastings, and learn about the winemaking process.

The surrounding area is dotted with vineyards, rolling hills, scenic walking trails and stunning views of the Dordogne River. It’s the perfect place to visit in the Dordogne Valley, especially for wine lovers.  

Village of St Emilion

🍷 Saint Emilion Day Trip with Sightseeing & Wine Tastings

⏰ 8 hours | ⭐️ Rating: 5/5 | Book Here

Here are some reviews by visitors who took this tour:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Excellent Guide, Beautiful Scenery, Great Wine – MichaelL_S, June 2023

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Highly recommend – even on a rainy day! – Elisabeth_H, June 2023


Beynac-et-Cazenac and its imposing medieval castle, Chateau de Beynac sits on one side of the Dordogne River, while the Chateau de Castelnaud and the Chateau de Feyrac sit on the other. 

We could see Castle Beynac across the Dordogne River when visiting the Marqueyssac Gardens. Dating back to the 12th century, it is considered one of the most well-preserved and authentic castles in the region. Richard the Lionheart ( the king of England from 1189 until his death in 1199), conquered the castle by scaling the cliff from below.  

Overall, Beynac-et-Cazenac and its neighbouring castles offer a unique glimpse into medieval history and architecture in the heart of the Dordogne region. 

Beynac-et-Cazenac with a castle on the hill
Beynac-et-Cazenac as seen from Marqueyssac Gardens 


The Dordogne area is in southwestern France. However, when we talk about where exactly the Dordogne is, things can get a little confusing.

It’s not easy to get your head around the various regions and departments in France, as the old and new names are used interchangeably and can be confusing to a visitor.

The Dordogne Region Explained

Since the beginning of 2016, France has been divided into 13 official regions. 

One of those 13 regions, the one we are mainly interested in, for the sake of this article on Dordogne towns and villages, is the Nouvelle- Aquitaine region.  

Each region contains a variety of ‘Departments – The Nouvelle- Aquitaine region contains 12 Departments 

One of those 12, is the Dordogne Department

That seems simple enough. And it would be if all Dordogne villages were in the Dordogne Department. But let me go on …

Departments are further divided up into arrondissements, cantons and communes … oh and prefectures and subprefectures – but thank goodness we don’t need to delve too far into that!

Each Dordogne village, town or city is a commune but, and this is where the labelling of the ‘Dordogne’  gets tricky, what is called a ‘Dordogne village’ isn’t necessarily a village /commune in the department of Dordogne or even in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.

‘Dordogne villages’ are also in, for example, the Occitanie region. This is because the Dordogne River and thus the Dordogne Valley pass through that region.

These distinctions can be very confusing for the Dordogne newcomer, especially when booking accommodation.

Are you staying in the Dordogne or not? 

In reality, it’s really just a case of semantics, with a touch of complicated French administration thrown in for good measure, because the whole area around the Dordogne River is beautiful and worth exploring.

In conclusion, and to put it as simply as possible, Dordogne villages, towns and cities are found in the Dordogne Department and in the Dordogne Valley (which crosses other departments of France).

Dordogne or Perigord?

In the past, the Dordogne region was known as the Périgord.

Today, locals refer to the areas surrounding the capital of the Dordogne department, Perigueux, using the old name of  ‘le Perigord’.

In fact, the Dordogne/Perigord region is further divided into four natural areas:

  • Perigord Vert (Green) – north (Capital: Nontron)
  • Perigord Blanc (white) – the centre of the region (Capital: Perigueux)
  • Perigord Noir (Black) – south-east (Capital:Sarlat)
  • Perigord Pourpre (Purple) – south-west (Capital: Bergerac)
Dordogne-villages--French-stone-building-with-blue shutters and vines climbing around the building
Typical French stone house – St Jean-de Côle

What is The Best Time to Visit the Dordogne?

The best time to visit the Dordogne region in France is during the spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to November) seasons. During these months, the temperatures are mild and there are fewer crowds compared to the peak tourist season in summer.

Additionally, spring is a great time to see the area burst into bloom. 

 Autumn brings stunning autumn foliage, and harvest festivals, making it a delightful time to explore the charming villages, castles, and vineyards of the Dordogne. 

Old rusty pot filled with yellow flowers
St. Jean de Côle, Dordogne


You will find accommodation all over the Dordogne – from small gites owned by locals in rural areas to bed and breakfast venues and hotels.

Popular Dordogne villages and towns to stay in are:

We’d recommend staying in Sarlat-la-Caneda because it’s centrally located and one of the prettiest Dordogne villages.

Here are some of the best-reviewed places to stay in Sarlat:

View of pool

O’Myosotis B&B

Best B&B in Sarlat-la-Caneda
✔️ Cooked Breakfast
✔️ Exceptional Reviews

Stone built hotel with blue shutters and pool

Le Petit Manoir

Best Boutique Hotel in Sarlat-la-Caneda
✔️ In the centre of Sarlat
✔️ Buffet, continental or gluten-free breakfast

stone building visible behind a wall and green bushes

Gite Le Vélo Rouge

Cosy gite in Sarlat-la-Caneda
✔️ Spacious apartment
✔️ Terrace with mountain views

Dordogne Towns and Villages FAQS

1. What is the prettiest village in the Dordogne?

The prettiest village in the Dordogne has many contenders. However, the most popular and picturesque villages in the Dordogne include Sarlat-la-Canéda, Domme, Roque Gageac,  Brantôme, Rocamadour and St-Jean-de-Côle. 

2. What is the most beautiful part of the Dordogne?

The Dordogne region in France is known for its stunning landscapes, charming villages full of beautiful stone houses, and rich historical heritage. It is difficult to single out one specific part as the most beautiful, but some of the most popular and visually appealing areas in the Dordogne include those in the Dordogne Valley. Specific towns and villages include Sarlat-la-Canéda, Domme, Roque Gageac,  Brantôme, Rocamadour, Beynac-et-Cazenac and St-Jean-de-Côle. 

3. What is the main town in the Dordogne?

The main town in the Dordogne region in France is Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne.

4. What is the best base for the Dordogne?

The best base for exploring the Dordogne region in France depends on personal preferences and the specific attractions or activities you plan to do. However, Sarlat-la-Canéda is often considered one of the most popular and convenient bases because it is centrally located. 


There is a relaxed pace of life in the villages of Dordogne and it is here that you will get a true sense of quintessential French rural life. 

While these are just a few of the beautiful towns in the Dordogne, they are undoubtedly winners in our books.

Allow yourself to be charmed by the beauty, history, and unique atmosphere each village has to offer, and you will surely have an unforgettable experience in this stunning region.

Marqueyssac-Gardens 1

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

4 thoughts on “12 of the Most Delightful Dordogne Villages to Visit in France”

  1. Hi Shelley and Lars.
    The Dordogne has been on the bucket list to revisit, since we were there in 1978! We are both now 77, moderately healthy, wanting to walk where its not to long and not too steep! Looked at walking tours but a bit much of both.
    We are now wondering about basing ourselves in maybe 4 villages over 2-2 1/2 weeks, 4 nights in each, and not hiring a car. Trains are good! We want the French village ambience and cuisine, but not 5* or Michelin. Very happy with gites.
    Can you pick 4 of your special villages that would fit the scenario? Would like Brantome, as we used to live in Brantome St Gisborne, and it looks lovely[as they all do! ] Went to Rocadamour previously. Loved Sarlat, and would happily return.
    Looking to travel mid April-early-mid May, so flower festival at St Jean de Cole appeals.
    How easy is it to travel between the villages without a car? Are there buses, or would one need taxis? Could finish up where there is access to a train back to Paris to fly home.
    Sorry to be cheeky in asking advice, but I’m sure your knowledge is better than a Melbourne travel agent. However I fully understand if you can’t help; but thank you so much for the wonderful , informative and oh-so-tempting web site!

    Cheers, David Laurie

    • Hi David and Susie- so pleased you love our website! And a trip to the Dordogne in spring sounds lovely.
      Our favourite town in the Dordogne was Brantome, so I’d say definitely include that one and another of our favourites was Sarlat. My friend in Villars absolutely loved Perigeux (I don’t think we explored it enough to fall in love with it – much to the chagrine of my friend!). And there are better rail links there I think.
      To be honest, I’m not sure about public transport between the villages – we had a car so travelled that way everywhere, but I’m thinking that it would be more difficult to get to say the smaller towns of St. John de Cole than to the larger, like Sarlat.
      As for the other villages to pick – that’s a hard one as there are so many. If you are wanting a wider choice of restaurants then the larger villages will be a better choice. So Brantome, Perigeux and Sarlat would be great options and then another that catches your eye 🙂
      I hope this helps a little and do let us know how your trip goes and let us know your favourite parts.
      Happy travels.
      Shelley and Lars


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