Towards the beginning of our summer road trip around Europe, we spent a week at a house in Sarlat-la-Canéda, in the beautiful Dordogne region of France. The week followed our 3 day hike in the Pyrenees, so you can probably imagine how we spent the first few days – showering, washing clothes and de-ticking ourselves (yes, really – but at least we got an experience at a french doctor out of it!).
Because I had booked lots of different accommodations for our months-long summer trip, I wasn’t quite sure what place I had booked for this stop. So we were pleasantly surprised to roll up to a beautiful, huge farmhouse overlooking the town.
The house had a big yard and a gravel driveway where the boys spent much of the week playing football (soccer). If you want more detail this is where we stayed.
We were a pleasant 10-minute walk into the charming town of Sarlat (though the walk was a little more pleasant on the way into town – it wasn’t noticeably downhill when we walked there, but it did seem to be noticeably uphill as we walked back home!)
We explored the city early in the morning and had plenty of time to play a bit of catch in the town center before it got hot and crowded!
We walked to town for a few meals, for our daily run to the boulangerie, and to just explore.
The famous Lascaux prehistoric cave was only a half an hour away from where we stayed, and one of the reasons we wanted to stay in the area, so I booked tickets in advance for us to visit. The amazing Lascaux caves contain paintings estimated to date back 17,000 years. The caves were discovered in 1940, but due to damage caused by the carbon dioxide from visitors (among other things), the original cave was closed and an exact replica was created.
When we visited, we went through Lascaux IV, the fourth of these “duplicate” caves. The cave paintings were primarily of animals like ancient versions of cattle, horses and bison, along with some abstract symbols. The cave paintings were in amazing shape and part of me wondered if the original cave really had paintings this clear after all that time. However, after our cave tour, I saw a photo of the original discoverers in the real cave, and the images did look just as bold and clear as they did in the replica cave.
We couldn’t take pictures in the replica cave, but they did have a museum afterwards with replicas where we could take pictures of the cave walls. The kids audio guides also had a function to take photos, so the boys were very happily occupied with that, and Lascaux even emailed us the photos afterwards (but excuse me if I didn’t download the 8,000 photos of floors, shoes and blurred people in order to find the handful of the kids photos that might actually be good pictures!)
We purchased a joint ticket with Lascaux Cave and Parc du Thot, which was a prehistoric themed park, with animals that were around in prehistoric times, plus it was supposed to have “interactive workshops” on things like archaeological digs and flint knapping. Unfortunately, when we went that afternoon after Lascaux, none of the workshops were running, and the animals were not very exciting. It was pretty lame (obviously since I didn’t even take any pictures!) I wouldn’t recommend it.
Canoeing on the Dordogne River
One day, we drove to the nearby Dordogne river and rented canoes from one of the many companies available along the banks. We spent about 3 hours canoeing down the river. The river was pretty slow and easy to paddle (we went downstream the whole way), with lots of places to get out and swim. We didn’t end up stopping to swim much, and pretty much just paddled most of the time.
We enjoyed our relaxing week in the Dordogne. There was lots to do (more than we even had time/energy to do), and we were happy to see that part of France. However, we had a full summer ahead of us, so onward we went!