- Sampling a glass of red in Cahors – home of Malbec
- Winding our way along the dramatic Vallée du Célé
- Cycling along to the sound of cowbells near Velzic
- Conquering the Pas de Peyrol and drinking in the views
- Rocamadour and the descent from its lofty heights
- Marvelling at the Massif Centrale as we cycle through its distinctive landscapes
Faultless service from start to finish! The guides went the extra mile to ensure everybody was smiling all of the time.
The small city of Bergerac in the heart of the Dordogne is the meeting point for this tour. On arrival you will be met by your Skedaddle team for the short 90-minute transfer to Sarlat.
Sarlat is a bustling and perfectly preserved medieval town, its unique architecture is amongst the best preserved in France as it was the first town to attain World Heritage status. Narrow twisting alley ways open up into small secluded courtyards and at the centre a large open square is often filled with musicians and entertainers. It is a great place to relax with an ice-cream or stretch your legs in its meandering streets.
In the evening we will meet our fellow Skedaddlers over some local cuisine and to perhaps sample some of the wares produced in the local vineyards that surround the town and chat about the week ahead.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 800 Metres Approx.
Following a homely French breakfast your Skedaddle team will make sure everyone is set up and comfortable on their bikes and ready for our journey.
We start our ride along a delightful cycle path, sheltered by trees. We cross the Dordogne river for the first time on the old railway bridge and a short time later we cross on to some peaceful lanes that allow us to keep pace with the river and admire the small villages and walnut trees that line the route.
The afternoon ride is tranquil as we follow the meandering vineyard laden valley of the River Lot past the dramatically perched church at Albas and the small town of Luzech, with its ancient keep, squeezed between the neck of a meander.
Near the end of the day we arrive into Cahors over the 14th century Pont Valentre, one of the best preserved medieval bridges in France. Its three immaculately preserved towers were once guarded by portcullises, making the town a near impenetrable fortress. Thankfully today the town has a much more relaxed atmosphere. We will make our way to our riverside hotel before an evening stroll in the old town for dinner and perhaps to sample some of the local ‘vin rouge’ for which Cahors is famous.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,250 Metres Approx.
Cahors is the capital of the old province of Quercy and is almost surrounded by the River Lot. The best way to appreciate the dramatic nature of the towns location is to get our legs turning to the top of Mont St Cyr. At only 266m above sea level it is a very modest mountain and the reward is a dramatic bird’s eye perspective of Cahors.
Our coffee break is in the beautiful village of Saint-Cirque-Lapopie, one of France’s Plus Beaux Village, precariously perched on a steep rock plinth 100m above the river. From the terrace of a café we are able to get the best view of this spectacularly well-preserved village.
Today’s route features rural riverside riding at its best. We spend the next 10km winding upstream with the River Lot below before entering the little known Parc Natural Regional de Quercy, a land of ancient gorges and forests where we spend most of the day.
In the afternoon we join the Vallée du Célé, where the road is squeezed between dramatic cliffs riddled with medieval fortified caves and the Célé River. Traffic is virtually non-existent as we wind along this peaceful valley through the beautiful village of St Suplice, guarded by its 12th century castle, the most photographed village on the Célé.
Our destination for the night is Figeac on the banks of the Célé river where we will head out for a meal in the remarkably unchanged medieval centre of this bustling market town.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,250 Metres Approx.
Today the vineyard clad valleys give way to rolling hills and the sound of cow bells.
Our morning begins by hugging the banks of the Célé to avoid the increasingly hilly terrain around us. We pass Bagnac-sur-Célé with its perfectly preserved medieval bridge, almost ‘de rigueur’ in this region but eventually we can avoid the hills no longer and just after the small town of Maurs we begin to climb. The gentle climb is a real pleasure as we wind our way through the woods alongside a lively stream.
We reach the high point of this morning at Roannes Saint Mary before descending into the busy town of Aurillac, where we begin our steady climb up the Jordanne river valley heading deeper into the rural Auvergne. Cows gaze at us from the road side; a reminder that this area is responsible for some of France’s finest cheeses such as Cantal.
The cowbells cheer us along the last stretch through small villages and we end our day at the Lac des Graves, an incredibly peaceful spot with stunning views across the lake to the mountains behind. Here, at the end of the valley, we are in a great position to conquer our challenge of the Puy Mary in the morning!
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,525 Metres Approx.
We start the day with a gradual warm up along the valley floor before the ascent of the Puy Mary.
We tackle this famous Tour de France col from its easier side and today’s distance has been kept shorter to enable us to take in the majesty of our surroundings, and give our legs time to warm up.
The Puy Mary has featured many times in the Tour de France. The Puy Mary is often referred to as the name of the climb, but is correctly known as the Pas de Peyrol (1,588m). The Puy Mary refers to the volcano’s conical shape which rears its head dramatically above us at 1,783m.
The 12km of ascent is gentle, with sweeping bends and vistas of extinct volcanic mounds. The three greatest of these puys are Plomb du Cantal (1,855m), Puy Mary (1,787m) and Puy de Peyre-Arse (1,688m) with deep cut wooded valleys radiating out like spokes. With the col tackled in the morning we are free to enjoy a coffee at the top before we wind our way down past the Roc du Merle (1,647m) and enjoy a sweeping descent into the La Marron valley and lunch at St Martin Valmeroux.
Be sure to leave a little in the legs for the afternoon as the climbing is not over yet! We still need to make our way upwards through the village of St Eulalie following the Route de Fromage! We dip in and out of picturesque valleys to cross small streams and through the excellently preserved small town of Pleaux, complete with boulangeries and cafés, still the cornerstone of a every village.
Our resting place for the night, St Privat, sits in the Upper Dordogne area, a little visited corner of the Dordogne but with villages and scenery that more than rival other areas of the region.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 900 Metres Approx.
If day 5 took us mostly up then as they say what goes up must come down! Day 6 takes us out of the Upper Dordogne region towards the Dordogne River as we roll 18km, mostly downwards, towards the small medieval town of Argentat, which is split in two by the Dordogne River.
We follow the Dordogne on its eastern side on quiet roads as we wind 20km along the Vallée de Dordogne to ‘Beaulieu sur Dordogne’, which lives up to its literal translation of ‘beautiful place on the Dordogne‘. We spend the majority of the rest of our day journeying alongside the river. The valley is interspersed by dramatically perched châteaux, positioned imposingly yet majestically above the river, such as the Château de Castelnau and the ancient village of Lubresac.
Our route continues alongside the southern banks of the Dordogne until crossing the river for a short section north of the river before arriving into Souillac, where we can relax and wander into the old town. It’s an interesting small town with a pretty medieval centre, site of the weekly market selling many of the cheeses from the Route du Fromage we cycled earlier in the trip.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,050 Metres Approx.
A slightly shorter final day allows us time to more thoroughly explore the medieval streets of Sarlat, but first we have the climb of Rocamadour to conquer. It is well worth the climb, as the village sits dramatically perched on the cliff side of an abrupt canyon wall, a truly outstanding and audacious location for a village. Since medieval times Rocmadour has been a key site for pilgrims drawn by the apparent healing powers of Rocmadour’s Black Madonna. If you are still feeling energetic, you can climb up the 223 steps to visit her (though perhaps not on your knees as the pilgrims would!).
We complete our journey alongside the Dordogne river, through the Route de Noix, a reference to the many Walnut trees and pause for our final picnic. We return to Sarlat via the picturesque and peaceful cycle path.
- Meals: Breakfast
After a leisurely breakfast we will transfer Bergerac for onwards journeys.
France is the spiritual home of road cycling, and as such you’ll find a warm and friendly welcome from the locals. During your cycling in the Haute Dordogne you’ll see all types of terrain that will include quiet country lanes, undulating riverside roads and challenging climbs such as Puy Mary / Pas de Peyrol.
Our route has been created with great care so as to balance the climbing and terrain with the daily mileages, to form a flowing journey through this beautiful region of France. Road surfaces in France are generally good although some of the more minor roads may include uneven sections, occasional potholes and gravel patches.
Road Cycling Grade
Average distances around 40 – 60 miles / 70-90 km
A moderately difficult tour
Slightly tougher than a Grade 2 but not as difficult as Grade 3
Occasional challenging climbs
Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!
For more information about our grading system click here.
Is this suitable for you?
You’re reasonably fit and ride frequently at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for a number of hours at a time. You do enjoy an occasional challenge and quite happy climbing but you‘re unlikely to be found daydreaming about ticking off all the famous cols of the Tour de France. That said the prospect of tackling a semi-serious to serious mountain pass doesn’t fill you with dread. You enjoy the social aspect of cycling and look forward to the occasional coffee-stop as much as the riding itself.
You have good control of your bike and feel confident in your skills to ascend and descend safely. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling, you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 2-3 would be a good option for you.
Guides made us ‘newbies’ feel comfortable from the beginning and we are now hopefully going to become Skedaddle regulars!
Dates & Prices
Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.
A) Hotel accommodation (shared twin or double rooms)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Full tour service including Skedaddle guides
D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid
E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers
F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Bergerac Airport (EGC) or train station transfer from Gare de Sarlat-la-Caneda
G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Bergerac Airport EGC) or train station transfer to Gare de Sarlat-la-Candeda
What's not Included
A) Bike rental (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Meals not stated in the itinerary
D) Travel insurance
E) Single room (available if required)
F) Personal clothing and equipment
G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)
H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route
I) Airport and train station transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
News, Reviews & Stories
A day in the life on a cycling holiday
Eat, ride, relax, repeat! We take a trip inside the mind of a cyclist as they navigate their day on tour...
9 things about cycling in France...
Not only is it home to world-class cuisine and some of the most beautiful landscapes, it’s also the spiritual home of cycling...
Everything you need to know about our legendary Skedaddle picnics...
George, USASpectacular chosen routes...
I liked our guides – very fun- and I thought that the routes chosen were spectacular. Roads were in good condition, lovely and varied in both scenery and difficulty. Food was generally good.
The first day was great because it was beautiful to see the rolling countryside and chateaus. The second day was great because we moved into completely different territories, and the medieval bridge outside Cahors is fabulous. The third day on the national bike trail was amazing. The fourth day with the climb up Puy St. Mary was exhilarating as well as beautiful. My least favourite day was the last – the scenery wasn’t as interesting, though I did like Domme quite well. And the day was shorter. Bravo for picking so many roads that are in great condition. As we were driving around after our trip was over we realised that the roads chosen were in some of the best shape we had seen.
Derin, USAVery good...
I expected that this ride would be a challenge for me and it was. But I never felt like I was unable to accomplish it. The guides were very attentive and helpful.
Climbing the Puy Mary was my favourite day. Even though it was difficult for me, I really felt I had accomplished something and the scenery was spectacular. Plus the downhill, cold as it was, was great fun!
Alan, West Yorkshire, UKFaultless service from Saddle Skedaddle from start to finish...
We were kept informed of the progress with our booking and alerted as soon as the trip would definitely going ahead. We were given assistance when booking the flights and a detailed itinerary too. The transport from and to the airport ran impeccably. The guides went the extra mile to ensure they did everything to ensure everybody was smiling all of the time.
The standard of accommodation was incredibly high – each hotel had excellent facilities, a garage for bike storage and a warm welcome.
Hannah was a fantastic tour leader, never without a smile, the ultimate professional but also one of the group. She lead with confidence and that really allowed you to ride with confidence behind her. Hannah always ensured the route was clear to follow and would stop to keep the group in a tight bunch through more difficult sections. In the evenings, Hannah did a fantastic job of keeping everybody happy whilst ordering, and paying for, the evening meal…no easy job!
The three guides interacted smoothly and seamlessly in what could have been a difficult first riding of a new route. They made us “newbies” feel comfortable from the beginning and we are now hopefully going to become Skedaddle regulars like the other members of our group. If our other guides and trips are as satisfying as this one, we will be well pleased!