Day 1: Arrival
In Gourdon, we arrive to the family-run Hostellerie de la Bouriane, where we will be treated to fine specialties from the Quercy area this evening.
Day 2: Gourdon – Meyrals (26 miles/42 km)
After the adjustment of our bikes, we begin our bike tour, cycling to the Grottes préhistoriques de Cougnac where you'll discover a bizarre cave world and its pre-historic art. Later, we ride on to Domme, one of the many bastides laid out in Aquitaine in the 13th century. Perched on a cliff, Domme has a unique panorama of the river landscape of the Dordogne Valley.
The Castelnaud castle, an important English fortress in The Hundred Years' War, sits on a steep hill. After only a few kilometers, we will be able to see the massive Château Beynac and the Dorf La Roque Gageac, partially built into the cliff at the river shore. Josephine Baker once lived in the neighboring Les Milandes castle with her 11 adopted children.
At the end of today's cycle journey, we are awaited by the La Ferme Lamy, a farmstead converted into a hotel (with a swimming pool). The small country inn has very comfortable rooms. The hotel patron will prepare a traditional local dinner for us.
Day 3: Meyrals – Sarlat (17 miles/27 km)
After a short climb, a long descent leads us into the valley of the Vézère. Here we'll encounter an astounding density of pre-historic sites. We will visit the French National pre-historical Museum in Les Eyzies de Tayac with its impressive archaeological findings.
A few difficult kilometers can be overcome by a short bus transfer to Sarlat, one of the loveliest small cities in France. This jewel of old urban construction has been given new splendor, thanks to its careful restoration. Today, Sarlat is a small town full of life with an abundant offer of local delicacies from the kitchen and the cellar.
After a small tour around Sarlat, you will have enough time to explore the medieval alleys. Shortly afterward, we will be welcomed by the Hotel la Hoirie. This modern renovated farmhouse, situated on a small hill, dates back to the 13th century with a park, a swimming pool, and an excellent restaurant.
Day 4: Sarlat – Rocamadour (30 miles/48 km)
Traveling on a former railway embankment, we continue to cycle slightly downhill through the typical Dordogne landscape, characterized by walnut tree plantations and acorn and chestnut forests. The black earth of the region’s forests has earned this area the description "black Périgord."
Around noon in Souillac, we will visit the Romanesque abbey church where two important artworks dating back to the 12th century can be found: the beast pillar and the Jesaja. The latter is generally seen as the pinnacle of Romanesque plastic.
After a short transfer and a long descent into the Canyon der l’Ouysse, we will visit the Moulin de Cougnaguet. This romantically situated mill, dating back to the 13th century, was painstakingly restored by the former miller. From here, we will cycle on to the important pilgrimage place Rocamadour with its seven churches, chapels, and crypts.
Tonight we will stay at the comfortable Hotel Beau Site. We will be treated to local delicacies in the hotel’s restaurant for tonight's dinner.
Day 5: Rocamadour – Martel (17 miles/28 km)
In the morning, we will bridge a challenging section by bus and will reach the Gouffre de Padirac in the early morning. A path leads from the base of this massive gorge, interrupted by a longer river section to be traveled by boat, into one of the largest stalactite caves in Europe.
In the afternoon, we will cycle along the bank of the Dordogne through dream-like villages built entirely out of natural stone. The special charm of this region can definitely be seen here. The cohesion of medieval architecture and the fascinating landscape is unique. The village Carennac, situated at the bank of the Dordogne, and has been awarded the title "Loveliest village in France" several times, lies along the way to Martel. The city of seven towers is a jewel of medieval architecture.
We will be staying in the comfortable Relais Ste. Anne, a former monastery, restored in fine taste (with swimming pool). In the evening, we will meet for dinner in the hotel's superb restaurant, where the owner’s son will prepare a meal of haute cuisine for us.
Day 6: Martel – Vallée de la Dordogne – Martel (17 miles/28 km)
After a visit to Martel with its wooden market hall and its small alleys, we will cycle to Gluges, which is situated picturesquely at a bend in the Dordogne River. If the weather is fine and the water level is sufficient, we will paddle with canoes through the river canyon to Meyronne.
We'll hop back on our bikes to cycle on quiet paths over the Causse de Martel, a barren limestone plateau with impressive Manoirs and picturesque hamlets, back to Relais Ste. Anne, our hotel for a second evening. We will end the eventful day with a shared dinner.
Day 7: Martel – Grèzes (30 miles/48 km)
Today begins with a one-hour hike to the Moulin du Saut, a fortified flour mill dating back to the 12th century. On the other side of the Karst Valley, and after mounting our bikes once again, the path then leads us on a peaceful route in slightly hillier landscape into the center of the Parc Naturel des Causses de Quercy.
Dreamlike hamlets and pretty farm and country houses lie along the way – a southern French picture book landscape. In the late afternoon, we will reach Assier with a Renaissance castle dating back to the 16th century. The weapon master of Franz I, Galiot de Genouillac, had a huge summer residence built here, and the remains are still impressive.
This evening, we will be welcomed by the Château Le Grezalide, a lovingly renovated hotel (with swimming pool), which is located remotely in the center of the regional park. The hotel’s restaurant awaits us for its closing dinner and will treat us to local delicacies.
Day 8: Grèzes – Cahors – Toulouse
After breakfast, we will travel by bus to the old capital city of the Quercy area, Cahors, whose origins date back to Celtic times. Here we will visit the landmark of the city, the Pont Valentré, a fortified stone bridge dating to the Middle Ages, over which streams of pilgrims left the city on the Way of St. James.
Our cycling trip through one of the most impressive regions in France ends at the train station in Cahors.