My very first blogpost on the KarsTravels site! I start with one about France. We visited the Dordogne region in France in spring time. The weather isn’t as hot as it can be in summer and there are plenty of things to do and see. So let me highlight 7 of our favorite outings to go on with kids in the Dordogne, from chateaus to boatrides.
Dordoge with kids: a list of fun things to do
1. Rocher des Aigles
The first fun outing to gon on with kids in the Dordogne is Rocher des Aigles. Rocher des Aigles is a small zoo with different kinds of birds, amongst them birds of prey. However, this isn’t the main attraction, you’re coming for the spectacular raptor show.
In the small parc is an open field with benches on one side. Everyone was sitting on the benches, but when the show started they told us that the best view isn’t on the benches. It’s on the other side of the field against the fence, where we were standing! It was perfect, with the valley behind us. We could see the birds soaring over the valley. The show was in French, Paul translated, but without understanding the language, the show was still easy to understand. Birds of prey and later on parrots flew over us. It was beautiful to see. Next to that they let a raptor walk over everybody’s legs, and a small raptor stood on our head and a third one ate from our hands. Although our son didn’t like this, we found that this added value to the show.
We’ve seen more than one raptor show and found this to be one of the better ones. At first Yuri didn’t want to go, the last raptor show he remembered was boring. He actually loved this one so much, he wanted to go again the next day.
Signs are present from the town of Rocamadour, so you can easily find it.
Address: Rocher des Aigles
tel: 05 65 33 65 45
Parking is free. It’s a small stroll to the entrance. Open from April to September. Show are on set times. Entrance fee is 10 euros for 14 and older, 6 euros from 4 till 13 years.
2. Les Grottes du Roc de Cazelle
This outing was recommended to us by the campsite to go on in the Dordogne with kids. . We visited with friends who also have a kid, Yuri’s age. Les Grottes du Roc de Cazelle are caves that have been occupied from prehistoric times till 1966. In this area there are numerous cave dwellings, this is one of them.
A round loop walking path, starting at the reception/shop led us through the caves and the forest. With manequins and props the way people lived in different times in and around the caves is shown. There’s also an adventure path for kids and a petting zoo.
Exhibition plaques are in French, at the entrance you can get tours in several languages varying from Dutch to Chinese. The tour tells you how the people lived, what they ate, did, the climate, the animals and so on.
The manequins and props, although clearly fake, brought it alive for the kids. The explanation was educational and clarified things. Paul and I knew most of it, but it was a good way to learn the kids about living in caves. Yuri and his friend walked the adventure path several times. In the petting zoo they loved feeding the sheep.
Since we already saw pretty spectacular cave dwellings in the US and Jordan that stayed close to the original, we weren’t expecting much from these caves. But the explanation and props made for an easy entrance to visiting and learning about cave dwelling in the Dordogne.
It was easy to find, good signing.
Address: Route de Sarlat
24620 Les Eyzies
Phone: 05 53 59 46 09
Parking is free, on the other side of the road. The caves are open all year round for visitors.
3. Parc de Chateau de Campagne
We visited the chateau out of curiosity, we drove past and just had to check it out. With kids in tow we strolled through the gardens around the castle. The landscaping of the gardens is beautiful. There’s a labyrinth and a herbal garden. Moreover there are grassfields full of buttercups, daisies and more flowers.
The kids loved picking flowers and putting them behind their ears. The gardens were nice for strolling for a while. A small , but fun outing for a half hour to an hour to go on in the Dordogne with kids.
Address: DRPP Pole Paysage et Espace Verts
Phone: 05 53 06 82 70
France is dotted with cute, little (old) towns, the Dordogne region is no exception to this. A fun town to visit in the Dordogne with kids is Beynac. History, excercise (lots of chance to run for kids) and beautiful views make it perfect to visit an afternoon. It’s is a beautiful small old town situated on the river. A short stroll leads you to great height, with a wide and beautiful view over the river and further small, steep streets line the town. Moreover there are little, cute shops to wander through.
The castle on top is open to visit, for a fee. We opted out, since we already had other castles on our itinerary.
Lots of places to lunch in the town on beautiful spots, very touristic and expensive. Best and most special is restaurant Hostellerie Maleville directly next to the river. We had lunch in the town and on the riverbank. The last was excellent, the one in town was good, but didn’t stand out.
The town was easy to find, a parking spot was harder. Since there was road construction which gave a lot of traffic jam on the main road next to the river.
The town is situated next to the D46 or D110.
5. Gabarres de Beynac
I simply love boatrides, so we had to go on a gabarre. A gabarre is a freightship which was used on the rivers of Southern France, like the Dordogne River, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since the railways made them redundant, they’re only in use for tourists. On several places along the Dordogne river can you go on a gabarre. We opted for the one at Beynac.
On the gabarre an enthusiastic guide told us very extensive about the history and present of the four castles and riversides. From Beynac to Castelnaud there are four castles that were eachothers rivals during history.
The tours are in French, but on demand, they will also do it in English. Since Yuri and I were the only ones not understanding French, we opted out of that. I had an explanation in Dutch on paper and read this out loud to Yuri along the way. The boatride took us from Beynac to Castelnaud and back, with a duration of 50 minutes, and beautiful views along the way.
Paul and I enjoyed the views very much, liked the boatride and found it informative. Yuri liked the boatride, but found the story too long. However being on the water and on a historical ride makes for a special outing to go on in the Dordogne with kids.
Address: Gabarres de Beynac
24220 Beynac et cazenac
Phone: 05 5328 51 15
Parking is next to the river for a fee. The boats are close to the parking lot. Open from April till September. Entrance fee is 8 euros for adults and 4,50 for kids.
6. Chateau de Castelnaud
From all the things we visited in the Dordogne this was Yuri’s favorite. It was his favourite outing of the week because of the crossbow shooting demonstration and getting to practice this yourself helped big time in making this number one for us in things to do in the Dordogne with kids.
Within the walls of the castle you stroll cobblestone streets with restaurants, shops and demonstrations. The closer to the castle, the narrower and steeper the streets. Upon reaching the castle we were already in medieval spheres. Inside the castle is the musee de la guerre au moyen age, or the museum about war in the middle ages. In addition gallows, crossbows, enormous catapults and other weaponry is displayed inside and outside on the castle walls. Explanation on the signs is in French, but leaflets are available in different languages.
We visited the castle with friends and their child. Both adults and kids fully enjoyed the castle and tour. Part of the weaponry was touchable and everything was well visible. The tour was a good way to learn Yuri and his friend about medieval warfare. Outside the castle the kids could run and climb endlessly, further making the castle a fun outing for the kids. The view on the river Dordogne and surroundings was beautiful.
Above all the shops, demonstration of wooden top making, cross bow shooting and restaurants gave ambiance and livelihood on your castle visit.
The castle is situated on a hill and towering over the town and river, because of this the chateau is clearly visible from afar. Next to this there are clear signs leting you know how to drive to the parking lot. So getting to the castle is easy.
Address: Chateau de Castelnaud
It’s paid parking, from the parking lot it’s a small walk to get inside the castle walls, but then you’re not at the castle yet. This takes a lot longer, but doable. The castle is open year round. Kids under the age of 10 are free, all others pay 9,60 euros.
Lascauz is a site I’ve wanted to see for years since I read about it in National Geographic, so many years ago.
The actual caves are closed for all visitors, since air and previous visitors caused severe damage to the murals. But you can visit a replica from a part of the cave system. Hence the name Lascaux II. The paintings are beautifully copied. The artist(s) worked painstakenly to copy the murals exactly as the original. They did an excellent job.
A guided tour, available in French and English, guides you through several rooms with murals. On this tour you get an explanation on used materials, prehistoric times, how the caves were found, info on the people, how and when and what kind of animals are depicted. The caves are dark and it’s cold in them. The murals are depicted on actual size and are all around you. You’re in awe walking past the murals. It was everything I hoped for and the closest I could get to the original murals. They were beautiful and it was exciting to see them in real life. An experience I wouldn’t have want to miss out on.
Yuri didn’t enjoy the caves that much. He didn’t understand that much English back then, so he wasn’t able to understand the tour. My explanation, sadly, also didn’t help him to enjoy the tour. His verdict was: boring. Beforehand we tought the paintings would be entertaining enough on itself for Yuri, alas. Lascaux will be a better outing in the Dordogne with kids, if they understand English or Frence. Or when you opt for Lascaux IV, which wasn’t open back then, but would open in the beginning of 2018.
Parking near the caves is free. The only thing is we had to get the tickets in the center of town and parking there is not for free. Next to that the parking lot in the city center is small, as a result getting tickets was less easy to arrange.
Address: Renseignements Lascaux II
Phone: 05 53519503
Going to the caves we had a detour which was unclear and took a long time. However Lascaux itself was easy to find. The entrance fee is 6,50 euros for a child and 10,50 euros for an adult. Tickets for the tours can be bought in the center of town, where there’s an office only for tickets sales.
So here we are 7 activities further, 6 hits and one boring, to experience in the Dordogne with kids.
We visited all seven in one week. To clarify we had one outing a day, except the parc, we visited this driving back from Grottes de Roc de Cazelle. We stayed at campsite RCN Le Moulin de la piqué in Belves. Which was ideally located to explore the Dordogne with kids. Most importantly, this campsite, was ideal to stay on with kids. More over that in a later post on campsites in France.
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