Tuesday, 24 July 2012 1:23 PM
Although hiring a car might seem like the best way to travel between the villages of the Dordogne region, you'll miss out on a lot of the spectacular countryside if you drive. Walking is a better option, as you can immerse yourself in the culture and scenery.
In fact, there are several places - like the Gorges de la Cere - which are much more accessible on foot than by car, so it pays to strap on your walking boots and travel around a corner of the picturesque Dordogne region under your own steam.
You'll be surprised by just how much distance you can cover when walking in France - in a week you can visit six different villages, as well as pass through numerous small hamlets as you stroll. Here are just a few of the highlights you can look forward to on an independent, hotel-to-hotel walking break.
This is the starting point for your holiday and a wonderful place to get your first taste of the Dordogne's stunning villages. Beaulieu's old town is particularly fun to explore, with its network of narrow streets and rows of buildings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. Make sure you don't miss the Romanesque church before you head out on a short walk to get your bearings and explore the beautiful countryside the region is famous for.
Port de Gagnac
The next place you will stay overnight is Port de Gagnac, which is located on the banks of the River Cere, a tributary of the Dordogne River. This picture-perfect village is surrounded by rolling hills and orchards, which you'll get to walk through on your way into and out of the settlement.
Loubressac is perched above the Dordogne Valley, making this a wonderful place to take in the views of the surrounding countryside. You can even see the Chateau de Castelnau from this vantage point, as well as the nearby village of St Cere. The houses in Loubressac itself are worth taking a closer look at, as they are all constructed from a very pale type of stone.
The church, which dates from between the 12th and 16th centuries, should be on your itinerary too, while the village has won awards for its floral displays, so if you stop here at the right time of year you can expect to see colourful blooms adorning all of the buildings in sight.
Named as one of the most beautiful villages in France, it would be a shame not to leave a bit of time to explore Autoire on your walking break in France. The houses here are made from the same local stone as those in Loubressac, while one of the village's most outstanding features is the fountain that stands in the centre of its main square.
Carrenac is another of the Dordogne's villages that is renowned for its beauty. Take your time wandering around its delightful centre and you'll discover the Church of St Pierre on the edge of a small, picturesque courtyard. Next to the place of worship is Carrenac Castle, which dates back to the 16th century. Explore the surrounding streets and you'll find a collection of houses that were constructed around the same time as the castle.
The final Dordogne village you can explore on your walking trip in the region is Martel, which is famous for its seven towers that stand above the rooftops. There are some excellent examples of medieval architecture here, including the Palais de la Raymondi, which was constructed between 1280 and 1330, and Saint Maur's church, which is easily recognisable thanks to its tall belfry.