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Located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Dordogne is halfway between the Pyrénées and the Loire Valley. This rural region is filled with stunning medieval châteaux and fairytale villages that are great places to visit on day trips from larger cities like Sarlat-la-Canéda and Bergerac or as part of a Dordogne road trip.
So, if you’re ready for the relaxation, beauty, and charm of this beautiful region of France, then here’s a list of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne for every type of traveler.
Best Way to Explore the Dordogne Villages
The best way to reach these Dordogne villages is by car as public transportation is scarce, especially on the weekends.
Driving in France is very easy, and having your own car will also allow you to explore the castles of Dordogne and Prehistoric sites nearby. If you don’t have a car in France, we recommend traveling by train to the closest city and hiring a car from there. Check out our best tips for renting a car in France.
If you don’t plan on renting a car, this day tour from Sarlat-la-Canéda visits some of the most beautiful Dordogne villages in the area.
About Dordogne – Périgord
If you don’t understand the distinction between Dordogne vs. Périgord, don’t worry! Périgord is the name of the historic region, while Dordogne is the name of the current French department, which has almost the same borders. Dordogne is also the name of the river which crosses this department.
While reading about the Périgord, you will also read about colors, which correspond to the four tourist areas identified in the Périgord /Dordogne department:
- The Périgord Vert: the Green Périgord is the most northerly, a land of meadows, light oaks, and chestnut trees. This is where the Périgord-Limousin regional natural park is located. The main city in the Périgord Vert is Montron.
- The Périgord Blanc: the White Périgord is located below the Périgord Vert and the main city here is Périgueux. The color white is in reference to its limestone soils.
- The Périgord Noir: the Black Périgord is located in the southeast, around Sarlat-la-Canéda. The color black refers to the dark foliage of the many oaks present in this area. The main city in the Périgord Noir is Sarlat-la-Canéda.
- Périgord Pourpre: the Purple Périgord corresponds to southern Dordogne, around Bergerac and its vineyards, with leaves that turn red in autumn. The main city in the Périgord Pourpre is Bergerac.
Best Dordogne Villages
Here’s the list of the best villages in Dordogne. Most of these Dordogne villages are located in the Périgord Noir but the areas around Bergerac and Périgeux are also worth exploring for their historical sites and natural wonders.
Located in the historical region of Périgord Noir and bisected by the Vézère River, Montignac-Lascaux is famous for being home to the Lascaux Caves with their Prehistoric paintings. In fact, these cave paintings are what make this one of the best villages in the Dordogne to visit. However, this tiny village has much more to recommend than Lascaux.
Montignac-Lascaux is filled with pretty half-timbered homes and interesting buildings like the 18th century Couvent des Clarisses and the Château de Montignac, which unfortunately is mostly ruins. There are also some lovely cafés and restaurants to enjoy the local cuisine.
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is set on a wooded valley in the upper part of the Dordogne River, in the Corrèze department. This is a slow-paced and romantic village, offering a taste of the Périgord county in the Limousin, where you can walk on the river and listen to its quiet melody or take photos of the rural surroundings. Because of its microclimate and almost year-round sunshine, Beaulieu is nicknamed the “Riviera of the Limousin.”
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is listed as one of the Most beautiful villages in France. It has a fascinating old town center, which you’ll enter through the Porte Saint-Catherine, one of the village’s original medieval gateways. The streets are filled with interesting and ornamental houses as well as the 12th-century Romanesque church and the remains of the Benedictine monastery. The market square and the Chapelle des Pénitents are also beautiful to see.
In the Périgord Noir, Belvès is a lovely little Dordogne village that’s constructed on the side of a rocky outcrop, offering beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Considered one of the most beautiful villages in the entire valley, Belvès is about 15km north of Monpazier and 20km south of Sarlat.
The area was first occupied around 2,000 years ago but it is mostly known for its medieval sites. Visit the 15th-century covered market in Place des Armes, the Château de Belvès, numerous medieval houses, and part of the original ramparts of the town. You should also make certain to explore the many side streets to find your own hidden gems.
There are also some troglodyte dwellings to visit where you can learn about the daily life of the people who lived there from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
At the confluence of the Dordogne and the Vézère rivers, Limeuil is a charming and refreshing stopover known for its water sports, such as canoeing and kayaking. The village even has its own little river beach.
Listed as one of France’s Most Beautiful Villages, Limeuil retains part of its original fortifications and boasts beautiful stone houses with brown tiled roofs typical of the Périgord Noir.
Limeuil is a village of craftsmen, so don’t hesitate to visit their workshops for original souvenirs. Overlooking the village, the panoramic Gardens of Limeuil are great for a stroll, with their landscaped English garden, arboretum, interpretation areas, and above all, the magnificent view of the confluence of the rivers.
Part of the Pérogord Vert, Brantôme is one of the most popular villages in Dordogne for travelers looking to enjoy the French countryside. It’s located on the banks of the River Dronne, north of Périgueux, and is often called “the Venice of Périgord” for its riverside charm and vegetation.
Brantôme’s beautiful Benedictine abbey dates back to the 8th century, though it has been destroyed and rebuilt over the years. The bell tower officially dates back to the 11th century, but it may be one of the oldest in the country. The village also has lots of lovely traditional houses to admire as well as the Grand Jardin, otherwise known as “the Monks’ Garden,” which is now open to the public.
In the Périgord Noir, about 8km south of Sarlat, Domme is one of the best Dordogne villagees for a quaint, charming vibe, one that’s reinforced by its honey-colored houses with Lauzes-style roofs dotted throughout.
Domme is a place where the pace of life has slowed down. Located on a hilltop overlooking the Dordogne River, it was originally established by King Philip the Bold in 1281 as a bastide or a fortified medieval town and still contains many historical buildings like the Town Hall, a castle, and the Governor’s house. The town center also has a hidden cave (now a museum) where the locals hid for centuries during sieges and battles.
Beynac-et-Cazenac is a lovely historic village 10km south of Sarlat, on the Dordogne River. This Dordogne village is completely dominated by the medieval Château de Beynac, one of the most beautiful castles in Dordogne. The castle dates back to the 12th century and is one of the best preserved in the region. It also has stunning views of the Dordogne Valley and River.
Part of the Périgord Noir, Beynac-et-Cazenac is one of the best villages in Dordogne for photographers, as there are photogenic views everywhere you look. It has beautiful, flower-decked houses, an old port, and charming eating spots where you can enjoy a meal with the locals.
8. La Roque-Gageac
La Roque-Gageac is one of the top places to visit in the Dordogne Valley for its nearly perfect medieval charm. It’s on the north bank of the Dordogne River, and its golden houses with traditional Périgord roofs are perfectly backed by cliffs.
Located just 12km from Sarlat, in the Périgord Noir, the village looks like it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. It boasts some impressive grand houses, including the 19th-century and the renaissance style Château de la Malartrie. It also has a fascinating troglodyte fort in the cliffs 40 meters above the village, with some of its 12th-century sections still intact.
Saint-Léon-sur-Vézere is a picturesque village 10 km south-west of Montignac, in the Périgord Noir. Peacefully installed in a loop of the Vézère River, this former flourishing river port is part of a typical Périgord landscape and is listed as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.
This Dordogne village is perfect for an afternoon stroll, perhaps after visiting the Caves of Lascaux and Montignac. Don’t miss its castle, Château de Clérans, and its lovely Romanesque church (12th century) on the bank of the Vézère River.
In the Périgord Pourpre, not far from Bergerac, Monpazier is one of the best-preserved bastide villages in Dordogne. The village dates back to the 13th century, when it was founded by King Edward I of England.
Filled with medieval buildings and surrounded by defensive walls, you can feel this village’s age and history. It also has its original market hall and more than 30 buildings that are listed as national monuments. Monpazier is also on the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.
This village is known for its artisanal shops, which sell high-quality goods and souvenirs. The town’s main square is a good place to stop for a coffee on a sunny day.