There are miles and miles of footpaths and tracks to discover by bike, on foot or on horseback. The Dordogne Valley is a walker’s paradise with a vast choice of sign-posted paths through varying landscapes.

A “pastoralist” hike in the Cantal


Would a breath of fresh mountain air, rugged vistas and the peaceful intricacies of nature give you a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of your daily life? A hike in the volcanic landscape of the Cantal mountains may be just what you’re looking for! And what if you could mix in a bit of local history and gastronomy to make it a truly unique experience?


Since the Middle Ages, farmers in the Cantal have practiced a type of agriculture known as “pastoralism”, driving their cattle to the high mountain plateaus to “summer” there from May to October. Here the animals graze on the lush mountain grasses that give a distinct flavor to the local Cantal and Salers cheeses made from their milk and ensure the esteemed quality of their meat.

In the past, the cowherds lived in small stone huts called “burons”, where they also made the cheese. Though many are now in ruins, “burons” still dot the landscape and serve as a reminder of this ancient tradition, along with the native Salers cattle breed. With its striking mahogany coat and massive horns, some even believe that this breed is a direct descendant of the “aurochs,” the prehistoric ancestor of modern cattle that is depicted in Lascaux Cave.

Today, you can hike in the footsteps of these early nomadic farmers on well-marked paths. You can even visit a few of the “burons” and see the cheese being made, and why not have a taste of it! And if you’re really adventurous, you can even sleep in a buron, comfortably outfitted, except for the lack of electricity perhaps.

Great views and wilderness in the Corrèze


In the Corrèze, the river carves through deep gorges and there are walks with stunning views. A real delight is to walk in the commune of Marcillac-la-Croisille for a 4.5 km walk which takes you to the “Jardin de Bardot”, an unusual garden with peaches, strawberries and grapes growing on terraces created on steep slopes.


Near the same village is a 12km walk with stunning views from the Roc du Busatier. Another two, the same length, are to the west of Bort-les-Orgues with an exceptional view over the Dordogne gorges at the Site de St Nazaire, and south-west of Neuvic, which has a superb view of the confluence of the Dordogne and the Sumène rivers at the Belvédère de Gratte-Bruyère. There are no fewer than 150 km of footpaths to choose from in the area of the hydro-electric dams between Bort-les-Orgues and Argentat.

Small villages and good produce in the Lot


Not to be missed is the “Voie de Rocamadour”, an ancient pilgrimage route to Rocamadour which takes you through well-known towns such as Aubazine, Collonges la-Rouge and Martel, with new discoveries hidden round each bend of the path.


There are more than 60 walks in the Lot whose routes can be downloaded from a website or from an app, some of which are also suitable for bikes. You can choose between walking by the water, hiking among the vines, discovering pretty villages, or gasping at dramatic landscapes with indications of time, length and difficulty for each one.

History and heritage in the Dordogne


In the Dordogne you can go back in time on a 3-5-day hike along – or even on the river by canoe – accompanied by an amusing and informative guide: “Chemins de Terre et d’Eau”, written by the English traveler Harrison Baker, gives you background detail about life in the Périgord in the 19th century, on a route from Sarlat to Cadouin.


Along the Vézère Valley you can also walk with history as you follow a 90 km route for 5-7 days. Its informative sign posting to will lead you ‘in the footsteps of the Lascaux artists’.