We all know Europe becomes more reasonable in the fall and winter and the same is true for family travel. Family travel writer Elizabeth Thorp takes the whole brood to France and carves out her must-dos in the Southwest’s Dorgogne region.
Have you ever dreamed about a staying in a romantic castle in France covered in ivy, walking to the boulangerie for fresh croissants in the morning, riding bikes along the riverside, passing sweet little medieval towns tucked into ancient cliffs? That dream might seem harder once you have children, but it can in fact become a reality.
This year, I discovered Dordogne region of southwest France was a magical heaven for families. The Dordogne is brimming with scenery, nature, medieval towns and villages, rivers and even prehistoric caves.
It is an easy ferry ride or plane ride from England or a 5-hour train ride south from Paris. And Lodging options are abundant, from self-catering gites and farmhouses, to B&B’s, table d’hôtel, luxury inns and large chateaux; there are many options for every family budget.
Our brood stayed at Chateau De Rayze, a medieval chateau located in the Cazoules, constructed in the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. We found our chateau through Simply Chateau, an efficient rental agency with over 260 French chateaux for rent at every budget. Our ancient estate included three main rental properties, two swimming pools and even a knight in shining armor.
It was is conveniently located just outside of Souillac, close to the Dordogne River, biking paths and many of the museums, historic Medieval towns, pre-historic caves, fortified villages and the incredible castles that seem to loom around every bend. Plus, the Chateau has 20 acres of meadows, centennial trees and wilderness, a trampoline and two resident donkeys to keep littles entertained.
Our second home base was Le Chevrefeuille, a property five B&B rooms and two self-sufficient, self-catering units with private terraces. We stayed in a two-bedroom family suitewhich was very comfortable and offered adults a little private space and breathing room. The price of the rooms includes breakfast, which is an endless selection of fresh breads and pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereals, juice and tea/coffee in the common dining area.
Located in the country hamlet of Pechboutier, the B&B is just 5km from the market village of St. Cyprien, 7km from the ‘prehistoric capital’ of Les Eyzies and 17km from the medieval town of Sarlat, providing the perfect location from which to explore the castles, local markets, rock art, caves and medieval villages which make up the history of the region.
Le Chevrefeuille has gone to great lengths to provide kid-friendly facilities with a swimming pool, babysitting service, game room and playroom, bikes for all ages, swings, DVD, TV and Wii and Wi-Fi.
Keep reading for Elizabeth’s family must-do list…