Travel News

8 Family-Friendly Adventures in Southwest France

Locations in this article:  Paris, France

Our family’s must-do in Dordogne list:

1.)  Sarlat’s outdoor market: Even though it was rainy and chilly, we had a wonderful time and bought a delicious and inexpensive lunch from the bread, meat, olive and cheese vendors along the way. (Tip: Don’t miss the adorable carousel in the center of Sarlat’s main square!)

2.) Cave of Rouffignac: A very large prehistoric cave that can be visited on board an electric train. The cave features 250 paintings and engravings representing mammoths, horses, bison and rhinoceros. Recently, Rouffignanc was discovered to have the first known “fingerpaintings” — designs made in the caves by small children that were lifted up by the adults. This is graffiti made over 140 centuries ago!

3.)  Château Castelnaud, the not-to-be-missed medieval museum. It hosts a large collection of medieval artifacts, clothing, weapons and armor. For girls and boys, this is an unbelievable treat. On the grounds there are huge working reconstructed, medieval war machines. During the summer you can see demonstrations and performances as well.

4.) Rocamodour: The beautiful and important pilgrimage destination built over 1,000 years ago into a cliff. Built on the site of a shrine to a Madonna, it became famous for its healing powers, and soon became a stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Campostela. The town alone is worth the stop, a true postcard fairy tale village.

5.) Commarque: A prehistoric site where early man has left numerous traces of his passage. This site is so special because its origins are still very mysterious. Its exact heritages are unknown, and its inaccessible location in a tree lined valley led to it slowly becoming buried in silt and dirt over the centuries.

6.) Fairy Tale Villages: Southwest France is called “the land of 1000 castles” and it’s unbelievably true. Around every bend there is a beautiful and sometimes fortified medieval village. Our favorites were: Les Eyzies de Tayac, La Roque Gagnac, Domme, and Beynac et Cazenac.

7.) Boat ride on the Dordogne. We loved the ride in a traditional Gabarre or sailing boat and learning about the bargemen’s work and life, the fish, the times when the river has flooded, the wars, the crusades and the sieges laid to the castles. The scenery was stunning.

8.) Picnics: We often grabbed bread, cheese, fois gras (specialty of the region) Nutella, fruit and a bottle of rosé and found a scenic place to enjoy the French delicacies and the scenery.

Of course there’s also biking, canoeing, swimming, nature parks, water parks, festivals, adventure parks and horseback riding. We were there 10 days and got just a glimpse of all southwest France has to offer and cannot wait to go back.

For more information on French travel , check out:

Text and Photos by Elizabeth Thorp for Elizabeth Thorp is a travel writer, a mom of three little divas and the founder of, a free, curated catalog of family-friendly hotels, inns, resorts and cottages. Poshbrood/SmartFlyer is also a member of Virtuoso luxury travel professionals.