Caves and CastlesGood food and
excellent wine in an area where man and nature
have lived in harmony together for 25,000 years.
the word alone invokes visions of quiet countryside, outdoor cafes,
fine wines, and enchanting
Every bend of the Dordogne River reveals a beautiful scene from traditional
France: timeless villages of golden stone, hilltop castles shining like
visions from a medieval tale, towering oak forests where a knight on
a white horse might not look out of place. The Dordogne is ancient France,
where Sir Lancelot was exiled from the court of King Arthur, where the
Hundred Years War was fought, and where human prehistory seems more
present than past. All of this and more we will find as we travel in
the Dordogne region of southwest France. It is here we discover a land
of quiet calm, where rivers weave gracefully through ancient valleys.
Where limestone cliffs tower over the rivers and the reflection of their
soft hewn colors of ochre, magnesium and yellow dance along the water.
Where fortified medieval villages seem to be wedged tight into overhanging
cliffs and fine wines, foie gras and regional cuisine can be enjoyed
at the end of the day.
journey begins in the Vezere Valley – the Valley of Man.
The Vezere River cuts its way through
stunningly rustic landscape punctuated by massive limestone cliffs.
The cliffs are riddled with caves and rock dwellings.
Here we will find evidence of humanity’s beginnings with artifacts
and bones, and in the large natural caves we enjoy amazingly sophisticated
paintings and carvings. The
Vezere Valley’s extraordinary wealth of Paleolithic finds has led UNESCO
to classify it as a ‘world heritage’.
The canoe is a wonderful
way to discover this valley and that is exactly what we have planned.
We will journey the length of the valley by canoe, enjoying the
river and sites by day while stopping for the evenings in quaint villages
where wines and good food are the perfect ending to the day.
the Vezere we continue on to the rivers Lot and Cele.
The Cele is a clear and intimate stream that tumbles along through
gentle valleys and steep colorful gorges.
The tiny hamlets found along the river offer wonderful opportunities
for riverside lodging and discovery.
The Lot is a broader stream that dances through a magical valley
where sheer cliffs hang over villages and mingle with delightful meadows
and shady woodlands. We will take time out of the canoes to explore the ancient
villages of Marcilhac, Ste Eulalie and St-Cirq Lapopie.
Among these we will find
caves with prehistoric paintings, small shops and art studios tucked
away on narrow cobbled streets and remains of fortified abbeys and châteaux’s
all reminders of a time long ago.
journey goes on to the Dordogne River.
The valley is dotted with majestic châteaux’s, vineyards and
villages built into the face of overhanging cliffs.
Defying architectural design, the villages seem to have grown
from the very ground on which they are built.
The paddling is gentle and unhurried allowing us plenty of time
to really capture all that this valley has to offer.
with us to this enchanting country that is just waiting to be shared.
Four magical rivers offer an abundance of canoeing, prehistoric
history and medieval villages stimulate our minds and fine wines and
regional cuisine satisfy our gastronomical needs.
Trip Notes of When
and Where to go...and how to get there
will meet at the Brive train station at 2:30pm to begin our journey
to the Perigord Noir. Please see the trip note supplement for train
and travel details. After gathering together we will travel to St Leon.
This is an idyllic little village and a wonderful introduction to the
French countryside. Nestled in a bend on the river, St Leon Sur Vezere
was once a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Compostela and
the Romanesque church stands over the river like a lone sentry.
late afternoon we have made our way to Le Relais de Cote de Jor near
the village of St Leon. Welcome.
– Le Relais de Cote de Jor 011.3220.127.116.11.47
will leave the inn by foot this morning and enjoy a quite wooded walk
along the river to our van and the put in on the Vezere River. At first the river is broad and in an open valley, but
soon it tightens up and like a ribbon winds through the woods.
mid afternoon we have paddled our way back to St Leon.
We will have time this afternoon to visit the prehistoric site
at Castel Merle. Here we
will get a glimpse of life over 25,000 years ago with cliff dwellings,
artifacts and amazing paintings and carvings.We
look forward to returning to the inn in the late afternoon and perhaps
going for a short walk or enjoying the spectacular view of the river
and valley from the quiet gardens.
We will gather for dinner and again enjoy a fine meal.
-- Le Relais de Cote de Jor
breakfast and packing our bags we will once again walk down to the river
to our waiting canoes and continue down the Vezere.
We settle into the rivers gentle pace as it weaves its way through
this tranquil valley. Mid
morning finds us nearing La Roque St Christophe. This
is a sheer cliff a half-mile in length, which is sliced into five shelves,
one of which is the largest terrace in Europe.
At one point in history these tiers were home to up to 3,000
mid afternoon we have paddled ourselves to Les Eyzies, ‘the capital
of Prehistory.’ It is near
here that the bones of Cro-Magnon man were found, and it is home to
the Musee Nationale de Prehistorie.
We will have time to settle into the Hotel du Passeur before
walking to Grotte Font de Gaume. This is a truly remarkable cave with
some of the finest prehistoric polychrome paintings in the area and the country.
The cave walls are adorned with beautiful paintings and engravings in
remarkable flowing lines dating from 12,000BP(before present). Using
color-blowing techniques and the natural relief of the walls the paintings
are extraordinary and well worth a visit.
Lodging – Hotel du Passeur 011.335.53.06.97.13
Note -- Dinner will be on your own
After an elelgant breakfast there may be time to visit the National Pre-History museum before we depart for Sarlat. Tucked under the overhanging cliffs that dominate Les Ezyies
the museum is housed in a 16th century castle.
The museum does a very good job of enabling visitors to form
an idea of the chronology of the distant past, and provides a basis
of comparison of the cave paintings in different grottos By mid-morning we will have regrouped and are ready to continue our adventure. Today
is market day in Sarlat. Farmers and merchants set up their stalls and booths throughout the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets in this ancient city. The streets
are a living museum of architecture and the ambiance of the shops and
cafes is mesmerizing.
the charm of Sarlat
we journey across the Causses to the Cele Valley. Along the way we may opt to visit Gouffre du Padirac and the hanging
village of Rocamadour. By late afternoon we will have made our way to
the quiet village of Marcilhac where we settle in for the next two evenings.
Lodging – Les Tilleuls Chambres d'Hote de Marcilhac, phone 011 335 65 40 62 68
-- Lunch is on your own today in Sarlat
a leisurely breakfast we are off for a full day of paddling on the Cele.
We will put in new St Eulalie. This narrow valley provides ideal canoeing,
where quick water, stunning scenery and quaint villages are found around every
bend. Espagnac-Ste Eulalie is a tiny hamlet watched over by a striking
bell tower. It is a wonderful spot to get out of the canoes and wander
around a bit.
late afternoon we will have canoed back to the small village of Marcilhac.
Lodging – Les Tilleuls Chambres d'Hote de Marcilhac, phone 011 335 65 40 62 68
continue where we left off yesterday by walking back to the river and
our canoes to continue down the Cele.
Similar to yesterday the river dances and weaves its way through
this charming wooded valley. We will again have the opportunity to stop along the way and
visit quiet riverside hamlets and enjoy a riverside lunch along
days end we will have paddled nearly the length of the Cele and find
ourselves in the village of Cabrerets.
This small village is dotted with Chateaux including Chateaux
du Diable and Chateaux de Cabrerets.
Dating from the 14th century these chateaus are rich
in history from the 100 year war and were home to Dukes and Lords of
Lodging – Hotel des Grottes 011 335 65 31 27 02
getting back in our canoes this morning we have planned time to visit
Grotte du Pech-Merle. This
is perhaps one of the finest prehistoric painted caves still open to
the public. The cave is decorated with magnificent Upper Palaeolithic works
of art. There are over
80 drawings of animals including mammoths, horses and bison. It is both
a feast for the eyes and the mind.
To try and imagine life over 25,000 years ago is really quite
our time at Pech-Merle we will head back to the river and our awaiting
canoes. We will continue down the last section of the Cele and out
to the Lot. The two rivers
join and continue their path in a charming and somewhat larger valley.
setting of St Cirq is spectacular, it hovers 330 feet above the Lot,
overlooking the kind of dramatic sheer cliffs of Romantic poets.
Its architecture is pure, harmoniously medieval, and meticulously
preserved. The narrow twisting
streets are home to art galleries, wine shops, cafes and small lodges.
There is a breathtaking viewpoint of the river and surrounding
lands from a rocky perch high above the abbey.
Hotel La Pelissaria phone 011 335 65 31 25 14
-- Dinner is on your own this evening.
we have some choices. Some
may choose to take an easy day, have a late breakfast, relax at the hotel or spend time wandering through the village.
may choose to don their walking shoes and enjoy
a lovely walk along
the ridge above the Lot and to the Chateau de Cenevieres. This enchanting
walk takes us along the colorful limestone walls of the river and through
quiet pasture land. Our walk ends at the Chateau de Cenevieres where
we look forward to an entertaining and educational tour of this magnificent
chateau, which stands like a sentry over the river.
Hotel La Pelissaria phone 011 335 65 31 25 14
-- Dinner is on your own this evening.
will leave the Lot today and journey on to the Dordogne.
On our way to this enchanting valley we may opt for a stop at
one of the many small vineyards in this area.
These small vineyards produce some of the finest red wines in
the region and maintain a high quality of production.We
plan to put in near Cazoules and and by the end of the day we will find
ourselves pulling our canoes out at Monfort and finishing our day at
Hotel Pech de Malet. Overlooking a wide area of the river
valley and the surrounding countryside the small village of Montfort
has always been a very active place with a rich history of river trade.
The growth of the wine trade to England meant the need for wooden barrels
and the transport of them by Gabarres, special river barges, down river.
At the end of their journey these boats were dismantled and the wood
– Le Pech de Malet 011 335 53 28 14 82
We call this our three castles and a cave day, and we
are sure there will be something for everyone. The valley continues
to unfold in front of us as we paddle leisurely downstream.
From a distance the riverside village of La Roque Gageac comes
into view. The golden stone
houses seem to be piled one on top of the other as they climb the face
of their protective cliff. This
village beckons to be explored and so we may opt to pull our canoes
a shore and take some time to discover it on our own.
This pleasant village offers enchanting views of the river from
its upper streets as well as a fine period house with a round tower
dating back to the 16th century.
here we continue a short distance downriver to Castlenaud. High above
the river sits Chateau Castlenaud an impressive castle that was controlled
by the English during the 100 years war. We will beach our canoes below
the bridge and you will have time to explore this wonderful village
and castle at your leisure. A visit to the local wine shop (the cave)is
a wonderful opportunity to sample some local wines and gastronomic delights
like foie gras, walnuts and pates. If you are still hungry after our
tasting you will find a variety of small outdoor cafes to choose from.
is only a short distance from Castlenaud to Beynac, so you can linger
as long as you would like before paddling to Beynac and the Hotel du Chateau. The hotel is located right in the middle of the village and just across the street from the river. We will settle into the hotel for our final two evenings.
Lodging – Hotel du Chateau ph 011 335 53 29 19 20
Note – Lunch is on your own today.
castle stands majestically over the village and river like a feudal
lord. After breakfast the energetic can opt to walk up to the castle,
while others may choose to catch a ride. Few places can give a person
a stronger sense of the medieval past than the Chateau de Beynac. As
you wander the castle grounds it is easy to feel yourself being transported
back nearly one thousand years. You can retrace the footsteps of Richard
the Lionheart and learn how he captured the original 12th century fortress.
our time in the castle we will meet at the canoes for one more day of
paddling on the Dordogne. The valley begins to open up today and we
start to leave behind the cliff side villages and remnants of ancient
man. However the river continues to unveil its magic and entice us to
return to discover more of this enchanting place.We
will return to Beynac and the Hotel du Chateau for our last evening. Dinner
will be an array of fine French food and wine. We will have time to
recapture the highlights of our trip and perhaps begin to plan our next
one. All too soon it will be time to say good night and prepare to return
from this magical place to our homes.
Lodging – Hotel du Chateau ph 011 335 53 29 19 20
We return to the Brive train station by 1:30pm where we will
say our final good-byes before going our separate ways. Please see the
trip note supplement for train and travel details.
Trip prices include lodging, all meals (except when noted) guide services and accompanying support van. Trips generally meet mid to late afternoon of the first day, and disband mid to late afternoon of the last day.
Prices listed in our printed material, or website is subject to change because the trip dates and prices have often been published a year in advance. Between that time and the time of the trip’s actual departure, we are occasionally faced with cost increases or currency fluctuations that we cannot absorb. We make every effort to keep our prices the same as published. This trip was last repriced February 2009, based on the exchange of €.75 to $1.00. Please visit http://www.oanda.com/convert/fxhistory for historical and updated currency exchange rates.
France Trip Notes Supplement
France is rated II-B, which is easy to moderate, according to our trip
grading system. We will be paddling on up to class II rivers, and hiking
in open fells and mountains, 2 to 7 miles per day, following footpaths
and carrying only a daypack. The paddles and hikes will range from 4
to 9 hours in length, with stops for picnic lunches. Elevations will
not be high, but the hiking terrain can be rugged, with optional steep
climbs over uneven ground.
trip is appropriate for anyone in good heath, leading an active outdoor
lifestyle. Generally the more difficult sections are optional and often
we have more strenuous extensions available for those who desire a longer
day. Please feel free to call our office, and often you can discuss
the trip with a guide who has lead this trip and be able to share thoughts
in a foreign country requires one to be flexible and patient.
BATTENKILL CANOE LTD trips are designed for flexible, energetic
people who have a healthy dose of curiosity and enthusiasm about our
world, and who like to be active.
The most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and
a positive attitude!
emergency contact during the trip please contact our office in Arlington
at 802.362.2800. They will
contact the guides in France as quickly as possible, or you can call
the inns directly. France
is 6 hours ahead of Eastern time.
you have any questions or need special arrangements please call our
office. Regular office hours are 9:00 am to 5:30 pm in season. We are
open Sunday and Sunday for daily canoe rentals, but our office staff
is limited on weekends. We are generally closed Saturday through Tuesday,
November through April, but please leave a message with our answering
service and we will return your call as soon as possible.
trip prices include lodging; all meals (except when noted) guide services
and accompanying support van. We may be compelled to increase or decrease
trip prices due to matters beyond our control, such as currency exchange,
airfare, taxes or price increases. Gratuities for BattenKill guides
and other staff are appreciated, but left entirely to your discretion.
the first day of the trip we will meet you outside the main doors of
the Brive train station at 1:45pm. From here we will have about a 45
minute drive to St Leon and Relais de Cote de Jor.If
you miss the pickup, you may reach Relais de Cote de Jor on your own
via taxi. This fare is about 80 euros.
from Paris to Brive
is a full daily schedule of trains from Paris to Brive. We will meet
the train that leaves the Paris Austerlitz station at 9:09am and arrives
in Brive at 1:21pm. One way tickets cost approximately 90 euros for
first class and 62 euro for second class. Reservations can be made in
advance with Rail Europe at 1.80.848.7245 or www.voyages-sncf.com
Charles de Gaulle Airport to Austerlitz Train Station
airport is located about 15 miles northeast of Paris and the Austerlitz
train station. You should allow 1 -1.5 hours to get from the airport
to the train. You have a few option how to get to the train.
There is no shortage of taxis at the airport. The average fare to central
Paris is $80-$90 with an additional $1 per piece of luggage. The trip
takes 50-60 minutes depending on traffic.
An easy and inexpensive option, plus a great way to avoid traffic, is to take the RER “B” train from the airport to central Paris. Take the RER B to the St Michel/Notre Dame stop. Then take the Metro #5 to Austerlitz (in the direction of Place d'Italle). The metro 10 also goes to Austerlitrz from St Michel. The approximate cost is $15. Travel time is 30-45 minutes. There is some room for luggage on these trains; however there are also a lot of stairs.
the last day of the trip we will provide a transfer back to the Brive
train station to meet the 1:43 train, which arrives back in Paris at
5:37pm. If your travel plans require an earlier departure we can help
you arrange a taxi transfer on your own.
often fill months in advance, so we encourage you to make your reservations
early to avoid disappointment. To reserve space on a trip send in our
reservation form. Immediate confirmation is possible when you make your
reservations by phone. We
request a deposit of $500.00 to confirm your reservation for this trip.
Your confirmation letter will outline the balance that is due 60 days
prior to departure. Please note we may be compelled to increase or decrease
trip prices on trips due to matters beyond our control, such as currency
exchange, airfare, taxes or price increases.
Confirmation & Insurance
receipt of your deposit we will prepare a confirmation packet including
a full itinerary, personal equipment list, meeting location with driving
directions, and application for short-term trip cancellation insurance.
We strongly recommend that you obtain this insurance, which reimburses
you for nonrefundable costs and deposits, should you have to cancel
your trip due to a personal emergency.
a trip is full and you wish to be put on the Wait List, the deposit
is required. Periodically we do have cancellations, and if an opening
occurs you will be informed and transferred to the roster.
Canoe Ltd. (BCL) must receive notification in writing. If you must cancel,
but wish to reschedule for another trip, we will do our best to accommodate
you. If you must cancel
more than 60 days prior to a departure, a refund of 50% of the per person
deposit, OR a 100% credit valid for a future trip is possible. There
are no refunds or reschedules possible with less than 60 days notice,
for leaving a tour early or arriving late.
we are not able to make exceptions to this policy for any reason.
it is unlikely, if we must cancel a trip and are unable to provide another
that is satisfactory to you, we will refund all monies paid which constitutes
full settlement. BattenKill
is not responsible for any expenses incurred in preparation for the
trip, such as nonrefundable advance purchase airline tickets.
Dates & Small Trip Charge
Since you plan your vacation around our trip, it is our responsibility
to run every trip scheduled if four or more persons are on the roster.
A number of fixed costs make it more expensive to operate a trip with
six members than one with 12. We budget our trips with a nearly full
sign up, to enable us to price them at the lowest possible cost.
We will still run your trip if four or more guests are on the roster.
However, we will be obliged to add a small trip surcharge if there is
a low sign up of between four (4) and seven (7) participants. The small
trip surcharge is ten (10) percent of the published price.
If you make your reservations 6 months prior to departure, you will
qualify for our Earlybird Discount which saves you 10% on your trip price and guarantees your departure regardless
of the number of people on the roster.
an effort to capture the sprit of where we are traveling, the hotels,
inns and B and B’s that we use are usually family-run converted houses,
villas, or inns, full of
ambiance and colorful local history. That is part of why we are visiting.
Sometimes the rooms in these lodges are not always of uniform or international
size, however our leaders will always try their best of assign rooms
in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage
throughout the trips as a whole.
standard accommodation is two per room, generally with a private bath.
Usually singles and triples are available.
BCL provides three meals per day, beginning with dinner on the
first evening and ending with lunch on the last day (except where noted).
you’re traveling alone and would like to assure yourself of a private
room, there is a single supplement surcharge of $45.00 per evening.
Singles willing to share will be matched with a roommate. If unavailable,
a forced single supplement of 50 percent of the full supplement will
We believe that sharing an adventure with your kids or grandkids
is a life-enhancing experience. Children twelve years of age or older
are welcomed on all trips. Special arrangements must be made for all
children 7-12. Regular discount is 25% off the trip price for folks
under 18 years old.
must understand that river trips involve some risk and you have the
responsibility to select a trip appropriate for your ability and interest.
We will be happy to discuss our trips with you, as well as provide names
of past participants who can describe their experience of the trip you
are interested in. You
will be asked to sign a Hold Harmless and Release of Liability form
prior to your trip. BattenKill
the right to substitute lodges and leaders and to alter the itinerary
when deemed necessary or advisable. BCL shall not be liable, directly
or indirectly for any delay, cancellation, mishap, inconvenience, expense,
personal injury or death, or damage of property for any reason whatsoever,
including acts of God. BattenKill
reserves the right to decline to accept, retain, or ask to leave any
person whose actions or deportment impede trip operation, or rights,
welfare and enjoyment of other trip members. No refund is possible under
these circumstances. Payment
of deposit and release of credit card number represents your acceptance
of these terms and conditions. All disputes shall be settled by binding
arbitration in Bennington County Vermont.
are delighted to arrange private and custom trips. Any of our scheduled
trips can be reserved for private groups. This is important for groups
whose desires; dates or goals may not fit into one of our regular departures.
Our published price and small trip surcharges apply on private trips.
custom trip allows the flexibility to alter the itinerary, dates, and
to introduce other activities into your outing.
Don’t let our current selection of adventures set the limits
of your wanderlust. Please call our office to begin planning a custom
for the inn and food portion of your trip are paid by BCL. Gratuities
for BattenKill guides are
appreciated, but are left to your discretion. As
a general guideline, a tip of approximately 10% of the trip price is
an average for attentive guiding. However, if you are not satisfied
with your guide service, please also outline your feelings on your evaluation
so that the office will be able to address your concerns with the guide
year the guide staff of BattenKill
Canoe pledge to pool a portion of their tips and donate them
to an outreach program. Over
the past several years these outreach programs have included a scholarship
program for a high school student in the remote village of Yorkin in
Talamanca, Costa Rica, supporting the Ninos in la Calle program (alternative
education program for the street kids) in Somotillo Nicaragua, financial
and educational support to the BattenKill Watershed Council and an annual
donation to the Vermont ACLU.
you would like to find out more about these projects or have suggestions
for other projects your guides would be happy to visit with you.
This is just one of the ways we are able to reach out to the
greater community and practice socially responsible travel.
airline desk is able to assist you in making your airline reservations,
and we are pleased to do so. We can book with all the major carriers and would be happy
to assist you with your travel plans.
Services of BattenKill Canoe Ltd for pre-departure information and guide
services to help you get the most out of your vacation.*
All ground transportation during the trip
Pick up and return to the Brive train station at scheduled times
accommodations and meals (except where noted)
Riverside or trailside picnic lunches
All canoe and paddling equipment
escorted, exclusive BattenKill Canoe tour of France
dinners and lunches that are in a restaurant, cafe or deli
ound trip transportation from hometown to Brive France
to drivers and guides.
taxes and other government fees.
of personal nature such as laundry, phone calls and beverages.
of delays including delays due to bad weather, canceled or delayed flights
or delays on other modes of transport, sickness or other situations
for which BATTENKILL CANOE or its agents cannot make provisions.
entrance fees to regional attractions (approx $75 limited use of credit
U.S. passport valid beyond your anticipated date of return to the US
is essential. Holders of
foreign passports must check with the Embassy of France for details.
Our office may be able to assist you.
currency unit is the Euro. Prices
in France are quoted in Euros. Most credit cards are accepeted and there is good access to ATM's. As of February, 2009, the exchange rate was €.75 to $1.00
list is intended to be skeletal, and we anticipate you will have your
own ideas of what is "necessary."
In general bring half the clothes you think you will need and
twice the film.Getting
wet is always a possibility when participating in outdoor activities. Clothing has to keep you warm even when wet.
Avoid cotton clothes for hiking and canoeing.
The problem with cotton is that once it is wet it absorbs water
and does not dry out quickly.
Jeans, while fashionable and comfortable are unacceptable for
inns we have selected are informal, so “fancy clothes” are not necessary. Remember that the weather in France can change very quickly,
even minute by minute. For
summer trips the evenings can still be cool and possibly damp. Fall trips plan on dressing in layers, and Fall clothing should
lean toward polypro, wool and/or fleece and good rain gear is important
any time of the year.
Passport (carrying a photocopy of your passport is also a good
idea--just in case).
Inns and B&B are casual so cotton or cotton mix clothing--for
off river and evenings is appropriate.
Sturdy, comfortable waterproof hiking boots .
It does rain in France, so good quality rain gear is necessary
and should include a jacket and pants
Nylon pile, polypro or capilene undershirt and pants
Lightweight/medium weight long sleeve top.
Heavier weight fleece top or wool sweater for spring and fall
Wide brimmed hat.
Glasses/sunglasses with security strap.
Sunscreen, insect repellent
Lip balm, chapstick
Camera and film
Day use backpack
Clothes for Paddling
T-shirts or comfortable paddling tops
Canoe shoes that can get wet for paddling such as sandals, or
Collapsible walking stick
Field guides, bird books, and travel books
Journal notebook, pen, good book
you have any questions on what to bring or how to pack please give us
a call at 1.800.421.5268.
BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.
800.421.5268 or 802.362.2800 fax--802.362.0159
©2002 BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.. All rights reserved