If you’re contemplating a cycling trip to France, early fall is the perfect time. Less crowds, less expensive and ideal weather. Consider the Dordogne region for its quaint and numerous villages that are listed in “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (more than any other region) as well as excellent food (aka foie gras and duck especially) and very respectful drivers towards cyclists.
Choosing the accommodation and location in the Dordogne was challenging as there was so much choice. In the end we chose a house (we did not want to only eat in restaurants) in centrally located St. Cyprien, which proved to be perfect. A working town (in other words not just geared to tourist) with a great market. We were about half a kilometre, an easy walk into town for a croissant or coffee and not to steep a hill back to our place after a long day of cycling. As for the bikes, we wanted to simplify things and were prepared to bring our own pedals but not bikes. Aquitaine Bike rentals (aquitainebike.com) was fantastic. Bikes were brought to the house, along with maps, repair kits and a sit down chat with highlites of the region (towns, restaurants, bike routes) provided. All of us were experienced cyclists, with hilly rides ranging from 60 to 90 km a day. Sometimes lunch was eaten along the way in one of the exceptionally pretty towns. or back at home on the patio or by the pool while thinking about dinner! There are so many not to be missed picture perfect towns including Belves, a medieval Bastide town with dwellings that date back to the 13 th century. Beynac-et-Cazenac on the northern bank of the Dordogne river and up the hill to the castle. Among the narrow lanes there are plenty of bars and restaurants. La Roque Gageac built along the river at the foot of a cliff, where words don’t do the town’s prettiness justice. Domme and Rocamadour without a doubt are touristy with a capital T (and I can’t imagine the crowds in the summer) but are well worth a visit just for the setting. Limmeuil set on the Dordogne (relax and grab a bite to eat) or explore the cobblestone “streets” that wind through the village. The lists continues Tremolat a sweet little town with a Michelin starred restaurant (Le Vieux Logis) we booked then cancelled after some food shopping in Cahors (fois gras, Bresse chicken and an incredible piece of beef). Lastly Daglan, that seemed so perfect it was like a movie set and the crew had all gone home.
While we did eat in a few restaurants, and the service and food was very good. We found the very best food was the food from the markets we cooked at home while soaking in our amazing view from our house on the hill overlooking the town of St. Cyprien!