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May 18-26, 2017

Experience the heart of Dordogne, a hidden treasure where all of France’s provincial delights have been distilled into one of Europe’s most beautiful and intact medieval villages, Sarlat-la-Canéda. Our carefully designed itinerary and expert-guided excursions explore five impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the dramatic cliffside monastic village of Rocamadour, the important archaeological sites of L’Abri du Cap-Blanc, Rouffignac Cave and Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac, and the prehistoric troglodyte village of La Madeleine. Visit the incredible Lascaux II to appreciate one of humankind’s earliest art creations in the form of cave paintings. Exclusively arranged, enriching presentations and the VILLAGE FORUM® provide personal perspectives on daily life in the villages of Dordogne.


  • Explore Lascaux II and Cap-Blanc’s cave friezes and see where prehistoric man lived
  • See the world’s premier collection of paleolithic engravings and sculpture at The National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
  • Enjoy a private cruise in a 19th-century gabare (barge) and admire the historic châteaux along the cliff-lined Dordogne River
  • Learn from expert, English-speaking local guides who will accompany you throughout the program and discuss historical, cultural, and contemporary Dordogne
  • Engage with Dordognais (local residents) to share candid perspectives on daily life in Dordogne
  • Experience a private performance of traditional 19th-century Périgord Noir folk music and dance
  • Visit Sarlat-la-Canéda’s historic, twice-weekly, outdoor market
  • Sample the traditional cuisine of France’s southwest during specially arranged meals and taste wines and local cheeses in une épicerie gourmet et magasin du vin (a small gourmet food and wine shop) in the town center
  • Learn key phrases in la langue française (the French language) to make your interactions with local residents all the more enjoyable
  • Enjoy time on your own—Stroll through Place de la Liberté, the heart of medieval Sarlat, visit private art galleries and inviting cafés, and observe and participate in daily village life

A restored 19th-century townhouse ideally located in medieval Sarlat-la-Canéda, Plaza Madeleine Hotel features provincial ambiance and modern accommodations and amenities, and is known for its staff’s warm hospitality. This hôtel de charme was recently renovated with tasteful French esprit contemporain. Each of the 40 comfortable, air-conditioned guestrooms features two twin beds or one queen bed with private bathroom, individual climate control, satellite television, direct dial telephone, wireless Internet access, safe, minibar, and hair dryer. The hotel dining room, where continental breakfast is prepared daily featuring fresh baked breads, pastries and charcuterie, is reserved for the exclusive use of hotel guests. There is a brasserie pub with lounge and private terrace, a petit lounge with computer facilities and wireless Internet access, a heated outdoor swimming pool, solarium, and spa with jacuzzi and sauna.

Study Leader Information
Christine Desdemaines-Hugon has worked with the scientific community, lectured on prehistoric art, and shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for the Dordogne region of France with visitors for the past 25 years.

Tour Itinerary
May 18 - Thursday - Depart from the U.S.
Take independent flights from the U.S. to France.

May 19 - Friday - Bordeaux/Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
Transfer to Sarlat. Check into Plaza Madeleine Hôtel.

May 20 - Saturday - Sarlat-la-Canéda
Enjoy a walking tour of Sarlat and an afternoon at leisure to peruse the village market, sample local wines and cheeses, and the preservation of 17th century architecture.

Author Henry Miller called Sarlat “the Frenchman’s paradise.” The charming village is in the pre-French Revolutionary capital of Périgord Noir, a lushly forested corner of the Aquitaine region, ideally located between the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. It is a bon vivant’s dream, renowned for truffles, wild mushrooms, strawberries, walnuts and duck, and is close enough to Bordeaux to procure the finest wines directly from vintners’ cellars.

Sarlat has one of the greatest concentrations of medieval, Renaissance, and 17th century façades in Europe. Step back in time while meandering through narrow cobblestone streets illuminated by gas lamps and lined with traditional Renaissance-style stone houses crowned with pepperpot chimneys. The heart of Sarlat is the Place de la Liberté, where every Wednesday and Saturday one of France’s most storied markets is held, a tradition dating from the Middle Ages.

May 21 - Sunday - Rocamadour/Souillac
Rocamadour, a fortified 13th century village and UNESCO World Heritage Site, has one of the most dramatic settings of any village in the world, built on the face of a sheer 400-foot cliff. During the Middle Ages, pilgrims flocked here from across Europe to perform penance by ascending over 200 steps of the Grand Stairway on their knees to pay homage to the Virgin Mary and seek miracles from St. Amadour by visiting his crypt. Embedded in the cliff above the doorway to the Chapelle de Notre Dame is a sword said to be that of the heroic knight Roland. Visit quaint Souillac and its 12th century Church of Sainte-Marie.

May 22 - Monday - Les Eyzies-de-Tayac/L’Abri du Cap-Blanc
Les Eyzies is France’s capital of prehistoric humanity, where unprecedented fossils of Cro-Magnon man have been discovered. Approximately 35,000 years old, these fossils are some of the earliest known evidence of modern humans in Europe. The National Museum of Prehistory, housed in a 13th century castle, gives context to the area’s cave paintings, fossils, and early tools.

May 23 - Tuesday - Lascaux II/Rouffignac
Designated a national monument by the French government, Eyrignac Manor has been the residence of the same family for over 500 years and 22 generations. On this ancient estate, located outside of Sarlat, view what many consider the finest jardins (gardens) in all of France. Originally designed as an Italian garden in the 18th century, the grounds were converted to an English-style, sculpted, coniferous garden in the 19th century and have been immaculately maintained and enhanced throughout the years.

May 24 - Wednesday - La Madeleine/St-Amand-de-Coly
St-Amand-de-Coly is one of the most unusual villages in Dordogne. Each of its picturesque, cobblestone lanes leads to the fortified 13th century Abbey Church, built by Augustinian monks. The church’s ramparts and towers make it appear more like a fortress than a place of worship. Carved beneath a cliff overlooking the picturesque Vézère River, the prehistoric troglodyte village and UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Madeleine offers unique insight into the Magdalenian culture, which prevailed in southern Europe for over 60 centuries from 15,000 to 9000 B.C. This ancient settlement of approximately 20 dwellings once accommodated 100 residents at a time.

May 25 - Thursday - Beynac/Domme
Perched on a 300-foot cliff above the Dordogne Valley is the fortified village of Beynac-et-Cazenac and its castle, a masterpiece of medieval military engineering that was once a stronghold of Richard the Lionheart. Traverse its elaborate series of surrounding stone walls, parapet walks, watchtowers, and passageways to an impressive interior decorated with a magnificent 17th century staircase and delicate 15th century frescoes, including a Last Supper and a Pietà.
Among the “most beautiful villages” of France, Domme is an authentic medieval bastide, or fortified village, where entrance today is still gained through its original military ramparts and graffiti etched by the Knights Templar in the 14th century is still distinguishable on the inner village walls. The beauty of the 13th and 14th century architecture of Domme is surpassed only by its exceptional views overlooking the Dordogne River.

May 26 - Friday - Sarlat-la-Canéda/Bordeaux
Return to the U.S.

Tour Price*
Starting at $4,395 per person

Special Offer!
Mention Historic Hotels of America when booking your tour and receive three $100 gift certificates, each good toward a $100 refund when you book through and stay for at least two-nights at a Historic Hotels of America hotel.**

To book a tour please contact our tour VIP desk at +1 202 772 8000 or

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Terms and Conditions
*Per person, based on double occupancy. Singles are available upon request for an additional $600. Taxes are included. Subject to change.

**Maximum of one $100 certificate may be claimed for a refund with a minimum two night stay booked through following the return of your tour and completion of your hotel stay. The refund will be issued within 45 days of the completion of your stay upon submitting a Great Experiences & Tours $100 refund application. Refund application must be submitted with a copy of your hotel folio receipt, the original confirmation number from your booking on, and the Certificate number issued to you for booking your tour through Historic Hotels of America. Certificates issued are a promotion only valid toward future reservations made through and do not have any cash value. One certificate may be used per room per two night or longer stay at the same hotel. Eligible rates include rates publicly available at time of booking. Reduced rates, rooms included in another travel or tour package, employee rates, advance purchase rates, and certain last minute sale rates are not eligible for this promotion.