"La Rivière Espérance"

Novelists and film-makers have given the Dordogne river the name "la Rivère Espérance" (River of Hope) because it carries within it a healing vitality making it into a connecting thread full of promise. As you go from Sousceyrac, a little town nestling on the edge of the Massif Central, down to Souillac on the borders of Perigord, the road plays leap-frog with the river, with fabulous views and places suddenly opening up before you.

After Sousceyrac, Bretenoux, an attractive 13th C. bastide, has its neat little streets to offer. Then you can explore the imposing castle of Castelnau, and also the little town of Saint Céré, overlooked by the Tours Saint Laurent which are home to the Jean Lurçat Museum with its flamboyant tapestries.

Amazzing villages

Your road takes you towards Autoire and its waterfall, Loubressac on its promontory, then towards Carennac and its priory. Continuing on, Montvalent and its defensive tower, Gluges huddling beneath its cliff with its church where Edith Piaf used to come to reflect on life, and Creysse with its little port on the river come into view.

You're not far from Martel, the "Town with 7 towers" and its walnut-oil mill, then soon after you come across the Lacave caves. Then Souillac comes into view, once a major centre of river trade on the Dordogne. The jewel of Souillac's heritage is its splendid Romanesque abbey church with its three domes. The Museum of Automata will also delight you !

A special character

The Dordogne is the only river in France to be classed as a World Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

For more info : www.vallee-dordogne-rocamadour.com/

Things to see and do