The Dordogne is a river in south-central and southwest France. The river rises on the flanks of Puy de Sancy (1 885 m) in the mountains of Auvergne, from the confluence of two small torrents above the town of Mont-Dore: the Dore and the Dogne. It flows generally west about 500 km through the Limousin and Périgord regions before flowing into the Gironde, its common estuary with the Garonne, at the "Ambès beak", in the north of the city of Bordeaux.
The Dordogne is one of the few rivers in the World that exhibits the phenomenon known as a tidal bore. The upper valley of the Dordogne is a series of deep gorges. The cliffs, steep banks, fast flowing water and high bridges attract both walkers and drivers. In several places the river is dammed to form long, deep lakes. Camp sites and holiday homes have proliferated wherever the valley floor is wide enough to accommodate them.
Below Argentat and around Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, the valley widens to accommodate fertile farmland, well-watered pasture and orchards. In the towns, which are major tourist attractions because of their history and architecture, the quaysides are lined with eating and drinking places. In Périgord, the valley widens further to encompass one of France's main gastronomic regions, with vineyards, poultry farms and truffle-rich woodlands.
The main season for tourism in the Valley of the Dordogne is from June to September with July and August being high season. The lifestyle and culture of the Dordogne valley attracts both visitors and incomers from all over France, but also from many other countries, particularly Britain and Germany.
Activities on the River
Aside from the usual activities such as tennis and golf available in many areas of France, there are a number of water-related activities related to the Dordogne River, including:
- Fishing, an age-old pastime for the locals and for visitors
- Canoeing and kayaking, very popular (canoes & kayaks are easy to rent)
- Boating in a Gabare (a traditional skiff peculiar to the Dordogne)
- Rowing and sculling