When the great outdoors is really great

Today we did a 30-kilometre bike ride that has to qualify as one of the most lovely, nature-filled, enjoyable rides I’ve ever had in the Dordogne. If you’re headed this way and are looking for an easy but wonderful ride, this trail is for you. Here’s a quick description, and a bunch of photos.

We left Daglan this morning and drove straight to a bike store in Sarlat, determined to buy a road bike (racing bike, if you will) for my wife Jan. We had seen a Lapierre a few days before, and this model was offered as a Tour de France special — 100 euros off the price, because the Française des Jeux team rides Lapierres. Fitting my wife’s bike turned out to be relatively painless, so we added it to my road bike in the rear of the car, and headed out to the start of the bike path, near the large roundabout at the southern edge of Sarlat. (It’s right at the large E. Leclerc store.)

What’s good about the path? It’s built on a former railroad bed, and it’s smoothly paved for virtually all its length. Because it’s raised, the views are great — as you’ll see in the photos, at times you’re looking down on medieval villages. The incline is gentle — you coast downward out of Sarlat, so the return trip is a wee bit more difficult, but certainly not by much. And the scenery is terrific, with unusual formations in the limestone, shade trees over much of the path, and sections of the path that take you through fields of corn and tobacco, and groves of walnut trees. Have a look:


Along the path, trees shade the way.

The first village we reach is Carsac, where you can stop at the Mairie (the mayor’s office) and look over the village and the hills and forests stretching into the distance:


The village of Carsac, seen from the bike path.

Beyond that, we look down onto the tiled roofs of the village of Aillac:


My wife is looking over the village of Aillac.

Further along, we came upon a long tunnel cut through a hill (originally for the train), with sufficient lighting inside that it wasn’t spooky at all. Here I am at the start:

Start of tunnel

All set to enter the tunnel.

Measured with my bike odometer, the tunnel is a full half-kilometre long (and nice and cool in the middle). Here I am, emerging at the far side of the tunnel and fairly close to our destination, the village of Rouffillac:

End of tunnel

Emerging back into the daylight.

Since the day was so beautiful, we chose to eat outdoors at a small restaurant at a main intersection in Rouffillac, which lies on the Dordogne River. Here’s the café, where we had a light lunch of ham-and-cheese omelettes with salad and fries, and coffees:


Sunny skies and -- of course -- a Perrier umbrella.

After lunch, we headed back to Sarlat. We stopped long enough for my wife to take this photo of the Dordogne River right at the bridge from Rouffillac to Saint-Julien-de-Lampon.


A bridge that crosses the Dordogne at Rouffillac.

On the far bank is where we stopped for a picnic with our group of friends on our 1998 bike trip to the Dordogne — the trip that changed our lives.

This entry was posted in Bicycling in the Dordogne, Life in southwest France. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When the great outdoors is really great

  1. Keith says:

    That would be where the one legged duck did not swim circles in a pond.

  2. Loren says:

    Sorry, Keith — but no. You’ve got your locations mixed up a bit. The one-legged duck was circulating (get it?) at Limeuil, which is where the mighty Dordogne meets the somewhat mighty and history-rich Vézere. We did not picnic there, but rather just messed about.

  3. Lesley says:

    Please note the lack of depth to the River Dordogne. Further West our river is also paddle-able. Not good, we need a bit/lot more rain.
    There are too many ducks and geese at Limeuil to picnic as they all mess about.

    • Loren says:

      Lesley, for sure you’re right about the rain. For a while there, it looked like we were experiencing a serious drought. Things are slightly better now, but only slightly. And yes — the river is much too low.

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