La Roque Gageac The Dordogne
It’s July 24th 2022 and our Summer travels see us arrive at the wonderful La Roque Gageac in the heart of The Dordogne.
The temperatures today are well into the 30’s again, so we’re on the hunt for shade. Now we’re approaching the CampingCar Park Aire which we’ve found on the App and soon realise we’ve been here before.
Yes, this brilliant Aire maybe new to us now, but about 17 years ago we stayed here on the adjacent campsite. Lucikily we get the last pitch with shade, under a large tree.
It’s great here because you can use the campsite swimming pool and laundry. However, there is a note to say guests on the Aire can’t use the toilets and showers. In reality, I’m not sure how they could monitor that or if everyone would see the sign in the first place.
British next door neighbours
By the way, this Aire is strictly speaking located at Vezac. However, it’s within a short walk to the fabulous village of La Roque Gageac. This means it’s a perfect place to stop the night to get the most from this big name village of The Dordogne.
As many of you may know, it’s quite unusual to see a British motorhome unless you’re staying on a campsite. So, we are quite surprised to find one parked right next to us. Before long, over a lazy lunch we get talking to our next door neighbours. Isn’t it nice to speak in English and have a good old natter!
So, our afternoon continues as a lazy one. After all, it’s too hot to do anything and the swimming pool looks far too tempting.
La Roque Gageac Village
La Roque Gageac hasn’t changed much since our last visit all those years ago. Clinging to the rock face with its buttermilk coloured buildings it looks out over the Dordogne river.
To avoid the tourists, we decide to walk from the Aire. Thankfully, this is only about 10 minutes away on a riverside path. We soon reach the main road where pedestrians cross to a footpath and car park. It’s here that we find a selection of walking signs, so take the option of a trail leading through some woods.
It’s not long before we’re walking uphill away from the main tourist sights of the village centre. For a moment, we’re not sure if we’re doing the right thing, but choose to carry on and hope for the best.
To be honest, it’s not the best of walks, simply because we feel we’re missing out on the main attractions by the river. Now, we’re in the countryside and a little bit lost!
Oh heck, French walking signs are usually so good. Are we loosing the knack or are these signs not quite as good as other parts?
After a couple of hours, we arrive back in the village of this circular route. It’s a walk that could have gone further but by now we are hungry and hot.
A Troglodyte complex
Now it’s time to take a stroll through the tiny streets and intricate alleyways. The earthy colours of the buildings clinging to the cliff face look just beautiful. The greenery of palms and summer blooms make the place seem rather exotic.
One things for sure, La Roque Gageac is a romantic kind of place, attracting couples as well as families, who no doubt return year after year.
Clinging to the rock face is a Troglodyte complex which is accessed via a metal stairway. We give it a miss but there are plenty paying the entrance fee to explore further. This fascinating way of life, living and working in the hollowed out buildings is just incredible to see.
Life on the River
Aside from meandering by various eateries and gift shops in the centre, there’s another big pull that attracts people – the river.
Yes, The Dordogne river is perfect for a kayak trip along its gentle looking waters. Of course, there’s no end of companies offering canoe and kayak hire and there’s a steady flow of punters floating downstream.
The idea is to get picked up later on, further along the river from where you start off and shuttled back to base by mini bus. We did a trip on our last visit and it was great fun, a group of locals thought so too, as they threw bucket loads of water at us!
Another Aire in the centre
Before walking back to the Aire, we take a look at another Aire in the centre. This is a more chaotic affair, surrounded by cars and people and is more expensive at 14 Euro per night, just for a parking space.
The CampingcarPark Aire where we’re staying has electric, a barrier entrance for added security, a dump and fresh water for under 13 Euro. It also has use of the campsite pool and shop, so we think it’s far better value.
Our walk back beside the river is just so scenic, especially as the canoes and kayaks pass by. There’s so many people enjoying themselves and all that this beautiful region has to offer.
Hot Air Balloon wake up call
One thing we hadn’t expected which I forget to tell you, is a strange wake up call at 7am. Yes, a peculiar yet familiar noise drifted through the sky coming closer by the minute. Soon, I realised the sound is a hot air balloon, so I dart out of bed to take a look.
Sure enough, right above our campervan is not one but several fabulous hot air balloons gliding towards the river. Nigel is hot on my heels as we go outside to get a better look. It’s quite a spectacle as they move graciously above the Aire, one or two lowering the baskets to the water before raising again and disappearing.
These are the type of scenes that make our day! After all it’s not every day that you get a hot air balloon wake up call.
Touristy but Idyllic – La Roque Gageac, The Dordogne
To be honest, La Roque Gageac maybe a little touristy but it’s so idyllic too. Simply put, it’s certainly one place on The Dordogne that must be seen and shouldn’t disappoint.
For us, it may be 17 years since our last motorhome trip here, but it hasn’t really changed a bit. At the end of the day, it’s one of those classic locations that leaves you feeling blessed to have seen. Ultimately, I’m not sure why we haven’t been back before now, but we’re so glad to have seen this fabulous location again.