We chose Souillac in the Dordogne River valley as our first and main destination for the two-week period before moving up to our rented apartment in Paris. Though Souillac is the header of this page, the town was really just a headquarters for brief forays into the Dordogne countryside--by hikes and by car. Souillac interested us for its geographical placement as much as for its own features: from there it was an easy outing to get to the little medieval hill town, Martel, to the the massive fortified castle, Castelnau, to the "jewel" towns of Carrenac, Sarlat, Beaulieu, and so on.

Souillac is situated directly on the Dordogne River with its wide green valley floor, its steep limestone cliffs to the south, and boasting some of the cleanest natural water in France. It is a fast-moving river, good for fishing, and crossed and recrossed by a web of "randonnées", or hiking trails of great variety and beauty.

We took a room in La Vielle Auberge in its annex next to the ancient Romanesque church on the town market square and just below the striking bell-tower with its first level restaurant, La Beffroi. The room was comfortable, and boasted access to a swimming pool, gym, sauna, etc., but there was little view, so we spent much time exploring the town, hiking, and taking afternoon car trips. We went each morning to the boulangerie on the main street for the (universal) French breakfast of coffee, croissants, and pain/confiture. I have not taken the trouble to label the various photos for location, but it will be pretty easy to identify the castle visit (Castelnau), and the pictures taken on a very long picnic hike to a neighboring town (river pictures, chickens, gardens, etc.). The outdoor lunch was in Martel.

This was an outstanding place for exploring southwest France, and we would go there again. In fact, after leaving the area to spend some days in Normandy, and after a few days in our Paris apartment, we were sufficiently hungry for the beauties, food, and simplicity of the Dordogne region that we rented a second car and came back for a second three-day visit in the area.



Copyright© 2003 - Darrell Taylor