Dordogne river a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
The Dordogne river is a quintessential French river with deep gorges, bold rapids and peaceful meanders enveloped by medieval villages and imposing fortresses.
In 2012, the Dordogne river basin was recognized by UNESCO for its outstanding setting and natural heritage and added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The Dordogne basin is home to a rich biodiversity of plant and animal species remarkable at national and European levels. It has an important variety of fishes (39 species) and it is especially valuable because it is the last refuge of all major diadromous fish of Western Europe.
Rising in the Massif du Sancy in Auvergne and emptying into the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux, the Dordogne crosses much of south-west France in a westerly direction.
It is on the verdant flanks of the Sancy that two streams named the Dore and the Dogne tumble down the steep hillsides to merge and form the mighty Dordogne. Its name also evolved from the ancient pre-Celtic term ‘Duranius’ meaning water and is one of the few rivers in the world to exhibit a tidal bore.
The scenic route along the Dordogne
Measuring 483 km in length, the river changes completely in character during its voyage to the sea but keeps one very important characteristic: The stunning villages, castles and countryside to be discovered nearby. As the region has never been heavily industrialized, its wealth of unspoiled countryside and beautifully-preserved towns and villages is greater than most other areas in France.
The upper valley of the Dordogne includes a stunning series of deep wooded gorges. Its steep cliffs, fast flowing water and high bridges attract many walker, driver and canoeist. In several places the river is dammed to form long, deep lakes like Bort-les-Orgues.
Past Bort, it is dammed another four more times before arriving at the charming riverside town of Argentat with its medieval houses, quayside restaurants and fantastic post-lunch strolls.
Wooden boats called gabares
Once a bustling commercial axe for the valley, the river was the most direct and safest way of circulating goods. It also served to connect populations living higher up the river in Auvergne and Limousin with those lower down in Bergerac and Bordeaux.
Although the Dordogne’s river trade and use of gabares soared in the 18th and 19th centuries, these traditional flat-bottomed boats were operated as early as the Middle Ages. The boats would transport materials like wood and slate as well as salt and wine produced in nearby vineyards.
It would typically take around six days to descend the river between Argentat and Bordeaux , navigating through Beaulieu, Souillac, Beynac, Bergerac…and over two weeks to return upstream with animals (or men) often pulling the boats with ropes from the river banks.
On our estate you will find the old harbor of Lalinde next to the renovated warehouse. Here, about 200 days a year, cargo was unloaded by Gabarres.
During the rest of the year the Dordogne was unnavigable because of the many rapids and the low water level. During this time, the Lalinde canal was used. You will find this canal across the road from Les Magnolias.
A refreshing dip
The Dordogne offers plenty of water-based activities including swimming, fishing and dozens of different water sports. The river is one of the cleanest in Europe and offers reliably warm water especially in July and August. Much as a dip in the pool is nice and refreshing, nothing beats a swim in the sparkling waters of the Dordogne.
There are several beaches along the Dordogne River, the one at Limeuil being of particular note. You will find this beach only 15 minutes away bij car from Les Magnolias.
Limeuil is regarded one of the “most beautiful village in France.” Laying at the confluence of the Vezere and Dordogne Rivers, Limeuil is home to a fantastic sandy river beach. Being shallow at the edge, the beach is a great choice for families with young children.If you can manage to drag yourself away from this beautiful beach, wandering around the cobbled streets of this postcard-perfect village, past honey-coloured houses and perfectly-manicured gardens, is definitely worth its while.
You are also welcome to swim in the river at Les Magnolias, the water is clean and refreshing. It is wise to put on water shoes(chaussures aquatiques). These are available at the supermarket across the street.
Fishing in the Dordogne
The Dordogne is one of most renowned areas for angling in France and is very sought-after by both locals and visitors. Home to grayling, pike, catfish salmon, carp, barbel,trout, shad and zander (although fishing for salmon is prohibited), the river is particularly good for fly fishing. If you like trout fishing, please note that you will need to book from around the middle to end of March up until around the first week of September. This is the only time you are allowed to fish for trout in France. There are lot of fishing opportunties near or on Les Magnolias. You can fish in the Dordogne River or in the canal on the other side of Les Magnolias. A fishing licence can usually be obtained from the local fishing tackle shop or alternatively from the local bar or tabac shop. Additional information is available at our reception. Useful Link : Fédération de Dordogne pour la Pêche et la Protection du Milieu Aquatique
Spoilt for choice
Although the river is navigable along the last 112 miles of its course, commercial traffic on the Dordogne is light which makes it a great place to practice water sports.
Canoeing and kayaking the river is the best way to admire the region’s fairy-tale like countryside and some of the quieter sections of the river that are otherwise inaccessible. Stock up with some local specialities and stop off for a picnic along the banks of the river. We can heartily recommend canoe-roquegeoffre, here you can make a reservation in English. The route we can recommend is from La Roque Gageac 14 km(3 hours).
A new funny way to explore the Dordogne river is stand up paddle. You will find this in nearby Creysse.(10 km)
The Conseil Général de la Dordogne has created dedicated leisure areas , all of which can be used for free by the general public. The nearby Trémolat aquatic centre on the banks of the Dordogne is on of them. This center offers waterskiing.
In the adjacent village of Mauzac( 5 km) is a nautical club: here you can sail on the Dordogne. Walk by and ask what it costs to rent a boat. You can also make a boat trip from there with a Gabarre.
On our domain you can enjoy the river yourself. You will find a hike route along the riverbanks ,you can use our canoes. You may also fish directly from our riverboards for barbel, carp, chub, pikeperch, catfish and various other fish species.