The Upper Dordogne Valley, through which flows one of the quintessential rivers of France, is quite stunning. Before it enters the département it was named after, it flows through Cantal, Corrèze and Lot.
Many visitors overlook this section of the river, which flows through some impressive gorges and pretty villages before reaching it’s eponymous department. The trip includes stunning villages which aren’t on the river but are too close to miss.
This itinerary begins at the capital of the Corrèze, the old town of Brive-la-Gaillarde, reaches the Dordogne river and then follows it up to the Cantal department.
I’ve chosen Brive-la-Gaillarde to start this tour because it’s very easy to get to from the AutoRoute. It’s also a nice place to stay with a good choice of accommodation.
From the ring road take D38 south for 8km to a junction with D8 which leads to Turenne where you suddenly come upon an enormous castle above a village. It is said that the Lord of Turenne was one of the most powerful in France. One look at his castle confirms the truth. Stay on this road, go down the hill to Turenne Gare and turn left on the D19 for 5km until you eventually re-join the D38.
Turn right on the D38 for 2.5km to arrive at the world renowned red sandstone village of Collonges-la-Rouge. This Plus Beau Village is well worth a close look. Don’t drive in; two car parks are at the entrance to the village.
Continue along the D38 through Meyssac for 8km and turn right at Marcillac-la-Croze onto the D15 for 7.5 km. Follow signs for Curemonte, a plus beau village associated with the author Colette.
Navigate to our next stop across pretty country roads. Or retrace your steps to the D38, turn right for 3km until you reach the D940. Turn right again for 9km until you reach Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, a plus beau village on the river Dordogne itself.
Beaulieu is a great place to stay overnight, but if you’re moving on, head back out of the village for 3km and turn right onto the D12 for 25km to Argentat, best viewed from the bridge over the river on the D1120.
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The old port of Argentat is well worth a close look. Then drive further north east along the D38 for 14km to St-Martin-la-Méanne.
Climb the hill from the Barage until you reach Servières–le-Château and after 0.7km you will come to the D75. After 7km you come to the D13, turn left for 5km until you reach the charming village of Bassignac-le-Haut. Follow the D13 to the Pont de Chambon and head for Marcillac-la-Croisille turning left on the D18 back to Argentat.
From here you can easily return to Brive via Tulle.
To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, Brive or the Upper Dordogne Valley itself, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. If you wish to book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or, if you have somewhere particular in mind, enter your preferred town/village in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.
Note: the source of the Dordogne is in the Massif Centrale on the Puy de Sancy in the Auvergne. It then flows south-east along the border between the Cantal and Corrèze through magnificent gorges before heading east under the Pont de Chambon and via the Barrage de Chastang. Passing the old ports of Argentat and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, it eventually flows into the Quercy and its confluence with the river Cère just inside the Lot department.