“Must See” things to see and do around the immediate area of St. Cyprien. Almost all the places listed below are within a 10-20 minute drive.
There are is a large framed tourism map near our kitchen showing the locations of many of the must see attractions in the area. There is also selection of brochures in the house for most of the sites in the region, which contain maps on how to find them. There is also a ‘Guest Book’ and previous guests often list places/restaurants etc that they particularly liked.
Be warned though, there are literally several dozens of amazing places to see and visit within a 10-20 minute radius of St. Cyprien, beautiful little villages, huge castles, archaeological sites, cave systems, water/amusement parks for the kids, hiking, cycling, canoeing, horseback riding etc, but below are just some of the most popular sites in the immediate area.I have included links to their official websites many of which use multi-media, so be sure to check them out!
1)The Marqueyssac Gardens...only about 10 mins from us, just off the road to Sarlat. Topiary gardens, hedge maze, exotic plants, live peacocks, evening light shows...a truly magical place!
The views down the valley of the river, the two castles and the cliff village of Le Roque are spectacular!
2)Baynac and Castelnaud, the two huge castles near us, within 10 minutes drive.
Castelnaud was an English stronghold and Baynac French during the "100 Year War" and they fought and captured each other constantly over the centuries. Both are open to the public and have extensive exhibits and the villages huddled outside the walls are very cool with lots of little shops, galleries and restaurants to browse through.
3) Chateau Milandes, home of famous 1920-40's Afro-American dancer, jazz singer and war time Allied secret agent Josephine Baker is about 5 mins from the Marqueyssac Gardens. The grounds are a nice place to take young children and everyone will enjoy the live "Birds of Prey Show" on the back lawn. Tours of the house follow Josephine's extraordinary life and career.
4)The Aquarium of the Perigord in Le Bugue (this is about 15 minutes away from us) Our kids loved it even when younger, its the largest fresh water aquarium in Europe with lots of fish, snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators etc. www.northofthedordogne.com/aquarium-le-bugue.php
And right next door to the aquarium is the theme park Le Bournat, sort of a pioneer village, showing how people used to live in the Dordogne region in "olden days", its has lots of fun fairs, rides and old time games and is great for kids www.parclebournat.fr/en/
5)Gouffre-Proumeysssac – 'The Cathedral of Crystal' A spectacular Bell-shaped cavern located in the hills above St. Cyprien, near the tiny hamlet of Audrix. Has a light show and a fascinating history (tours available in English). Its just 10 minutes from the house.
6)Sarlat – the regions main town, its maybe 20 minutes from us, the old town centre is truly amazing, well worth a visit.
It’s used in tons of 'musketeer' and medieval movies, nice for wheeling a stroller...lots of interesting shops and restaurants and the old town is pedestrian only, so no cars. On summer nights they have medieval jugglers, fire eaters, shadow plays and other street performances, it really shouldnt be missed during your trip. Avoid it on Saturdays mornings though, as it’s their market day and parking can be a chore unless you get there very early.
7) The village of Domme – again maybe 15 mins or so from us. Lovely little village, quaint shops especially for local pottery and a great place to have lunch up on the summit of the ancient fortified town. Its famous for its fantastic views down the valley. It was also a strong hold of the famous Templar Knights and has a hidden cave network under that you can tour.
8) La Roque Gageac, is officially recognized as one of France's most beautiful villages. Again, its about 15 minutes from us, towards Sarlat. It is truly spectacular ancient cliff village, and a great place to take the river boat tour or arrange to rent canoes to picnic on the river. Over the years I have suggested to numerous guests about renting a canoe upriver and paddling past Le Rogue and stopping to have a picnic, and almost all of them have said it was the highlight of their trip.
9) Les Eyzies, a beautiful village built at the foot of a cliff just 15 minutes north of us, home to The French National Museum of Prehistoryand much more. Many very nice restaurants and shops selling fossils and geological samples. A must see if you are a history buff.
10) The Mainson-Forte-Reignac again about 15 minutes or so from us is a fascinating historical site. It’s a restored medieval fortified house built into an ancient cave early humans also used. It also has a fairly macabre museum of medieval torture devices.
11) Roque St. Christophe a spectacular ancient troglodyte village built into a seam in a cliff. Used since prehistoric times it was also used as a refuge against Viking river raiders in the early middle ages. It about 25 minutes north of us about half way between Les Eyzies and Montignac (the village closest to the world famous Lascaux Caves)
12) St. Leon sur Vezere is in the Vezere valley between Montignac and Les Eyzies. Its just a couple of km passed Roque St. Christophe on the way to Montignac/Lascaux. You have to watch for the sign post as the village is set back from the main road.
It is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, and is set in a curve in the Vézere River. It is a small village, of houses in the attractive local stone joined by narrow meandering pathways and alleys. Its a great place to just walk, picnic and buy a local ice cream.
13)Commarque Castle, one of the oldest and most beautiful castles in the Dordogne. It was built in an isolated valley directly on top of prehistoric caves dwellings which still contain ancient cave art and carvings. Its about 15-20 minutes outside of St. Cyprien and as its not near a major highway, gets far fewer visitors than other castles in the region, so a great place to relax and have a picnic by the banks of the trout stream that runs in front of it.
14) Rocamadour, a great day trip from St. Cyprien, its about an hour drive due east.
This place is truly spectacular! Seriously like something out of Lord of the Rings! A fortified cliff village that was also an important stop on the Medieval Pilgrimage Route. We recommend first visiting the small village of L’Hospitalet just across the valley from Rocamadour to get the best views of the citadel before going into Rocamadour itself.
15) Lascaux caves – An amazing place to visit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site globally famous for its 18,000 year old cave paintings. You buy tickets in the nearby very pretty riverside village of Montignac. Lascaux is about a 40-45 minute drive from St. Cyprien.
16) Gouffre de Padirac, a HUGE cave system, which you access via an elevator down the side of a massive sink hole, then you get out and get into a 2nd elevator that takes you down to an underground river complete with boats that take you on a guided tour. Really amazing but not good for young children as you would have to carry them most of the trip…also bring jackets as it is quite cold down there.
17) The Chateau de Bourdeilles, this town is about an hour due north of us, this beautiful little town has a gorgeous Renaissance palace and ancient castle right next to each other on the banks of the river.