A Biker's Reverie

Dordogne River - History & Geography
  |  Gorp.com
Bordeaux vineyards
In some places the vineyards just go on forever...

The Dordogne River rises just to the west of Le Mont-Dore in the Auvergne Mountains of central France. It flows southwest and then west for about 300 miles before, near Bordeaux, joining forces with the Garonne River to form the Gironde estuary. From its source in the hills it passes through rich and rolling countryside picking up the nutrients that help feed the roots of the Bordeaux region's famous grape plants.

Talk of the Dordogne River valley will immediately make some people think of wine. After all, the Dordogne feeds many vineyards of Bordeaux, the largest quality wine region in the world and an area that produces almost one-third of the fine wines of France. Just north of the city of Bordeaux, the Dordogne does slide by the vine-covered slopes of the Libourne region's St-Emilion and Pomerol vineyards. Further upriver almost as far as Cyrano-made-famous Bergerac, the Entre-Deux-Mers wine houses help in the production of the dry Graves renowned throughout the world. However, you are stopping short of some of the river's most interesting sites if you elect to pause your inland plunge at Bergerac.

Further east a cyclist's fancy will find rolling hills of wheat-filled fields and cool distractions. Make a short detour to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, where the Font de Gaume, a cave, is home to the region's most important cave drawings. Medieval Sarlat, just a pedal turn beyond, is the center of a fine concentration of hilltop castles. Now the land is also beginning to change, becoming more lush, more accentuated. The river swings within detour's range of one of southern France's most-visited wonders, the cliff-edge Medieval village of Rocamadour. From there to the river's spring in the Auvergne mountains, it is grand stretches of quiet country roads and slow French villages.

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