Tour led adventures; local secrets unlocked

I felt like I was in the Tour De France as we sailed our bikes through Rocamadour, getting admirable looks from elderly shoppers. The hillside village looked straight out of Lord of the Rings and was a bustling tourist hub. Thankfully, our active tour of the Dordogne led us, by boat, bike, and hike, to smaller medieval towns where fresh lager, crêpes, and snails were enjoyed at a slower pace of life.

A house in the Dordogne

A picturesque house in Beaulieu

We began exploring the nooks and crannies of beautiful river-side Beaulieu, and grabbed some great snaps of the crooked houses with exposed wooden beams. Learning to paddle was an interesting experience, and we often forgot about reaching our destination to capsize and explore caves.

Of course we hit many tourist destinations, such as the Chateau Castlenau-Bretenoux, the caves at Padirac, and the hub of Rocamadour. Although enjoyable, the trip was made in smaller villages, like Martel, which we approached via a time tattered train station to enjoy both sweet and savory crêpes under the Medieval market hall (to the confusion of locals, who often eat either/or).

Our Tour Guide, as well knowledgeable on local sights, took us to local restaurants to have an evening much like meeting old friends at a foreign relatives for dinner. That’s what made it great too, having a group of friendly people to travel with, hearing their stories, and making new friends.

I was always put off by guided-tours and package holidays. It felt like cheating. After an Inter-Railing adventure showed difficulty escaping tourist hotspots, my view radically changed. If you can get past having support vehicles to carry your bags, having a guide to minimize chances of getting lost (although, we still had to travel alone to the initial site), you might just enjoy an organized tour.

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