The Dordogne in
If you’re not a fan of city breaks or urban adventures and prefer instead to unwind and reconnect with nature on your holidays, then the Dordogne Valley in the southwest of France is the ideal location for your next July break. This beautiful area is renowned for its historic charm and tranquil way of life, and with exceptional food, scenery and culture, it makes for the perfect relaxing getaway.
Reasons to visit the Dordogne in July
- July is the driest month of the year in the Dordogne, meaning you can enjoy blissful sunshine and high temperatures throughout your stay
- The summer months are full of arts festivals and events across the valley, so wherever you are staying you are likely to discover something exciting happening
- Despite July being high season for tourism, the rural aspect of the Dordogne means that it is perfectly possible to avoid all crowds and simply relax in the countryside for your entire holiday
Weather in the Dordogne in July
July is one of the best months to enjoy summer heat in the south of France, and you’ll certainly get plenty of sunshine in the Dordogne. Chances of rainy or overcast days are low but not impossible, although you’ll likely still have high temperatures even if the skies are grey.
The average high temperature that you’ll get on a July holiday in the Dordogne is 27°C, which is perfect for a summer break in the countryside. In the evening and early morning the temperature drops to an average of 20°C, but this still feels relatively warm and you’ll probably only need a light jacket if you’re outdoors.
Clouds and Rainfall
July is the driest month of the year in the Dordogne, and there are usually only a few days of rain during the month. The heat and valley location can cause thunderstorms that last for a few hours, but these usually offer a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of the day, and never stick around for too long.
There are 8 hours of sunshine on average each day in the Dordogne in July, with around 15 hours of daylight. The sun tends to rise around 6.30 am and doesn’t set until after 9.30 pm, which is ideal if you’re wanting to spend long evenings outdoors.
Where to go in the Dordogne in July
Sarlat-la-Canéda, usually referred to simply as Sarlat, is one of the Dordogne Valley’s most popular medieval towns. Its main attraction is the medieval and Renaissance Old Town in the centre of the area, which is the ideal place to spend a day exploring and brushing up on your history.
Because of its popularity, we recommend that you visit Sarlat first thing in the morning before the real crowds of tourists appear, as this will allow you to walk the streets at your own pace and admire your surroundings without having to jostle for a good view. Some sightseeing highlights of Sarlat are the town’s cathedral, the Place du Marché des Oies and the Hotel de la Boétie, or you can simply enjoy a stroll amongst the medieval houses and soak up Sarlat’s atmosphere.
If a busy tourist town is not your thing, then La Roque-Gageac is the perfect alternative. This tiny village is said to be one of the most beautiful in France, and is perched right at the foot of a huge limestone cliff next to the River Dordogne.
The streets of La Roque-Gageac are cobbled and the houses are all built out of the same stone, making it an incredibly picturesque location. One of the most popular pastimes for visitors to the village is to take a river cruise along the Dordogne’s banks, or we recommend that you arrive in the early evening when the crowds have thinned and the evening sunlight is bathing the golden buildings in a beautiful glow.
Things to do in the Dordogne in July
Swim in the Great Outdoors
The Dordogne Valley is a few hours drive from the coast, but you won’t be short of any swimming opportunities whilst you are in the area. The Dordogne boasts some of the cleanest water in France, and swimming in the lakes and rivers is one of the best ways to keep cool if you are visiting the country in July.
The Dordogne River is the obvious choice for a summer swimming spot, and there are many grassy banks and beaches along its shores that are perfect for picnics and sunbathing. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, head to one of the area’s small waterfalls and natural pools for a more exciting outdoor swimming experience.
Visit a Night Market
A real highlight of the summer evenings in the Dordogne is the evening markets, or Marché Gourmand, which pop up all over the area in July. These food markets start to set up in the late afternoon and remain open throughout the evening for a unique outdoor dining experience where you can sample some of the area’s freshest ingredients.
The markets have a brilliant range of traditional food on offer, and there are usually tables set up close to the stalls to encourage visitors to enjoy their purchases there and then. There’s no other dining experience quite like it in France, and the mild weather in July is the perfect setting for an evening of exceptional food, wine and conversation with the locals.
Crowds and Cost
The summer months are the most popular time to visit the Dordogne because of the hot and dry weather, and because July aligns with the start of many summer holidays it can get quite busy. Because the area is so rural however, there is a sense of peace and isolation wherever you go, and you can likely avoid coming across any crowds if you simply don’t visit the popular tourist spots in the valley. Accommodation options will fill up quickly for July, so make sure to plan your trip well in advance.
July festivals and events
Numerous festivals are happening across the Dordogne in the summer season, and one of July’s finest is the Saint-Céré Festival which features a range of operatic and musical performances. Each of these is set in one of the spectacular historic churches, abbeys and castles across the region, so you’re treating your eyes as well as your ears with every performance.
Jazz in the Valley
Souillac en Jazz is a festival that has been happening every July since 1976 in the small town of Souillac in the Dordogne, bringing together jazz musicians from a range of different backgrounds for a week-long event. The festival is made up of evening performances in the open-air outside of the town’s 12th-century abbey, offering an incredible live music experience in unbeatable surroundings.
Frequently asked questions about the Dordogne in January
How far is Dordogne from Calais?
The Dordogne Valley is 653km from the port of Calais, and it will take around 8 hours to drive from one to the other.
Is the Dordogne safe?
Dordogne is known as being one of the best and most beautiful places to live in both France and the whole world, and a part of this is because it is such a safe place to live and visit on holiday. The usual travel risk of theft is not completely unlikely, but overall the Dordogne is a very safe place to travel.
So many modern holidays focus on cramming in as much as possible and seeing enough sites to keep your social media feed busy for weeks, but a holiday to the Dordogne Valley in July is different. Discover the beauty of this rural and historic area as you explore the various towns and villages at your own pace, and enjoy the heavenly weather as you sample the flavours, culture and atmosphere of one of the most-visited parts of France.
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