The Dordogne might not seem like the first place you’d think of taking the kids, but you’d be pleasantly surprised by how much fun and diversity it offers on a family holiday. There’s some of the world’s best food and drink for the grown-ups to enjoy, and some of the best kids’ activities in Dordogne that everyone is sure to remember for years to come – we’ve listed a few of our favourites below to choose from! If you’re looking for a fantastic family-friendly villa in the Dordogne, on our site you can even choose properties that are perfect for babies, children or teens, making it even easier to find your perfect place to stay.
1.Slip and slide at Aux Etangs du Bos
Why go: Let’s face it, water parks are kiddie heaven. Pack swimsuits and armbands and let your lot loose on the thrilling slides of Aux Etangs du Bos. It won’t be long before you see a smile on their faces. With several pools of varying depths, a lake with inflatable attractions to play in and a handful of slides to careen down, as well as crazy golf and a play area, this water park – less than 40 minutes’ drive west of Sarlat – is a real child-pleaser. For the adults, there are areas to lay out as well as picnic tables where you can unpack your lunch.
2. Float through the sky with Montgolfières Du Périgord
Why go: For any child that’s ever read about Phileas Fogg or indeed watched Phineas and Ferb, heading up in a hot air balloon is the stuff of dreams. Few landscapes are as pleasant to look down upon as the rolling green hills, woodlands and meandering rivers of the Dordogne. If you’ve got children aged between seven and 12, Montgolfières Du Périgord will allow you to take them along on your magical ride through the skies for a reduced rate. The fact that mum and dad will enjoy the ride too doesn’t exactly hurt.
3. Ride around with Ze Chauffer
Why go: Often, the difference between a good and really great holiday boils down to local knowledge. With Ze Chauffer, you can enlist the services of Nadege, a resident with tons of travel know-how, who will show you and your family a side of the neighbouring French Basque Country you may never otherwise see. Because this is a private tour, you can alter and adapt it to suit your children, moving on as soon as you notice the first signs of boredom creeping onto the kids’ faces. Nadege will also introduce you to the culinary specialties of the region and arm you with recommendations to fill up the rest of your days in the Dordogne.
4. Make paper at Le Moulin de la Rouzique
Why go: We’re so used to seeing our kids glued to screens that it can be hard to imagine them getting enthused over something as anachronistic as paper making. But there’s something about the hands-on tours at this wonderfully quaint paper mill that has them waiting with bated breath to hear more. During a visit here, a guide will walk your family through the paper-making process, explaining how the machinery works and the various stages of preparation – they’ll even get the chance to help make a sheet. The tour is in French, but written information in available in English and guides are able to translate.
5. Descend into the Cave of Font-de-Gaume
Why go: Unlike the famous Lascaux cave paintings, the prehistoric drawings in this cave are the originals. Adults will be enthralled by the marvellous paintings and by the commentary from the guide who will explain what the pictures reveal about the people who made them. Kids, on the other hand, will get their kicks from the thrill of entering the dark, murky depths of the cave with only a dim light to lead the way. Younger kids may find the darkness and narrow passages of the cave a little too scary so you’ll need to make a judgement based on your child’s personality. A word of warning: only a limited amount of tickets are sold per day so you’ll need to get there early and queue to ensure entry.
6. Watch trebuchet demos at Chateau de Castelnaud
Why go: Perched on a rocky hilltop, this storied chateau played a key role in the Hundred Years War and is one of the best castles in the region for kids. While many of the other medieval fortress in the Dordogne are like resting giants, sleeping after their eventful past, this castle is very much alive and kicking with practical demonstrations taking place here all summer. See a working trebuchet being fired, observe an armourer at work in the forge and watch a mock battle. Even the most museum-averse children will find the chateau’s displays of medieval weapons, such as daggers, cannons and crossbows, engaging.
If you want to find the perfect villa, chateau or holiday home to enjoy with the kids in the Dordogne, just get in touch with our concierge team! They can help you find the ideal property, and even help arrange activities and family adventures. Need some more inspiration? Find our how you can enjoy the region’s authentic side with our local guide to Dordogne or get impressed by our top 5 sights to see in Dordogne!