The Dordogne is a beautiful region but from what I’ve seen so far it wouldn’t be the first place I’d recommend as a great wheelchair travel destination. The greenways (voie verte car free paths) are lovely. The historic architecture is fascinating. Our campsite was great. I just didn’t really find any riverside wheelchair access worth reporting and some of the information I received was misleading. It’s a big region, so maybe I have missed out on some great accessible areas and attractions? Dordogne wheelchair holiday tips are welcome. Please comment below if you can add anything to my findings.
Accessible Camping Near Sarlat
Nice campsite. Great pool. We were pitched very near the facilities which have a disabled toilet and shower. The entrance to the pool is wheelchair accessible. It’s one of those where you have to get pushed through the shallow water to get in. I wouldnt have been able to reach the lock on the gate to the pool either without assistance. There is also a cafe with internet access. While being out in the country, Camping Les Acacias is in a great location for trips to Sarlat and is near to the greenway (voie verte). You can drive to the nearby Vialard entrance and park right next to the car free path.
Sarlat has some impressive old buildings. The main tourist bit is fairly flat but moderately bumpy. We are not talking full on cobbles, but the surface is quite bumpy in some places. It’s a good place to visit if you love historic buildings and don’t mind a bit of wheelchair vibration. Eventually I opted to stay in one place and people watch.
Nice place to visit. The drive up was quite steep, the village is perched on a hilltop. There is disabled parking and toilets near the main square. Adjoining the square is a long balcony with lovely views of the valley and beyond. This is the main attraction. There are tourist shops, ice creams etc and restaurants. We couldn’t stray too far from the square due to the steep slopes but it was definitely worth a visit for the fabulous views.
Wheelchair Accessible Gardens?
Les Jardins Suspendus du Marqueyssac
I wanted to visit Marqueyssac but I was advised against it by the receptionist at the campsite. He said that the paths were too steep for the wheelchair and that I would have problems. He said that Eyrignac would be better. Also the Eyrignac brochure had the “Tourisme at Handicap” label so I decided to take his advice. I also just read a thread in a France forum about Marqueyssac having brand new disabled toilets halfway up the steepest hill imaginable, so maybe he was right.
Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac
Disappointed. I chose to visit these gardens because they have the “Tourisme et Handicap” label, so I had expectations. Have Tourisme et Handicap even been there? And if so, did they notice the GRAVEL !!?? My carer managed it but we did see an elderly man struggling to push his wife in a wheelchair. It’s often much easier to push a wheelchair up a steep hill on a smooth surface than it is to push on the level through gravel. There is also a couple of widely spaced steps to the gardens in the photos. So why no ramp? Or why not move a bench to easily make a side entrance with access? A lot of the gardens are not accessible even to the able bodied as mentioned in this comment I found on the net ”Eyrignac was too formal, lacked plants and a lot fenced off to public. They said there was wheelchair access but it was very limited and gravelly” So why advertise it as wheelchair accessible when it’s not? Okay rant over.
Wheelchair Walks & Wheelchair Bike Rides
Vialard to Aillac
The best thing about this area for me was the greenway (voie verte). We accessed the greenway from Vialard and then rode to just past Aillac. We didn’t carry on past there as there was a really steep bit. So we turned back and then went down over the river on the bridge towards Grojelac. The ride back to Vialard was up hill on the way home.
Calviac to Peyrillac
The best day out we had in the Dordogne was on the greenway between Calviac and Peyrillac. It was mainly flat and smooth and the access onto the path was good at Calviac. A great day out in the countryside, gliding alongside the elusive river, past villages, cornfields, the old station of Carlux and at one point through an old tunnel which was lovely and cool inside in contrast to the heat of the baking hot sunny day outside.
I really enjoyed our wheelchair bike rides on the voie verte. These car free paths are a great resource for easy access wheelchair walks. We did find that a few of the access points are too steep for wheelchairs though. A map with the wheelchair access points (like the one they have in Burgundy) would be very useful. On the map below the green line is the greenway and the red line is the road.
Local Community Protecting The Countryside
On the way back from one our wheelchair bike rides, we came across an anti fracking banner drop in one of the old villages. At first I was alarmed to be reminded of the threats to our agriculture, ecology and ground water from Hydraulic Fracturing. But later found that Fracking is still banned in France, it was just a politically engaged community staying vigilant. I hope the people of the UK will be just as vigilant in protecting our countryside in the coming months. If you haven’t heard of Fracking yet, you can watch the documentary Gasland on Youtube, also Britain & Ireland Frack Free and Frack-off.org are good resources for the UK.
Dordogne Wheelchair Travel Tips Welcome
We still had a great time in the Dordogne despite the access issues. The weather was great and we made the most of it. If you know any accessible attractions worth recommending please share with us. Dordogne wheelchair holiday tips are very welcome.