Gabarres Caminade: A walk on the Dordogne from La Roque-Gageac

La Roque Gageac
Gabarres Caminade: A  ...

Embark from the splendid village of La Roque-Gageac in the Dordogne Valley , for a 55-minute ride on the water with the Gabarres Caminade . In the footsteps of the former boatmen of the Dordogne , let yourself be told the history of these places, the epics of the barges and appreciate the landscape . With family , friends or in a group by reservation , it is a flagship activity in the Dordogne, which allows you to appreciate the beauties of nature and the troglodyte architecture from a new angle. Let's go ?  


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Gabarres, present on the Dordogne for several centuries

In Dordogne, as in many river regions , barges are not just a means of transport , they are also a way of life. In 1820 Jean and Marc Caminade were gabarriers, the river was their place of work and with their specific flat-bottomed boats , to navigate whatever the draft (up to only 30cm deep…), they transported goods from the sea. 'one port to another. But what goods? At that time, it was the Vin de Domme , but also wood from the forests of Périgord but also from Auvergne (for construction, heating), stone millstones to supply the mills (which will grind the grain with and make flour and walnut oil ), sometimes ore, regional products, salt ... The gabarriers are also there to help the inhabitants, if it is necessary to transport furniture or food from a point to another in the Dordogne, it's quite an organization because the trucks do not really exist and the roads are not in the same state as they are today!  

Gabarre
Today, the Caminades barges transport families and no longer goods!

With the development of roads and railways, the work of the gabarriers becomes obsolete, this type of transport stops. Until the 1980s, the Dordogne was used for boating and fishing , but no longer for freight. And then one day, someone has the idea of putting these legendary boats, the gabarres, back into service. With their flat and wide hull , their yesteryear look, their stability, they would make very pretty tourist boats , perfect for enjoying the scenery without getting tired! Here we go, the Caminade family is back in service! It is therefore today with Pedro that we embark (there are also Marco and Daniel, the two other pilots), who is the great great grandson of Marc and Jean Caminade. During the trip, he will tell us the story of the barges, draw our attention to certain points to observe in the landscape and of course, pilot the barge !  

On the boat, you will see a mast, rest assured we will not wait for the wind to pick up and blow in the right direction to go upstream. Yesterday's jigs also had a mast and a sail, but it wasn't really for upstream. To descend the Dordogne, the gabarriers used long poles and a rudder to navigate. The sails were used to cover the goods during bad weather and sometimes makeshift shelters if they stayed on the boat overnight. To go up the Dordogne, we used the towpath (towing from the bank), which is why most of the rivers have an old towpath on the sides. At the beginning, it is humans who tow the boats, but it is a grueling, difficult job, which is not always paid correctly… We then move on to animal hauling with oxen which tow the barges. Today, the gauges are not exactly the same as those of Marc and Jean Caminade, they are adapted to accommodate the public and therefore equipped and secured accordingly. They are also more comfortable , for example, thanks to benches and very clever blinds , which fold and unfold during the journey, so that you admire the landscape without being dazzled!  

Gabarre and Beynac
A mast with a sail for style and to support the structure of the very practical electric blinds!

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A walk on the Dordogne in a gabarre  

Park at La Roque Gageac , in one of the car parks (note, they are not free). Take your ticket ( reserve by phone beforehand, especially in summer!) At the dispensary which is really located in the heart of the village on the banks of the Dordogne , just next to the pier . 10 minutes before departure, prepare to board . Come early to take a seat in front, we are well installed everywhere, but it's more fun in front!

pier
To get your ticket to board the Gabarre, it's easy, it's right in the center of the village

Entering the boat
The boat is easily accessible, there are just a few steps

La Roque Gageac
We're leaving the port!  

The walk will last about 55 minutes , we will travel 6.5 km to the bridge in front of the castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. It is the same route for everyone, we start from the pier, we go up the Dordogne a little to then turn around and appreciate the village of Roque-Gageac in all its splendor, which wraps around the bend of the river. river. Take your camera! In summer , there are people on the water, but everything is well orchestrated. In June and September , it is a pleasant period because at the end of the day (like the day of my report) the leveling and orange sun offers magnificent colors and play of shadows. We then continue in the direction of Vézac . We pass in front of the village and at the end you will see the Château de la Malartrie , a private residence which offers guest rooms.  

We arrive in front of Vézac beach , with a superb limestone rock formation in the background. Pedro might tell you about this cracked piece of cliff, which has been like this for centuries. It seems his great great grandfather could jump over the crack! Today, no one would do the same, because it measures more than 10m wide ... Everything is moving in Périgord and the ancients knew it, since no house is built under this famous crack ...

La Roque Gageac
We go up a little upstream of the pier to have a beautiful view of the village

Chateau de Malartrie
The Château de la Malartrie watches over the Roque Gageac

The crack
The famous crack! Who knows where this piece of rock will be in a few hundred years?

We continue along the water and after a wooded bend , you will see the castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle in the distance , on its rocky promontory! On your right, the promontory of the Jardins de Marqueyssac , we see the belvedere and further on, we will see the rest of the buildings. On your left, before arriving at the bridge, a very strange rocky outcrop … It is a layer of limestone , over 300 million years old (you feel very small, don't you?) !! The captain will explain to you in detail the formation of this geological phenomenon which represents the different glacial areas known by the region through the ages. Arrived at the bridge, we must turn around. Several years ago, you could pass under the bridge, but with the craze for river activities, it was becoming dangerous to have everyone cross under the arches of the bridge, the traffic was also complex depending on the draft of River. It is frequented all year round, but its high attendance is from April to November. In the heart of summer, up to 6,000 canoes a day pass under the piles of the bridge (yes, we counted!). Gabarres Caminade has 2 gabarres which make 7 to 8 walks per day. The advantage is that everyone can enjoy it, even in busy periods!  

Marqueyssac promontory
This belvedere is the Jardins de Marqueyssac which can be visited a few minutes from La Roque Gageac

limestone strata limestone strata
Read the past, in these limestone strata, as in an open geological book!

Gabarre Caminade and Beynac
Grandiose!  

Gabarre and Beynac Gabarre and Beynac
Before, we passed under the bridge, but the growing affluence of the Dordogne no longer allows it, it is the price of glory, but the landscape is all the more magnificent!  

Back to La Roque Gageac, appreciate the landscape, ask questions, enjoy ... Admire the clarity of the water, the magnificent viewpoint back to the village. A barge ride is an activity for the whole family, which is just as enjoyable in summer as out of season! Treat yourself to this moment of relaxation on the Dordogne !  

La Roque Gageac

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Learn more  

  • The jigs are easy to access and safe , don't worry about young children (we fold the strollers, stored in the front of the boat), nor for people with reduced mobility . You just need to be able to gently descend the 2 or 3 steps to access the bench.  
  • The templates work even when it rains ! Except in a storm, but you can still go if the weather is bad, you will be protected by the blinds .  
  • The barges Caminade are open from April 1 to November 1.  
  • Go to the information sheet to find out more

Did you like our report? Find more on the BLOG.

Find us on The Facebook page of the Guide du Périgord , we are also on Instagram @guideduperigord

Fort de la Roque Gageac
The Fort de la Roque Gageac, a site to visit for an unparalleled view of the Dordogne.


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