La Boucle de Montfort: Hiking in the Dordogne valley

Vitrac
La Boucle de Montfort ...

The Montfort Loop is a very pleasant hike, about 8km without particular difficulty and to be done in all seasons. Departing from Vitrac, on the banks of the Dordogne, it invites you to walk to the top of this small town with a pleasant view, and then descend to the river with beautiful plunging views over the river cliffs. Passing through the forest, you reach Montfort, its castle, its dove and its tranquility. The return allows you to appreciate the small heritage, in the typical woods of this beautiful region of Périgord Noir. On the way for a sporting half-day in the Dordogne Valley.


Photos of the article © Guide du Périgord


Montfort loop hike

Vitrac, its port and its village

The Montfort loop really begins in the village of Vitrac (15 minutes from Sarlat), which is located high above the port. But to enhance this hike, without adding a lot of kilometers (but a little difference in altitude), I suggest you park at Vitrac Plage, near the canoe rental companies, it is an interesting alternative to add pretty points of view to the Montfort loop.


Vitrac Beach
Vitrac Beach
Port of Vitrac launching slipway
The slipway under the Vitrac bridge

Leave your vehicle in the parking lot, be careful in summer not to encroach on the parking lot of canoe rental companies, unless you have planned to make a descent. It is also a good idea to complete this sporting day, the Montfort Loop can be done in the morning, then in the afternoon, a descent of the Dordogne will be refreshing during the summer. The rest of the year no parking problems.

From the car park, enjoy the view of the beach and the cliffs that descend steeply into the Dordogne, it's very pleasant at sunrise, you can see birds and rocks reflected in the water! Continue crossing the bridge (walk well on the pedestrian area), to the edge of the Dordogne, make a small hook to reach the slipway under the bridge. Perch, pike, carp and even lamprey, the Dordogne has always had waters full of fish, which are generous for fishermen who still come here to find fish.


The poplar grove
The poplar grove, this is where you have to turn to take the road that goes up to the village of Vitrac


Continue to the road that leads to the village of Vitrac, you pass a poplar grove and see old water mills. A small path on the left leads to the heights of the village. Everything is well signposted by hiking signs. Arrived at the top of the village, you will appreciate pretty views and with binoculars or good eyes, you can see Domme on the opposite cliff and noble dwellings, small castles which are hidden in the vegetation all around. Go to the Saint-Martin church and then continue the road to pass in front of the town hall of Vitrac on your left and take the road on the right which goes towards the cemetery. Continue until you find the sign indicating a wooded path on the left, which descends into the valley. At the bottom, following the signs, your steps lead you towards the golf course and the cliffs of Caudon, you will walk for a while on this road which joins the course of the river.


Path going up to Vitrac
The path climbs towards Vitrac
Vitrac church
Church of Vitrac
View from Vitrac Church
View from its square
View of Domme
View of Domme in the distance
Vitrac town hall
Vitrac town hall
Path along the cemetery
The path to take along the cemetery


I recommend you take a hat or cap if you are doing this hike in the summer and water of course. It can be hot on this exposed stretch of road, then we will reach the woods. Look to the left after the walnut grove, you will see the castle of Montfort in the distance! On the right, a route adds 1 kilometer to take a break on the banks of the Dordogne, on Caudon beach, the panorama is well worth this small kilometer if you have energy because this small beach is charming and sheltered, perfect for the picnic.

To enjoy this unique place in the Périgord Noir, settle down for a few days in a family campsite on the banks of the Dordogne. You are ready to go directly on a canoe trip, you are ideally situated between the Dordogne and Vézère valleys, and less than 10 minutes from Sarlat.


Cliffs of Caudon beach
Cliffs of Caudon beach
Fishermen on the Dordogne
Fishermen on the Dordogne

The ascent to Montfort

Back from your detour to Caudon beach, you take a grassy path, which will then turn into a limestone track before plunging into the woods. Until now it was rather flat, now the path will go up for a small kilometer in the woods. Pay attention to the roots and stay on the path, this is the only small steep area of the course. Arrived at the top, a clearing offers you a pleasant view of the castle, in spring there are plenty of wild flowers, purple and white.


Ascent in the woods
The climb in the woods
View of the clearing
The view from the clearing
Picnic tables
The picnic tables
Pierced stone
the pierced stone and its view

Here you are in the village of Montfort, to visit the village and learn more about its history, the Tourist Office has produced a well-documented guide with a walk in the village. Click to download it. (in French)


You arrive on a grassy esplanade, with a limestone rock pierced by erosion, emblematic of the village. There are picnic tables to take a break, here is a view of the end of the Montfort cingle. In the distance there are fields of walnut trees, which is a flagship culture of Périgord, do not miss to taste the delicious walnut oil of Périgord during your stay! There are 3 main streets in this ancient medieval village, which is organized around its castle. The whole is well flowered and it is pleasant to walk in the alleys with golden stones. The Château is private property. Walk along the ramparts, after having found the road that leads to Montfort, continue to the left of the Castle to walk for a few minutes in the lane that goes down, turning you will enjoy a beautiful view of the castle, before setting off again. If you continue, there is the lower street of the village and a fountain and a small washhouse (be careful, it's steep).


Monfort village
Monfort village
The entrance to the castle of Monfort
Ramparts of the castle
Monfort castle

Walk in the village of Montfort

Back to Vitrac

Montfort is the destination of the hike, now we will take a forest path to return to Vitrac. To do so, you have to cross the D703, signs indicate the continuation of the loop towards the path which runs alongside the houses. You enter a wood of oaks, turn your head in the open places, you will perceive panoramas towards the Dordogne and its cliffs. Back in a residential area, we stroll between the houses until reaching the edge of a wood, where there is a very beautiful restored borie. The bories are traditional dry stone huts, which once served as a refuge for peasants, to shelter from the heat or the rain. You retrace your steps towards the village of Vitrac, if you parked here, it's the end of the hike, otherwise you have to return to the small path that leads to the port of Vitrac, then cross the bridge again towards the Beach. Take the opportunity to eat an ice cream, bathe in the river in summer and appreciate this corner of nature, at the crossroads of the most beautiful villages of Périgord. Then continue towards Sarlat, towards Domme or the Jardins d'eau de Carsac-Aillac.


Last view of the castle
One last view of the castle after crossing from the village
Oak forest
Return route in the oak forest
View of the Dordogne Valley
Some views of the Valley
La Borie


On the road to Vitrac, stop at La Fabrique, a good place to buy sweets from local producers and walnut oil! 



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