A five day circuit in the Dordogne valley, through the rich countryside and beautiful villages of Quercy, finishing at the old religious centre of Rocamadour.
Two years later we repeated this circuit in the opposite direction.
Getting to Martel
From Paris Austerlitz we took the train to Brive. It was not a TGV, but speedy and modern nonetheless. (We had a two-day diversion to Montignac and the Lascaux caves at this point, using the school bus).
From Brive it is a short train ride to Saint-Denis-près-Martel (also known as Saint-Denis-lès-Martel), the nearest railway station to Martel. There are not many SNCF autocars a day from this dusty little outpost to Martel itself, so you would need to check the SNCF timetable, unless you felt like walking the six kilometres.
It was glaringly hot so we were pleased to take the bus, which deposited us in the main street. Martel is small but lively, with shops and cafés encircling the cobbled square with its sturdy stone-roofed market hall.
The architecture recalls a previous age of importance – there are seven beautiful towers of different shapes. The camping ground is only a step from the main roundabout, and while it is basic, it has grass, shady trees and hot showers and is absurdly cheap – about €3 a night.
We spent a pleasant evening eating in the open air in the market square, with the squawks of the junior brass band, practising in the adjacent castle, making us all laugh.
Day 1: Martel to Collonges-la-Rouge
Rest Day: Collonges-la-Rouge
Day 3: Beaulieu to Bretenoux
Day 4: Bretenoux to Carennac
Day 5: Carennac to Rocamadour
Rest Day: Rocamadour