Vallée du Céou Voie Verte,Dordogne

Jason Hargreaves rides the 25km Vallée du Céou voie verte south of Sarlat for us. It runs from Castelnaud-la-Chapelle to L'Abbaye-Nouvelle in the Dordogne.

 

It was a bit chilly today, and out of the summer months this particular voie verte is a bit of a dirge to be honest, as nothing is open along the route – and today it was too cold to stop outside with a picnic or to have a paddle. There is some nice scenery, but it's not as nice as the Chateaux route or the Sarlat voie verte route.

However, that said, in a few months' time it's totally different. In the summer there are lots of cafes/snack bars open at the many campsites along the route, as well as cafes, restaurants and table d'hotes at the villages and hamlets.

One of the nicest parts of riding it on a really hot summer's day, however, is the opportunity to take a dip in the crystal clear river Céou at numerous spots along its 24km, or enjoy a picnic on a secluded riverbank.  

Swimming in Dordogne after cycling
 

The route

There is a large carpark on the left to the south side of the bridge below Castelnaud chateau, behind La Poste and the Boulangerie. Follow the cycle path out of this carpark at its south-east corner. 
 

The voie verte is clearly signposted from here with the familiar green cycle signs and distances to the various villages along its route. It should be noted that unlike the Sarlat voie verte, this cycle path is shared with other (motorised) traffic and can be busy particularly at entrances and exits to campsites.

Initially the river Céou is on your left, but on leaving Castelnaud at the mill you cross the river and then keep it on your right for the next 10km. 

The route passes through St Cybranet, which has an organic grocery store if you divert from the path a little and cross the bridge in the village. From here follow the 'Daglan' green cycle signs. Pass the 'Cascades' campsite and then continue for just under 5km into Daglan. The route then takes a left at the junction on the edge of the village. There are some nice cafes and restaurants in Daglan, including the English owned 'Thé Vert' – to visit these take a small diversion across the bridge to explore.

From Daglan the route starts to get a little lumpy and bumpy, with some very short (but sometimes sharp) climbs. From Daglan the veloroute is still very clearly signposted with green cycle signs. This time follow it to 'Bouzic'. Immediately outside Daglan you will cross the river again, and it will remain on your left for the remainder of the route.

After a short steep tarmac climb into the hamlet of La Borie, the cycle path becomes gravel and more suitable for MTBs or thicker tyred hybrid bikes. The next 13km are not suitable for skinny tyres on road bikes!

At the pretty village of Bouzic the cycle signage is not at all apparent. At the T-junction with the main road through Bouzic, take a right. Then take a left (which is signposted to 'Gaumiers'). You will know you are on the correct trail as you will pass the cemetery on your right.

This route winds along with the river on the left, predominantly on gravel double-track trails. On reaching the pretty hamlet of Gaumiers there are some nice picnic spots. From here, the veloroute is clearly signposted 'Pont Carral' and continues to follow the Céou upstream, taking you through the pretty hamlet of Jardel Bas and then on to Pont Carral itself, which is officially the end of the Vallée du Céou Voie Verte.

However, if you are on fatter tyres, take the opportunity to go straight over the junction in Pont Carral and join the GR652 (Grand Randonnée) trail (or if on hybrids take the left over the bridge to the main road and then turn right towards 'Gourdon').

GR trails are signified by the red and white waymarkers on trees, walls or telegraph poles, and criss-cross the whole of France. A steep, gravelly (and breathtaking, not in the good sense!) climb then flattens out to bring you to the ruins of L'Abbaye, a 13th century abbey that was laid to ruin during the 100 Years War. 

Vallée du Céou voie verte

From here there is an opportunity to continue 10km to the imposing hilltop town of Gourdon by following the red and white GR652 waymarkers. This route necessitates an MTB or rugged hybrid, and from the river base the elevation increases somewhat to reach Gourdon. At Gourdon it is possible to pick up the GR64 in the direction of Sarlat which eventually joins the Sarlat voie verte at Carsac.
 
When he's not out on his bike, Jason Hargreaves helps runs La Blaquette B&B, Gites and Glamping, his family business near Sarlat. He's managed to make cycling part of the business plan with bike hire and local route information available on site.
 

Bike hire in the Dordogne

Cycle tourists to the Dordogne are spolit for choice when it comes to bike hire. See our Aquitaine bike hire listings, and also the bike delivery services page – a number of firms will deliver to your door.

Organised cycling holidays in the Dordogne

For a range of cycling holidays that include accommodation, maps and bike hire, see our Dordogne and Bordeaux cycling holidays page.

Cycling accommodation in the Dordogne

See our Dordogne and Bordeaux bike-friendly accommodation listings of browse the pop-up map below for links.

More great routes for cycling in France.

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