Located on a bend of the Dordogne River, the town of La Roque Gageac is listed as one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’. Sheltered by overhanging cliffs, the village houses a picturesque, tight row of old riverside buildings, which loosen up as you head uphill towards the Troglodyte caves. These caves is where the Fort Troglodyte [-] stands – a series of outposts that have literally been carved out of the cliffs by medieval engineers. Nearby, you will also find the ‘tropical-style’ Jardin Exotique – a cluster of gardens that lie next to an old church.

One of the best ways to soak up La Roque’s beautiful scenery is to take a canoeing or kayaking trip. Mostly starting from points that are located upriver from La Roque itself, these canoes bring you down the river, allowing you to be enchanted by the imposing rock structures (decorated by green outcrops) that flank the tiny postcard-perfect village. A short river cruise aboard a traditional gabarre (a wooden boat with a flat-bottom that was used as a means of transport in Périgord and the Lot Valley) is also a popular choice. Watch out for the summer season, as La Roque tends to get crammed with tourists. Arrive early to have a more peaceful sightseeing experience.

The 12th century Château de Beynac [+33 553295040 ad/ch €7.50/3.20] lies in the town of Beynac-et-Cazenac, which is located nearby, along the Dordogne river. Standing proudly atop a limestone cliff, the Château de Beynac is considered to be one of the most well-preserved castles in Dordogne. Its elevated location gave it an excellent position to withhold attacks and look out for invaders. Hence the castle was an important defense point during the Hundred Years War. The Beynac castle is also known for having a long history of rivalry with the château de Castelnaud (located right opposite); as the Castelnaud castle fell to the English for a significant period of time- however, the Beynac castle mostly remained under French control (except for a brief period under Richard the Lionheart). As if the cliff wasn’t enough, the Beynac castle is also fortified by a double moat and walls. The castle’s Romanesque keep, frescoed chapel and State room are just some of the other features that attract visitors. A guided tour of this stately building is also available [ad/ch €6.50/3.20].

The 15th century Château des Milandes [+33 553593121 ad/ch €8.50/5.60] is a well-kept Renaissance castle (with a few Gothic touches) was put on the map by one of its famous occupants- Joséphine Baker. Known for her raunchy performances and notorious habits that took Paris by storm in the 1920s, Joséphine Baker (an African-American music-hall star) brought much attention to the otherwise quiet château. Mostly privately owned, the Château des Milandes hardly served a political function. Hence it was no surprise when Joséphine Baker purchased the castle in 1936. She lived here till 1958, making important installations like running water and other decorative features like a pool. 3 other private owners succeeded her, when she was ordered to move out due to bankruptcy. Today, the castle honours its most famous resident with a museum that displays her costumes (including the famous banana skirt) and furniture. The castle also houses period rooms and apartments that exhibit older artefacts. If you’re dropping by the castle between May and October, stay put for the bird show by the castle’s own birds of prey.