MAPS: See routes of Dordogne’s new (and first) GRP hiking trails

Hikers can explore the area’s stunning forests and limestone plateaus in 20km sections

The 12th Century Chateau de Fénélon is an emblematic symbol of the region
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Two new Grande Randonnée du Pays (GRP) walking routes are opening in Dordogne - the first in the department - allowing hikers to explore the region’s stunning forests and limestone plateaus.

Adventurous hikers can also join the two new routes together into a 175km loop. People will be able to spend the night at various gîtes, chambres d’hotes and campsites along the way.

The routes in the Pays de Fénelon are called GRP La Boucle des Coteaux and GRP La Boucle de la Vallée, and together form the Grande Boucle à Carlux.

They are accessible now but will be officially inaugurated on November 12, 2023.

The two routes cross at Orliaguet, allowing walkers to go in a 175km loop Pic: Office de tourisme du Pays de Fénelon

What is a Grande Randonnée du Pays route?

France has over 140,000 km of hiking paths, divided into three categories: Grande Randonnée, Grande Randonnée du Pays and Petit Randonée, all of which are maintained by the volunteers of the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre.

Read more: GR, GRP, PR: What do the French hiking signs mean?

GRP routes are not to be confused with GR routes, which allow hikers to traverse France on old wayfaring routes, such as the G145 via Francigena that used to lead pilgrims on the way to Rome from Calais to the Swiss border, or the GR70 Chemin de Stevenson through the Cevennes.

Unlike GR routes, GRP routes do not have a number, only a name. These routes allow hikers to explore the local region.

What is the Pays de Fénelon?

A sparsely populated area that straddles the dark oak forests of the Périgord Noir, and the limestone plateaus, or causses, of Correze, the Pays de Fénelon is much beloved by hikers.

Aside from the region’s natural beauty, people can also visit various historic sites along the way, such as the medieval town of Sarlat or the emblematic Château de Fénelon, which featured in the 2020 film The Last Duel.

“For the past 14 years, we have organised a hiking event called the Randonée des villages,” said Emilie Loubriat, manager of the Carlux Office de Tourisme. “In the last few years we have had up to 4,000 people coming”.

Ms Loubriat says the success of these events has meant there was pressure to make permanent routes in the area, leading to the creation of the new GRPs.

Local hiker Grégory de la Prada, from Bergerac took it on himself to be the first to walk the new route. From August 13 to 18, months before the GRP’s scheduled inauguration in November, Mr de la Prada stormed through the Pays de Fénelon in six days, walking more than 30km a day.

“The route is well planned out,” he told local media Sud Ouest. “It lets you discover all the rich heritage in the Périgord Noir, which is truly breathtaking”.

Future hikers will not have to go quite as fast as Mr de la Prada however: the route is to be split into 20km long stretches, each with its own map-card available from the Office de tourisme in Carlux indicating the places to eat, drink and rest on the way.

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