Dordogne (river)

For the département, see Dordogne.

The Dordogne in Périgord, near Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Location of the Dordogne in France
Native name La Dordogne
Country France
Main source Massif Central
1,720 m (5,640 ft)
River mouth Gironde estuary
45°2′29″N 0°36′24″W / 45.04139°N 0.60667°W / 45.04139; -0.60667Coordinates: 45°2′29″N 0°36′24″W / 45.04139°N 0.60667°W / 45.04139; -0.60667
Basin size 23,870 km2 (9,220 sq mi)
Physical characteristics
Length 483 km (300 mi)
  • Average rate:
    450 m3/s (16,000 cu ft/s)

The Dordogne (Occitan: Dordonha, French: La Dordogne) is a river in south-central and southwest France. The Dordogne and its watershed was designated Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO on July 11 2012.[1]


Contrary to appearances, the name of the Dordogne is not a recent word[2] resulting from the names of the Dore and the Dogne. It comes from an ancient Durānius,[3] derived from a Pre-Celtic root dur-, dor- (as the Durance).

The medieval forms adopted a redoubled suffix -ononia:[4] Dorononia fluvius[5] (sixth century), Dornonia (eighth century) that evolves in Dordonia (ninth century) by a phenomenon of dissimilation, giving the impression of an etymology *Dore-Dogne.


The river rises on the flanks of Puy de Sancy at 1,885 metres (6,184 ft) above sea level in the mountains of Auvergne, from the confluence of two small torrents above the town of Mont-Dore: the Dore[6] and the Dogne. It flows generally west about 500 kilometres (310 mi) through the Limousin and Périgord regions before flowing into the Gironde, its common estuary with the Garonne, at the Bec d'Ambès ("Ambès beak"), in the north of the city of Bordeaux.


Canoeing on the Dordogne

The Dordogne is one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit the phenomenon known as a tidal bore.[7]

The upper valley of the Dordogne is a series of deep gorges. The cliffs, steep banks, fast flowing water and high bridges attract both walkers and drivers. In several places the river is dammed to form long, deep lakes. Camp sites and holiday homes have proliferated wherever the valley floor is wide enough to accommodate them

Below Argentat and around Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, the valley widens to accommodate fertile farmland, well-watered pasture and orchards. In the towns, which are major tourist attractions because of their history and architecture, the quaysides are lined with eating and drinking places. In Périgord, the valley widens further to encompass one of France's main gastronomic regions, with vineyards, poultry farms and truffle-rich woodlands.

The main season for tourism in the Valley of the Dordogne is from June to September, with July and August being high season. The lifestyle and culture of the Dordogne valley attract both visitors and incomers from all over France, but also from many other countries, particularly Britain and Germany.


The Dordogne at Argentat in Corrèze, part of the Limousin region

The départements of France through which the Dordogne runs, together with some towns in those départements that are on or quite near the river, are as follows:


The Dordogne in the Périgord
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and Dordogne view from Altillac

Main tributaries from source to mouth:

N.B. : (R) = right tributary; (L) = left tributary


Aside from the usual activities such as tennis and golf available in many areas of France, there are a number of water-related activities related to the Dordogne, including:


  1. "UNESCO description of the Bassin de la Dordogne".
  2. as the Midouze, a portmanteau that fuses the names of its two precursors, the Midou and the Douze.
  3. Sidonius Apollinaris
  4. influenced by the suffix -onna, frequent in river names, in France.
  5. Gregory of Tours
  6. Not to be confused with the Dore.
  7. Tidal bores, Mascaret, Pororoca (1). Myths, Fables and Reality !!!
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