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Dordogne and Provence with teens 18 days

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I thought I might post my skeletal itinerary even though it has lots of holes. I’m getting a little bogged down, and ready to get some outside ideas.

I've read this board extensively, as well as the relevant portions of the 4 Michelin books covering our route, and have determined the trip will be fantastic no matter what, but I’d still like to minimize car time (while not compromising the “highlights” mentality of the trip) and try to set up the widest variety of experiences. For example if we visit two abbeys along during the trip, as much as I’d like to stop at the smaller intimate ones, for this trip we’ll try and hit the two most “wow” abbeys.

We’re a family of 4, two boys 13 and 15, so for this reason I think I will try and stick with the “impressive” highlights of each area. My wife and I would love to visit and explore all the small towns along the way, but this wont fly with the boys. The trick will be to say, have lunch in a small town but get “lost” trying to find the restaurant. 

Flying into Lyon. All reservations are cancelable, so not locked into any timeline yet.

Day 1 Thursday: arrive Lyon at 2:30, pick up car and drive to Le Puy (reservations secured). Recover

Day 2-3: originally thought about overnighting in Salers and then in St Cere area, but now wondering if we should instead drive from Le Puy to Albi (Google says a 3:30 drive on N88, is this realistic?). Overnight Albi, head north to see small towns and overnight in St Circ Lapopie. These would be mutually exclusive – we’ll either see one area or the other, so I think the Albi area looks more dramatic?

Day 4 Sunday: (if via St Circ) Pech Merle am, Gouffre de Padirac pm, overnight Rocamadour (reservations secured at Best Western).

Days 5 -9: reservations secured at La Villa des Consuls in Sarlat.

Day 10 (Saturday) overnight Toulouse

Day 11 (Sunday) Toulouse day, late lunch Castelnaudary, Carcassone early evening, drive to near Peyrepertuse for overnight.

Day 12: Peyrepertuse, swimming, Queribus, head south to overnight near Abbeye St Martin

Day 13: Abbey St Martin, Serrabone and environs, hopefully more swimming. Overnight Montpellier or nearby.

Day 14-18 Stay in Uzes(?)

Day 19, last day, visit Orange(?) catch 7:30pm flight from Lyon airport

Is it “worth” heading to the Abbey St. Martin for a day? Peyrepertuse and St. Martin appeal to me on paper as “wilderness” days where we can stretch our legs and do some swimming in mountain streams, in addition to the obvious highlights. Anything comparably impressive in the Tarn Gorge area (or is it more impressive) so we could maybe drive a little less?

The only areas I’m locked into (mentally) are Dordogne and Provence. If there are opinions as to good compliments to these areas other than the ones I picked along our route, I would love to hear ideas.

Only 5 nights in Sarlat, so is it a good idea to spend one day seeing Hautefort and Perigueux, or should we just stick closer to home?


Thanks!

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