A brief trip summary...
We are two brother, their wives and five kids and four significant others...13 in all with ages ranging from 23-30 (the "kids") and mid 50s for parents (ok, so I'm mid 60s!).
The parents met in Paris for three days before the kids arrived. Everyone arrived early Saturday morning and we got on the TGV bullet train to Bordeaux (200 mph!). We rented four cars in Bordeaux and drove the 90 minutes to Saint Geyrac. Only those who had arrived early drove. The chateau was ridiculous! We rented it through Oliver's Travels. We agreed that each couple (of kids) would cook and clean up for one night's dinner. That got everyone to market to explore more, etc.
Sunday: drove to the town of Rouffignac to the market and then to the Grotte de Rouffignac which is a cave system that you enter via a tiny tram train! Like something out of the Gold Rush and very interesting cave art.
Monday: drove to Lascaux which has the reproduction of the cave art that was found in 1940. Really excellent. It just opened last year and it is fascinating. We then drove to Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe which is a tiny cafe on the Vezere where you can order and then eat outside at picnic tables. The food was excellent lunch fare.
Tuesday: We drove to Vitrac and rented canoes. Floated down the Dordogne under mostly sunny skies. 14 miles or so, slow moving with a few ripples! We pulled off in La Roque Gageac which is gorgeous. Had lunch there. Then pulled out in Castelnaud, visited the Castle there!
Wednesday: We went to the cookery school which was a highlight. So much fun! Look up LeChevrefeuille in Saint Cyprien. Run by an English ex-pat couple and their adorable daughter. Then went off to Sarlat, which is lovely and wandered around with a guide book.
Thursday: we did a wine tour to Chateau Panisseau near Bergerac. Then had lunch in Monbazillac and toured the chateau there. Really pretty. We then went in to Bergerac an old wine town, very interesting place, not touristy.
Friday: we biked 27 miles on the Voie Verte which is a bike path that runs from Sarlat along the Dordogne river for miles. No competing with traffic and lovely villages and farmland along the way. All of us had electric assist bikes which were FUN. We stopped for lunch at a delicious countryside restaurant in Saint Julien called Le Roi Carotte aka King Carrot!
Saturday: we trained back to CDG and checked in to the Sheraton at the airport. The kids went into Paris for the evening.
Sunday: everyone, except me and my husband, flew home. We stayed an extra day!
What could have been better: this was an action packed trip. We were a mix of experienced and novice travelers. We wanted something to do each day to make sure we didn't miss anything! I thought there might be more independent traveling but the group was really cohesive and chose to do everything together. And a lot had to be planned and reserved and at least partially paid for in advance so there was that too!
I wish we could have stayed closer to Sarlat so we didn't have to drive anywhere from 30-60 min each morning. However we also wanted a big enough place that we could all have our own bathrooms en suite (we needed 7 bedroom/baths). That limited the choice but also kept us sane. And the place was amazing! We would leave around 9am and return around 4 each day...some days a little earlier and some days later. We ate dinner out the first and last nights only but had lunch at various places, some more interesting than others..
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A brief trip summary...