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Escorted Tours to Europe from UK to Dordogne Valley, France

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Need lots of help deciding on tour.
I have enjoyed travel to several European countries from UK points. I am considering a holiday to Dordogne Valley. Travel either end of May or mid September. I have traveled with tours as well as independently to many countries when there is public transportation to move about to enjoy day trips.

Dordogne does not seem to have much in public transportation except within the bigger cities. So now I am looking at several escorted tours, one that will include the most scenic places. Would appreciate getting help and comments from travelers who have been to Dordogne with tour company.

One advertised in British newspaper travels via Eurostar from London to Lille and onward by SNCF to a pick up point by coach. There are several full day excursions included in price. Base Des Roches for 5 nights with dinner.

ALFA (not familiar with this company) has coach tour via Dover - Calais - Compiegne, with base at Rocamadour includes 3 full day tours, Dordogne Valley, Sarlat La Caneda and Cahors. Has anyone used this company and any comments if this one would be a good choice?. Price includes 5 nights half board. Travel overnight in each direction dinner not included.

2 other coach tours via Dover use Hotel Vezere in Le Bugue. Price includes 7 nights B&B and 3 day tours. Overnight in each direction outside Paris. Price is a little bit more but day tours seem similar.

I wrote on message boards if traveling independently to this region would allow me to fit in the scenic areas and majority of respondents did not recommend it. I will not be renting a car and would have to avail of bus/train., Look forward to receiving comments from travelers familiar with this region. Many thanks.

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    1. <<One advertised in British newspaper travels via Eurostar from London to Lille and onward by SNCF to a pick up point by coach. There are several full day excursions included in price. Base Des Roches for 5 nights with dinner.>>

    What's the pick-up point? Hôtel des Roches is nice enough, but are you saying you'd have to eat 5 dinners at the hotel? What are the excursions? For walking around, Les Eyzies is one of the least attractive towns in the Périgord, but at least you could meander down the main street and check out cafés and shops, etc.

    2. <<ALFA (not familiar with this company) has coach tour via Dover - Calais - Compiegne, with base at Rocamadour includes 3 full day tours, Dordogne Valley, Sarlat La Caneda and Cahors. Has anyone used this company and any comments if this one would be a good choice?. Price includes 5 nights half board. Travel overnight in each direction dinner not included.>>

    Rocamadour and Cahors aren't even in the Dordogne, and Rocamadour is too far away from the main Périgord sites to be any fun to travel back and forth to. What's the full-day tour of the Dordogne Valley? A drive-by down the river? Will you stop at any of the dozens and dozens of wonderful places and sites along it? Is it a full day in Sarlat? That might be nice,if you actually get to tour some of the main sites there. Cahors, apart from the Devil's Bridge, isn't all that appealing - certainly not for a full day. This tour doesn't sound like anything you were even remotely imagining on your first go-round of questions about visiting the area. I'd dump this one immediately.

    3. <<2 other coach tours via Dover use Hotel Vezere in Le Bugue. Price includes 7 nights B&B and 3 day tours. Overnight in each direction outside Paris. Price is a little bit more but day tours seem similar>>

    The Hôtel Royale Vézère is a pretty place right on the river in the center of Le Bugue. Rooms are fairly basic, though, and it's noisy, as the parking lot and traffic circle are right outside it and the terrace is always filled when the weather's nice. On market days, it's a madhouse practically on the steps of the hotel. What are the day tours? What do you do on the 4 days there aren't any tours? Le Bugue is fairly big (population 5,000), but you can walk from one end of town and see everything on the side streets in the space of half a day. It's a "working town," not a pretty village.

    I guess my biggest questions are: What sites are you going to be able to see, and will you actually ever have time to do anything that the region is really ALL ABOUT (scenery, discovering hidden places, ancient villages with pilgrim chapels, deep dark forests, boating, markets, châteaux, bastides...)???

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    I APPRECIATE YOUR HELP. BELOW IS THE ITINERARY FOR THE TOUR ORIGINATING IN LONDON, ST PANCRAS. SOUNDS LIKE IT WOULD NOT BE GOOD CHOICE. I ALWAYS PREFERRED TO TRAVEL INDEPENDENTLY AND IN THAT WAY AVOID WASTING A LOT OF TIME IN AREAS THAT ARE OF LITTLE INTEREST. GOT A LOT OF RESPONSES AND MOST TOLD ME I WOULD NEED A CAR TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE BEST OF DORDOGNE. I DOUBT IF OTHER TWO TOURS I LOOKED AT WOULD BE MUCH BETTER.

    IF YOU HAVE TIME TO COMMENT ON ITINERARY BELOW I CAN COMPARE ITINERARIES. ALSO PLEASE LET ME KNOW A FEW AREAS I COULD VISIT AND WHERE TO STAY IN ORDER TO SEE A FEW PREFERRED AREAS, AND IF ITS POSSIBLE TO DO ANY OF THIS WITHOUT A CAR. LOOKED AT SOME DAY TOURS ON TOURIST OFFICE LINK AND THOSE DAY TOURS ARE PRIVATE AND INSANELY EXPENSIVE.

    GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP. THANK YOU.

    ITINERARY LONDON TO DORDOGNE LONDON TO Lille Flandres
    To: Angouleme

    From:Lille Europe
    To: St Pancras
    Total Price:£943

    Day one

    Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Lille and onwards to Angouleme by SNCF fast train. On arrival transfer by coach under tour manager's direction to hotel for check in for 6-night stay. Welcome dinner.

    Day two

    Full day tour to Les Eyzies, Lascaux II and Rouffignac. Today our visits will follow a theme – Prehistoric man. The base for the tour, Les Eyzies, is said to be the ‘capital of pre-history’ and hosts the National Museum of Prehistory. Lascaux II offers a superb replica of two of the cave halls of the Lascaux, where the Palaeolithic cave paintings are estimated to be 17,300 years old. The Rouffignac cave contains 250 engravings and cave paintings from the Upper Palaeolithic era.

    Day three

    Full day tour to Périgueux, Bergerac and Monbazillac. The ancient city of Périgueux has Gallic and Roman roots - the excellent Vesunna Gallo-Roman museum will tell you more, but today it is also a gastronomic city, where, on market day, you can pick up all sorts of delicious regional specialities. The compact city of Bergerac has a charming mix of Renaissance and medieval architecture and perfectly quaint streets to stroll. Nearby Chateau Monbazillac produces some of the region’s best wine – there’ll be a guided tour and wine-tasting during our visit.

    Day four

    Full day to relax and explore Les Eyzies at your leisure. In 1868 several skeletons of Cro- Magnons (the first early modern humans) were unearthed in Les Eyzies. In fact, the town is at the centre of a whole series of archaeological sites allowing it to earn the name of ‘capital of Prehistory’. The National Museum of Prehistory is an interesting visit.

    Day five

    Full day tour to Beynac, La Roque-Gageac and Domme – all members of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (added quotation marks) association. Located on the banks of the Dordogne, Beynac‘s 14th century fortress towers over the village from its spectacular cliff top perch. Sitting at the foot of sheer cliffs right on the river, the light stone houses of La Roque-Gageac reflect peacefully on the water. The medieval fortified town of Domme sits on a rocky outcrop above the river offering fascinating history and glorious views.

    Day six

    Full day tour to Sarlat and Rocamadour. Sarlat-la-Canéda has an unmissable old town full of 15th and 16th century houses in an attractively uniform honey-coloured stone. The area, almost without equal in the whole of France, has been protected by law since 1962. Rocamadour has a fascinating history - after the discovery in 1166 of the undecayed body of St Amadour in an ancient cave made it an important centre of pilgrimage. This evening there will be a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

    Day seven

    Transfer back to Angoulême station to catch the return TGV to Lille. At Lille, board the return Eurostar service to Ebbsfleet and St Pancras.

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    Cavangal - Listen to what St-Cirq says - she/he has been given out sage Dordogne advice for years now and had or has a home there - a real expert who has corrected me several times!

    Are there direct trains Angouleme to Lille-Europe without a change? did not used to be but must be now I guess.

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    Dear God, it all sounds absolutely horrible! And at significant expense. Can we re-visit the reason you will not rent a car in the Dordogne and actually SEE the area? I can understand if there is a handicap issue or something, in which case there are services provided by the tourist offices and such, but these tours sound positively puerile and superficial.

    BTW, I am a writer, and I could just gag at those tour descriptions of the places the tour goes. Not only is the language simplistic, the descriptions are completely puerile and DON'T TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SEE!!!!

    It's all such BS.

    WHY won't you rent a car and do this area justice or move on and find someplace else you could actually visit using public transportation? You are trying to ram a square peg into a round hole and it's not going to work out to your advantage and you may spend loads of money having a bad experience.

    Just a thought.

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    Hi Cavangal,

    Sorry, I don't know anything about the Dordogne, but I've been curious and have been looking at a few tour options myself. Like you, I don't want to drive; I default to public transportation, so I'm trying to avoid having to drive one of those horrible, polluting monsters to see the area.

    I've found a number of walking and biking tours that you might like. They would get you into the countryside more intimately than a bus tour would. You could just google them. Here is one example:

    http://randonneetours.com/tours/france/dordogne_walking_9days_itinerary.htm

    Hope you find something that works for you!

    s

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    For tours starting in the UK.
    You could have a look at www.atg-oxford.co.uk. They do walking holidays - just had a quick look and they do a 5 day walking holiday in the Dordogne. I have not used this company but they were recently recommended to me by a friend, who knows I love Italy and walking holidays.
    Another possibility for a tour company is www.travelsphere.co.uk - they have a one week trip in that area (if you are travelling solo they have a sister company www.justyou.co.uk).
    There are a few other tour groups that might do tours to that area Voyages Jules Verne or Saga (if you are over 50). But I usually travel independently so I'm not very aware of the possibilities. Also if you are a solo traveller you will be stuck with single supplements.

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    I digested all advice above carefully and want to thank everyone for taking the time to write. So thankful I did not book any of the tours offered.

    I am senior citizen, very active doing lots of hiking on trails with spouse. He is not into taking transatlantic fights so I travel solo. I gave up driving several years ago since we live about 1 hr. from NYC and always took public transportation getting to work and local areas. My husband does the driving so I enjoy the ride. It would be stressful to rent a car and I might have difficulty with language as well. I am used to travel in Europe and have been to many parts of France and other countries. The tour companies can save travelers some money if they use a good hotel with half board and its a choice resort. I enjoyed Hidden Portugal tour and was able to do some day trips from hotel that I enjoyed so much more than taking the tours offered. I just had to be sure of getting back in time for dinner, while the coach customers were back about 3pm to snooze.

    I visited Avignon, Montpellier last year which was hassle free getting TGV from CDG and then local transport onward to Lourdes via Toulouse.

    I'm considering abandoning my plan to see Dordogne, but can anyone offer suggestions of areas in France I might enjoy while using Trains & Bus. Have been to Nice, Monaco, Loire Valley, Normandy, Brittany, Bordeaux so if there is help out there for a nice new route I will switch gears. I also traveled from Santiago Compostela via Burgos to French border by train taking coastline via Biarritz. Thanks and I'll keep looking for new ideas. Appreciate all your help.

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    France I might enjoy while using Trains & Bus>

    One area not mentioned as being seen before and which can easily be seen by train and bus is Burgundy - especially the classic Burgundy wine district in and around Beaune.

    Alsace's wine district similarly, around Colmar, an especially cute old town, can similarly be seen by train and bus or in each case only trains that stop at many tiny wine villages.

    For loads of great info on French trains and rail itineraries check out these superb IMO sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com.

    Some places like the Dordogne seem poorly served by local buses and trains.

    Provence around Arles and Avignon can similarly be seen by train and bus - lots of things there to get to by public transportation - using say Avignon or Arles as a base.

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    Janis, there really aren't a lot of drivers in the Dordogne. Taxi drivers, yes, but they double as ambulance drivers, so if someone has a heart attack, your trip to Montfort is cut off!

    It's rural France, and that's it's magic. You can't make assumptions about ease of transport or anything else. It's wonderful.

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    So thankful to all for some new ideas and great advice. Not ready to give up just yet. Would like to hear if itinerary below is better than one above. Its Angela's tour and am wondering if route visits real DORDOGNE.
    8 Day tour - Tour Number AC4045

    Stunning scenery awaits you, from towering cliffs and rocks with medieval villages, clinging to the sheer sides of lazy rivers passing through beautiful unspoilt scenery, castles and pretty towns. Combined with a reputation for good food and wine and an ideal climate, you have everything that you need.
    Itinerary
    DAY 1: Morning departure to Dover for the ferry crossing to Calais and on to the Paris area for our overnight stop.

    DAY 2: Through the French countryside to Rocamadour where we stay for the five nights. Defying gravity, Rocamadour is built on the side of a cliff whose rocks protect the sacred shrines and Monastery.

    DAYS 3 to 6 : At leisure in Rocamadour
    We have included the following excursions in the holiday cost.
    •Three Valleys Tour: Drive through the Vers Valley following the River Lot to Saint Cirq Lapopie. Perched on a cliff above the Lot it is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Return via the Cele Gorge and the Chause de Gramat
    •Day tour along the “Vallee de la Dordogne”, which will allow you to discover the Perigord Noir. Admire the Chateaux of Belcastel and La Treyne as we continue to Sarlat. Our local guide meets us for a tour of the town of art and history that never tires of telling the story of its prestigious past along its enchanting alleys and through its unique architectural heritage. Experience the Dordogne River first hand aboard an 18th century barge with Les Gabarres Norbert
    •Day tour that will take us to the Gouffre de Padirac, a natural 75 metre chasm on the limestone plateau of the Causse de Gramat. Descend underground by lift, where at 103 metres underground we join a boat for a trip on the river, and a guided tour of the caves
    •Our day also takes us to Collonges La Rouge a village of Renaissance houses built entirely of red sandstone, and Turenne a village dominated by the ruins of the original castle. Return via Martel the town of seven towers, from the 12th century
    •Day at leisure in Rocamadour

    DAY 7: Depart after breakfast to return to our overnight stop.

    DAY 8: To Calais for the crossing to Dover and onwards to your pick up point.

    THANK YOU TO ALL FOR COMMENTS.

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