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Trip Report The Dordogne - I wish I could rave!

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So while we've been back from Paris for over a month I'm still catching up on my blog posts. I'm finally posting about our trip from Provence to the Dordogne and thought some of you might be interested.

I must be honest while we enjoyed driving down the Lot valley and would like to see more of the Auvergne we weren't crazy about the Dordogne. Perhaps it was the weather or maybe the crowds but it didn't speak to us in the same way as the Luberon. However, we still had a good time. Driving over from Bonnieux was time consuming but the stunning scenery after Nimes made it all worthwhile.

We loved seeing two architectural wonders in one drive, the Pont du Gard and the Millau Aquaduct. You can see pictures on the blog post here, truly incredible two engineering marvels 2000 years apart...
http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.com/2013/07/an-aqueduct-and-viaduct.html

We stopped outside Estaing for a brief overnight visit. This is somewhere I'd certainly return to. The town (which is one of the designated prettiest villages in France) is beautifully situated along the river and the surrounding farmland is spectacular. We plan on coming back to do some walking in the area. You can see how lovely it is for yourself here...
http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.com/2013/07/estaing-in-auvergne.html

The next day we headed on to Conque which is another of the designated "Beaux Villages" and it is certainly stunning. The situation of the town in a lovely valley is memorable. The architecture of the place is stunning and I highly recommend coming here.

http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.com/2013/07/conques-medieval-wonderland.html

My husband is interested in Romanesque architecture and so the cathedral was a must stop. The carving above the main door is a masterpiece of the period. It was so impressive that I gave it its own post! I loved the devils, angels and crazy demons! It has to be seen to be believed. These sites really remind you of how biblical stories and religious ideology was conveyed to a predominantly illiterate populous.

http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-cathedral-at-conques.html

We drove past Rocamadour and took in the amazing vista of the town clinging to the cliff. WE decided not to stop as we're generally not keen on overly touristy destinations and we took the advice of several on the board. When I saw the crowds and a small mini "train" I felt we'd made the right decision!


We headed on to L'Esplanade hotel in Domme and things started to go a bit down hill. It was entirely my own fault I was working the trip around a family event in Dublin and I hadn't checked the calendar of public/school holiday. I strongly suggest you don't make the same mistake if you're considering the Dordogne in May. There were three public hilidays and the school vacation in a two week period. It was packed. Domme was such a scene that I didn't enjoy it. We generally prefer off season travel and I'm a fan of Paris in the winter if that gives you an idea of our habits. In addition the weather was very dull and quite rainy.

I wasn't keen on L'Esplanade (though the restaurant was good) and wouldn't recommend it - though we ran into an American couple who were also staying there and kept saying "isn't it incredible?". They felt they were "off the beaten track" and had found "a real gem", obviously they didn't see the crowds and small train tooling around town in the same way we did! Well everyone is different. perhaps if we'd come at a different time of year and in better weather we would have felt differently.

We visited several of the lovely gardens and Chateau Milandes which I'll be blogging about later. We left Domme a day early and theaded down to Montpazier which we liked very much. I'd recommend the Edward 1st Hotel run by a lovely Dutch couple. You can see the place here...
http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.com/2013/07/hotel-edward-1er-montpazier.html

We had a very nice meal in their bistro restaurant and would like to return to this area to do some walking.

I wish I could rave about what we saw of the Dordogne, perhaps it was my attitude, the dull weather or the tedium of pushing through throngs of visitors. I get that it's somewhere that appeals to others. Though the geography is more dramatic it reminded me of the Cotswolds in England which can be very lovely but also very touristy. I liked it well enough but it didn't really speak to me and I found it hard to warm to the area which isn't a problem for me in places like Provence, Normandy or Burgundy.
http://somuchmoretosee.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-dordogne-im-not-really-fan.html

I'm not intending to be provocative, I understand others love it and my luke warm assessment isn't a critique of others who are captivated. We came home and friends I love raved about Sarlat, saying it was their favorite French town. It great that different things speak to different people. So I'd say go and see for yourself but think about going when it isn't so busy.

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