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2 weeks in SW France - Best route between Perpignan and Sarlat

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Mar 24th, 2002, 05:31 PM
  #1
Greg
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2 weeks in SW France - Best route between Perpignan and Sarlat

We will be spending 2 weeks in SW France in September - arriving and departing via Toulouse. We want to spend several days at Perpignan and will be spending the second week in Sarlat. In making the transit, we would like to spend a little time in the Lot valley and are considering staying over at Figeac. We are thinking of going via Bezier, Minerve, Albi etc but have no idea about what is a reasonable distance to travel through that area in a touring day and how many stops would be sensible. If anyone knows the area and would like to comment I would be pleased to have their views.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 11:57 AM
  #2
Betty
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Hi, Greg. I traveled in that area in 1996 and, many years ago, lived in Albi for a year. The backroads route you describe from Beziers to Figeac would, no doubt, be scenic, but very slow. You are in the southern reaches of the Massif Central there. The quickest way to get from Perpignan to the Lot valley would be by autoroute, going by Carcassonne, Toulouse and Cahors. But if you have a day or two to spend you might go rather to Beziers, then take the N112 through St. Chinian, St. Pons de Thomieres, Mazamet, Castres, and up to Albi. Is there some reason you wanted to go to Minerve? That is way off the beaten track and you would have to travel tiny winding D roads to get in and out of there. I think Albi might be a good place to stop for a night, better than Figeac. It is a pleasant town to stroll in with an attractive old section, the Toulouse-Lautrec museum and the very impressive Basilique Ste. Cecile. From Albi you could take the scenic road to Cordes-sur-Ciel, St. Antonin-Noble-Val (very pretty) to Caussade and then the N20 to Cahors. If you have the time you could spend another night in Cahors before heading up to Sarlat. Cahors has a large and colorful market on the weekend, I think Saturday. I would be happy to try to answer any other questions you may have. You can e-mail if you wish; just substitute charter.net for home.com in the address above. Bon voyage and say hello to Albi for me.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 12:11 PM
  #3
Wayne
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Well, I was going to make some suggestions after having visited Albi a couple of years ago, but I think Betty covered it well. Only one little item: I loved the hill town of Cordes, only 15 miles northwest of Albi, and a place where you could believe you are back in time by a century or so. It was one of the really nice experiences I had. I stayed at the Grand Ecuyer, on the edge of a cliff in town with an incredible view across the countryside; and there's also a Hostellerie du Vieux Cordes. If you want an alternative to staying in Albi, try Cordes for a real French experience.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 12:51 PM
  #4
StCirq
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Greg:

Much as I love Figeac, I have to agree that the route through Castres and Albi and Cahors (by way of Cordes, definitely) is the better choice. I would spend the night at either Albi or Cahors (if Cahors, at the Hôtel Terminus - best food in town). Albi is a wonderful, cheerful town with a nice Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, a bizarre and memorable cathedral built of bricks made from the Tarn riverbed clay (it was too dangerous in 1282, when construction began, to transport stone through a countryside still reeling from the Albigensian Crusade and the consequent hatred of the Catholic church), a large pedestrian shopping area with lots of good cafés and restaurants, and some nice antique shops.
Cahors is larger, but not much less welcoming. It, too, has a sunny portal-of-the-Midi feel to it, but there's more foie gras in evidence because you're heading into serious goose country. Be sure to sample some of the Cahors wines, which are said to be the closest thing to what the Romans drank.
Now that the autoroute extends past Cahors, it's only about 1.5 hours to Sarlat. If you need a rest stop between Cahors and Sarlat, Gourdon is a delightful little town perched on a hillside at the confluence of the Périgord and Quercy.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 12:53 PM
  #5
Ron
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Thanks for the tip about Cordes.

In Albi, which is one of our favorite towns, be sure to visit the magnificent gardens behing the Toulouse Latrec Museum.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 01:17 PM
  #6
Greg
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Thanks Betty & Wayne for your helpful comments. We will be taking the autoroute down to Carcassonne and mayybe all the way to Perpignan so we wanted to head north along a more leisurely route. Minerve is a village that we had wanted to see on a previous trip but had missed for a variety of reasons so I thought this was an opportunity to catch up. It may make sense to miss it again and follow Betty's suggested route from Beziers. I was thinking of Figeac as a good place to stay to allow us time to explore the Lot between there and St Cirque. We have been to Cahors on previous trips but have only followed the Lot valley up as far as St Cirque and Cabreret/Peche Merle. Thanks Wayne for your hotel suggestions - I'll do a bit more research.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 01:17 PM
  #7
StCirq
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Ron's right - don't miss the gardens; they are beautiful, classical Renaissance gardens. And if you walk away from the river on the short side of the garden you will come across a windowless turret with a barred door. If you crane your neck a bit, you can see a stairway. This is where the Inquisition tortured heretics. Lots of them chose to starve to death in that turret rather than confess.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 01:20 PM
  #8
Greg
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Thanks also to St Cirq and Ron - your posts came up while I was writing my first thank-you. This is all very helpful. I am reasonably familiar with the Toulouse-Cahors-Sarlat stretch but have no experience of parts just to the east.
 
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