Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

29 day Itinerary for southern and eastern France

29 day Itinerary for southern and eastern France

Dec 20th, 2014, 02:17 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 98
29 day Itinerary for southern and eastern France

Well that's a rather broad topic so I'll try to be more specific without being confusing.

My girl friend and I will be traveling to France for a month this summer and because her daughter lives in Paris we will be beginning and ending our trip there. We both love Paris and France and have been there many times but on this trip we want to explore some areas we have not been to before. Other than spending time in Paris the other firm destination is Dordgone where we have penciled in ten days at Sarlat. I would like to have comments about the wisdom of spending ten days there but we usually like to spend more than a few days in one place to sort of settle in.

The general plan is to rent a car on the outskirts of Paris and drive directly to Dordgone for the ten days mentioned above and then to return to Paris via a circuitous route using about fifteen to nineteen additional days to do so. After musing over my maps, my initial thoughts are, after Dodgone, to spend a week in the Languedoc (where I do not know) and then return to Paris via a swing through Provence and Burgundy. We have visited Avignon and Arles before so I'm thinking we go more eastward and then turn north. If anyone has towns or villages where they would recommend for us to headquarter as we proceed to Paris I would be very appreciative. I would think we would want to stay at each stop for three or four days and that we would need perhaps three stops for the return trip from Languedoc to Paris. I've heard wonderful things about Lyon but my last two experiences of driving in Paris may necessitate that I not drive in Lyon which means a bypass of that great city.

The itinerary would then look something like this:

Dordgone 10 days
Languedoc 7 days
Provence/Burgundy stop #1 3/4 days
Provence/Burgundy stop #2 3/4 days
Provence/Burgundy stop #3 3/4 days
Total 26/29 days

I should add that both my girl friend and I are rather adventuresome and getting lost in rural France is pretty much bliss for me (not so much for her). We like sightseeing, back roads, village markets, museums and visiting vineyards (but maybe just one or two). Relaxing and avoiding rush is imperative meaning the fewer "must be there" time tables the better.

Someone is sure to ask why not travel via train to Dordgone, rent the car there and drop it in Paris? My reckoning is that the drop charges would be substantial but the main reason is avoidance at all cost of having to handle girl friend's suit case(s) any more times than totally necessary. Also, we've always used Hertz before but if anyone has a more economical suggestion I would love to hear it.

Thanks to all for any suggestions.

prmbrown is offline  
Dec 20th, 2014, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,826
Generally there are no drop-off charges within the same country, at least not in France and if you rent the car through a broker such as Autoeurope or Kemwel. They might not have the lowest rates, but they are low enough to serve as a bench mark. If your credit card will carry the CDW, look at either company's basic rate.

We took the train from Limoges to Paris for €15 per person by purchasing non-refundable and non-exchangeable tickets three months in advance (look at capitaine-train). That is cheaper than driving when taking into account the rental, fuel and tolls. Of course, if you plan to visit some Loire valley castles on the way down, or Chartres, driving from Paris makes sense.

I would stay only one week in the Dordogne, but if ten days is what you want, split the stay between Sarlat and Brantôme, with more days in Sarlat. A guidebook such as the Michelin Green Guide might be in order.

Consider the Jura as part of your travels in eastern France. It is quite different from Burgundy--the Jura is known for its vin de paille and its vin jaune, as well as interesting sights. Time taken off the Dordogne could be used for the small detour.

Browsing through these pictures might give you some ideas of what to see.



Michael is online now  
Dec 20th, 2014, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,826
I forgot one thing: train from Paris would be either Brive-la-Gaillarde when going to Sarlat, or Limoges or Angoulême if going to Brantôme
Michael is online now  
Dec 20th, 2014, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Have a look at Vezelay - a wonderful and historic little town. We stayed not too far away at the Mounlin des Ruats near Avallon and right next to a wonderful French National Forest. One evening at dinner (the restaurant is excellent - Parisians often come for the weekend just to eat there and walk in the Forest) we saw what I thought was white cat running along the opposite bank of the stream. Then I saw how it moved - and realized it was an ermine.

Rooms are interestingly shaped and decorate - since from a converted mill - and falling asleep to the sound of the stream is wonderful. You can easily do a number of other day trips from there - but it's definitely out in the country.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 20th, 2014, 08:43 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 225
I think you can easily spend ten days in the Dordogne, but personally staying in the busy town of Sarlat itself in summer does not hold much appeal, as it is sooo touristed. Weekly gite rentals are very popular in this region and you could get a really good value cottage in a smaller village with all amenities - and then not have to battle traffic and lots of tourists just to go about your daily business. I'm thinking of villages like St Cyprien, Monpazier, Belves, Tremolat, Beaumont du Perigord. Each of these villages have good amenities, weekly markets with excellent summer produce, and are easy driving distance to the major attractions, with plenty of back roads and tiny hamlets to discover along the way. Closer to Bergerac, you can visit wineries in the Pecharmant or Monbazillac areas. From the southeastern Dordogne, a move to the Languedoc is quite easy too.
rosemaryoz is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 660
It seems clear to me that you know what you are doing so I see no need to give you my personal preference on how much time to spend in one place vs. another. That's only subjective anyway.

One place I would suggest is in the Ardeche region. (Languedoc). It would fit the rough route you plan on. The village of Aigueze which is now one of 'Les plus beaux villages de France' (not necessarily a good thing since it will no doubt increase it's popularity).

In the village, the Residence le Castelas is a unique choice to stay in. An apartment for a week might suit you. Their website is poor and the apartments a bit dated but the location and village itself makes up for it. http://www.residencelecastelas.com/Findx.htm

The major attraction in the area is of course the Ardeche Gorge itself and Vallon Pont d'Arc (aigueze is perched on the cliffs above the river). Kayaking or canoeing on the river is the major activity with daily rentals or trips of several nights possible. How adventurous are you?


OK, you don't have to do all of that.
Sojourntraveller is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,645
I wouldn't make such elaborate plans just due to assuming you will have some drop charge without even checking that out. I've never paid one in France to drop off in a different city than I got a car.

Lyon is a huge city, of course, one of the largest in France, so I wouldn't drive in it except to get in or out. Besides, the center has various pedestrian areas.

If you want some place east of the Rhone south of Lyon, you could stay some place in the Vaucluse or Drome, like Grignan or Nyons. I really like that area. YOu could still visit Provence on days trips from there, if you want.
Christina is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,826
I've never paid one in France to drop off in a different city than I got a car.

I have not either, but while looking at various rental options, I discovered that Hertz did have drop-off charges when renting in Bordeaux and dropping the car off in Limoges a few weeks later. I was looking for an in-town agency on the Autoeurope site and that's when I discovered that the in-town rental would charge a drop-off fee that would be almost double what the RR station/Airport fee is.
Michael is online now  
Feb 25th, 2015, 05:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 98
Thanks for all the input. I really do appreciate the help.

Since I started this thread my plans have changed considerably and the recommendation to take the train to Brive-la-Gaillard from Paris and return to Paris the same way but from the Languedoc is what we've decided to do. We will rent a car in Brive and keep it the entire trip.

After having read and absorbed all of the information from the generous posters, our tentative plan is to base out of Sarlat for 8 days and 2 days out of St Cere. As stated earlier, our preference is to stay in one place for longer periods and do day trips but I'm not sure that strategy is going to work on this trip due to the size of the Languedoc. First, I think I could shave a day off of the Sarlat end of the trip but due to the boat and canoe trips I think would be interesting I think that's about the extent of alteration at that location. But, I would like to hear some pro's ad con's if anyone cares to weigh in. .After leaving St Cere in route to the Languedoc, the Lot Valley and in particular, St Geniez, St Eulalie and Estaing seem just too temping to pass up. Could we cover these with an over night stay in one of the named towns?

Now comes the real challenge! If you had nine days to spend in the Languedoc, starting in St Cere and wanting to spend a day or two in the Lot Valley where would you go? Is Collioure too far to range ( girl friend loves the water/coast)? Is Carcassone a "must see"? Narbonne? St Guilhem Le Desert? The Canal du Midi? Albi? Cathar castles (which one)? Whatever inout you could give would be helpful.

Finally, we need to take a train, hopefully the TGV, back to Paris at the end of the trip. Where can I find information as to which towns/cities have TGV service? I'm guessing we'll end the trip in a coastal town Collioure or another.
prmbrown is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jul 31st, 2018 07:32 AM
Jul 29th, 2014 12:28 PM
Oct 7th, 2007 05:53 PM
Nov 7th, 2005 02:11 PM
Aug 25th, 2004 04:22 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:37 PM.