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

3 weeks by car to Dordogne and Pyrenees regions

3 weeks by car to Dordogne and Pyrenees regions

Apr 7th, 2012, 05:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
3 weeks by car to Dordogne and Pyrenees regions

Hello, I am a new member from Boston, Massachusetts ,and I will be very greafull for any help you can give me with my planning our next trip to France. In the past we toured different parts of France by car and loved every minute of it.

In mid September my husband and I will tour by car the Dordogne and Pyrenees regions of France for 3 weeks. We have difficulty determining which towns should we use as our hubs for our day trips ,and how many days we should spend in each. We would also appreciate suggestions regarding picturesque routes and the best towns to visit. We have done some research, but are a little overwhelmed with the miriad of info available! We are "slow travelers" and like to base ourselves in just a few places.

Our main interests are scenery, food, wine, and culture, local color, markets, architecture.

Thank you very much,

suesasdi is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 06:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
Take a look at the Pyrenees Guide (pyreneesguide.com/) to get a better understanding of the different areas. We typically stay in Val d'Aran, but you might enjoy the wine region around Jurançon, just south of Pau.
Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 6,138
Welcome Sue. You are going to love the Fodors community and especially the Fodorites who post on the France board. It's very active and will answer all questions.

We also have toured in France always starting in Paris. OMG, who can ever get enough of Paris. This Sept. We will be in the Dordogne for a week from 9/14 to 9/21. It's the only part of the trip booked thus far and only so because it seems to be the "hot spot" for this fall. Here's the apt. we have rented in Sarlat.


I have read so many posts about the Dordogne in Sept. that I'm wondering if anyone is setting up a GTG?

Have fun in your planning. Fodors is just the best info around.
TPAYT is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,680
Time to invest in a guidebook. The Michelin Green Guide for France would cover all of the area. Otherwise you would need three guides: one which would cover the Dordogne, another to cover the central and eastern Pyrenees, and a third one to cover the Basque country (western Pyrenees).
Michael is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 05:14 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,343
Start you consideration of places to stay with Sarlat - the centre of the Dordognian universe.
Aramis is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,845
My wife & I have vacationed for 10 weeks in the Dordogne and I've developed an itinerary (that I've sent to hundreds of people on Fodors) that describes our favorite cities, markets, restaurants, scenic drives, caves, castles, etc. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail.

We've also spend 2 weeks in the Pays Basque region of the Pyrenees. We'll be in the Pyrenees again this coming June/July for 5 more weeks. If you can wait until July, I'll have some ideas for the Pyrenees portion of your trip.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,845
I just remembered that I put together a rough itinerary for friends who were visiting the Pyrenees/Pays Basque area the year after we visited it. Here it is:

France – Pays Basque

Maps & Books needed
Michelin Map #342 – Haute Pyrenees, Pyrenees Atlantiques
Michelin Green Guide to the Atlantic Coast

The page numbers & stars in the following text refers to the pages and star ratings given by the Michelin Guide.

Trip 1 – Pays Basque - do this on a clear sunny day, and get to La Rhune rack railway as early in the morning as possible so the sun will not be in your face for the view of Bayonne, Biarritz, & St Jean de Luz. Don’t do this on a Sun or Mon morning when shops close.
le Labourd* pg 235 Route #1
start at Arcangues (save Bayonne for later)
St Pee
La Rhune – rack railway – plan on 2 ½ hrs – 45 mins up, & 1 hr on top.
Ainhoa* – one of The Most Beautiful Villages of France (TMBVoF) a classification given by a French association

Trip 2 – Pyrenees
La Haute Soule** pg 393
Southern route. From St Jean Pd d Port, take the very pretty D18 southeast over the col Bagargui. Continue on the D19 then the D26. When the D26 hits the D113, take the D113 southeast of you want to visit the Gorges de Kakouette** (walk). If you do not want to visit the Gorges, continue on the D26 towards Tardets-Sorholus. When the D26 hits the D918 before Tardets, take the D918 east until it ends at the N134. Take the N134 south.
Gave de Aspe* pg 110.
Aspun* panorama**
Col du Somport**
at the Col du Somport, retrace your route and head on the N134 north towards Sarrance. Just before Surrance, take the D241 west and then north until it hits the D918. Take the D918 west and then the pretty D117 west back to St Jean.
Haute Soule** pg 394

Trip 3 – deep into the Pyrenees, following the route of the Tour de France
Start early in the morning. Take the D8 east of Osses, and then the D22 north through Hasparren, and then the D21 north to the A64. Take the A64 east towards Pau. Past Pau, take exsit #11 to Lourdes. From here, the route is described starting on pg 122. Navigate around Lourdes and get on the D937 east & D935 south to Bagneres de Biggore. Continue on the D935 past Campan (notice the “figures” in various places in Campan). Continue on the D935 until you get to the small village of Ste Marie de Campan – it should take you 2 ½ hrs to get this far. Take the D918 southeast to the Col d’Aspin***. Retrace you route on the D918 back to Ste Marie and then southwest on the D918 to the Col du Tourmalet**. This route is the most famous route the Tour de France takes through the Pyrenees – you will see lots of bike riders along the way, and a statue on top of the Col de Tourmalet. Continue west on the D918 to Luz St Sauver. Take the D921 through the Gorge de Luz towards Argeles-Gazost.. From Argeles, you can either head back to Lourdes and then back to the Gite, or continue through the Pyrenees on the next trip (Trip #4). However, do not do the latter if you plan on taking the 4 hour gondola and mountain railway ride to La Sagette – highly recommended, see page 304

Trip 4 – deep into the Pyrenees, and a fantastic train trip.
Take the A64 to Lourdes like you did on trip 3. This time, from Lourdes, take the N21 south to Argeles Gazost, and then the D918 west. This is another of the famous Tour de France routes, and is described on pg 116 (in reverse). Go over the Col de l’Aubisque***. When you get to Laruns, turn left (south), and take the D934. This is described on pg 303. When you get to the D431, take it north to the Gondola starting place. Take the Gondola, and then the very scenic train to La Sagette – the most scenic views are from the left side of the train going up. At the termination of the train trip, you have the option of walking to Lac d’Ayous, but we did not take this trek – most people on the train did not either. This entire gondola/train trip will probably consume 3-4 hours, but it is well worth it.

After the La Sagette trip, return north on the D934 to Laruns, and continue north through Laruns. When the D934 hits the D294, take the very scenic D294 west to Escot, and then the D238 north to Oloron Ste Marie*. We visited Oloron, but did not find it very interesting. Trace the following route on Pg 393 (in reverse). Take the D936 northwest and then the D25 west to Mauleon. Since you have already driven on the D117 route on Trip 2, from Mauleon, take the D918 west, and then the D933 southwest back to St Jean Pied de Port.

Trip 5 – Coastal towns
Bayonne** – this was perhaps our favorite coastal town
Biarritz – lots of “Grande Dame” hotels & mansions. Take lots of walks around the coastal points, Rocher de la Vierge* & along La Perspective (view**)
St Jean de Luz** – nice resort town with plenty of shops
Corniche Basque** pg 379

Small villages close by that are worth a visit
St Etienne de Baigorry, and then west on the D949 to the col d’Ispeguy
St Jean Pied de Port**
Sauveterre de Bearn*
Salies de Bearn

Sites close to the Gite worth visiting
Grottes Isturitz et d’Oxocelhaya**
Chateau de Laas pg 393. Near Sauveterre

We visited Pau, but did not think that much of it.
We visited Cambo, but I don’t remember much about it – must not have been that exciting..

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
Robert2533 -Thank you for the info. on the Pyrenees.--Sue
suesasdi is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
TPAYT -Thank you for the info. on visiting Dordogne.--Sue
suesasdi is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
Michael--Thank you for the guidebook info. on visiting Dordogne and the Pyrenees area.--Sue
suesasdi is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
Aramis on Apr 8, 12 at 9:14am

Thank you for your suggestion to start with Sarlat.--Sue
suesasdi is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
StuDudley on Apr 8, 12 at 10:25am

Thank you so much for e-mailing the terrific Itinerary for the Dordogne and the suggested various trips in the Pyrenees. You are amazing , and a treasure trove of wonderful travel information. Thank you for sharing it with us.----Sue
suesasdi is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 17
StuDudley on Apr 8, 12 at 10:25am

I would love to have your thoughts when you have your plans together for the Pereneese
trip this summer. Thanks--Sue
suesasdi is offline  

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 02:49 AM.