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A little help with our Dordogne itinerary

A little help with our Dordogne itinerary

Mar 10th, 2014, 06:07 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 515
A little help with our Dordogne itinerary

Hi everyone, I have been planning a trip for my family (2 grown ups + 2 boys ages 12 and 14) to visit France this summer, late July/ early August. We don't have that much time so we are spending 3 days in Paris and 7 days in Dordogne. We are flying in to CDG and renting a car at Montparnasse (close to our Paris hotel) to drive to Dordogne.

Current plan for Dordogne is to spend 2 nights at Les Glycines in Les Eyzies, seeing the caves and canoeing a bit, and then 4 nights at Auberge de La Salvetat for some biking through the countryside. We are more interested in having a fun, interesting, relaxing vacation, soaking up the culture and eating well, than in seeing every site there is to be seen.

I have ordered the green Michelin guide and have been reading Stu Dudley's helpful treatise. My two questions right now are:

1. What are the sites/towns in the Dordogne that will most captivate teenage boys (who are interested in history, architecture and food, but tire easily of museums)? The crazy summer crowds are a consideration too.

2. On our return, we have an 11 am flight from CDG. We could stay in an airport hotel. But is there some obvious stopping point en route from Dordogne an hour or two away from CDG where we could stay overnight and have a nice dinner?

Any other thoughts, tips and advice on our itinerary would be most appreciated! Thank you.
txtree is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 06:43 PM
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Here are some selected pics of the region that may help you decide on places to visit. I would be careful with your plan to stay somewhere outside of Paris before embarking on your 11:00 flight. Paris traffic, drop off car, etc might make it very uncomfortably close for you. I would suggest staying at the airport...plenty of choices.

You and the boys will have a fun, educational, memorable and scenic trip. It is hereby decreed!
tower is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 07:09 PM
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1. Canoe or kayak from La Roque Gageac? A falconry show at Les Milandes? The military museum in the castle at Castelnaud? La Roque St. Christophe?

2. I agree with stu -- unless you are fully prepared to risk having to pay for a missed flight, stay near CDG the night before a morning departure. OR put your time in Paris at the end of the trip.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 08:14 PM
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The Auberge is a lovely spot, and I'm sure they will have plenty of ideas for your boys. If you head south about half an hour, not far past Monpazier and Biron, there's a treetop adventure park called Parc en Ciel, which has different levels of difficulty, and can be quite challenging, even for adults. You can visit Chateau de Biron and beautiful bastide of Monpazier while you're there. If you go about 10km north to Le Buisson de Cadouin, there's the Grottes de Maxange, a great stalagmite/tite cave. And if you really want to splurge, you could book a hot air balloon flight along the Dordogne with Montgolfiere.
rosemaryoz is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 08:15 PM
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I would never rent a car in Paris and drive to the Dordogne. It's a long, boring drive with the sun in your face the whole way and 5 lanes of megatrucks on parts of the autoroute. Take the train to Brive, pick up a car there, and drive about an hour to the Sarlat area. Trust me, I've been doing this for 20+ years, several times a year.

I'm curious how you picked Les Glycines. The restaurant is excellent, but it's a pretty stuffy place, not one I'd pick for boys of those ages. But I guess it will be fine if they can sit still for long drawn-out dinners. I would have suggested Le Moulin de la Beune instead, if you wanted someplace classy with a nice restaurant (in a beautiful setting) where the atmosphere is more relaxed for kids those ages.

The Michelin Guide (and get Cadogan's Lazy Days Out in the Dordogne and Lot, too) will give you the low-down on all the sites, but for kids, apart from kayaking on the Dordogne and all the cave sights, there is La Roque-St-Christophe, Castel-Merle (if you can find it), the ropes course at St-Vincent-de-Cosse, Castelnaud of course to learn to sack a castle, the walnut mill in Ste-Nathalène, the falconry show in the afternoon at Les Milandes, and the trail from St-Léon-sur-Vézère that takes you up into the cliffs where you can "discover" the "Green Door" entrance to a prehistoric site never claimed as an historic monument. And the markets of course. There's also lots of horseback riding if that appeals, and swimming in the rivers and nearby lakes and of course the municipal swimming pools.

It will be packed in late July and August - be prepared for that.

It's suicidal to do anything but stay in Paris or near the airport the night before your departure. The smartest strategy is to go immediately to your farthest destination (the Dordogne in this case) upon arrival, because you're a basket case anyway,so why not continue? and pack your days in Paris into the last few days of your trip. But, trust me, never plan to go to CDG on a train or car from somewhere any farther than a taxi ride from Paris on the day you are leaving to go home.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 09:39 PM
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Drive from Paris only if you intend to visit places on the way down, such as a chateau or two in the Loire valley. Otherwise buy your tickets three months in advance to go to Brive-la-Gaillarde and pick up the car there.
Michael is online now  
Mar 11th, 2014, 02:10 AM
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I highly recommend you visit Chateau de Commarque, a ruined/restored site in an isolated setting. I love this and I think teenage boys will really enjoy exploring the ruins.

And the canoeing is a lot of fun too, though the river will get very crowded at that time of year. I'd go first thing in the morning.

KathyWood is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 03:46 AM
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There are plenty of castles in the area - all my kids loved castles at that age (and in their 20s still do). Beynac, Castlenaud, Biron, and especially Bonaguil.

I agree with the advice to go to the Dorgogne first and then you won't have the problem with where to stay the night before your flight home as you will already be in Paris. Also, we took the train to Brieve and rented the car there as suggested and it was very easy. Staying in Sarlat might be more interesting for your sons as there would be places to explore in the evenings (lots of medieval back streets).

Here are my photos from our trip last June - http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/france_-_dordogne
isabel is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 04:29 AM
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Sarlat is an amazing town in the Dordogne, as well as Beynac. You could also take a little side trip to the Laungeagoc region and see the amazing town of Carcassone and Albi.
brendonb29 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 05:10 AM
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With one week in the Dordogne, the OP will not have time to take side trips into the Languedoc (sp) There's too much to see here in one week - we always recommend people take at least 2 weeks.

Another vote for a train trip from Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) to Brive, pick up a car and drive into the Dordogne.

Getting back to Paris, we have in the past stayed in Fontainbleau, or even nicer, in Barbizon, but you would have to get up VERY early to get into Roissy for a plane at 11. Better to be on site.
Carlux is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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You all are awesome - thank you so much for your excellent thoughts and suggestions.

Will reconsider Les Glycines, although I selected it over Moulin de la Beaune (which does look much more charming) because it has a swimming pool which I fear might be critical for our sanity (and I didn't see a municipal pool in Les Eyzies). We decided not to stay in or near Sarlat since I hear it is just a mad house in July/Aug.

It is true that flipping Dordogne and Paris would improve the convenience factor, but I much prefer to do city touring followed by relaxing countryside rather than the other way round.

Ok, ok, ok - we will take the train to Brive!! Do we drive back to CDG or take the return train?
txtree is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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Train both ways.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 06:39 AM
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Don't forget that for an 11 AM flight you need to be in line at the airport at 8 AM. Not faffing about trying to find the rental car return lot but in line. So trying to drive the morning of the flight is playing with fire...
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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Ok, we will train both ways. We will not, however, under any circumstances, arrive at the airport three hours in advance of our flight.
txtree is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:17 AM
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>>We will not, however, under any circumstances, arrive at the airport three hours in advance of our flight. <<

OK - 3 1/2 hrs is better.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:25 AM
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I would take the train back to Paris, taxi from the Gare d'Austerlitz to the Gare de Lyon (short - you could also walk), and stay at the Terminus Hotel. Have your last dinner at the eye-popping Train Bleu at the Gare - which I consider to be a "must see".

Next morning, arrange with the Terminus to have a taxi pick you up at 7:15 & take you to the airport.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:26 AM
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Last fall I made it to FCO from Montalcino 45 minutes before my flight (construction!). I somehow managed to drop off my rental (in another terminal!) and still make my flight in plenty of time (I even got a cappuccino before boarding). Although that was a little close for comfort, even for me, you all would probably put me in the suicidal category.
txtree is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:28 AM
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Train Bleu looks fabulous - but sadly it will be closed this summer.
txtree is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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Have you flown out of CDG before??? I would highly recommend getting there in plenty of time and not comparing it to your experience at FCO...
jamikins is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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Don't worry - I have flown in and out of CDG with some frequency and we will give ourselves ample time.
txtree is offline  

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