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Advice on Itinerary & Hotels in Paris, Dordogne, and Provence

Advice on Itinerary & Hotels in Paris, Dordogne, and Provence

Feb 16th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 7
Advice on Itinerary & Hotels in Paris, Dordogne, and Provence

Although I've yet to post, I've been scouring this site way too much the past week (I think my wife thinks I'm in personal chat rooms). Everyone here gives such fantastic advice and seems so willing to help. I love the culture on this board.

I'm trying to plan the perfect trip to France and came up with the following itinerary. I would really appreciate some feedback on the number of days in each city and the hotels I selected. If anyone has additional hotels to recommend I would really appreciate it. Most of the hotels were selected from suggestions on this board... Some information about me:

1. Married -- 32 years old
2. My wife and I are going for our 5-year anniversary (leaving the baby at home although one is also cooking in the oven!) and looking for some R&R. It's all about charming villages and good food!
3. Although we'll be renting a car throughout the Dordogne and Provence, we usually like staying "in town" (well, at least we did in Italy). There is just something about that late night walk in the heart of a small village when no one is around, perhaps kicking back with a bottle of wine.
4. I know I picked some hotels right outside of town, so if anyone knows charming hotels "in the villages" I'd love to hear about them.
5. On average, we don't mind spending around $150 (dollars) per night for lodging. Give or take for the right place is fine.

Overall, I'm also really wondering whether it makes sense to move around this much or whether it would be better to just spend 5 nights in Sarlat and 5 nights in St. Remy.

4-May Paris Hotel Henry IV Rive Gauce
5-May Paris Hotel Henry IV Rive Gauce
6-May Paris Hotel Henry IV Rive Gauce
7-May Sarlat Hôtel de la Madeleine
8-May Sarlat Hôtel de la Madeleine
9-May Sarlat Hôtel de la Madeleine
10-May Rocamadour Domaine de la Rhue
11-May Rocamadour Domaine de la Rhue
12-May St. Remy Le Mas Des Carassins
13-May St. Remy Le Mas Des Carassins
14-May St. Remy Le Mas Des Carassins
15-May Gordes Hotel Mas Romanis
16-May Gordes Hotel Mas Romanis
17-May Dijon Hotel le Jacquemart
18-May Paris None - flying out of CDG

Bassman is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 06:20 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 217

I'm not the most experienced traveler on this board by a long shot, so I'll leave the issue about the number of nights in each place to others, but the one question that did come to mind is when your flight leaves from CDG? If it is in the morning, it may be more advisable to stay in Paris rather than the night before.
g33kgrl is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 06:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi B,

Looks like a nice visit.

Rocamadour is 1 hr from Sarlat. Why bother changing hotels?

Ditto for St Remy and Gordes.

How are you getting to Sarlat from Paris?

I make it a rule to stay in the departure town the night before the plane leaves.

You don't know what might happen on the way from Dijon to CDG, no matter what your form of transportation.

ira is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 09:01 AM
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Posts: 15,064
I think that's a very good itinerary. The only thing I might do diffrent would be to stay somewhere on the Dordogne river close to St Cere instead of Rocamadour. Rocamadour is kinda isolated, and the town really will not take that long to visit (2-3 hrs) & it's also a little too touristy for my tastes. I think there is a lot more to do & see around the St Cere area closer to the Dordogne river - Padirac, Autoire, Loubressac, Chateau Castelnau, Beaulieu sur Dordogne, Carennac (one of my favorites), Martel, Chateau Montel and even a little north of there to Collonges, Meyssac (another red town), and Turenne.

I would visit Rocamadour & Padirac on the way to this region from Sarlat - we got an early start from the Domme area & did both (slowly) before the lunch closing at Padirac (got to Rocamadour by 9). I might also stay in the St Cere region for only 1 night - 2 1/2 days in the Sarlat area is not really enough.

I would stay half in St Remy & half in the Luberon, like you planned. I think the Luberon is much prettier than the area around St Remy, but if you like staying in towns, then St Remy would be a good choice & it's close to other things you might want to see.

As I've probably told you, there is an 6:30am TGV from Dijon directly to the CDG airport that gets there at 8:20am. I've done this once, and will do it again in Sept. I have also stayed the last night in Beaune, and taken the local train (very early in the am) to connect with the 6:30am TGV out of Dijon to get to CDG. I have also stayed the last night in Chambery & taken the local train to Lyon, where I connected with the TGV to CDG - this was for a flight later in the day.

I think staying in Dijon would be more exciting than staying the last night in an airport hotel, and probably the TGV from Dijon is just as reliable as a Taxi from downtown Paris (Taxi was 30 mins late picking us up last June, & friends were there during a road blockade that prevented Taxis from getting to CDG)

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 17th, 2006, 10:06 AM
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I agree with the other Stu's assessment above. The so-called Circle of Autoire, Loubressac, Castelnaud and Carennac is exceptional...good hiking possibilities in each town. The Dordogne flowing through Carennac is at its most tranquil and charming.Photo ops at every bend. The "big hole" at Padirac is a mind blower (be sure to have sweater with you as it gets very chilly down below!)....I always tout the Domaine de la Rhue as a base...the establishment is delightful, pool, restored stables have been made into exceptionally large, colorful, bright rooms, and the Joorhis's are wonderful young hosts. The hiking trail through the woods to Rocamadour is a 40 minute walk...and just stay out of Roc until after 4 pm to avoid the tourist hordes. I have visited Sarlat on Saturday's market day, Domme, Beynac, La Roque Gageac on day trips from the Domaine, taking the easier drive through Martel and Souillac (see Michelin). Then on another day you can do the "circle " described above. Have fun...enjoy!
Stu T.
tower is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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Just a small remark, since I'm unfamiliar with Dordogne or Provence:
Hotel le Jacquemart is beautifully situated in Dijon, right in the middle of the old town. Wonderful architecture nearby. Enjoy.
Keren is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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Thanks for all your advice. I really appreciate it. Our flight doesn't leave CDG 1PM, so I think staying in Dijon the night before is pretty safe (and it will give us a chance to explore one more area).

Some more questions if you don't mind:

1. If we do 4 days in Sarlat and 1 in St. Cere, would that be enough time in the St. Cere area? I imagine we'll leave Sarlat in the late morning and visit 2-3 towns before settling into St. Cere for the one night.

2. How long is the drive from St. Cere to St. Remy?

3. Any charming hotel ideas for the St. Cere area?

Although the Domaine de la Rhue got great reviews, we would only stay there if we wanted to stay near Rocamadour, right?

Any other suggestions on our other hotel selections in the other towns?

Bassman is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 04:06 PM
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One more thing I should have mentioned: I currently don't have any rental car plans and would love some advice. I somehow need to get from Paris to Sarlat (I'm assuming that we'll take the train down and then I can pick up a car IN or near Sarlat?). On the return, I was assuming that we would drive from Gordes to Dijon to drop off the car there (and then take the train the following morning back to CDG).
Bassman is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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Note that the only direct train from Dijon to CDG gets you there at 8:20am. All the others go into Paris, where you make a station change (taxi), to get to the train that goes to CDG. I would not advise this.

For the St Cere thing, I would leave Sarlat early in the morning to get to Rocamadour before the hoards arrive. Then try to get to Padirac before the lunch closing. After Padirac, head to St Cere, but first stop at Autoire & Loubressac for a walk around these cute towns. There are some nece vies to the castle at Castelnau. We stayed at Coq Arlequin in St Cere. It's right in town, and St Cere is a nice town to wander about in. We dined at the Michelin 1 star les Tois Soleils de Montal, which is outside of town and is also a nice hote - but I think you indicated that you wanted to stay in a town so you could walk around after dinner, etc.

In the afternoon, bisit Ch Montal if you like, but don't miss Ch Castelhau. Drive west on the Dordogne & visit Carennac and Martel. Drive back to St Cere in the late afternoon with the sun at your back for the best views.

Next morning, head north on the D940 to Beauleau sur Dordogne for a visit. Then head to Collonges la Rouge (visit), and also Yurenne . Se the Dordogne itineraryI sent you for more info on these places. Stop in Meyssac also if you have the time. After Turrene, get on the freeway at exit #53 and head to Provence. Hitting this freeway after noon will force you to not drive to Provence with the sun in your face.

See www.mappy.com for estimated time to Provence.

I hardly ever let a hotel - no matter how charming - dictate where I will base myself.

We have been using AutoEurope for 25 years now to rent cars. Se my itinerary.

I would take the TGV to Libourne, pick up a car there, and drive to Sarlat.

After Provence, drop the car at the Avignon TGV station & take the TGV to Dijon. We stay at the Jura in Dijon which is 50 yds from the train station.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is online now  
Feb 18th, 2006, 03:48 AM
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Hi B,

I also recommend taking the TGV to Libourne and driving from there.

www.autoeurope.com has an office directly opposite the train station.

You might want to drive through St. Emilion on the way to Sarlat.

ira is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 07:15 AM
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As far as I know, AutoEurope only has an office in Portland, Maine. You probably ment EuropCar has an office there, and you rented your car from them through AutoEurope.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is online now  
Feb 18th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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OK Stu,

one point for you.

ira is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 08:37 AM
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You will enjoy the view from the courtyard terrace of your hotel in Gordes. The lilacs may be in bloom when you go, too. It's not the most luxurious of hotels, but the people are nice and the food is good. We also stayed in St. Remy. Even though they weren't a days drive apart there was plenty to do in both areas. Be sure to see Senanque Abbey--the road to it continues on past your hotel in Gordes.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 11:01 AM
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Thanks again for all your replies. As with all well planned itineraries there are bound to be curveballs thrown!

Most of the hotels I selected are not available and many of my 2nd choices aren't available either. So, back to the drawing board for many of those hotels.

Stu, I check autoeurope but unfortunatley no cars are available in Libourne for my date of arrival. I'll look into other rental car companies just in case, but what our my other options for the city as a pick-up point.

Bassman is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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Bassman, when are you going? I am asking because I am also planning a trip to this area and need to rent a car; am wondering how far in advance to reserve. Stu has been most helpful as usual. Keep us posted as to your final plans, please.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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One more thing: When we visited Rocamdour two years ago in early May, the place was so teeming with tourists that it kind of spoiled the whole experience. I don't think you ought to stay there overnight. Of course, having spent no more than 4-5 days in the region, I am hardly an expert so that is just my two cents to take for what it is worth.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 02:04 PM
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Did you call AutoEurope or did you use their web site for all your inquiries? I always call. This year I'm picking up a car in Orvieto, Italy, although Orvieto is not even listed as a possible pick-up location on their web site. Some rental offices were opening & closing in Orvieto and I guess AutoEurope did not list it as a possible pick up point, to avoid confusion. When I called them, they did some checking and reserved me a Hertz car that I'll drop off in La Spezia.

Other possible car pick-up places would be Bordeaux, Anglouleme, and Perigueux. I think all have direct TGV trains from Paris - but check the schedules to see which one fits your itinerary. Perigueux is the closest to Sarlat, and is actually an excellent town to visit (one of my favorites). The train station, however, is not that close to the old town. You would have to stash your bags in the trunk, leave the car in the rental company's parking lot, walk 20 mins to old town, and visit Perigueux.

I did not think much of Angouleme when we visited it this past Sept.

I suspect Libourne does have cars available - call AutoEurope.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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As a regular renter with Auto Europe can you tell me if it's necessary to get additional insurance even if you book with a gold card that covers you? In some places around the world I've gotten the additional insurance simply because I've heard of corrupt employees at pick-up drop-off sites. Is this a concern in France? Or will we be okay with the insurance the CC provides? Thanks for your advice!
jengoestofrance is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:10 AM
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You don't need additional insurance. Your CC insurance is sometimes better than what you can get from the rental company (less deductable). I have never encountered any activities by "currupt" employees in France, and I have not read about any on this or any other forum. If there is a corrupt employee out there, I don't know what he/she would do differently if you had insurance provided by AutoEurope, or the rental company (Avis, Hertz, etc) or from your CC company.

This is ironic - I read your post while I was on hold with AutoEurope about a "matter" (see next paragraph). I read them your question, and the AutoEurope persin said "nope - you don't need any insurance except the CC insurance".

AutoEurope matter. I booked two cars with them on Jan 30. I called them about a 1 car upgrade "special" they were offering. For the car I wanted, the upgrade was not available. However, they voluntarily said that their rates had come down, and they re-did the two rentals at a much lower rate. My Jan 30 rate even included a 15% discount that they were offering at the time.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:44 AM
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About insurance: I've learned not to rely on credit-card insurance since the one time we had a minor accident when someone clipped the driver's mirror. It took 8 months to get things settled, and meanwhile the charge stayed on our card. Since then we always buy travel insurance that includes complete rental-car coverage.
Underhill is offline  

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