Base for the Dordogne

Old Aug 21st, 2004, 12:00 AM
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Base for the Dordogne

We plan on spending 3-4 days in the Dordogne on our next trip. We'll be fitting it in on a Paris-Rome (or Rome-Paris) trip overall. If Paris-Rome we had thought we would drive down via Montresor, Angles-sur-l'Anglin, Mortemart, Brantome etc, but saw on a recent thread that it'd be quicker to get the TGV to Bordeaux or slow train to Perigueux, and pick up car at one of those places.
After Dordogne we'd go on to Cahors and/or Figeac (which is best for overnight?) then Najac, St Antonin-Noble-Val,Penne, maybe Castenau-de-Montmiral and Cordes, before heading across through Gorges-du-Tarn and provence to Italy.
What is best base for the Dordogne section? We had thought of Sarlat, but are there better ones? From it we'd be covering Lascaux, Font-de-Gaume, Le Bugue, Cadouin, Paunat, La Roque-Gageac, Beynac, Castelnaud, Domme, Rocamadour, Carennac, Martel and Collonges-la-Rouge on 2-3 separate daytrips. Is that feasible? (Some, like Collonge-la-Rouge look a bit inaccessible and out-of-the-way).
Saw a recommendation for Les Granges Haut B&B at St Crepin-et-Carlucet just north of sarlat. Sounds lovely and away-from-it-all. But would this away-from-everywhere quality count against it making a good base for exploring the region? (No towns, shopping, restaurants etc).



My question:
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 03:43 AM
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These are all interesting places to visit, but with the time you have available, it is a very ambitious plan. I don't think you would be able to do justice to them. Our recent two weeks in the Dordogne left us with many things yet unseen, saved for another visit. In fact, except for one night in Brantôme, we never ventured farther than a 30km radius from our base in La Rocque-Gageac.

As somone on another thread remarked, the Dordogne is not a place to simply "tick off" the sights. On the other hand, you may be quite comfortable with packing in as many things as you can in a day.

Having said that, I think that Domme would be a good place to base yourself for your stay. If you haven't done so, read Ger's account of a long weekend in the Dordogne and her stay at l'Esplanade, a nice hotel with a fine restaurant and stunning view of the valley. It will also give you a sense of what you might be able to accomplish comfortably in a few days.

The suggestion of taking the train to Périgueux is a good one. It will leave you better rested for your whirlwind tour of the Dordogne.

I can't advise on Cahors or Figeac, as these were a couple of places that we had to leave for next time, but there have been many recommendations from Fodorites for Figeac as a great place to stay.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 03:44 AM
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ira
 
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Hi two,

I am currently planning Dordogne motor trip.

I believe that St Cirq prefers to take the train from Paris to her place in the Dordogne.

I think that you can get to Sarlat in about 5 1/2 hr by train (one change).
See http://www.voyages-sncf.com/

>we'd be covering Lascaux, Font-de-Gaume, Le Bugue, Cadouin, Paunat, La Roque-Gageac, Beynac, Castelnaud, Domme, Rocamadour, Carennac, Martel and Collonges-la-Rouge on 2-3 separate daytrips. <

I think that this is doable in 3 trips.
Have you looked at www.mappy.com or www.viamichelin.com?

Any reason for leaving out Lascaux II?
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 03:53 AM
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I agree that a base near Domme/Cénac, Beynac, La Roque-Gageac or Castelnaud would be good. Sarlat can get pretty congested and the traffic can be a little off-putting. Out in the valley you'd have your choice of markets (Sunday in St. Cyprien or Saturday in Sarlat), and easy access to Sarlat when you want to go there.

I think, for the places you're wanting to visit, staying south or southwest of Sarlat gives you better flexibility than staying north or northeast.

What time of year were you going to be there?
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 05:51 AM
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Paris - TGV to Libourne, just north east of Bordeaux .... took 3 hours, booked ticket via internet in advance for 25 euro per person. Hired car at rental office opposite Libourne station, booked in advance via Hertz.com. Filled the car with groceries then drove to our base for the next 5 days ... a beautiful Gite 'Le Pigeonnier' - in the middle of nowhere ! between the villages Monpazier, Villereal and Monflanquin. was wonderful. beautiful views to Chateau Biron. closest village was 15 minutes drive away ... this presented no problem, in fact outings for meals gave us a reason to leave our relaxing hideaway. We planned our days exploring around meal time, bearing in mind lunch is usually over by 2-3pm and dinner not available before 6pm. At our leisurely pace we only managed the villages in our immediate area over 5 days. We chose relaxation and Sarlat was a lovely city, but we were happy we chose not to stay there, very busy, touristy, smaller villages offered much better value and atmosphere.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 06:56 AM
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ira
 
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Hi two,

In my searching I have winnowed my selections to

Le Relais des Cinq Chateaux in Vezac Hotel Plaisance in Vitrac
Bonnet Hotel in Beynac-et-Cazenac

You might want to look them up.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 07:33 AM
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we took the TGV to libourne, Just outside Bordeaux ( avoid Bordeax traffic). We rented a car from Hertz(across the street from train station)and drove to sarlat/beynac/cenac area. We rented a house in cenac, but they also had a B&B -La Gueriniere- would recommend it. 1 Km. outside Cenac. Sarlat is the largest town in the area. We were there every day for various reasons, shopping, lunch etc. It is an easy 5-10 minute drive.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 08:45 AM
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There are several factors in choosing the rental location for a car. StCirq prefers to take the train to the Dordogne, I prefer to drive simply because I still have things to see on the way down (or up). If the traveler has been to the Loire only once, s/he might want to see another part of the Loire; or perhaps stop in Poitiers or St. Savin for the Romanesque architecture; or visit Oradour-sur-Glane. The center of France between the Loire and the Dordogne is not a big blank.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 08:51 AM
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Twoflower, please tell us what time of year you will be traveling.

We stayed at Les Granges Haute for two nights and it was truly our favorite accommodation on a two week France trip where we covered a lot of ground and so changed hotels very frequently. We also stayed two nights in Vitrac so that we would be further south of Sarlat.

This worked out well for us. We pack light and don't mind changing hotels every couple of days. That way we can be in more towns at night and early in the morning after the other tourists have left, experience more, varied hotels/B&Bs and don't have to backtrack to sightsee.

For now, we have a great deal of fun traveling this way. In the future, we will know where we want to return to spend a couple weeks in one place. Dordorgne will certainly be a top candidate!
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 06:01 PM
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topping for twoflower.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 06:38 PM
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Thanks for all those very helpful replies. Please ignore another thread called "Dodogne Base". I couldn't find this thread so posted my question again! As you can see, I have now found it.

We will be travelling either April or September - final decision depends on when I can get time off work.

What we're looking for isn't so much where the best accommodations are. All we require is somewhere clean, comfortable and friendly to come back to at night after a day's sightsseing, and I'm sure there are many fitting that description. And we prefer to dine away from our accommodation (except breakfast of course) as we see and experience more that way. So in deciding on a base we are looking for somewhere with a variety of good evening dining, somewhere handy and central to the places we want to trip to, somewhere not too frustrating to driver in and out of, somewhere good for evening walking, and somewhere enjoyable to spend time shopping etc when we want a break from day-tripping.

Sounds a lot, doesn't it? But your replies are all excellent and it looks like we will have no trouble finding a suitable base.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 06:57 PM
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I'd earlier suggested Domme as a base, but given your requirements, I think that Sarlat would be ideal. I don't think that traffic congestion getting in and out of town should be a problem in either April or September. From our experiences, it would be manageable in June, but I understand that July and August are a different story.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 09:52 PM
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Hi, twoflower,

We were in the Dordogne region in September 2002. We used Vitrac (6km from Sarlat) as a base. Was close enough to go into Sarlat at will for dining, but removed enough so as not to be amongst the tourists all the time. It also provided easy access to Beynac and Domme (close by -- great for a visit, but fairly difficult driving at night might make it less desirable as a base), and sights further a field, like the Font du Gaume caves and Rocamadour.

The hotel we stayed in in Vitrac was Domaine de Rochebois (see www.slh.com).

Have a great trip.

John H.

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Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 06:02 AM
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Twoflower:

As laverendrye mentioned, I have a trip report on this site from visit in Spring this year. Sarlat is a lovely town, but a busy town nonetheless. I prefer smaller towns and villages and was deilighted with my choice of Domme. It is a lovely little town and perferctly located to explore the pleaces you have mentioned.

regards ...Ger
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Old Aug 30th, 2004, 02:10 PM
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Ira.

I'm interested in the consideration you are giving to Les Relais des Cinq Chateaux at Vitrac. We went past it last year. It looks very attractive from the road. The Green Guide entry is more ambiguous. "A few rooms with modern amenities"! What does that mean? It has a few rooms but they have modern amenities or, it has rooms, a few of which have modern amenities?

Have you stayed there before? If not, if you get there, I would be very interested to know what its like. I'm planning a trip to the Dordogne next May and am thinking of it as possible option.

Have you any thoughts about fly/drive from Bergerac? Are there any flights from the UK into Brive?
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