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Best town in French countryside with a toddler?

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Jan 18th, 2009, 11:48 AM
  #1
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Best town in French countryside with a toddler?

Anyone have thoughts on what would be the best town for a couple with a toddler (18 mo. by that time) in the French countryside? DH and I are looking for a relaxed town with lots of good areas for walking (preferably where we could push a stroller) to rent an apartment or house for a week or so. Good shopping, markets and casual dining would be pluses. I have been to Paris, Champagne area and Amboise, but nothing further south. Any suggestions are much appreciated!
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Jan 19th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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Just to throw this out, Martel.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/9op7mh

Set on a plateau a short drive from the Dordogne, it has a variety of good restaurants and seems not to be inundated by tourists yet have a lot of the kind of beauty you see in Sarlat.

We stayed at La Tuilerie, a B&B in Gluges,

http://preview.tinyurl.com/7lvbzg

a short drive away in the valley, and we loved it. My husband was enchanged by Gluges, but I'd go by the minimum-two-bakery-town rule if staying longer than a day, for the sake of strolling.
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Jan 19th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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Though Sarlat is very beautiful and would be good, too, of course.
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Jan 19th, 2009, 11:20 AM
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Sarlat has become the #2 tourist destination in France after Mont Saint Michel -- excluding the big 3 of the Paris metropolitan area (Paris-Disneyland-Versailles).
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Jan 19th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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Really! There goes the neighborhood.

Not really "in the countryside"-- because a fishing town on the edge of the Mediterranean -- but also not touristic: Sete.

I hope others will chime in for my future ref also. Your requirements are very close to mine, minus now the stroller.
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Jan 19th, 2009, 01:53 PM
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Thanks! Martel looks interesting and I definitely agree with the at least two bakery rule! Do you think it has enough to keep us occupied? Are there shops/restaurants and a market that you can walk to?
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Jan 19th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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"best town in France" is a very hard bill to fill, there being tens of thousands of them, and a ton that are well worth visiting.

Ah, Martel - la ville de sept tours! Yes, it's interesting enough, a "real" slice of life in those parts, and close to Collonges-la-Rouge and the Gouffre de Padirac and not too far from Rocamadour....but eh, it's a bit boring, IMO (though boring with a small child isn't always a bad thing).

If that part of France intrigues you, as it should, I'd check out St-Cyprien or Le Bugue, or Gourdon. Or farther away, Figéac. Or Millau. Or Bayonne or St-Jean-de-Luz. Or, in Provence, St-Rémy or somewhere in the Lubéron, or....actually, this is a bit ridiculous...Martel is perfect.
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Jan 19th, 2009, 03:26 PM
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You might find this website helpful looking for markets, and of course similar ones for other areas of the country:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/nn5x9

Martel mkt days, for instance, are Wed and Sat per this site.
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Jan 19th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Not to push Martel too hard, since St.Cirq's list also looks irresistible, but as far as keeping occupied there is a museum and some antiques type shopping. Towns with plenty to do tend to be larger or more touristic, of course.

Day trips within an hr drive:
Rocamadour.
Gouffre de Padirac
Lacave caves
Collonges la Rouge.
Curemonte
Brive la Gaillarde.
Sarlat
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Jan 19th, 2009, 06:40 PM
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Thanks StCirq, I will investigate your suggestions as well. I know "best town" is difficult and impossibly subjective, I'm just looking for folks .02 on it

Yes, stokebaily, that is usually the trade-off, nice and peaceful rarely = lots to do.
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Jan 19th, 2009, 07:58 PM
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stokebailey: tell me about Curemonte, please! I don't know it (and am already ashamed to say so).
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Jan 19th, 2009, 08:26 PM
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Hi, St.Cirq. Curemonte is one of the plus beaux villages,

http://preview.tinyurl.com/9udpfs

http://www.correzegites.net/

Medieval and beautiful. But there are tons like that as you say!

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Jan 20th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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While I'm on about Curemonte:
http://www.curemonte.org/index.php

Just another amazingly beautiful wide spot in the road, complete with turrets.

audreyleigh, bear in mind I mention Martel to stimulate discussion and because it's off the beaten track. I hate to think of you three sitting at the crossroads cafe finishing your creme brulee and wondering how to fill the next 6 days. Though there is a waiter who resembles a young Jean-Paul Belmondo.
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Jan 20th, 2009, 07:46 PM
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No worries stokebailey, I'm not about to run off to anywhere without plenty of my research as to what there is to do there first If we went with Martel or a similar town I think we would need to use it as a base and tour around on a few days, which would be just fine. But after further research I think that Provence appeals to me more than the medieval style of Martel and the surrounding areas ... St-Remy in particular is beautiful - although I'm sure the tradeoff is more tourists!
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Jan 20th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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Sounds wonderful! Have a great trip.
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Jan 26th, 2009, 07:42 PM
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Well, here's my first chime in on Fodor's site.
Our family is very partial to the Dordogne/Perigord Noir, as mentioned above with Sarlat, etc. as we've been coming since 1973 to our village of Baran between St Cyprien and Sarlat on the D25, and still haven't seen everything there is to see. It feels like the center of the universe for this most unique area in the world for pre-historic cave paintings and etchings and castels and the best eating in the world.
Check out http://vrbo.com/139971 for some great pictures of our village and farmhouse we rent. There are outdoor markets every day of the week and lots of outdoor activities.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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Boytonac, Welcome! I feel the same about that area.

Ancient mystery seems to seep from the ground, and the mellow color of the stones used for building and the natural beauty of the countryside all make it very satisfying to me.

Perhaps audreyleigh and co. can get there someday. We found it good that our girls were of an age to appreciate Lascaux ll by the time we visited.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 08:50 AM
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Though I think technically we are not supposed to advertise on this board.
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