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JulieVikmanis Oct 12th, 2019 07:44 AM

Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Nantes and a Paris bonus
 
As a very long-winded poster, I will try to make this a Jack Webb approved trip report--"Just the facts, ma'am, only the facts".

Starting with the Paris Bonus:

Our long postponed return trip to Bordeaux (had not been in many years and only saw a bit of it once) and other locales in Western France set to begin September 4 was starting to look like it might be in jeopardy as Hurricane Dorian began threatening our Ft. Lauderdale take off. We sat anxiously on hurricane watch as the landfall projections spread up and down the Florida coastline and the slow moving storm hovered. Finally we tired of endlessly watching the weather channel and decided to do something about our fate. We contacted our airline to see if we could get out in front of things by leaving on an earlier flight--like 4 days earlier. We phoned the airline apparently just as they were issuing a bulletin to their staff permitting flight alterations and almost seamlessly (and best of all with no change costs whatsoever--perhaps the benefits of being a really frequent and very loyal flyer with them) moved up our departure 4 days.

The original plan was to fly into CDG and immediately hop a train to Bordeaux. So we wound up with 4 extra days which we decided to spend in Paris--and the need to find accommodations with very short notice. Another bit of good fortune landed us at the Hotel Albe which we had often thought to try in the St. Michel area where we really enjoy staying. Happy to report that it was perfectly fine, well-located (good soundproofing windows--essential in that bustling tourist area), and very reasonably priced.

With little time for the endless planning that I am otherwise guilty of, we just sort of treated the time as if we were there for a visit with an old friend and visited our favorite spots at a leisurely pace.

Some of the Peris highlights (many, of course, food-centered) were:
*Seeing the almost finished renovation of the Samaritan--apparently from department store to a multi-purpose hotel, apartment and office building. Beautiful and very classy.
*Lunch at an old favorite--Chez George--with what I have now decided will be my "death row meal"--Herring with potatoes in oil, lentil, onion
and mustard salad (I sort of combined that all and it was spectacular) and sweetbreads with monster morels in mushroom cream sauce. Another bonus: we were seated next to an expat explaining the city to a young visitor and extolling the history and virtues of the restaurant and of Paris dining in general. Agreed with every thing we overheard and couldn't resist joining the conversation to share some of our favorites as well.
*Dinner at an equally old-favorite--Chez Rene, and another at Petit Perigourdine--a fun, neighborhoody place near the Sorbonne where they now serve sides of aligot--my all time favorite potato dish with strings of the tuber mashed and whipped with cantal cheese into elastic strings that the wait staff can produce to lengths of 3 feet or more
*Walking through the grounds and building of the Petit Palace after a stroll across the Alexander the III bridge--free admission and a truly lovely building with no real crowds to have to get through or peer over.
*Going to the classy and colorful President Wilson market
*Checking out the new Russian Orthodox church along the Seine and getting better pictures of it than on a previous visit.

After a wonderful and very unexpected time in Paris, we were ready to return to CDG by a leisurely taxi ride (rather than rushing after getting off our originally planned flight) and easily hop the TGV to Bordeaux and begin our originally planned trip.

Next installment will be shorter and more to the point, I promise.

JulieVikmanis Oct 12th, 2019 08:29 AM

Bordeaux
We had only been in Bordeaux once prior to this trip. The city was at the time installing its new tram system and we stayed across the river and saw little of the city itself so this was our first real taste of it and we were very impressed. The tram system that had made it so hard for us to see much of the place before was a highlight. We stayed near one of the stops, at the Bayonne Etcha Ona that St.Cirq and others recommended, and were delighted with the tran efficiency--and the hotel. It had apparently been recently redecorated, was well located within the city and met all of our needs.

Highlights of the city for us were:
* Bacalan Market Hall, which compares favorably with another of our favorites, the Torvelhallen in Copenhagen--modern, convivial, with lots of dining but still plenty of foodstuffs to buy as well. This was particularly good because the much older Marche Capucins which my reading had suggested would be a fine old place, was a disappointment, looking down at the heel and sparsely attended. We did, however, also really enjoy the outdoor market along the river in Chartrons where we had a delightful lunch at L'Exploit across the street from the market and the bar and shopping area further up the river from the Chartrons market where on another day we had a nice lunch at Rive Gauche.
*Main sights--Bourse and the water mirror, the lovely Basilique St. Michelle and its surrounding area, Cathedrale St. Andre, Grand Theatre--all of which we enjoyed and loved the beauty of the relatively newly cleaned gold colored stone that is so often cited in tourist guides.
*A delightful dinner at Miles on rue du Cancera--recommended by Fodors Poster Maribel. For a very reasonable sum they served a 5+ course meal to the house in a stripped down, modern setting with very earnest servers. We endorse Maribel's recommendation and pass it on to all.
*Day trips to Perigueux and Arcachon--The former was a favorite from a previous trip and delighted us with a lovely market and a festival near their terrific cathedral, while the latter was new to us, recommended by Maribel and others on this board, which delighted us with its oysters and adorable seaside atmosphere. Unfortunately we did not get as much time to explore as we'd hoped and fear we did not do the latter justice.

Next La Rochelle and Nantes after a lunch break.

Adelaidean Oct 12th, 2019 08:40 AM

Thanks for your report.
I’d like to explore more of France, did you daytrip by train?

annhig Oct 12th, 2019 08:56 AM

yes, thanks for sharing your trip so far. So nice reading your Paris tips - so lucky you managed to get such a good addition to your trip worked at at such late notice.

and thanks also for the great memories of Bordeaux that you brought back for me. A few years ago Bill and I went there for a few days at the start of a week in the area and we enjoyed it so much.

looking forward to La Rochelle and Nantes.

TravelerKaren Oct 12th, 2019 09:22 AM

Julie: Thanks for sharing your trip so far. We are headed to Bordeaux next September and planning visits to La Rochelle, Brittany and Dordogne. Did you do your day trips by train? We were actually thinking of staying several days in Perigueux and are wondering if it's just as easy to visit from Bordeaux as a day trip. Also, thanks for the hotel recommendation. How was the weather during your visit?

Looking forward to the next segment..

geetika Oct 12th, 2019 09:31 AM

​​​​How wonderful to get an unexpected stay in Paris, lucky you!

I’ve been talking of a week in and around Bordeaux since the past couple of years, looks like it won’t happen till 2021. But in the meantime I’ll wait for your subsequent installments...

denisea Oct 12th, 2019 09:48 AM

Love that you got ahead of the hurricane issue. I could not just sit and wait for a 'cane to ruin my long awaited vacation. Well done! We still haven't been to Bordeaux...we need to get on it!

StCirq Oct 12th, 2019 11:57 AM

TravelerKaren, Julie may disagree, but I live in the Dordogne and don't consider Périgueux an easy day trip from Bordeaux (though we use trains, not car), especially if you want to see Vessuna and the othr Gallo-Roman ruins, which are a highlight, as well as the cathedral, which is astounding, and the old quarter. If I really wanted to venture out to the fringes of the Dordogne for a day from Bordeaux, though, it's not a bad choice at all. Nor is it a problem to get to Bordeaux on the train from Périgueux. There are regular trains going straight to the Gare St-Jean.

But neither would I use Périgueux as a base for several nights. It's a b..tch to get in and out of, except maybe on Sundays, and parking isn't easy or cheap. The outskirts are downright ugly, and it certainly isn't a good base for visiting the Dordogne. You could see just about everything there is to see in Périgueux in one good, well-planned day of sightseeing. It's not a pretty town except for the old quarter.

StCirq Oct 12th, 2019 12:04 PM

Forgot to mention that weather is all over the place in this part of the world these days. We had a horrible drought this summer that lasted into September (temps 40C and above), the rain and storms, then heat and humidity, then cool and cloudy, then hot again....and so forth. You will absolutely not be able to count on any kind of weather at all, no matter what time of year you visit.

Maribel Oct 12th, 2019 12:05 PM

Julie,
Lovely report, as always! It's great that you were able to skirt the hurricane and enjoy an unexpected Paris stay as a bonus.

Bordeaux has become one of our favorite French cities too since its stunning revitalization. We're now using Bordeaux to begin or to end our summer stays since it's so easy to reach from Paris on the 2-hour TGV.

I'm very happy that you enjoyed your dinner at Miles and your stay at the newly renovated Etcha Ona (which we considered for last year and may consider again). We too loved the Sunday morning Chartrons market at the quai (we've stayed in the Chartrons quarter) and the Bacalan indoor market across from the Cité du Vin. It's interesting that we had the very same reaction as you to the Marché des Capucins.
Also glad that you enjoyed your day in Arcachon. As you mentioned in another thread, it would make for a lovely beach vacation spot with your grandchildren, and those oysters are sublimb!
Looking forward to your next installment as we have La Rochelle as our first stop for next summer.

TDudette Oct 12th, 2019 01:27 PM

Thanks, JulieVickmanis! Nice to read that La Samaritaine is re-opening.

More please, soon!

JulieVikmanis Oct 12th, 2019 03:17 PM

First to respond to some of your very kind posts:

Yes, our day trips were by train and they were easy--though the one from Bordeaux to Arcachon was so crowded that even in first class DH had to stand about half of the ride. The only exception was an ill-fated day trip by bus from La Rochelle to Ile de Re, where we were incapable of determining which stop to take and unfortunately picked the wrong one.

I concur with St. Cirq that Perigueux makes a nice day trip but would not seem likely to reward a longer stay.

Weather during our stay was perfect--not just in comparison to that we left in Ft. Lauderdale but on any scale. No more than 2 drops or so of rain during the whole time and temps from high 50's to low 70's. Sunshine and happiness throughout.

TravelerKaren, I envy your nice long upcoming trip to include Brittany and Dordogne as well as the cities we visited. Should be wonderful. I have some recommendations for hotels in La Rochelle and Nantes coming up.


So let's get to La Rochelle

It was wonderful. We'd been before but had given it short shrift on our way to Ile de Re. This time we stayed a full 4 days and loved it all.
We particularly loved the Marche, a delightful old building with frills on the outside and great food displays on the inside that spills out into the adjoining courtyard.
We also enjoyed what we could see of the beautiful Hotel de Ville that is being restored after a recent fire.
We intended to ride the giant ferris wheel with views over the city and see the Aquarium that Kerouac pictured so kindly on Any Port in a Storm but we never managed the time. We were too busy dining incredibly happily on the wonderful restaurant street just one street off the port and walking about the newly redone areas in the new port area like Quai Valin where we saw a sunset one evening that was pink and almost magenta. Just stunning.

Among the terrific restaurants one street from the harbor that we really enjoyed were the following:
L'Entracte--a Coutanceau place we liked so much we ate there twice
La Comptoir Italian
Fleur de Sel
All these places had lovely decor with a casual vibe and exceptional food at incredibly reasonably prices for what it was.
I consider this city truly a diner's delight.

I know TravelerKaren has been looking for lodging recommendations in La Rochelle, I can recommend the Mercure in the new harbor area without reservation--no pun intended. Though not big, our room was very comfortable, clean, modern and reasonably priced. We'd book there again.

We ended the trip in.Nantes where we again enjoyed great tram transport and a pleasant stay in the Mercure Centre hotel there. I got to see the wonderful and very fanciful Giant walking elephant at the Les Machines de l'Ille along with a couple of their equally fanciful merry go rounds. What fun.
We dined very well at La Loco, among the best seafood I've had--ever.

All in all, it was a delightful trip with escape from a hurricane (or actually just the torture of waiting to see if our trip woud be cancelled because of one) into the bargain.

I concur with all of the posters who provided me glowing recommendations about Bordeaux and hope like they do to return soon. Happy to answer more questions if I can.

Again, my thanks for the advice I received from so many while we were planning this trip. It helped immeasurably.

jpie Oct 13th, 2019 08:02 AM

We use the BOD Bordeaux airport pretty much exclusively now, arriving from Gatwick. It is so much easier for us than coming down from Paris and the airport is super easy to get in and out of. And the whole coast from Bordeaux to La Rochelle is really lovely-we think some of the nicest sand beaches in France.

TravelerKaren Oct 13th, 2019 08:45 AM

StCirq: Thanks for your feedback on Perigueux. We were originally thinking of stopping there for 2 days on our way to the Dordogne but we may decide to stop for just one night (even though I hate 1-nighters) or make it a day trip from Bordeaux. I'm in the research stage of our trip planning so will definitely be checking back in later for feedback.
Sounds like Julie thought it was fine for a day trip but since we will be driving we may want to stop there just to break up the drive.

TravelerKaren Oct 13th, 2019 08:53 AM

Julie: Thanks so much for your feedback to my questions and your hotel recommendation in La Rochelle.
So glad that you had good weather in France and hopefully didn't return home to any storm damage.

I've always enjoyed reading your reports and always get some great ideas from them. I'll definitely be adding your list of restaurants to our itinerary.
Sounds like we need to allow plenty of time in both Bordeaux and La Rochelle.

Where are you headed next?

StCirq Oct 13th, 2019 09:03 AM

TK, it would make much more sense to use Bergerac as your stop on the way from Bordeaux to the Dordogne. You could easily visit Périgueux as a daytrip from there or from the Dordogne once you get there. Making it a daytrip from Bordeaux if you're heading into the Dordogne doesn't make sense, as you'll just have to backtrack.

cafegoddess Oct 13th, 2019 09:56 AM

Hi Julie,

Thank you, I really enjoy reading your trip report. Aligot, I must try this dish when we get to Paris later this month.

We are also happy to discover Bordeaux. It is our official rest stop between San Sebastián and Dordogne. There is so much new construction going on in Bordeaux, I hope it doesn’t lose its charm

Please continue to write your trip report, I miss the longer versions.

TravelerKaren Oct 13th, 2019 05:55 PM


Originally Posted by StCirq (Post 17000024)
TK, it would make much more sense to use Bergerac as your stop on the way from Bordeaux to the Dordogne. You could easily visit Périgueux as a daytrip from there or from the Dordogne once you get there. Making it a daytrip from Bordeaux if you're heading into the Dordogne doesn't make sense, as you'll just have to backtrack.

StCirq:* Thanks for this suggestion.* I was just looking at a map of the area and this does seem to make the most sense.*

BritishCaicos Oct 14th, 2019 01:28 AM

I’m not sure it’s worth a stop in Bergerac.

There’s a huge amount to do Bordeaux and there’s a huge amount to do in The Dordogne. I wouldn’t lose a night in Bergerac when you could spend it in either of the other two.

It’s around 100 miles between the two, the two roads north and south of the river aren’t the fastest routes in the world but it shouldn’t take more than 3 hours without a stop.

In May, I cycled the route in a lot less than a day.

StCirq Oct 14th, 2019 02:54 AM

I totally agree with you, BC, but the OP seemed determined (why???) to find someplace to perch between the two.

As an aside I'm still mystified why anyone would mention aligot and the Dordogne in the same breath.

BritishCaicos Oct 14th, 2019 04:06 AM

Ps

once the pound makes 1:25 euros, we are in.

Currently looking at tourist businesses on the river near Lalinde.......to accommodate travellers taking overnights between Bordeaux and Sarlat (joke).

NOT A VINEYARD, DONT LET ME BUY A VINEYARD.

Seriously, after 4 years now of visited France, 3 times a year, we can’t find a better area. The Charente came really close and we could have a huge mansion for peanuts, it’s also very sunny. However, the locals are a little serious, something to do with farming?

Lalinde seems a very happy place. (Could be VERY wrong).

We are in Nice next week, just looking forward to exiting Brexitland.

Can’t believe I spent 45 years and 200 trips wasting time in Spain, Italy, Greece and the rest. When we grew up in Northern England we were taught that the French were all ignorant and didn’t wash much!



StCirq Oct 14th, 2019 04:23 AM

HAHAHA! Well, I guess there's some truth to that. We don't always shower every day ;)

Lalinde, huh? I find that a bit curious. Nice enough town, and I have a couple of funny stories from my past that involve it, but honestly, it's a bit of a bore. Weekly market is lackluster. Not many local artisans. Just a bit too far from the area's attractions. Not at all a pretty town. And no, I don't think of it as a happy place. At all. It's more of a nothing place. And yes, it's a joke to think travelers stop in Lalinde between Sarlat and Bordeaux. Nobody stops in Lalinde. I really, really wouldn't buy anything in Lalinde:unsure:

I'm not familiar with real estate in the Charente, but around here you can buy a whole lot of house and land for very little. Really beautiful houses. And I wouldn't call the locals serious. Daft, maybe, and unpredictable, but definitely not serious. And for the most part it's sunny here. Sort of.

And God, NO, don't buy a vineyard!

JulieVikmanis Oct 14th, 2019 05:40 AM

TravelerKaren,
Thanks for your kind words. You asked about where we are headed next--long story but to condense: Our motto is sort of Live modestly but travel well. Decided travel is our passion and that we should see as much as we can, as long as we can--and we're getting older so the heat's on.
We're passionate European travelers though we've detoured to South America and Asia a couple of times and every now and again we do see some of the US, especially fond of San Francisco--probably because it seems sort of more European.. We try to sketch out a year at a time. Right now we are definite for Budapest to Nuremberg on Viking cruise in November, Munich with day trips to surrounding Christmas markets in December, ski trip probably to Chamonix with son in Jan/Feb, April in Paris--almost an annual thing since my birthday and our anniversary is in April, May in Barcelona with our daughter and family with 11 year old twins, July--another cruise, this time to Scandinavian ports, September--debating between Czech Republic and Normandy for a driving trip with son at the wheel, November--Lisbon and Transatlantic cruise back to Florida. The one trip we can never seem to fit in is a trip to DH homeland of Latvia but maybe it will make the 2021 schedule.

Sure hope you enjoy Bordeaux as much as we did. Envy your getting Dordogne into the bargain. Should be terrific.

cafegoddess Oct 14th, 2019 03:01 PM

Julie, I am green with envy. I wish we could travel as many as you! Please continue writing your report report. Thank you for mentioning aligot, I have never had it, sounds absolutely delicious!

JulieVikmanis Oct 15th, 2019 03:41 AM

cafegoddess, I'm afraid that's all for the trip report. We returned to Florida after two nights in Nantes.
I do hope you can arrange to have some aligot on your next trip. In Paris, the most authentic place to have it is, I think, Ambassade d'Auvergne,in the 3rd arrondissement not far from the Pompideau, where they whip it at your table in beautiful copper kettles and then plop it in a puddle on your plate--quite a ceremony. But if you are staying on the left bank, I recommend the Petit Perrigourdine. It's more casual better lit and does a servicable job of performing the stringing and plopping of the wonderful stuff on your plate as well. When we were in the Dordogne some years ago, we went to what I had understood to be sort of the mothership of aligot-serving places--Chez Germaine in Aubrac. It comes with sausage, duck confit or beef. The server brings the aligot in a pail, stirs it, strings it to impressive lengths, and cuts the strings with a big scissors and finished it off by stringing an aligot halo on the top of DH's head. (came off without a mess)
Amusing and very good. I recommend the experience completely but the drive to and from (with lovely Aubrac cows along the way) can take some time--we did it from Rodez, a town we enjoyed as well.

StCirq Oct 15th, 2019 03:51 AM

Oh yes, Chez Germaine. Now that is an experience!

Near the Gare de l'Est is a tiny auvergnat restaurant that does a nice, authentic aligot - https://www.lafourchette.com/restaur...-laurent/17408

Wonderful report, Julie. Thanks so much.

TravelerKaren Oct 15th, 2019 07:52 AM


Originally Posted by StCirq (Post 17000340)
I totally agree with you, BC, but the OP seemed determined (why???) to find someplace to perch between the two.

As an aside I'm still mystified why anyone would mention aligot and the Dordogne in the same breath.


Originally Posted by BritishCaicos (Post 17000326)
I’m not sure it’s worth a stop in Bergerac.

There’s a huge amount to do Bordeaux and there’s a huge amount to do in The Dordogne. I wouldn’t lose a night in Bergerac when you could spend it in either of the other two.

It’s around 100 miles between the two, the two roads north and south of the river aren’t the fastest routes in the world but it shouldn’t take more than 3 hours without a stop.

In May, I cycled the route in a lot less than a day.

We are in the process of trying to determine the best route and stops from Bordeaux (flying into Bordeaux) to Brittany and then to the Dordogne. We want to stop in La Rochelle and trying to determine the best routing (stop there from Bordeaux or on way back from Brittany). We want to limit our driving to less than 4 hrs so thought a stop in Perigueux or Bergerac would be a good place to stop before getting to the Dordogne (still trying to decide where to stay there-we stayed in Sarlat last time, maybe some other town this time). We were in the Dordogne region several years ago and did not get to Perigeux or Bergerac then. We may decide to drive on after further research but heard that Periguex is worth a visit.

TravelerKaren Oct 15th, 2019 08:02 AM


Originally Posted by JulieVikmanis (Post 17000372)
TravelerKaren,
Thanks for your kind words. You asked about where we are headed next--long story but to condense: Our motto is sort of Live modestly but travel well. Decided travel is our passion and that we should see as much as we can, as long as we can--and we're getting older so the heat's on.
We're passionate European travelers though we've detoured to South America and Asia a couple of times and every now and again we do see some of the US, especially fond of San Francisco--probably because it seems sort of more European.. We try to sketch out a year at a time. Right now we are definite for Budapest to Nuremberg on Viking cruise in November, Munich with day trips to surrounding Christmas markets in December, ski trip probably to Chamonix with son in Jan/Feb, April in Paris--almost an annual thing since my birthday and our anniversary is in April, May in Barcelona with our daughter and family with 11 year old twins, July--another cruise, this time to Scandinavian ports, September--debating between Czech Republic and Normandy for a driving trip with son at the wheel, November--Lisbon and Transatlantic cruise back to Florida. The one trip we can never seem to fit in is a trip to DH homeland of Latvia but maybe it will make the 2021 schedule.

Sure hope you enjoy Bordeaux as much as we did. Envy your getting Dordogne into the bargain. Should be terrific.

Julie: I so envy your yearly trips. Our motto is the same as yours and we make travel a priority as well, although not as often as you :)

We also love Europe and make several trips a year there. We love France and Italy and always include one of those countries in our travels. We also try to do one trip a year to a place we've never been before and are starting to include more US travels. We always said we'd save the US when we got too old to go to Europe :):)
We just returned from a trip to Tanzania and loved it! If a safari interests you, I can highly recommend this part of Africa.
We have not been to S.America but this may be on our horizon in 2021.
Please post your review and opinion of your Viking river cruise in November. We are not normally cruisers but would be interested to hear what you think.
Look forward to more trip reports!
Thanks again,
Karen

jpie Oct 15th, 2019 09:04 AM

@TravelerKaren, we have a family home in St Palais sur Mer and we have made the trip many times from Bordeaux to Brittany and then down to the Dordogne. Just a couple comments on the routes:

The most direct route to La Rochelle from Bordeaux is the freeway through Saintes. If you go that way you might consider a side trip to Cognac and doing one of the distillery tours-it is a fun thing to do. Alternatively the drive up to La Rochelle via the coast at Royan is a really nice drive and the beaches between Royan and La Palmyre are really nice and in September if the weather is nice there are some spectacular walks along the ocean there.

If you are foodies there is a really nice restaurant/ hotel in Breuillet called L’Aquarelle which is very good. Here is a link to Michelin starred restaurants in Charente and Charente Maritime restaurants that might interest you.

https://www.atlantic-cognac.com/char...d-restaurants/

You don't say how much of Brittany you are going to explore but I just wanted to mention that we love basing in Dinard as opposed to St Malo or Dinan. Dinard has an exceptional market and amazing views walks shopping (especially at the market-there is a wonderful leather shop that sells at the market for beautiful bags gloves etc.)

Finally in the Dordogne off season we really love basing in Sarlat. We were there last year and stayed at 2 places on 2 separate trips. The first was up above the town with a lovely pool free parking A/C and about 5 minutes drive down to the village (there is also a walking path but steep on the way back). It is called the Hotel Le Mas del Pechs ( i used booking.com but they also book direct)

The other place we stayed was right in town-no parking but pretty easy parking (some free some metered) right in town. It is only about 1/10th of a mile from the tourist office so very central to shops restaurants shopping etc. It is called Sarlat Côté Jardin and it is a few independent rooms in the garden of a house-super nice breakfast optional and the hosts are really nice folks. Again I booked on booking.com

We have also stayed in years past at the Best Western Renoir in Sarlat-it is also very nice although no parking and just a bit further away from the center-but a very nice property.

Also one of our favorite meals in the Dordogne was at a family run restaurant just outside of the village itself (which is helpful since they have parking) called La Roque-Gageac. It is called O Plaisir Des Sens and run by a lovely family. The wife of the chef helped create a cookbook of recipes from the chefs around the region-it is a lovely souvenir. We love the restaurant also because it has a more casual bistro dining space inside for lunch as well as a more "gastronomic" lunch/dinner space with a lovely garden setting in good weather.

Anyway maybe this will be helpful in your planning. We know those areas very well-so if you have thoughts or questions about places or routes I would be happy to chime in if I can help.

https://www.sarlat-hotel.com/en/home/

https://www.sarlatcotejardin.com/en-us

O Plaisir Des Sens

kerouac Oct 15th, 2019 10:07 AM

If you want to take a taste of your travels back with you, you can buy frozen aligot at Picard and it will certainly last in good condition until you get home.

BritishCaicos Oct 15th, 2019 10:49 AM

If you can, try to avoid the N road via Saintes as Jpie posts. The area between it and the coast is magical. Just mile after mile of salt marshes, wildlife and the best seafood.

Towards the entrance to Il de Oleron is La Tremblade which is a collection of old fisherman’s huts, fishing operations and seafood restaurants. It’s the sort of place that would explode Instagram and the food is some of the most unpretentious but best I‘ve ever had.

If you are heading for Bordeaux go through this area, head to Royan and then take the ferry over to the Medoc. Your first stop will be Saint Estephe which has some of the most under-rated wine around. You next stops will be some of the world’s most famous wines.

The route will take much longer but will be a lifetime experience rather than sitting on a boring N road.

Love the area, I cycled from Bordeaux to La Rochelle in a day this May which was an experience I’ll never forget.


BritishCaicos Oct 15th, 2019 10:51 AM

And I agree the lighthouse at La Palmyre is a heck of a drive but the beach is windsweep and absolutely stunning.

We have only just discovered this part of France but the landscapes I remind me of all the positive aspects of NC/SC with the world’s best wine thrown in for good measure and no alligators in the marshes.

TravelerKaren Oct 15th, 2019 01:13 PM

jpie: Thank you for your recommendations. When we stayed in Sarlat several years ago we stayed in an apartment in the center of town and loved it. We found free parking in a lot nearby. We are trying to decide if we will stay in Sarlat again or try one of the smaller towns in the area; i.e. Domme.

Also, we've read so many diverging opinions on whether to stay in Dinan, Dinard or St-Malo. I think we have ruled out St.-Malo but now wavering between Dinan and Dinard. Once I see the best accommodations available that may be the deciding factor.

Julie, sorry to hijack your trip report posting.

BritishCaicos: Thanks for chiming in too. Appreciate all comments as we map out our routing.

jpie Oct 15th, 2019 05:20 PM

We always think we are going to stay somewhere other than Sarlat but ultimately we land there-we love being able to walk to a number of restaurants and shops. I think for me I would get bored based in Domme or some of the other very scenic villages. But we are always in that area off season-April, May June Sept. etc. I don't know if I would stay in Sarlat in high season because it can be hard to get in and out of because of traffic.

We much prefer Dinard over Dinan-we just like the sea vibe and we love the market. We have friends who have a home in a little "suburb" almost of Dinard called St Enogat-it the area near the Hôtel Novotel Thalassa Dinard if you want look at it on a map. That also probably tips the favor for us toward Dinard because they have showed us all the nice walks along the digues. You can still get to the heart of Dinard and the market from St Enogat by foot of bike but it is less crowded than staying in the middle of town. There are also some nice smaller hotels and airbnb type places around there.

Anyway my 2 cents :)

StCirq Oct 16th, 2019 03:02 AM

There are compromises between staying in Sarlat and staying in a small place like Domme (which, BTW, is every bit as shoulder-to-shoulder madness as Sarlat in high season, with much less space for people to spread out - and parking is a nightmare). You could stay in someplace like St-Cyprien or Le Bugue or Rouffignac, which have plenty of dining options, great markets, and nice shops.

Another one here who prefers Dinard over Dinan.

TravelerKaren Oct 16th, 2019 07:39 AM

jpie & StCirq: Thanks for your suggestions. We also like to stay in a town where there are enough dining options that we can walk to in the evenings. We will be there in September. Are there crowds during September? Last time we were there in May/June.

StCirq: We will check out St-Cyprien, Le Bugue & Rouffignac for rental options as well. When we were there several years ago, I remember the market at St-Cyprien was very good. I need to look back at my photos and journal to remember Le Bugue and Rouffignac.

We also will check out Dinard too. Just starting to lay out the areas and will delve into the specifics in the next couple of months.
Thanks again for all your feedback.

StCirq Oct 16th, 2019 10:01 AM

The crowds dwindle markedly when the kids go back to school at the end of August/beginning of September. But there are plenty of bussed-in groups of people without kids at that time of year, because the weather is usually splendid. The campgrounds are still open in September, too, so that accounts for a lot of visitors. So no, the crowds aren't terrible, but there are plenty of people around (still are right now).

jpie Oct 17th, 2019 08:32 AM

Yes my experience in those areas is similar to StCirq's. In the "old days" say in the late 70s and 80s, the population change was much more dramatic. In the village where we are in St Palais the population is around 3500 off-season and more like 30,000 during July August. Now with all the baby boomers who are retired-so they don't need to be constrained by school schedules anymore, I would say our village during May, June and September is more like 10,000 people as opposed to immediately emptying back down to 3500. I don't think that you will find a problem with crowds and parking during the September period. In fact, it is kind of an advantage to still have some tourists since more restaurants are open. And I suspect that in the Perigord similar to our region in Charente Maritime-the villages are finally getting smart and creating little events like 5KM runs or vineyard visits in the off season months to attract some of those baby boomers :)

I also agree with StCirq about taking a look at St-Cyprien, Le Bugue & Rouffignac as good choices. Better IMO than Domme. I like Domme but don't know that I would consider it the best base. Also I just wanted to mention that while you are in that area if you haven't visited the castle where Josephine Baker lived-it is well worth a visit-it is called Les Milandes. Here is a link to the site and also a very good article from the NYTimes that gives much more context. They also have a really entertaining birds of prey show included in the ticket. Visitors we have taken there always love the experience.

Chateau des Milandes - Home of Josephine Baker - Les Milandes


https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/17/t...is-france.html

TravelerKaren Oct 17th, 2019 09:12 AM


Originally Posted by StCirq (Post 17001415)
The crowds dwindle markedly when the kids go back to school at the end of August/beginning of September. But there are plenty of bussed-in groups of people without kids at that time of year, because the weather is usually splendid. The campgrounds are still open in September, too, so that accounts for a lot of visitors. So no, the crowds aren't terrible, but there are plenty of people around (still are right now).

StCirq: Thanks for your feedback on this. I guess like everywhere that used to crowded in just the summer months, baby boomers are making every place more crowded in the normal 'off season' months.

TravelerKaren Oct 17th, 2019 09:18 AM


Originally Posted by jpie (Post 17001901)
. Now with all the baby boomers who are retired-so they don't need to be constrained by school schedules anymore, I would say our village during May, June and September is more like 10,000 people as opposed to immediately emptying back down to 3500. I don't think that you will find a problem with crowds and parking during the September period. In fact, it is kind of an advantage to still have some tourists since more restaurants are open. And I suspect that in the Perigord similar to our region in Charente Maritime-the villages are finally getting smart and creating little events like 5KM runs or vineyard visits in the off season months to attract some of those baby boomers :)

I also agree with StCirq about taking a look at St-Cyprien, Le Bugue & Rouffignac as good choices. Better IMO than Domme. I like Domme but don't know that I would consider it the best base. Also I just wanted to mention that while you are in that area if you haven't visited the castle where Josephine Baker lived-it is well worth a visit-it is called Les Milandes. Here is a link to the site and also a very good article from the NYTimes that gives much more context. They also have a really entertaining birds of prey show included in the ticket. Visitors we have taken there always love the experience.

jpie: Thanks again for more feedback. I will definitely look at StCirq recommendations for stays as well as look again at Sarlat. We did love it there and I suspect we may be drawn back there again. It's good to hear that the crowds aren't too bad in September. We don't like going to a town that is 'empty' but do not want shoulder to shoulder crowds either. Sounds like it might be the right amount of tourists in September. I agree that us baby boomers are making the normal off season more crowded since we aren't constrained with school holidays.
We did visit Les Milandes last time and enjoyed it very much.


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