Central Dordogne Itinerary

Apr 8th, 2019, 06:19 PM
  #1  
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Central Dordogne Itinerary

Hi all:

My wife and I chose France as our honeymoon and we leave this coming June. Our flights, accommodations, and transportation are all booked. Our plan is to spend 3 weeks travelling from Paris (5 nights) to Loire Valley (3 nights) to Dordogne (5 nights) to Provence (7 nights). I had previously posted on this forum and received some amazing tips and advice, especially from Stu Dudley whose itinerary has been a godsend and instrumental in shaping our plans.

My question at the moment concerns our time in Dordogne and how best to structure that portion of our trip.

As I noted above, we are driving over 4 hours from Loire Valley, and are then travelling over 6 hours to Provence. So we certainly want to minimize the amount of time we have to spend in the car, if possible. My plan was to pick one day trip to the area east of the A20, if warranted.

We arrive Monday and leave Saturday morning.

Here are some of the things we are hoping to see/do:

La Roque Gageac with Boat Tour (Possibly Gabares Norbert)
Sarlat-la-Caneda (Wednesday Market & Town, Dinner)
Domme (including Thursday Market and Town, Dinner, Possibly Cave)
Chateau Castlenaud
Beynac - Castle and Garden
Jardins de Marqueyssac
Josephine Baker’s chateau
Day Trip to Rocamadour with Padirac Cave (worth it?)

We would love any insight you could share in terms of how best to structure this, and if we have overlooked any amazing sights/activities, especially anything unusual and less touristy.

We aren't entirely into caves, hence why Pech Merle isn't on here. Padirac seemed like enough and frankly more interesting, especially combined with Rocamadour (which we appreciate will be very touristy). We're open to thoughts/suggestions about what we should do as far as day trips outside central Dordogne. We understand St. Cirq Lapopie is gorgeous and might be worth seeing over Rocamadour.

Just for context, we are a (relatively) active couple in our late 20s/early 30s - we are hoping for a nice mix of leisure (its a honeymoon, after all) and outdoor activities with good food/wine along the way.

Thanks for all of your help!
jurispathic is offline  
Apr 8th, 2019, 07:03 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Should be wonderful! Just a few thoughts:

I thought the caves of Domme very sad because most of the stalactites have been broken off. For me, it was a depressing waste of time and money. JMO.

While I enjoyed them, I must admit that I found both the Gouffre de Padirac and Rocomadour overly hyped and overly touristed. YMMV.

You might consider visiting the Jardin d'Eyrignacs in addition to Marqueyssac.

Consider visiting Josephine Baker’s chateau (Les Milandes) when you can see the raptor display.

L'Esplanade in Domme is, IMO, worth a splurge for lodging or dinner or both.
kja is offline  
Apr 8th, 2019, 09:53 PM
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>> Consider visiting Josephine Baker’s chateau (Les Milandes) when you can see the raptor display. <<

He already has this on his list!!

If I could only visit one cave in the Dordogne region - I would pick Pech Merle. It has both stalactites/mites and pre-historic cave paintings & hand/footprints. It's close to St Cirque Lapopie & Figeac - which are two of my favorite villages/small cities in France.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 8th, 2019, 10:01 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
>> Consider visiting Josephine Baker’s chateau (Les Milandes) when you can see the raptor display. <<

He already has this on his list!!
The OP's list did not mention the raptor display. I believe one can visit Baker's chateau without including the raptors. I thought the raptor display worth seeing. And why make a deal about it? Better to mention it than ignore it, IMO.

Last edited by kja; Apr 8th, 2019 at 10:38 PM.
kja is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 01:13 AM
  #5  
 
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I received a lot of useful input from forum regulars on this thread Visiting the Dordogne/Lot, and also appended a little trip summary at the end if helpful. There's so much to do in/around Sarlat itself ! If you do choose to venture east of the A20, given its your honeymoon and you probably want to keep a slow pace/not overextend yourself, your Rocamadour + Padirac idea makes sense -in terms of logistics and shorter driving distances. The Gouffre de Padirac is interesting for its geology and the boat ride, but has no cave art so not really comparable to others - I did review it here https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...Occitanie.html. Admittedly, Rocamadour is also touristy, but a unique setting and well worth a visit.
ANUJ is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 03:06 AM
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With only 5 nights in the Dordogne, I wouldn't bother with either the Gouffre de Padirac or Rocamadour, and certainly not St-Cirq-Lapopie, all of which are overrun with visitors and of marginal interest compared to what's right in front of you. If you DO head that direction, there are far more interesting attractions - like Carrenac and Collonges-la-Rouge and Martel. Stay around Sarlat, where there are months worth of things to do. You haven't mentioned Montignac and the Lascaux caves, or the Prehistory Museum or the Pôle in Les Eyzies, or Font-de-Gaume and Combarelles (the first of which will require a crack-of-dawn visit to get a place on the tour, but still worth it), or La Roque St-Christophe or La Maison Forte de Reignac or the amazing Ch teau de Commarque, or any of the walnut mills or saffron farms, or any of the inspiring hill towns like Limeuil and Belvès and Audrix and St-Chamassy (well, Domme is of course a hill town, so you've got that covered, but I agree with kja - don't bother with the cave). I realize with only 5 nights you can't see it all, but any of the aforementioned things would be easier and more interesting to visit than the Gouffre de Padirac and Rocamadour. There is also, BTW, a gouffre in Le Bugue that's almost as hokey as the Gouffre de Padirac, without the boats (but they lower you down into it in a basket).

The Domme market isn't much to write home about. If you're interested in visiting more markets, there are many better ones. The Wednesday market in Sarlat will probably suffice for a market fix, though.

You're going to love it here!
StCirq is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 03:20 AM
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I found driving to the places you list in the Dordogne to be very easy and not at all stressful. You might find some useful info in my trip report.
Photo Safari to the south of France, the Italian Rivera and the Swiss Alps

The photos are here: https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f667172952
isabel is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 01:33 PM
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Thanks everyone!

We're probably going to drop any "day trips", including to Rocamadour/Padirac or St Cirq (sadly), and simply stay around Sarlat, as StCirq has suggested. There's always next time!

Assuming we remove the bloat/hokey stuff and add some additional but nearby sights:
  • Montignac;
  • La Roque St-Christophe;
  • La Maison Forte de Reignac;
  • Chateau de Commarque; and
  • Limeuil,
is there any general guidance as to how to break these attractions/sites -- in addition to those listed in the OP -- up amongst our 5 nights?

We're probably going to skip the museum and possibly the caves in favour of more towns/castles. Let me know if this is a horrible mistake. We're frankly just not that into cave art enough to justify the excursions. Hence why the Padirac grotto seemed more up our alley until we learned that it's a huge tourist trap and similarly not worth the time away from central Dordogne.

And please let me know if we're still overlooking anything amazing
jurispathic is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 02:13 PM
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Sure, look at a map and break them up logically - like visit La Roque St-Christophe and La Maison Forte de Reignac on the way to Lascaux (with, one hopes, a lunch stop in St-Léon-sur-Vézère).

I think skipping the museum in Les Eyzies is a crime, no matter how disinterested you may be in where you came from. On a purely artistic basis, it has no comparison in the world.

You really aren't missing much by not traveling to St-Cirq-Lapopie - it's geologically impressive, that's all. The town is a warren of local artisans mixed in with Chinese trinket sellers. I have never understood its appeal.

Why do you keep referring to this as "central Dordogne?" It's not. Call it what it is, the Périgord Noir. It's not central to the four regions that make up the Dordogne. It's the southwestern most part of the area, not central at all.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 02:32 PM
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IMO, Gouffre de Padirac is NOT a huge tourist trap. Neither is St Cirq Lapopie https://www.francetoday.com/travel/t...llages-france/ . Pech Merle (it is not just cave art!!!). We love the Cele River little villages and houses built into the cliffs, Figeac (one of our "top 5" small towns in France), Rocamadour (if you get there early & avoid the crowds), Carennac (only 1 "r", but 2 "n"s), & many of the sites east of the A20. Actually, I think there are more interesting "cute little villages" east of the A20 than there are around Sarlat - although Beynac & Roque Gageac are our two favorites. If you actually have 4+ full days in the the Sarlat area, I would spend one of those days visiting Pech Merle, St Cirq Lapopie, the meandering Cele River, and especially Figeac (much more interesting IMO than Limeuil - get a walking tour booklet from the tourist office).

Stu Dudley
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Apr 9th, 2019, 02:44 PM
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Peche Merle was a highlight of our visit to the Dordogne.
shouldbewriting is online now  
Apr 9th, 2019, 05:56 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by jurispathic View Post
We're probably going to skip the museum and possibly the caves in favour of more towns/castles. Let me know if this is a horrible mistake. We're frankly just not that into cave art enough to justify the excursions.
For me, the chance to visit the caves with prehistoric art in the Dordogne was a life-long dream, and the experience was even better than I envisioned. That said, if it doesn't interest you, there's no need to go! It's YOUR trip -- you should do what you want!
kja is offline  
Apr 9th, 2019, 06:51 PM
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FWIW---I thought Beynac was THE best castle, but Castlenaud had better tools outside the walls (catapults, etc)
tomboy is offline  
Apr 11th, 2019, 05:55 AM
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Here's what we did with two weeks in the area last September: Trip report: two weeks in the Dordogne
SemiMike is offline  
Apr 11th, 2019, 06:13 AM
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"IMO, Gouffre de Padirac is NOT a huge tourist trap."

I agree with Stu. Enjoyed the tour a lot!
maitaitom is offline  
Apr 12th, 2019, 05:54 PM
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Renting bikes and doing the Sarlat bike route out and back to Cazoules and canoeing the Dordogne from Cenac to just past Beynac are my best memories. Les Milandes is cool too.
beaux is offline  
Apr 12th, 2019, 07:50 PM
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We love the castles in the Dordogne (in addition to the prehistoric stuff and the food and the beauty of the area). Chateau de Commarque is one of our favorites, because of the layers of history there (it's more ruinous, though). Also Chateau de Puymartin. Biron is further away, but a pretty drive. I think we visited Fenelon as well.
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