Dordogne and Mont St. Michel in March

Old Dec 5th, 2021, 07:17 PM
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Dordogne and Mont St. Michel in March

Hey everyone,

The Pickles' 40th anniversary is next July! To celebrate, we're planning a trip to France in early March. Since we both started new jobs in recent months, we only have 13 days, basically 11 nights in the country.

After we spend a few days in Paris, Mr. Pickle wants to drive to somewhere in the Dordogne. I'm just starting to research, but I know very little about the area. I'd appreciate suggestions on places to see, where to stay, eat, what to avoid, etc.

After we leave the Dordogne, we want to spend the night on Mount Saint-Michel. Have any of you stayed there, and what hotel would you recommend? Restaurants you like?

As you can see, we are in the very early planning stage, but we need to get some stuff nailed down since we are leaving in about 2 1/2 months!

Thanks for your help.

Lee Ann
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 07:42 PM
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We received a lot of detailed input on our Dordogne planning thread which may be helpful to you (routing, bases, attractions etc etc..) Visiting the Dordogne/Lot, with a short TR at the end as well. March isn't the "ideal" time to visit, but I suspect you have your compulsions. As for MSM, we spent a night in Hotel Gabriel just off the Mont (free shuttle to and from, bus stop just outside the hotel).
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 08:15 PM
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Just out of curiosity why did you pick these three places to visit in 11 nights? Have you been to Paris before? Paris to the Dordogne is basically a full day trip with either about a 6 hour drive or a TGV to Bordeaux and a drive which will also take you much of the day. MSM is about a 4 hour drive from Paris or a 7-8 hour drive from the Dordogne. Could consider an open jaw into a Paris and out of Bordeaux or Toulouse to save some transport time. I would personally skip MSM for this trip. Also need to consider what the weather might be for March in the Dordogne and what COVID might do to your trip.
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Old Dec 5th, 2021, 09:00 PM
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For the Dordogne, Lascaux IV near Montignac, Somme, Beynac, La Roque Gageac and other small towns and castles along the Dordogne river. Base yourself in Sarlat.





But March is a little early in the season, and the weather could really be nasty. A drice to the Mont St. Michel and then a loop back to Paris via the Loire valley and perhaps Fontainebleau would be safer. In case of lousy weather such as rain and chilling winds, you could always reconsider and try to go back to Paris which as more indoor activities available. In any case, either Mont Saint-Michel or the Dordogne are outliers, depending on which is your priority. If the Dordogne, drop the other destination or vice versa.
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Old Dec 6th, 2021, 09:08 PM
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Thanks, everyone. Keep the tips and advice coming!

Why are we traveling in March? Because we got a good deal on airfare, and this way we'll have more to spend on lodging and food. Ideally, we would have liked to have gone in May, but that didn't work financially. We are fine with chilly weather, though if it's really nasty we are flexible.

This is our first trip to France, and I realize that we don't really have enough time to see everything we'd like to. Lord willing we'll be able to make a return trip or two in the future. As far as COVID goes, we're vaccinated and boosted, and everything we're booking will be refundable in case we have to cancel.

Mr. Pickle is interested in the Dordogne for its castles, little villages, and things like that. I'd be willing to look at another region that has these things to see.

Lee Ann
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Old Dec 7th, 2021, 04:59 PM
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Plans have changed! After Mr. Pickle realized that several places in the Dordogne don't open until April, I changed our plane tickets. Now we're leaving March 30 and returning April 11.

After Paris, we'll take the TGV to Bordeaux and rent a car from there.

Lee Ann
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Old Dec 7th, 2021, 05:37 PM
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My one trip to the Dordogne was late March-early April. We had a wonderful time--weather was sometimes gray, sometimes drizzly, sometimes sunny. In other words, it was March.

FWIW, we took the train from Paris to Limoges, picked up a car there, drove to Oradour-sur-Glane (very sobering--extremely glad we visited), then on to the Dordogne.
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Old Dec 7th, 2021, 06:14 PM
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We greatly enjoyed the Dordogne
  • Good base: Sarlat, or nearby (Carlux, Domme, etc.)
  • Caves: Lascaux2 and Peche Merle are must-sees, and easy to get to from Sarlat
  • Castles: Beynac and Castlenaudary are must-sees, within 5 miles of each other
  • We stayed at a B&B on a goose farm with excellent accomodations; fun seeing the geese fed
  • Also stayed at a B&B on a vineyard
  • Enjoyed boat ride on D. River
  • Easy, and enjoyable, way to spend 10 days; you won't be bored
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Old Dec 7th, 2021, 08:06 PM
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Could you fly into Bordeaux and return open jaw from Paris? Or the reverse? Would increase your usable time. Could stop for your first night in Bordeaux which is a nice small city, rest and drive refreshed the next day to the Dordogne. Sarlat is a good central town for the Dordogne. Also if you have never been to Paris be sure to allocate enough time to see the city.
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Old Dec 8th, 2021, 01:17 AM
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Here's my itinerary from my 7 week trip in 2019 of western France. I spent 5 night in Bordeaux (in case you decide to spend a night or two there) and 9 nights in the Dordogne. I based in Sarlat for the Dordogne portion which I enjoyed very much! On the Sarlat tab, towards the bottom of the Sites to see, you will find the daytrips I took to surrounding towns, castles, caves, etc. Hope you find something useful in it!

Well, for some reason, it is not allowing me to upload an Excel file, receiving a message that it is not an acceptable file type. If you would like me to send it to you, send me a private message with your email address.
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Old Dec 8th, 2021, 03:39 AM
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Following. Tomboy, do you mind sharing details of you two B&Bs? Thanks 😊
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Old Dec 8th, 2021, 09:12 AM
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not at all
  • goose farm= https://www.lagarriguehaute.fr/
  • the vineyard, can't help you; was 10 years ago, the guy's wife was fighting cancer, doubt if they're still doing B&B thing; I suggest if vineyard's of interest to you that you google " france +midi-pyrenees (or whichever department you want) + B&B +vineyard " without the quotes and with the plus
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Old Dec 9th, 2021, 08:13 AM
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Another option, Geetika---
Les Genestes
ttps://lesgenestes.pagesperso-orange.fr/
It's sort of a combination motel/B&B/restaurant on a goose farm
They have nice rooms, that don't cost a bundle
They're close to Sarlat, yet in the country
They have a dining room that hold 45 people...it seemed like a place that French folks came back to every summer, like New Yorkers going to their favorite place in the Catskills, or Chicagoans going to northern Michigan or Wisconsin
The food was very tasty, served family style...pass the cassoulet, please
One time we ate there, a couple from Marseille was across from us at one of the long tables, who spoke English. Enjoyable visit. At one point, the cheese tray was passed, and I took some different-looking blue cheese. All eyes at the table turned to watch me eat it (by then they knew I was American). I took a bite, and my eyes opened wide (because it had more of a bite taste than American Blue cheese). I commented to my spouse how tasty it was, and then the Marseille fellow mentioned that everyone was watching to see how the Yank's reaction to this unique cheese from the Auvergne. I got the sense they appreciated having an American actually LIKE this cheese, and not complain of its bite.
This B&B isn't for everyone; we liked the sense of being immersed in French culture, and accepted, even though our French vocabulary was so limited. And the food was good, and ample.
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Old Dec 9th, 2021, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by tomboy View Post
Another option, Geetika---
Les Genestes
ttps://lesgenestes.pagesperso-orange.fr/
It's sort of a combination motel/B&B/restaurant on a goose farm
They have nice rooms, that don't cost a bundle
They're close to Sarlat, yet in the country
They have a dining room that hold 45 people...it seemed like a place that French folks came back to every summer, like New Yorkers going to their favorite place in the Catskills, or Chicagoans going to northern Michigan or Wisconsin
The food was very tasty, served family style...pass the cassoulet, please
One time we ate there, a couple from Marseille was across from us at one of the long tables, who spoke English. Enjoyable visit. At one point, the cheese tray was passed, and I took some different-looking blue cheese. All eyes at the table turned to watch me eat it (by then they knew I was American). I took a bite, and my eyes opened wide (because it had more of a bite taste than American Blue cheese). I commented to my spouse how tasty it was, and then the Marseille fellow mentioned that everyone was watching to see how the Yank's reaction to this unique cheese from the Auvergne. I got the sense they appreciated having an American actually LIKE this cheese, and not complain of its bite.
This B&B isn't for everyone; we liked the sense of being immersed in French culture, and accepted, even though our French vocabulary was so limited. And the food was good, and ample.
Thanks a ton tomboy, appreciate your taking the time to give me all these details. Will definitely check out both places, I’m perfectly fluent in French and won’t have any problem with the second option.

My apologies to the OP for hijacking this thread, but maybe he’ll find some of this useful too…
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Old Dec 9th, 2021, 12:23 PM
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"Castles: Beynac and Castlenaudary are must-sees, within 5 miles of each other"

I agree with tom-boy 100%. Here's our day(link below) visiting both castles. We started with the Market Day in Sarlat. After the castles, we also stopped by to wander through the gardens at Château de Marqueyssac and took a boat ride from La Roque-Gageac. Got back to Sarlat for a wonderful dinner. We loved our four days and five nights based in Sarlat.

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/cha...gardens-boats/

Photo we took at Chateau Beynac ...






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Old Dec 9th, 2021, 06:59 PM
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I can picture Castlenaudary being about 5 miles to the left of maitaitom's above photo.
Beynac is impressive; it apparently was in a famous movie some years ago.
Castlenaudary has cannons and catapults and armor, as I recall If one mentally merges the two, it's a medieval vision within half a day.

Back to Les Genestes; if you can speak French fluently, you might very well like it.
In a way, it was like going to a school reunion after 50 years of no contacts--where everyone was a different person than they were in high school, everyone was open, no pretenses, all willing to meet someone they'd not seen before. All there for a good time. Convivial. I'd guess the average age of diners was maybe 50
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Old Dec 11th, 2021, 09:09 AM
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Bordeaux is very much worth some of your time, so if you can spend a day or two there and pick up your car later, you will certainly save some money by using Bordeaux's excellent tramway system.
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Old Dec 13th, 2021, 05:05 AM
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Dordogne in March might be shirt-sleeve weather, it might be so rainy the rivers are flooding the alluvial plains, it might even be snowy or icy. No way to tell, but normally it's relatively temperate during the day and chilly at night.Things will be closed, though, usually until the Tuesday after Easter. Not so much that it will affect your ability to eat, shop, tour, etc., but on that Tuesday a large number of places that have been closed since mid- to end of October open up again. The markets, which of course are a huge attraction, are mostly open all year long.
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Old Dec 13th, 2021, 05:13 AM
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It all comes down to your budget, and preferred location.You could look at Hotel Edwards 1er in beautiful Monpazier, which has a great restaurant attached, and has 'wellness/pampering packages'. It's in a very picturesque village, and the views from the bedroom windows out over the rolling farmlands beyond are very pretty.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2022, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by joannyc View Post
Here's my itinerary from my 7 week trip in 2019 of western France. I spent 5 night in Bordeaux (in case you decide to spend a night or two there) and 9 nights in the Dordogne. I based in Sarlat for the Dordogne portion which I enjoyed very much! On the Sarlat tab, towards the bottom of the Sites to see, you will find the daytrips I took to surrounding towns, castles, caves, etc. Hope you find something useful in it!

Well, for some reason, it is not allowing me to upload an Excel file, receiving a message that it is not an acceptable file type. If you would like me to send it to you, send me a private message with your email address.
Thanks, joannyc. I can't figure out how to send you a private message, but my email is my Fodor's name at g mail dot com.

Lee Ann
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