Dordogne, Bordeaux & Paris, advice?

Feb 4th, 2019, 03:08 PM
  #1  
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Dordogne, Bordeaux & Paris, advice?

Greetings! I've gotten some good advice on these forums over the years and we've got a trip planned for later this year to the Dordogne. The plan (so far) is to fly into Paris and take the TVG down to Bordeaux for some wine tourism, after a few days get a car and drive up to Cognac and tour Remy Martin (and possible a smaller distillery), spend the night then drive on to Nontron and check in to a Sarlat-area hotel. Plenty of amazing things to do in that area for several days (food, castles, villages, gardens, kayaking, etc.). Then likely on to Paris for 4 days or so. Any tips or must-see ideas (Lascaux caves, Rocamadour) would be greatly appreciated.
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Feb 4th, 2019, 03:47 PM
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What is "later this year"? How long will you be in the Dordogne? I live in the Dordogne and can give you hundreds of tips, but it's hard to give you "tips" without knowing what your focus is and exactly what you want to know about. Seems like you've done some research, but what else do you want to know?

Rocamadour, BTW, is not in the Dordogne. It's incredibly popular and well worth a visit (along with Martel, Collonges-la-Rouge, the Gouffre de Padirac, Carennac, and other things in the area) if black virgins and pilgrim sites are of interest to you, but it's not to be confused with the main sites of the Périgord.

Would love to help you, but what do you want to know?
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Feb 4th, 2019, 03:55 PM
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Book the TGV train as far in advance as possible for nice discounts but such tickets are non-changeable non-refundable so if going straight away after landing to Bordeaux leave plenty of time for planes to be late, etc. Book yourselves at www.oui.sncf or www.trainline.eu -many here say the latter has same fares but is easier for foreigners to get to work. www.seat61.com has lots on doing that -general info trains www.ricksteves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts. Consider first class too if you find the fare is not much more than the cheapest available 2nd class ticket.
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Feb 5th, 2019, 09:07 AM
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I'm glad you posted StCirq, I welcome your advice! The general plan (I'm traveling from the west coast of the US) is 2 weeks in mid-to-late June - there's so much I want to do but I've narrowed it down to about 2 nights in Bordeaux, 1 in Cognac, 3 or 4 nights in Sarlat as a base for the area and then 4 or 5 nights in Paris give or take. I would appreciate any tips on where to stay, eat or if there's a must-see sight. So far my thoughts in the Dordogne are to visit Castlenaud, the Marquessac gardens, float down the river, visit Lascaux. If there's a beaux village or any other charming sights - I'm interested!
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Feb 5th, 2019, 09:10 AM
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Good point, I'll book in advance for sure once the itinerary is set - thanks for the helpful links - you're right first class isn't that much more. I've never been in a french high-speed, is 1st class a nice experience?
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Feb 5th, 2019, 09:31 AM
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Well 2nd class on TGVs are pretty Nice but 1st class if not much more is a no-brainer IMO - check www.seat61.com for a look at differences between classes.
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Feb 5th, 2019, 09:41 AM
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Bordeaux is probably worth more than two nights if you want to see it properly. I'm not sure that you actually need to spend a night in Cognac. If you are just visiting a cognac house, it will probably better to move on to another pleasant city from there (unless you think you are going to be drunk or something).
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Feb 5th, 2019, 10:42 AM
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Since you will be in the Périgord vert (Nontron), stop in Brontôme and Bouordeilles: on your way to Sarlat:
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Feb 5th, 2019, 10:55 AM
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Interesting, I was planning to stroll the urban UNESCO sites, the wine event center and a half day over in Saint Emelion. What would you do with an extra day? Ah, thanks for the tip - if cognac isn't a great area we will simply stop for a few hours. I was thinking of taking the "Remy Martin Essential" 3 hour tour, so I suppose I could easily continue on from there. Any cognac tour recommendation is appreciated!!
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Feb 5th, 2019, 10:56 AM
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Oh, sooo beautiful! Those are right on my route - thanks!
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Feb 5th, 2019, 01:33 PM
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I agree that more than 2 nights in Bordeaux is warranted if you can swing it - it's a pretty awesome city these days. Check out the brand-new food hall, BOCA. And the new Musée du Vin.

I can skip the whole Cognac region without remorse. If you're a huge fan and really want to visit one of the big houses, fine, but the area is depressingly uniform for me - you can't imagine how tired you get when traversing pineau vineyards for 7 hours at a time with no decent respite for other types of scenery. The last time we wandered through the area I thought I was going to throw myself prostrate at the feet of a small café owner who actually had a sandwich to sell.

IMO there are dozens of "must-see" sights in the Sarlat area. Depends on what your interests are. There are beaux villages all over, and plenty that that dubious unofficial group doesn't deign to recognize.

Same with restaurants. We have plenty of favorites in all price ranges. What are you looking for? An all-you-can-eat organic feast on a farm? A Michelin-starred place (they are cheap in the Périgord)? Typical workers' luncheon cafés? Great cuisine de grandemère? Can recommend lots, but need some ideas from you.

RE: 1st class vs. 2nd class on the SNCF. Unless you get 1st class tickets for just a couple of euros more than 2nd, it is never worth it. We travel extensively on the train in France - probably amounts to about 3 months of travel each year, and have never, ever noticed any difference in classes of train seatings. Maybe an inch more room on the seats. Maybe a bit more room to store baggage. But apart from that, nada. Pal hasn't traveled on a French train in probably a decade. In fact, on our way to Morocco last week, our train in Périgueux got mysteriously halted, and everyone had to get off (Vigipirates, soldiers, police all OVER the place - scary). There must have been 500 people on this 3-car train, and it wasn't going anywhere until they sorted the situation out. We stayed by the train and after an hour they let us reboard. The closest car to where we boarded was a 1st class car, and we just grabbed seats there, thinking what could they possibly do to us at this point? I was on that train for 2.5 hours and had ample opportunity to assess the differences between 1st and 2nd class, which I did. Absolutely nada.

Anyway, train seats are fairly inconsequential. Let me know what I can do to help you flesh out this vacation.
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Feb 5th, 2019, 02:55 PM
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Again check www.seat61.com for a realistic lowdown on 1st v 2nd class - many people pay extra for it (are they just throwing their money away?.) Locals who travel all the time may have a different view than tourists on the trip of a lifetime. And again 2nd class now is very nice most say.
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Feb 5th, 2019, 02:55 PM
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That's funny, I live about an hour outside of premier pinot noir vineyards (Ken Wright, Domaine Drouhin, etc.) and I could spend a whole weekend there! I imagine Bordeaux and Cognac to be similar albeit much older, let's hope I'm right!!

The last time we were in France, we drove in from Barcelona - stopped for an amazing lunch in Maury, explored Peyrepertuse, stayed 3 nights in Cuiza at the Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse, ate at Le Carnotzet, spent a half day at Carcassonne, stopped in the charming town of Lagrasse and spent a day in Collioure on the coast. I'm interested in whatever makes an area unique: food, drink, architecture, history, etc. I'd love to hear a few recommendations from you.

Crazy about the trains, but it's good to know 2nd class is basically the same, after all we're only planning to be on the train for 2hrs at a time.
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Feb 5th, 2019, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
Again check www.seat61.com for a realistic lowdown on 1st v 2nd class - many people pay extra for it (are they just throwing their money away?.) Locals who travel all the time may have a different view than tourists on the trip of a lifetime. And again 2nd class now is very nice most say.
This is what makes most travel so interesting and reminds me of my trip to Thailand, we took a late train from Ayuthyya south into Bangkok and hung out literally between the train cars sipping Chang beer from a can watching the amazing glowing sunset illuminate the rice fields and buddha statues all along the way.
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Feb 8th, 2019, 03:34 PM
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StCirq and anybody else, I'd appreciate any stunning villages or beautiful gardens or any great off-the-beaten path suggestions around the area.
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Feb 8th, 2019, 04:04 PM
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Gardens: Marqueyssac, Eyrignac, Jardin de L'Imagination in Terrasson.

There are stunning villages around every corner. How many do you want? St-Geniès, Meyrals, Monpazier, Limeuil, St-Léon-sur-Vézère, Campagne, Plazac, La Roque-Gageac, Beynac, Rouffignac, Paunat, Domme, Belvès, Cadouin, Trémolat.......and of course St-Cirq.

Unless you know the area intimately, it's all going to be off the beaten path.

You do have a guidebook or two, I trust.
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Feb 8th, 2019, 05:16 PM
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I was not crazy about the Jardin de l'imaginaire. I prefer Marqueyssac and the panoramic garden of Limeuil.
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Feb 11th, 2019, 03:14 PM
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Marqueyssac looks lovely, it's on my list along with Castelnaud, Beynac, Sarlat, a float down the Dordogne, Lascaux cave, and one or two picturesque villages (and possibly Rocamadour) - I'll look through the ones you listed for some good ideas.

On a side note, we'll be staying in Bordeaux for several days and I noticed that Dassault is based there - any idea if they offer amazing tours like Boeing in Washington State?
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Feb 11th, 2019, 03:17 PM
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I've got a DK Eyewitness guide on Dordogne and the Bordeaux coast.
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Feb 11th, 2019, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TheModoc View Post
Marqueyssac looks lovely, it's on my list along with Castelnaud, Beynac, Sarlat, a float down the Dordogne, Lascaux cave, and one or two picturesque villages (and possibly Rocamadour) - I'll look through the ones you listed for some good ideas.

On a side note, we'll be staying in Bordeaux for several days and I noticed that Dassault is based there - any idea if they offer amazing tours like Boeing in Washington State?
Aren't the planes built in Toulouse?
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