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dordogne driving from pech merle to sarlat thru rocamadour - Stu, et al

dordogne driving from pech merle to sarlat thru rocamadour - Stu, et al

Apr 11th, 2010, 05:30 PM
  #1  
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dordogne driving from pech merle to sarlat thru rocamadour - Stu, et al

Still working on trying to get this trip planned a little better. We are staying overnight in St Criq Lapopie and going to Pech Merle the next morning. (Haven't made these reservations yet - is it too early to make reservations for a May 23 visit?) From Pech Merle after the cave visit I want to go to Rocamadour and would like to go by way of Figeac and then on to Gramat and L'Hospitalat. I would like to see the black virgin too if possible. I am looking at this map with these little winding roads and wondering if there is time to do this and still arrive in Sarlat by about 5:00 p.m. If this is too much, I will skip Figeac for now. I need to know the best route to travel. What sort of time frame do you think we are looking at. Thanks ahead of time to you who have this first hand info. I will be back with more questions later on I'm sure.
Happy travels!
mimipam is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 05:45 PM
  #2  
 
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You need to go to the Peche-Merle website and find out what times tours are held and make a reservation. The rest of your day will hinge on that. The last time I was there, which was in March, when there are fewer tours than in high season, the only choices were 10:45 and 2:45 (and that wasn't for an English-language tour; that was for ANY tour).
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Apr 11th, 2010, 05:59 PM
  #3  
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I have already looked and it says a.m. 9:30 to 11:15. Can't tell if it is in English, but I am willing to have a French tour (won't understand anything). I will read and view the site in preparation and do the best I can. Hoping to get the first tour.
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Apr 11th, 2010, 06:15 PM
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Do you mean that the tour lasts an hour and 45 minutes? That doesn't sound right. I thought it was about an hour's duration.

If you mean that the first tour is 9:30, then you've got time to get to Figeac for lunch and a look around for an hour or so after than, then on to Rocamadour, etc. The Black Virgin is IN Rocamadour, in the chapel, so not clear on what you're talking about there. But generally, if you can get a 9:30 am tour of Peche-Merle, you'll have a long day but it's all do-able. It's only a few minutes from St-Cirq-Lapopie to Peche-Merle.
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Apr 11th, 2010, 06:35 PM
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When we went to Peche Merle some years ago, we had a French tour (there were no other languages available when we were there) and they gave us an printed English translation to use. You may want to arrive early, both to insure against arriving late for your tour and also to see the orientation information before entering the cave. I loved the combination of being inches from the real cave paintings (no Peche Merle II here!), plus the geological formations were also quite impressive. The tour time was in the afternoon, so we left directly for Rocamadour afterwards.

We arrived at Rocamadour late afternoon, got a hotel and a nice dinner including the local cheese and wine, and "toured" the touristy street. Went up to the top early AM, which was nice and definitely uncrowded at that time. There was an early AM mass in the ancient chapel for those of the right religious bent, also.
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Apr 12th, 2010, 04:57 AM
  #6  
ira
 
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Hi mimi,

Have you looked up routes and travel time at www.viamichelin.com, www.maps.google.com and www.mappy.com?

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Apr 12th, 2010, 06:20 AM
  #7  
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Hi ira,
Thanks for the reminder about this. Also, I was reviewing your report when you were there and you said it was a little under two hours from Figeac to St Cirq Lapopie along the scenic route. This was a big help. I am thinking I do not have time to do everything in that one day that I want to so I will need to rethink this day. Thanks again for the reminder about viamichelin, etc.

AJ - thanks for your reply. Do you remember what route you took to Rocamadour from Pech Merle?

Happy travels!!!
mimipam is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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We went from Peche Merle to Rocamadour without any intermediate stops, but I don't remeber the route. I think it went meandering along scenic roads (green highlight on Michelin maps) and some small roads, but more details are lost in the mists of time. We did use segments of road tours from a book called Backroads France, or something like that, on that trip. I'll see if I can locate it and refresh my memory.
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Apr 12th, 2010, 08:12 AM
  #9  
sap
 
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Hi, Mimi: I have plans to do the same thing: Overnight in Cabrerets just outside Saint-Cirq-Lapopie; visit Peche Merle in the morning; take the scenic Célé Valley Drive to Figeac for lunch; and then move on to Rocamadour. The difference is that I plan to spend two nights near Rocamadour and see all the towns & sites in that area before moving on to Sarlat. When I was calculating out the times, the trip from Peche Merle through Figeac to Rocamadour put me in Roc at about 4 p.m., which IMO would be about time to call it a day.

If you want to do the whole thing in one day, I'm not sure it gives you much leeway to see Rocamadour before continuing on another hour to Sarlat.
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Apr 12th, 2010, 08:17 AM
  #10  
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BTW, that arrival in Roc at 4 pm allows for two hrs for lunch and wandering in Figeac, so you could cut that back if you rushed through instead. It would still make a long day, though, w/out much time to really see Rocamadour other than snapping a couple of pictures. (You would probably miss the worst of the crowds by then, though.)
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Apr 12th, 2010, 11:56 AM
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When I did this (in the other direction) from Sarlat to Figeac, I spent 2 nights in the Rocamadour area. It's definitely worth spending at least one night there. I wouldn't rush from Peche Merle to Sarlat, as the drive is so interesting, with beautiful villages to see. I spent 2 nights in Figeac, too, going to Peche Merle and the Lot Valley on day trip from there.
Peche Merle is fantastic (the tour was in French, with English handouts, and easy to understand). It was my favorite of the caves by far. And not crowded. I liked Figeac, too, but if I had to skip anything it would be Figeac.
That's where I turned in my car and took the train back to Paris. The Dordogne is so beautiful, including the northern part which a lot of people don't get to. I'd love to do that whole trip over again!
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Apr 12th, 2010, 06:07 PM
  #12  
blh
 
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We drove from Brive to Gramat and spent two nights, seeing all the small villages in the area as well as Rocamadour and Padriac. We left Gramat, drove to Figeac, spent about two hours and took the Cele River route to Cabrerets. We stopped at our B&B in Cabrerets and then drove on over to Peche Merle for the tour. We drove to St. Cirq-Lapopie for an hour or so before returning to our B&B for dinner. We spent one night in Cabrerets and drove to Sarlat the next day and arrived about noon. We were never rushed, took the back roads and thoroughly enjoyed the area. Loved the scenic little back roads.
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Apr 12th, 2010, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for all of your replies. I will be coming from Albi going thru Cordes sur Sel, Castelnau de Montmiral and perhaps the Gorges de l"Averyron on the way to St Cirq Lapopie for an overnight before going to Pech Merle the following morning. We have reservations in Sarlat for a week beginning the day that we go to Pech Merle and I am wanting to go by Rocamadour on the way. I believe the cave will take an hour for the tour and maybe another hour for the museum. Even if we have an early tour this will make for a long day. I am still calculating time/distance. I am considering skipping Figeac. Possibly I can hope to go to Figeac but go to plan B if necessary. Don't like to pick and choose but also know it is better to enjoy what you do than rush so much you can't remember what you did.
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Apr 12th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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>>I will be coming from Albi going thru Cordes sur Sel, Castelnau de Montmiral and perhaps the Gorges de l"Averyron on the way to St Cirq Lapopie for an overnight before going to Pech Merle the following morning.<<

Whoa, Mimi: This totally echoes part of my next summer's trip. Please get back to us with a trip report so I can find out how it turned out for you and what you liked least & best! (I'm still trying to figure out which villages to hit & miss on the route from Cordes to St. Cirque Lapopie.)

>>I am considering skipping Figeac. Possibly I can hope to go to Figeac but go to plan B if necessary. Don't like to pick and choose but also know it is better to enjoy what you do than rush so much you can't remember what you did.<<

I suppose you could play it by ear after you leave the cave and see what time it is. Of everything on the list that day, I imagine you're right that Figeac has to get labeled as the "misser" if you can't configure it to spend the night anywhere before Sarlat. (Isn't it the biggest pain to slice things to fit into the almighty time frame?) Also, I imagine that even seeing Rocamadour for a short while is better than not seeing it at all since it is pretty much en route.

Of course, I defer to the local experts on this, who have actually been there. I'm just dreaming from my computer like you at this point. If St. Cirq thinks it is a doable day, I'm sure it must be.

I hope you have a great trip!
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Apr 12th, 2010, 07:37 PM
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It's Cordes-sur-Ciel (Cordes on Heaven), not Cordes-sur-Sel (Cordes on Salt)....just thought you might want to know that -major mistake in French.

I would not miss Figeac.I would miss St-Cirq-Lapopie, though I don't know how that figures into your itinerary. It's a bore.
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Apr 12th, 2010, 08:27 PM
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St Cirq, we have already been through this. I am staying overnight in St Cirq Lapopie so I can go to Pech Merle first thing the next morning. It is on the way from Albi to the cave and I know you don't care for it. I am using it as an overnight stop and others say it is o.k. Also sorry about my spelling. I am just hurrying and not looking and I have almost no knowledge of French.(By the way the salt of the earth are the ones heaven bound.)
Also I have been on viamichelin and they say it is 1 hr 5 min from Pech Merle to Figeac by scenic route. I have an idea it will take longer but in ira's report he says it is "under 2 hr along the scenic route" and Stu agreed. Under 2 hrs seems longer than just over an hour so I think it is closer to 2 going by Cele route.

Well, sap, I will certainly try to let you know how it goes for us when we return even if it is not a full report. Our trip is in May. I have many on this site to thank that I changed from going in August (including StCirq) When are you leaving?
Thanks again to all,
Happy travels!!!
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Apr 12th, 2010, 08:49 PM
  #17  
sap
 
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Um. . . (shuffles feet). . . June 2011. . . I kind of plan ahead. I'm like that.
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Apr 13th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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I looked in my old guidebooks and maps. Grotte du Peche Merle and Rocamadour were not on backroads tours. My Michelin Green Guide suggests allowing 1 hr 45 min for Peche Merle. I did not highlight the map route from there to Rocamadour. We just followed the tiny roads in between the two, I am sure. I have no idea of how lond that would take.

You will need to do the very earliest tour of the cave if you want to fit Rocamadour and a drive to Sarlat all into that day. Of the two, I felt the cave was more worthwhile a visit than Rocamadour as the former was genuine, while the latter was geared mostly to tourism and the associated kitch, at least in the non-ecclesiastical portions. If you can avoid all forms of tourist-attracting shops and junk, then Rocamadour would also be a good destination. And, I do suppose that Rocamadour was always something of a tourist destination from its very beginning as a pilgrimage site, after all.
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Apr 13th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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Well, you can always skip Rocamadour and then make a daytrip from Sarlat to there and the Gouffre de Padirac and Martel and Collonges-la-Rouge. Of course, that means deducting a day from your schedule while in Sarlat.
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Apr 15th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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@Sue4

The Dordogne is so beautiful, including the northern part which a lot of people don't get to. I'd love to do that whole trip over again!

Totally agree - the Northern part is lovely with some stunning villages and chateaux but largely overlooked in favour of the crowded and touristy south.
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