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Dordogne itinerary draft - Thank you for any input


May 11th, 2013, 10:34 PM
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Dordogne itinerary draft - Thank you for any input

I feel very obnoxious posting again. But you are so helpful! And this tiny region is completely overwhelming with things to do. Thank you in advance for any input.

Recap - one adult, two kids.
Pick up car in Brive. Will leave Dordogne for Languedoc via car. Trying to find a balance of stuff for me/kids.

I'm looking to know -
1. Am I missing anything I will regret?
2. The area is new to me and I am using tiny crappy internet maps. Want to group sights sensibly so we aren't driving in circles (lost and yelling at each other Do you see the days below as geographically sensible or would you change them?
3. Stu - what is the name of the birds of prey show? There are two.

T H A N K Y O U!

Day 1

Arrive Brive at noon.
Get car. Check in hotel.
Walk Sarlat

Day 2

Super early trip to Font de Gaume (If tickets sell out, go to Grotte du Sorcier and add Lascaux II on another day)
Musée Prehistorique in Les Eyzies de Tayac
La Roque Saint Christophe

Day 3

Morning Sarlat Wednesday market
Rent canoes at La Roque-Gageac
Chateau de Castelnaud and Musee de la Guerre du Moyen Age

Day 4

Gouffre de Padirac
St-Amand de Coly
Chateau de Lacypierre in St Crepinet Carlucet

Day 5

Gabarres boat from la Roque-Gageac

Day 6
Marqueyssac Gardens
? Birds of prey

Day 7
Visit Rocamadour on way to Carcassonne
browndogsf is offline  
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May 12th, 2013, 05:10 AM
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First of all, calm down. Everything you see here will be wonderful (in my opinion, as a resident.)

First of all, do you really want to go to a museum, in Les Eyzies, with a child (no idea of age) My first reaction is to skip this.

Second, I think the birds of prey show is at Les Milandes.

And, Montfort is a drive-by. Nice looking chateau, but if you have other things to do, you can skip this.

Congrats, however, on including St Crepin, one of our favourite places. Just nowhere near Padirac and Carennac (note one r, two n) so not perhaps a good itinerary that day.

Will think more, but just finished Sunday lunch, and need time to reflect
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May 12th, 2013, 06:54 AM
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If you arrive in Brive before about 2 PM, I would visit Collonges la Rouge on the way to Sarlat.

On day 3, your canoe trip will probably be in the afternoon - so the sun will be in your face when you paddle down the river. Try to do it in the am instead on some other day. Perhaps do it on Day 6, and the Birds of Prey at Milandes on day 5.

Visit Martel on day 4.

On your way to Carcassonne, you may go past Mpntfort if you are staying in the Beynac/Roque Gageac area - so see it then. It is best in the AM from the Cingle de Montfort anyway. Get an early start that day to avoid the Rocamadour crowds.

Stu Dudley
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May 12th, 2013, 07:35 AM
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Here's the site for the bird show at Les Milandes. If I remember corredtly it is at 3pm.

If you have time, I'd add Beynac Castle to your list. We didn't have kids with us but we were commenting during our visit how our grandkids would have loved it.
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May 12th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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Don't miss a stop at St-Léon-sur-Vézère on Day 2.

Monfort is great if you happen to be on that road, but as noted, it's not open, and there are a thousand other more worthwhile things to see and do. Drive by, gaze up, and you're done, but don't go out of your way.

Day 4 you're all over the place - I'd rethink that plan. And since you're planning to see Rocamadour on the way out of town, why not the Gouffre de Padirac also - it's right there and will save you a long trip on Day 4.

Depending on the age of the child, instead of the Musée de la Préhistoire you might want to visit Grand Roc, where he/she can engage in some hands-on activities, like learning to throw a spear. He/she might also enjoy Le Thot.
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May 12th, 2013, 08:30 AM
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Thank you. This is exactly the feedback I'm looking for.

All these French castle/town/cave/grotte/garden names are swirling in my head. What a mess.
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May 12th, 2013, 08:56 AM
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Two of my favorite villages in this area are Autoire and Loubressac. If my memory serves me correctly, you can also add in Carrenac on the same day. These villages are near Rocamadour.

Agree with Carlux that you should do Rocamadour and Gouffre de Padirac. I got to the Gouffre about 5 mins before opening time and there was no line. When I exited 1.5 hour later, I saw a line of at least 50-60 people! Perhaps best to go early.

For your day 2, I would suggest only going to one "structured" event. I did Font de Gaume in the morning and I didn't have energy (or patience) to see the Musée Prehistorique in Les Eyzies de Tayac or La Roque Saint Christophe afterwards. That's just me.

With 2 kids in tow, I would suggest to play it by ear and see how you and your kids feel. Most of the days, I returned to the B&B by 3pm to relax by the pool.

You may check out my trip report for some itinerary ideas...

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May 12th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Do NOT miss Rocamadour - on your list as this is for good reason the 2nd most visited site in France outside of Paris, after Mont-Saint-Michel - as the pictures above prove. On another thread one Dordogne 'expert' called it schlocky and a waste of time but do not heed that advice IMO after visiting it twice - once one of Europe's most thriving pilgrimage places these - it is an incredible series of a castle and chapels built into and up and down a hill - as the Michelin Greed guide to the Dordogne says "

"Rocamadour, with its slender castle keep towering above it, compromises a mass of old dwellings, oratories, towers and precipitous rocks on its rugged face of a causse cliff rising nearly 500 feet above the Alzou Canyon. This is one of the most extraordinary places in France, a historic site and a place of pilgrimage steeped in beliefs and legends."

Of course the Michelin Green guide gives Rocamadour three stars. So be sure to keep this in your Dordogne plans (even though it ain't technically in the Dordogne, being just over the line.
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May 12th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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Sorry, I still don't think it's worthy spending a lot of time there, worthwhile mostly for the view - and I have been a number of times, walked the stations of the cross etc. our carpenter even worked on the chapel. Park at the top, check out the view, and then head for Autoire, Loubressac, and Carennac.
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May 12th, 2013, 11:15 PM
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For what it's worth, I spent a morning in Rocamadour and it was enoiugh for me. The village itself is very touristy but that doesn't take away from the church. I had lunch in the Rocamadour village. Thereafter, I went back to the hotel for a quick shower and then headed out to Autoire, Loubressac and Caennac. These are all "les plus beaux villages of France". My memories of the afternoon driving to these villages are much fonder than the visit to Rocamadour.

My 2 cents on Rocamdour - definitely see it but don't plan to spend a full day there.
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May 13th, 2013, 10:02 PM
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I'm going to add to your confusion. We took our 10yo DS to the Dordogne (after we visited it previously and loved it), and he loved it. We picked this part of France because, after an earlier trip that included the Loire Valley, he decided he liked older castles the best.

We visited Beynac and Castelnaud, and he enjoyed both. Other castles that he / we really liked: Chateau Commarque, which has a quite ruinous part. This was DS's favorite castle in the Dordogne. Also good: Chateau Puymartin, which has a ghost story associated with it. One that we didn't enjoy so much was Chateau des Marqueyssac, which is known for the gardens. I think we're just not garden people.

Font du Gaume was very special; Gouffre de Padirac, somewhat touristy but he liked it. We visited Rocamadour because it was kind of in that area; it's good for the views. Also Pech Merle, because we started this trip in Barcelona, so were driving up from the south. La Roque Christophe was also a big hit, partly because of the recreations of various "machines."

DS loved the Wednesday market; we bought way too much food at it, which we ate as a picnic lunch by the river, and had leftovers for our train trip later in the week from Brive to Paris.

The falconry show at Les Milandes was interesting. The show was in French, but between my rudimentary French translating "skills" and the English-language handouts that gave us, we pretty much understood everything.
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May 14th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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Your kids will love the Gouffre de Padriac as much as my once young lad did - especially the long descent via stairs into the great chasm to the river hundreds of feet below then taking a ride in a punt - a boat being punted by a hefty grunting French bloke (assumnedly they will NOT be smoking Gaullpoises as they were when we took the took some years ago!

Kids can get bored by many caves with wall art, etc but they will not be bored at the Gouffre de Padirac! (Yes some culture purists may consider this to be a bit tacky and it does have a Disneylandesque aspect to it but for the kids at least the stalactites and stalagmires and descent and boat ride... well heaven!
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May 16th, 2013, 09:25 AM
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A great thing for kids to do in the Dordogne is to do some canoeing or kayaking (depending on kids' age that is) - kids could become bored walking around 'perched villages' or pretty villages - but doing a canoe or kayak float - there are some for all levels of abilities - see photos above - may be what they enjoy most in the Dordogne - I say this after having done several such canoe trips on rivers in France with my young son.

So instead of taking the kids on forced marches thru perched villages where they may find little of interest try floating below these iconic perched villages!
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May 16th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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I am of two minds on the Musée de la Préhistoire. On the one hand, I have a lifelong fascination with the subject of human prehistory... and the exhibits there are very detailed and include copious artifacts.

On the other hand, we visited on a fairly warm day... and the place became very stuffy after a while. I mean stuffy in the literal sense; the humid air was not moving at all. My teenage daughter had had enough in less than an hour, and to honest I wasn't far behind.

Also, count me among those who really enjoyed the castles at both Beynac and Castelnaud.
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Jun 21st, 2013, 05:00 PM
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As an alternative to the Musée de la Préhistoire, just stop at the PIP (prehistory interpretive center) just as you're coming into Les Eyzies from the direction of Sarlat, on the right-hand side of the road and marked by a brushed steel monolith. Free parking across the street! It's beautiful, with simple and interesting displays about prehistoric sites in the region, and a clear and easily understandable parallel history of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal people, a beautiful video/slide show (brief but interesting), and a counter staffed by multi-lingual folks who can help you figure out what prehistoric sites you want to visit, and provide you with maps and guidance.

Also, if you can't get into Font de Gaume, head on toward Le Bugue and beyond, to the Grotte de Rouffignac where you'll ride a train deep into a cave and view amazing drawings and etchings of woolly mammoths and other animals, as wall as wallows where cave bears once hibernated (claw marks on the walls!).
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Jun 21st, 2013, 05:27 PM
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Hi browndogsf,
I can't find when you are going, but if it is in July or August I would highly suggest going to the Marquessac Gardens on a Thursday evening for their candlelit evenings in the garden.

We absolutely loved it. Get there before dark so you can walk around with the kids and then stay for the evening. Thousands of candles illuminate the garden pathways. Musicians are set up in various locations throughout the gardens. It is magical! You can grab a little quick bite at the food cart. There were many kids when we went and they really seemed to be enjoying it.

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