Dordogne itinerary fine tuning

Apr 29th, 2011, 07:04 AM
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Dordogne itinerary fine tuning

We will be spending 16 days in France in early June this year flying into Bordeaux and out of Lyon. I've alloted 2 nights in Brantome, 5 in Sarlat, 4 in Rodez , 1 in Puy-en-Velay and 4 in Lyon which we love.

I'm pretty well set on either end of the trip but the two big blocks in the middle are giving me fits. I'll be posting another thread about Auvergne and related out of Rodez, but on this I'd like some assistance with the Dordogne part of the trip.

We were in Dordogne in 2005 and have lovely memories so we want to repeat some things but also see some new. The days/evenings we are there span Thurs. June 2 to Monday June 6.

We will be staying in Sarlat at the Bon Encontre and our first day (Thursday) will be spent getting there from Brantome. I'm pretty satisfied with this day but I may be trying to pack too much in. If I have to skip something which do you advise? Are there any other places roughly along the route that we should try to work in either in addition to or instead of the ones I've listed?

Puyguilhelm
St. Jean de Cole
Thievers
Excideuil (a market on Thurs)
Hautefort--chateau and gardens
Montignac--probably the lunch stop
St. Armand de Coly
St. Genies
Sarlat
2 and 1/2 hours of driving


Friday --areas NE of Sarlat

Souillac--market on Friday
Martel
Carennac
Autoire
Chateau Montal --I've read little about this, anyone know?
Castelnau Bretenoux
return to Sarlat
3 and 1/2 hours of driving. Again, too ambitious? What to drop? Add? Exchange?


Saturday

Market in Sarlat
Salignac Eyvigues gardens
Turenne--I'd originally thought to return to Collonges la Rouge which we really liked, but we've not seen Turenne and it gets some good notice and would require a little less driving
Return to Sarlat
2 and 1/2 hours of driving
If not Turenne, can anyone suggest another place to combine with Salignac Eyviques where we might do a bit of exploring and have a lovely lunch after spending the morning at the market?

Sunday

Puymartin
Les Eyzies
Le Bugue ? of interest?
Limeuil
Tremlolat with lunch at Le Vieux Logis
Cadouin
Belves
St. Cyprien
Return to Sarlat
2 hours of driving total

Monday

Early to Rocamadour
Decided to skip Gramat--is there something I should reconsider?
Domme
Roque Gageac --garbare cruise, I know we should do this on our first day but then I'd be cut out of one of the few markets we manage to be around for
Beynac
Sarlat
3 hours of driving total

I find the Dordogne and Auvergne areas really tough to plan. None of the places are household words--even on this forum. The slipping between departments, regions, etc, etc, in explaining where things are is maddening--and I suspect there's some of that old name/new name problem at work as well. Roads aren't exactly straight and certainly good sized roads are pretty hard to come by. I know that there lurks some beautiful little gem around every bend, but it's hard to remember who said what about which little place and there doesn't seem to be much to distinguish one from another--brown roofs vs. red brick, vs a chateau, vs a bridge, etc, etc.

So much for my whining. I know it will be wonderful when we get there. I just want to give it my best planning shot. Anything those of you steeped in this area/region/whatever can do to help will be very much appreciated. Thanks.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 07:49 AM
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Thursday - why Thiviers?
Friday and Monday - not sure why you're venturing so far afield when you could do Carennac and Rocamadour and Martel and all that on the way to Rodez. But if you're going that direction, I'd visit the walnut mill in Ste-Nathalène. Chateau Bretenoux is practically a drive-by - huge, cavernous, empty shell of a place - not much of an attraction IMO.

Saturday you might consider Terrasson.

Sunday - Les Eyzies and Le Bugue will be pretty dead. I of course love Le Bugue, but for a tourist on a Sunday thre's probably not much appeal unless you want to have a chocolat liègois by the river. It's a working town, not glamorous. Also, if you're going to Cadouin and Belvès, please continue on to Monpazier, which far outshines both of them.

No St-Léon-sur-Vézère? Castelnaud? Generally speaking, I don't think you need to be spending your days driving so far away from your Sarlat base - there's plenty too do and see in closer. But maybe you covered that territory last time around.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 29th, 2011, 08:39 AM
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Thanks for the nudges to stay closer to Sarlat. DH will be pleased and relieved.

Initially I'd thought to do Rocamadour and possibly also Martel enroute to Rodez but then decided we'd probably need a while to spend in Figeac and Conques and so decided to do them instead as a day trip out of Sarlat adding in Brentenoux, etc. If the latter is somewhat ho-hum that could cut our driving for the day and permit us to add in some of your suggestions as well as Rocamadour, then leaving us time on Monday to fit in still more alternatives in the Sarlat vicinity. Appreciate your suggestions to drop Thiviers and add Monpazier. Pretty easily done. Thanks so much.
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Apr 29th, 2011, 08:54 AM
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Just an odd note: Souillac has an excellent coin-laundry. (We discovered they were hard to find in the area!) But then again, so does Sarlat.

We had lunch in Rocamadour, but actually, found it was more interesting as a a gorgeous vista to drive past...

Castelnaud is a stunningly done exhibit and of course the views up and down and across the river to Beynac are thrilling. And of course, St-Léon-sur-Vézère is a stop we've made for picnic lunches on both our visits to the area.

Carennac is one of my favorite towns ever. We actually extended our stay in the area in order to spend a night there!

I also echo StCirq's recommendation of Monpazier...
uhoh_busted is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Great to have not only recommendations but corroboration of the recs. Thanks uhoh.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 09:05 AM
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i>Puyguilhelm
St. Jean de Cole
Thievers
Excideuil (a market on Thurs)
Hautefort--chateau and gardens
Montignac--probably the lunch stop
St. Armand de Coly
St. Genies
Sarlat
2 and 1/2 hours of driving

If this is meant in one day, it is a little much.

I think that Bourdeilles is more interesting than Puyguilhem, and that the Thiviers market is better than Excideuil's. There little else of interest in Thiviers, or Excideuil.

I prefer the Hautefort hospice which is now a museum of medicine to the chateau itself.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623164797649
Michael is online now  
Apr 29th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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Thanks Michael. We'll see Bourdeilles on a previous day so it sounds like we can skip Puyguilhem and save some drive time. Thiviers does not have it's market on Thursday which is the only day we'll be driving through that area, so it looks like I'll stick with Excideuil. Are the Hauteforte Hospice and Chateau in reasonable proximity so that we might see both?
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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The hospice is on the eastern side of the chateau. It has the same tower-like roof. You'll see it from the chateau.
Michael is online now  
Apr 29th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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If you are stopping in Excideuil you'll want to park in the Allée André Maurois. You'll be coming in on D76. You can drive through the town on Ave. Gambetta, but on market day it might be easier to go around the chateau. Google map Excideuil and you will see what I mean. The main part of the market is up the rue Jean Jaurès and on the square in front of the church.
Michael is online now  
Apr 29th, 2011, 10:40 AM
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Another vote NOT to go to Thiviers. Nothing there of tourist interest any time I've been through. Frankly I feel the same for Excideuil. There are so many other beautiful places in the area, like Monpazier, St Leon Sur Vezere

Re Salignac Eyvigues - I think you mean the gardens at Eyrignac. Salignac is a pleasant town, but again there are more interesting places. In that area you would do better to see St Genies, a gorgeous little town, walk past the chateau at St Crepin, and perhaps see St Amand de Coly.

Sunday you will never do all you have planned.
First thing - what do you want to see at Les Eyzies? If it is the museum or the cave at Font de Gaume, that will take time. Otherwise the town is not much.

Then, lunch will take a long time. And at the Vieux Logis I would actually recommend lunch during the week which is an imaginative and wonderful 'tapas' tasting kind of meal. Not offered on Sunday.

We like the Souillac market, and were there this morning, as most Fridays. But unless it's on your way to somewhere else (possibly Carennac, fabulous little town, or Autoire or Loubressac) it might not be the best to go to.

What we recommend to people usually is:
One day along the river: Domme Beynac and/or Castelnaud, La Roque Gageac, possibly St Cyprien if you really want to go there.

One day further west: Monpazier, possibly Chateau at Biron, Cadouin, St Avit Seigneur. Possibly other Bastide towns, like Issigeac

Another day to the east - Rocamadour, (not too much time, the view is the best thing)Carennac, Autoire, etc. Possibly Padirac if you like underground river/cave experience)

Caves - Lascaux II or Font de Gaume or both. Can combine with St Leon sur Vezere.

If you are in Sarlat, you can easily spend a day just wandering around there. You don't really need to be doing long long drives on your first trip. Give yourself some time to wander, get lost, and find great experiences of your own.
Carlux is offline  
Apr 29th, 2011, 02:52 PM
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There are so many other beautiful places in the area, like Monpazier, St Leon Sur Vezere

Yes, but they are not on the way from Brantôme to Sarlat. I agree that the only reason to stop in Excideuil is to pick up food at the market.
Michael is online now  
Apr 29th, 2011, 05:44 PM
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But no one suggested that they were...just that they ought to be included in a week's stay in the Dordogne.
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Apr 29th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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Not quite, they are in the paragraph suggesting that Thiviers and Excideuil are not worth a stop.
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Apr 30th, 2011, 12:06 AM
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This is a wonderful area. We stayed for a week in 2006 near Gourdon and a week in 2008 at Tourtoirac near Hautfort and am sad to say we have only driven through Sarlat an our way to Gourdon - definitely something we need to rectify sometime!
We stay in rentals and have the luxury of a bit more time so over the two trips we have visited quite a few of the places you are going to visit] We found Rocamadour a bit touristy but certainly an amazing view. Another vote for the Gouffre de Padirac.We did both as a day trip in 2006 and home through Carennac, Floirac[ a wonderful photo of a well and an old Renault].
We also love the markets and often buy something to cook at our gite. However, I see you are staying in a hotel, so are you planning lots of picnic lunches or are you visiting markets for the atmosphere? Sarlat market's fame of course precedes it.
We are also hoping to visit the Rodez area on our next trip[2012] so will be interested to see your report.
You have a great trip planned. Happy travels.
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Apr 30th, 2011, 01:26 AM
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Julie you have no doubt done your research well! I have not been in the area in a few years, but not far from Martel is a walnut-oil mill that was featured in Saveur and in National Georgraphic (!) about 10 (?) years ago. They offer lunch. When we ate there the first time it was intimate with few other diners. The second time there was a large group of elderly French tourists. But they gave us a private room and we had quite a good time there. The mill itself is quite interesting and I thought the food (choice of two dishes per course, if I remember correct, one being confit de canard) was very good, if on the homey side.

Just a thought..


http://www.tourisme-lot.com/en/388/6...Noix%20/MARTEL
ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 30th, 2011, 04:25 AM
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Thanks Michael for the driving directions to avoid problems in Excideuil on market day. DH will be exceedingly grateful. He thinks that's the kind of info all guidebooks should routinely carry. Can you imagine the size of guidebooks with that kind of specificity on everything! But when you need it you need it. Glad to have it.

Carlux, glad you saw the post and chimed in. Thiviers is off the list but we will drive through Excideuil since I can't resist a market. if possible, I try to start every day with one. On the strength of similar suggestions earlier, I've now added in Monpazier and St. Leon sur Vezere.

Yes, I do mean the gardens at Eyrignac and St. Genies is on the listSt. Amand de Coly came off to make time for St. Leon s Vezere on the way to Sarlat.

I've given up Les Eyzies on Sunday and lunch there at Vieux Logis but will keep their weekday tapas lunch in mind. That's our preferred type of dining.

Yes, Souillac is on our way to Rocamadour on Friday and gives me my morning market

I think I'm pretty close to following your suggested days--Monday we'll be along the river at the places you suggest. Sunday is our west day. I hadn't included Biron, Issigeac or St. Avit Seigneur. I'll be checking to see if I can do so.

Friday is my day to the east. We went to one cave in 2005 when we were previously in Dordogne. I can't say we were smitten so we won't be including more such experiences on this trip. I'm sure this is heresy to many, but that's just how we reacted. We plan to spend Saturday morning in Sarlat for the market and since we're staying there will undoubtedly see more of the place from day to day.

rhon, we don't stay in gites and so almost never buy anything at the markets (except a stray Nogent knife or two or cute kids clothes for the granddaughters) but we love the color and the beauty and take oodles of pictures. I'm a bit worried about the Rodez portion of the trip but one way or the other I'll bring back info and hopefully do a report.

ekss, thanks for the link on the walnut oil mill. I've been hearing about it but couldn't find it. Sounds a lot like the goat farm we dined at in the Loire. I'll see if I can fit it in. It gets tough planning to always be at the right sight when it's lunchtime but that's the challenge.

Things are coming together for me much more based on the responses I've had here. Thanks so much to all of you.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 30th, 2011, 02:36 PM
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Julie,

I have followed your travels and trip reports for a long time and we seem to have the same tastes. I'm not sure where it would fit into your itinerary but a few years ago we had lunch under the plane trees here http://www.lepontdelouysse.com/gb/restaurant.htm and we enjoyed it so much that on our next trip we stayed for few days and used LaCave as our base. The food and accommodations were lovely as were the staff. I also went into Souillac to use the coin operated laundry mentioned above. At that time we did find they were few and far between in the area and we were traveling for a month so it was necessary to do laundry.I will look forward to your report as this is the first spring in over 10 years that we have not been in France. Happy travels,

Mrs. Laidback
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May 1st, 2011, 02:48 AM
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Wow, Mrs. Laidback. We DO have similar tastes in travel and dining. As I read your post I had on my desk a page torn from my Pudlo Guide to France from where else but Lacave, trying to figure out how I could fit it in to our itinerary and how I could pick between Le Pont del'Ouysse and Chateau de la Treyne there. I now know which to pick, my only remaining problem is how to fit it in. Any chance that while you were in the vicinity you journeyed to Aubrac and can give me a rec there--or that you had aligot and recommend a great place to have it? Practically building a trip around a potato dish makes it pretty imperative to sample the best.

Thanks for your kind words and wishes. I'll do my best to bring back a good report. If nothing else I can fill a page or two just trying to explain where the Dordogne and the Auvergne begin and end and what they are really--departments, areas, regions, whatever. That part of this plan has pretty well gotten under my skin.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
May 3rd, 2011, 04:28 PM
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Hi Julie, what dates will you be there? We are going to the Dordogne for 3 weeks beginning on the 11th.
wren is offline  
May 3rd, 2011, 06:15 PM
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Well, Julie, you'll REALLY be an expert if you can define the difference between the Dordogne and the Périgord (something to muse about when on the twisty roads in the Gorges du Tarn).
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