Dordogne or Rome with Teen Boys

Old May 14th, 2020, 07:05 AM
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What do you mean by "the Cathar region?" They were all over the place, from Italy to the Pyrenées, for two whole centuries!

You need to be realistic. You can't do much more than a drive-by for anything here. I live here. And know the reality. A week is nothing.
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Old May 14th, 2020, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
What do you mean by "the Cathar region?" They were all over the place, from Italy to the Pyrenées, for two whole centuries!

You need to be realistic. You can't do much more than a drive-by for anything here. I live here. And know the reality. A week is nothing.
I mean around Carcassonne. We are crazy travelers. Two years ago we drove all the way to eastern Utah from Washington D.C. and covered tons of territory in Colorado all in eleven days. On our last trip to Europe we drove from Munich to Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and back to Germany in two weeks. Yes, it is a lot, but we don't have the ability to make regular trips overseas, so would love to see as much as possible while there.
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Old May 16th, 2020, 01:41 PM
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Fly into Bordeaux and out of Toulouse (we flew Aer Lingus through Dublin). Two hours by car will get you to get to the Sarlat area of the Perigord Noir. You can spend 5 to 6 nights seeing everything you can fit in within 1 hour of Sarlat, which has a very dense allocation of worthy sites, so not a lot of time wasted on driving. If you skip anything north of Lascaux, you could conceivably fit everything else shown on the following link into 5-6 busy days https://www.france-voyage.com/touris...epartement.htm, after which, a 3 hour drive gets you to Carcassone to spend 1 to 2 nights. At the end, a one hour drive from Carcassone takes you to TLS airport to fly home. If you add 2 or 3 more nights, there are a dozen Cathar castles in various states of disrepair between Carcassone and the Spanish border.

We did virtually this exact trip 12 years ago and it was very successful. So much so that we bought a house between Sarlat and Les Ezyies 3 years ago. Will you see "everything"? No, but enough to make it a worthwhile and memorable trip. Have fun!

Last edited by russ_in_LA; May 16th, 2020 at 01:59 PM.
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Old May 16th, 2020, 04:01 PM
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Thank you very much, Russ in LA. I appreciate the feedback.
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Old May 17th, 2020, 10:11 AM
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The Languedoc was the center of Catharism in France, in fact, one of their names comes from the town of Albi. I think their main area was to the S/SW of Carcassonne. Here's a good explanation and map
https://about-france.com/tourism/cathar-country.htm

I don't know if you like to read a lot, or history of places you want to go, but I highly recommend the French historian's work by Le Roy Ladurie. Or maybe your husband since he is especially interested in that area. Laduriespecialized in that area. I think you can usually find his books translated to English if you don't read French. I've read this one, which is a microhistory of a small village in the SW near the foothills of the Pyrenees that was a bastion of Catharism, Montmaillou. I think it was one of his most popular books.

https://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/prospecti...rie-montaillou

He also wrote one on peasants in that area called Les Paysans de Languedoc (Peasants of Languedoc in English). This was a review in the Wash Post:

Hailed as a pioneering work of "total history" when it was published in France in 1966, Le Roy Ladurie's volume combines elements of human geography, historical demography, economic history, and folk culture in a broad depiction of a great agrarian cycle, lasting from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. It describes the conflicts and contradictions of a traditional peasant society in which the rise in population was not matched by increases in wealth and food production. "It presents us with a great study of rural history, an analysis of economic change and a description of a society in movement that has few equals." -- Washington Post Book World

I think a week is fine to enjoy the area, and Russ has good advice.
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Old May 17th, 2020, 02:38 PM
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Thank you, Christina. Yes, we love history and I research the areas we visit so our trips are more meaningful. I will definitely look up the books you suggest.
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Old May 21st, 2020, 01:49 PM
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I've never been to the Dordogne, but I live in Italy and have taken various teenagers to Rome. All of them, except for one aggressively bored fellow, loved Rome. As others have said, the crowds are likely to be less next summer, but even when there are crowds, there is a lot more to see than the notoriously crowded spots. If you really have to see the Vatican Museums (with the Sistine Chapel), you can go there on a Friday night, when there really aren't any crowds. I myself think there are lots of world-class museums in Rome that are never crowded, and that the Vatican Museums can be saved for a later trip when your sons are out of school and can vacation in January. There are also lots of fascinating archaeological sites in Rome other than the very crowded Colosseum. You can admire the Colosseum from the outside and visit Ostia Antica, for example. I spent hours there last summer with my 14-year-old granddaughter, and she could have stayed there the whole day.

If you spend a week in Rome, you could certainly take one day trip. Capri is definitely too far, and Pompeii is very far and very hot in the summer. Ostia Antica is even larger than Pompeii, and historically more varied. I once visited Assisi as a day trip, but I'm not sure I'd advise that with adolescents, unless they are great admirers of St. Francis or of Giotto. A day trip to Bracciano, with a beautiful castle on Lake Bracciano is easy and fun. Orvieto is a beautiful and interesting hill town, easily reached from Rome. You can visit an Italian seaside at Ostia Lido (which could be combined with a morning at Ostia Antica) or at Nettuno or Anzio. At Anzio there is a small museum about the allied landing there in 1944; I've never been there, so I can't tell you much about it. Florence is also an easy day trip from Rome. I would skip most of the museums, and just enjoy the city, I can give more advice if you decide to go there.
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Old May 21st, 2020, 03:58 PM
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Thank you so much for this advice. I also think my kids would really enjoy Rome, as long as we don't visit too many museums or have to stand in long lines. My husband and I spent a week in Italy a number of years ago and we visited Florence and Orvieto, both of which we loved. I will take a look at the other destinations you mentioned.
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