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Dordogne to somewhere else in France? or tDordogne to Northern Spain?

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Mar 15th, 2013, 05:59 AM
  #1
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Dordogne to somewhere else in France? or tDordogne to Northern Spain?

My wife, I and our good friends (we are 2 couples in our early 60's ... can't believe I just said that) are heavily into our almost annual "where are we vacationing in Europe this year" discussion. We'll have approximately 14 days in September, not counting the flights over and back from PHL (friends are in Northern VA.). Of a number of different possibilities, I'm leaning toward one that would include a week in Dordogne, and a second week either in another region of France - been to Paris, Provence, Burgundy and Normandy before, wouldn't at all mind returning to Provence - or, we could travel to Northern Spain, in and around San Sebastian and Basque Country. Two or three bases total for the trip.

We look for good food and wine, beautiful countryside, some unique museums and churches, a chance to mingle with locals, a small to medium-sized city nearby, more food and wine, and lots of relaxation after an unusually trying period in our personal lives for both couples. We're all fairly seasoned travellers, and have vacationed together at least two dozen times over the last 25 - 30 years.

St Cirq - I can't find your recommendation for which town to train to from Paris to Dordogne, could you please refresh my memory?

We could consider renting an apartment or cottage for the week in Dordogne, and we prefer small hotels or B&B for 3 -4 night stays. Have no problem driving in Europe, and also realize that renting a car in one country and dropping off in another is generally cost prohibitive.

Any recommendations for the first or second leg of this trip would be appreciated.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 06:54 AM
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Hi, phillyboy.

There are several ways to take a train to the Dordogne from Paris, and it depends in part whether you want to leave directly from the airport or whether you'll already be in Paris. If the former, the TGV from CDG to Bordeaux, connecting to a TER train to/toward Périgueux might be easiest; otherwise a train from Paris to Brive-la-Gaillarde.

You might want to consider a week in the Dordogne followed by a week in Languedoc-Roussilon. Then you could venture into Spain for a couple of days to visit, e.g., the Costa Brava, then back into France to return the car rental. Or a week in the Dordogne and a week through the Cognac area and on to La Rochelle, Ile de Ré, etc.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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All good ideas, thanks SC. Do you recommend Sarlat as a good base in Dordogne?

Is Languedoc-Roussilon kind of a combo of Dordogne and Provence?
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Mar 15th, 2013, 09:48 AM
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phillyboy, if not Sarlat itself, then somewhere fairly close by, yes. It depends on whether you want to be in a town or a village.

Yes, I think that's a fair assessment of the Languedoc-Roussillon.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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The Basque country, on both sides of the border, might be the thing to do. You might want to look at my trip report on Aquitaine for the French part; click on my name to find it.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 12:11 PM
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StCirq - Thanks again. Narrowing it down.

Michael - Thanks, will read your trip report. We spent 10 days along the Costa Brava and in Barcelona in Sept. 2010, so looking for someplace a bit different in Spain. We really enjoyed the two trips weve taken, so the Basque Country is especially appealing.

If anyone has any rnatl or small hotel recomendatins in these areas, would love to know. We typically ry to average ou lodging costs at $200/room/nigt.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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OOOhhh ... hit send before I finished previewing.

Last two sentences should have said

>If anyone has any rental or small hotel recomendations in these areas, would love to know. We typically try to average our lodging costs at $200/room/night.<

Also, to clarify the prior paragraph, we've taken two prior trips to Spain, one as mentioned to Barcelona and Costa Brava, the other to Madrid - Seville - Costa de la Luz - Granada.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Understanding that many people think it foolish and/or reckless to undertake a 5.5 - 6 hour drive shortly after an all-night flight - would driving from CDG to the Sarlat area be a such a bad idea? I have done similar drives after all night flights before, with absolutely no issues or problems. Upon arrival in Europe, my adrenaline is always flowing to the maximum, never drowsy. It would, of course be during the daytime, and we would have a back-up driver.

The duration is roughly what would be expected via train, and we'd be renting a car upon arrival in the Dordogne anyway. Ok, now I'm prepared to be called every conceivable kind of irresponsible in the book.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Yes, a bad idea. Not so much because of jetlag (I can go for hours being a responsible, jetlagged driver...recognizing that many others can't), but because it is just such a bore. The sun in your face the whole way, huge trucks everywhere, nothing much pleasant to see along the way. And trust me, with the current speed limits in place, it's going to be more than a 6-hour drive. The train by comparison, is a luxurious trip.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:13 AM
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phillyboy - your problem would be that you'd be hitting at least the left-overs of the rush-hour traffic whether you head through the middle of Paris, or try to go round it.

google-maps suggests a journey time to Sarlat of about 5 1/2 hours but I'd be surprised if that were accurate. and you may think that you are firing on all cylinders but if you're right about the adrenalin, that's hardly a good state to be driving in.

can i ask why you aren't happy with the train? - TGV to Bordeaux, then pick up the train there if you want a bit of a drive - I think it's about 2 hours to Sarlat.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:15 AM
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A train to Périgueux from Bordeaux makes a lot more sense than the train to Sarlat. It's maybe a 40-minute drive from Périgueux to Sarlat, and there's no cumbersome bus involved, as there is from Sarlat. And you will not make it to Sarlat in 5.5 hours. Take the train (to Brive if you want - that's a very good option as well).
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:22 AM
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<>

obviously, that should have been "pick up the CAR there if you want a bit of a drive" - which would avoid having to change trains but would be a longer drive than the one from Perigueux.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:23 AM
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If you purchase train tickets 3 months in advance, you might get them for 15€ each to Brive (that's what we have, although it is not clear if it is a senior rate) and driving (rental + tolls + fuel) will be much more expensive. To the train ticket, add the fare from CDG to Paris.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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I have rarely made it driving to Sarlat from Bordeaux in under 3 hours. Maybe 2.5 if all goes well, but there always seem to be déviations and backups on the bridges and terrible traffic leaving Bordeaux, and so on. Not fun. And that road is one of the most dangerous in France...you know, the ones where they have cut-out figures of dead people with a big drop of blood on their face, symbolizing the places where people were in fatal accidents...totally creepy.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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You can get from Sarlat to Bordeaux now easily in 2 hours on the autoroute A89. The road St Cirq mentions is not necessary now.

Regarding trains to this area, you should consider train from Paris (Gare d'Austerlitz) to Brive la Gaillarde, pick up your car there, drive to Sarlat, about 40 minutes.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 01:15 PM
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OK, OK, OK ... bad idea. Thanks to all for the more detailed explanations.

I have no aversion to the train, I was just trying to cut down on the modes of transportation, from 2 trains and a car to just a car.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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phillyboy - I understand not wanting to have to change trains lots of times - which is why i suggested getting the TGV to Bordeaux then picking up a car - which Carlux confirms should not be too much trouble.

one train, nice long ride, one car ride on the autoroute.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 02:12 PM
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Yup, and if the A89 has replaced that horrible old road, it will be easy (I hated that road so much I stopped driving from Bordeaux years ago, which is why I didn't realize there was a new way to get there). Trains are FUN in France!
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Mar 17th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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Trains are FUN in France!>>

yes, but lugging your luggage around stations isn't, St. C!

not in any country, not even in France.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 02:48 PM
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I understand not wanting to have to change trains lots of times - which is why i suggested getting the TGV to Bordeaux then picking up a car

The train to Brive is direct, no change necessary.
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