Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Drving paris to Dordogne - and Dordogne to Siena - Are we crazy ? (

Salandos Mar 12th, 2007 12:43 PM

Drving paris to Dordogne - and Dordogne to Siena - Are we crazy ?
We fly into paris and are planning a week in Dordogne then 2 weeks in Tuscany (just out of Siena) before flying out of Rome.

We have looked at flights/ TGV / other train / car options - and am leaning toward just biting the bullet and driving the whole thing (we have got a price for a car with a reasonable drop off fee in Rome at the end of the rental period.)

My thinking / reasons to heading towards this conclusion are as follows - but I think we need as much advice/ help as can get on this one ! :

For the Paris - Dordogne leg we fly into CDG in the afternoon (from Malaga so will not be tired) and are heading to Belves.
- If we get the TGV I understand we have to take the metro into paris to the correct Station - then TGV to Bordeaux and then pick up car and drive approx 2 hours ((which I think will mean we have to stay overnight in Paris as we get in too late for the TGV timetable)
-If we pick up a car at CDG it is a 6 hour drive
- Flights to bergerac are very expensive. Flights to Bordeaux are not too bad - but by the time we wait for the connecting flight (3- 4 hours) and drive 2 hours to Belves - then we could get there sooner by driving ! (or have I got this terribly wrong? )
- is there another train option I have missed ?

For the Dordogne - Siena leg:
- are we crazy contemplating driving this ? Can one do it in a day (drive-safe website tells me 12 hours total ) so very long day (but we have done similiar before by leaving very early in the am then breaking for a decent stop for lunch - and same again for dinner - and arriving 8/ 9pm)
-if we did it over 2 days and stayed overnight - where would be a good break point ?
- are there any train options - none seem to be obvious?
- flights from Bordeaux to Rome / Florence ... what airlines ? (so far seem pretty pricey)

Many thanks

StCirq Mar 12th, 2007 12:53 PM

You don't have to go into Paris to catch the TGV to Bordeaux. You can get it right at the airport in Aérogare 2. You can also continue on from Bordeaux on a train to Périgueux, from which it's only about a 45-minute drive to Belvès.

I personally wouldn't drive straight from the Dordogne to Siena, but I guess some folks enjoy those types of marathons.

ira Mar 12th, 2007 01:38 PM

Hi S,

I woould take the TGV from CDG 2 to Libourne (25E PREMS fare) and pick up the car there, and head for Belves, stopping off at St. Emilion.

>For the Dordogne - Siena leg:
- are we crazy contemplating driving this ? Can one do it in a day (drive-safe website tells me 12 hours total....<

That's a two-day drive, 3 if you want to do some sightseeing.

Truckers aren't allowed to drive for more than 10 hr.

You will be in a strange country on a route that you have never driven before.

You're nuts for even contemplating it in one day. :)

Alternatively, you can fly from Bordeaux to Bologna for as little as 55E, from which it is about 2 hr to Siena by car, and save the drop off fee.

Enjoy your visit.


katesbelsogno Mar 12th, 2007 01:44 PM

Try low budget airline..On the other hand , we have driven that route many times. If you have the time and can pace yourselves, enjoying the "road trip", it is wonderful..Get out your maps and make a plan..Above all..have fun and don't make ANY of it too much work...I always find that the simplest plan is usually the best..Keep in mind the cost of petrol..Quite high right now and with the Euro hitting all time highs you could run into a lot of gas money..Best of luck

StuDudley Mar 12th, 2007 02:16 PM

I've mentioned this several times in various posts, but the drive around Genoa in Italy is a killer. There are something like 30 tunnels you go through. They are very stressful. Also, around Genoa there are many opportunities to make a wrong turn and end up in downtown Genoa - perhaps without a street map.

If you're under 25, love a road trip, and also love challenges, then go ahead.

If I could find a flight out of Toulouse or Bordeaux under about $750 for two people, I would do that. If I couldn't, I would drive to Nice, stay overnight there, and take the train to La Spezia or Pisa the next day and pick up a car there.

Stu Dudley

katesbelsogno Mar 12th, 2007 02:26 PM

So right about the tunnels!! They are very tedious..especially if you are trying to read!! Yes,,we have also taken the wrong turn in Genoa!! LOL..If you can manage that part of it though, the rest is beautifu!..We have done the train from La Spezia to NIce..Very nice..

4totravel Mar 12th, 2007 02:44 PM

Does anyone know how much they will pay in autoroute tolls?

Mariarosa Mar 12th, 2007 03:16 PM

Personally, I would not do this, but I can't stand being in a car for more than 2 hours without a stop and we don't particularly enjoy driving. But I would double-check the car insurance. Did you get a quote that includes CDW? I think it's mandatory in Italy (and neither my AmEx nor my Master Card covers us in Italy) and you will probably have to pay for the France portion as well, since it's one car rental. What is the deductible? It may be cheaper (and saner) to get 2 separate car rentals and get either a cheap flight or a train with a few overnight stops in nice places.

christycruz Mar 12th, 2007 03:40 PM

When are you planning to be here? If August, I wouldn't plan any big car trips and book train tickets ahead of time.

We drove from near Belves to Avignon, which in August takes about seven hours. The autoroute tolls were higher than I thought they'd be. I remember $70usd, but I can't remember if that's one way or round trip.

StCirq Mar 12th, 2007 04:00 PM

Oh GOd, I forgot about those tunnels (how, I'm not sure, as it's the closest I ever came to dying in an automobile). Sunglasses off, regular glasses on, regular glasses off, sunglasses on....for freakin' HOURS it seemed. And lanes that merge just as you're entering a tunnel fiddling with your glasses, and huge trucks....pure horror.

Rastaguytoday Mar 12th, 2007 04:21 PM

ira makes a good point.

Check out the Bordeaux aiport and you will see that MyAir flys direcctly to Bologna, almost next door to Tuscany. Plus, you can enjoy some of the great food in the region. Here's the Bordeaux web site in English (hopefully).

You should also check out flying from Malaga through Madrid to Bordeaux. This web site notes a direct flight.

Lexma90 Mar 12th, 2007 06:06 PM

On the train to the Dordogne option, yes there are trains that go straight from CDG, but as I recall, there are fewer trains that go from there. After checking schedules and your arrival times, you may find it's more convenience or efficient to take the train from Paris.

On that long drive, yes you could do it, but you might wish that you had the time to stop and spend time in some (many?) of the spots that you'll be driving through. Along the Cote d'Azur is especially lovely. And I agree with the tunnels around Genoa! A while back, we did a similar drive in the opposite direction, from the Cinque Terre to Provence (which is a much shorter distance than you're contemplating). The in-out of the tunnels is very tiring on the eyes of the driver, and sunglasses on/off gets very tiring too!

Traveler2 Mar 12th, 2007 09:36 PM

3 years ago we flew into Paris, leased a car through (the best piece of info I have ever rec'd from this forum-Highly recommend it!) drove to Dordogne, and then to San Sebastian and after that to Barcelona, French Riviera and then on to Italy. We had one more week then you, but we really did a lot and saw a lot. You have so much more freedom and independence having a car, not to mention choices of places to stay.

About leasing a car; The zero deductable is such piece of mind, especially since we used it. BTW It cost less than half the price of any rental quotes to lease the car.

Have a wonderful trip.

klondike Mar 12th, 2007 10:07 PM

The other great thing about leasing...brand new car as you ordered it, not the "bait and switch" tactics used by a lot of rental agencies. You know in advance your luggage is going to fit in the trunk, your legs (or stomach) will make it behind the drivers' wheel etc, there really will be a/c, and if you put the right petrol in it, it will purr and not break down on the road (yes, Maitaitom, been there/done that, too).

Just wondering...why Belvès? We spent a couple of hours there and it was charming, but sort of not particularly "central to the sights".

Count on whatever driving time given as taking maybe 20% longer or more...all it takes is one missed turn (we did that in New York-Yikes!)

Carlux Mar 12th, 2007 10:45 PM

Another vote for not driving from the DOrdogne to Siena. We did it in two days, and hated the tunnels. also, found that autoroutes in Italy are not in such good condition as those in France.

However, the drive from Paris to the DOrdogne isnt too bad, about 5 hours. Mostly on the A20 which is an attractive and well maintained autoroute. But another possiblility is to take the train from Gare d'Austerlitz to Brive and pick up your car there. It's not TGV, but only takes 4 hours, then another hour or so to Belves. Depending on your timetable, it may be faster than waiting for a TGV.

Salandos Mar 13th, 2007 12:26 AM

Thanks everyone for your help. Time for a re-think !

flanneruk Mar 13th, 2007 01:01 AM

There's no need to take the tunnel-intensive route along the coast if you want to get to Siena.

N 89 to Clermont-Ferrand, A 72 to Lyons, then follow the signs for Milan, then Florence. Not at all crazy to drive it: millions of us do it every year (including those of us to whom driving on the right is an offence against the natural order of things).

Doolally to do it in a day if you don't have to, since it's mostly a fascinating drive.

ira Mar 13th, 2007 03:17 AM

Hi S, estimates toll + fuel at 202E for the route via Genoa and 230E via Clermont-Ferrand.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:02 PM.