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France - 1st draft itinerary

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Jan 27th, 2016, 06:34 PM
  #1
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France - 1st draft itinerary

I'm planning a June visit to France this year with a focus on the Dordogne and points south. I'll be going stag this year and coming from Florida. No flights or anything else have been booked at this time. Trip length will be 12-14 nights, so I've outlined 13 nights below as a best guess.

Fly into Paris - 2 nights. This would be my 4th visit to Paris and I was there for a week last year, so I'm not hitting it hard this time.

Dordogne - 5 nights. I'd like this to be the centerpiece of the trip. I'll take a train from Paris to Sarlat (6 hours) and pick up a car. Per Stu Dudley's excellent guides and other sources, I'll likely stay in Beynac, La Roque, or Domme.

Provence - 3 nights. I'll likely stay in Arles or Avignon. Main quests here are van Gogh and Picasso exhibits, Roman stuff, and with luck catch a bull fight.

Nice - 3 nights. I'll fly home from here, and may break it into 2 nights for St. Tropez and 1 for Nice. I'd be fine with cutting a day here and adding it to Paris.

Main questions:
1 - How long is the drive from Sarlat to Arles or Avignon? Train transit times are about 8 hours with multiple connections, so it seems like a car is the better option. Should I break up the drive by spending a night at an interesting place in between, and what would that place be?

2 - For a June visit how critical is advance booking for hotels for the Dordogne and Provence towns I listed? My main focus this trip is the Dordogne, a handful of sights there, and then outdoor activities such as biking and canoeing. If the weather is bad, I would like the flexibility of adding or subtracting days as needed. So except for my flight cities, Paris and Nice, I'd rather not book hotels in advance unless the consensus is good ones will be hard to come by. 2-stars or chambre d'hotes are fine for me. I don't cook much so I think a gite is wasted on me, but if someone has a blockbuster recommendation for the Dordogne area, I might be persuaded to shave a couple days from other towns to make it a full week.

Many thanks for your advice and insights!
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Jan 28th, 2016, 02:48 AM
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Hi
What does 'stag' mean in your sentence ?

No need to comment on your choices, you have Stu's itineraries.

Availability in june : june is not a month of crowds, but Dordogne is a little different, attracting a lot of English people and/or retirees who come at any season.

So yes you'll have plenty of choice, but yes, the 'gems' will be taken.

Enjoy your holiday.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 03:06 AM
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What', "stag" means boy or boys only. "hen" means, woman or women only.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 03:07 AM
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for timings use michelin web site (google tends to be off by 30%)
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Jan 28th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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I live in the Dordogne. June in any of the places you have chosen to stay is a cliché - you will be surrounded by (English-speaking) tourists, and it will be crowded, not jammed the way it is in July and August, but crowded. If you really want to "experience" the Dordogne, you should avoid the Rick Steves-type places and get into the "real world" here. Of course, as a first-time visitor, you are bound to be captivated by all of it, no matter how much of a cliché.

It would be absolutely crazy not to book your accommodations in advance. We are booked up through October of next year. You could find a spot in a campground, maybe, but other than that, you need to book now.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 07:26 AM
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Thanks, StCirq. Which towns would you recommend?
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Jan 28th, 2016, 07:57 AM
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Since your trip is in June and you start in the Dordogne - I assume that you'll be in the Dordogne in early June. We've stayed around Domme/Roque Gageac many time in June - and it really wasn't overly crowded at all. No problems getting into restaurants with reservations only the day before, renting kayaks, driving along the Dordogne River, etc. The Sunday market in St Cyprien was crowded, however.

You'll need a car to explore both the Dordogne and Provence.

The drive from Domme to Arles is about 5 1/2 hrs. I always recommend a 2 1/2 hr stop in Carcassonne - which is about half-way to Arles.

Daglan, St Pompon, Cazals (nice Sunday morning market), and even Belves are not too touristy or overly crowded. Take the drive described in my itinerary titled "Bastide towns" to visit some more places a tad less touristy.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 28th, 2016, 08:09 AM
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Look at places like Siorac, Belvès, St-Génies, St-Julien, Ste-Nathalène, Meyrals, St-Pompon, Daglan (a bit out of the way), Le Buisson, Audrix, St-Chammasy, Limeuil, Carves, Tursac....

What I was trying to tell you is that June, while not jammed with tourists generally, will always be crowded in the towns people pick from guidebooks, like Domme, Beynac, Laroque-Gageac, Les Eyzies, etc. You won't have trouble moving around and enjoying yourself in June, but it pays to stay in a place that isn't crowded, and the well-known tourist spots will be then.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 08:15 AM
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More to research. Excellent! No really, excellent! Thanks, Stu and StCirq.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 08:35 AM
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Driving time will be 5 hours. If you take the southern route (via Toulouse) you may visit the medieval city Carcassonne which would require two or three hours.

There is also a northern route where you can stop at St. Guilhem-le-Desert (which would be a completely different experience than Carcassonne).

You have only two days for Provence. There you find spectacular architecture from Roman times, especially in Arles, Nîmes, Orange and Pont du Gard (which would require more than two days). I am a little wondering about Picasso and van Gogh. For Picasso, the museum in Paris is the best place and maybe the smaller Picasso museum in Antibes. For van Gogh, Hoge Velouwe in the Netherlands is the first adress.

Avignon is a quite big city. I would stay there only if you intend to visit the Papal Palace - Avignon's main attraction. Otherwise, I recommend the smaller town of Arles with a charming historical center and Roman ruins right in town.

I don't know if I would recommend St. Tropez you. It is basically a yacht harbour surrounded by tourist traps. For a beautiful sandy beach, Cavailaire sur Mer would be the better option, but you find beautiful sandy beaches also in Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes and around Cap Ferrat.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 08:46 AM
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>>>For a beautiful sandy beach<<

Our favorite is Pampelonne outside of St Tropez. We like St Tropez itself - but not in July or August or between 11:00 at 17:00 in June or Sept.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 28th, 2016, 08:52 AM
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I visited the vG and Picasso museums last summer in Amsterdam and Paris. I was already thinking of Provence when I learned there is a vG exhibit in Arles planned for May-Sept this year:

http://www.fondation-vincentvangogh-...on-modernisee/
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Jan 28th, 2016, 08:58 AM
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A temporary exhibit with 31 paintings - sounds not bad. Another reason to stay in Arles.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 09:02 AM
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Pampelonne is an excellent choice. For bull fights and taureaux razoteurs, check the official tourist websites for Arles and Aigues-Mortes and Nîmes and Orange for schedules and descriptions.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 09:06 AM
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I meant Tourist Office websites...
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Jan 28th, 2016, 09:49 AM
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The bullfight is usually called "Course Camarguaise".

You find a calendar of events and places here:
http://www.ffcc.info/le_calendrier_des_courses-9.html
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Feb 1st, 2016, 02:53 PM
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Update -- I've purchased airline tickets which have me arriving in Paris on 5/29 and departing Nice on 6/13, so I have 15 nights to allocate. Most likely I will want the first 3 in Paris, leaving 12 for the balance of the Dordogne and the southern coast.

I have also toyed with the idea of spending all 12 in Provence and the riviera. The more I read on the area, the longer my wish list gets.
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