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Cavangal Mar 29th, 2014 12:22 PM

France: Dorgone Region independent travel
I read about a tour in UK newspaper to Dordogne region (beginning in Sarlat-la-Canéda and am interested in sightseeing in some of the towns mentioned. I would be traveling solo and without a car. Is it easy to tour Dordogne by public transportation. I would have considered taking the escorted tour but they add a huge supplement for solo travel. I have never had a problem using public transportation and visited a lot of Europe and found that it costs so much less and can enjoy much more freedom and more time in places of interest. I could get flight into Toulouse if that would be the most convenient entry point. Any suggestions on areas where there is good bus/train transportation and the most scenic places. I would take local day tours to some of the places hard to reach by bus. I am active, do lots of walking and visit historic sites and museums and I always look for walking tours in towns organized by the tourist offices.

Thanks for any good help available.

Michael Mar 29th, 2014 12:38 PM

The bus system in the Dordogne radiates out of Périgueux, the regional capital. Which means that if one wanted to go from Sarlat to Montignac where the Lascaux caves are located, one would probably have to go to Périgueux and hope that the transfer for a bus to Montignac is convenient. In other words, public transportation in the Dordogne is not conducive to touristic travel.

StCirq Mar 29th, 2014 02:14 PM

If you won't or can't rent a car, you should abandon the idea of visiting the Dordogne. What very little public transportation there is, is geared toward schoolchildren and workers.

Cavangal Mar 29th, 2014 02:40 PM

I will look again to see if there are other tours to Dordogne that might cost less.

The tour I liked spends the last 3 nights in Carcassonne; does Carcassonne have better transportation and if so I might be able to do one or two day tours organized by local bus companies to Dordogne.

Appreciate your helpful responses.

StCirq Mar 29th, 2014 02:45 PM

Carcassonne is a fair haul from the Dordogne, even on the autoroute. I can't see it being a viable base from which to tour the Dordogne - you'd be in transport for well more than half of each day. It's an entirely different part of France. It has decent transportation, yes, but it's not a place I'd want to spend 3 nights - an afternoon, for sure, in the old Cité, but 3 nights, noooooo.

tomboy Mar 29th, 2014 05:21 PM

Cavangal-would you share why you wouldn't consider driving?

michele_d Mar 29th, 2014 05:44 PM

Are you set on not renting a car? The Dordogne is a lovely lovely place to visit, but you really do need a car IMO to get the most out of it. There are dozens of tiny villages and towns to poke around in, market days everywhere, caves to visit, gardens to wander through. The Dordogne was not difficult to navigate with a car. We had GPS and along with a glance here or two at a map, we did fine. I would hate for you to miss this beautiful location.

Cavangal Mar 30th, 2014 03:54 PM

I live north of NYC and stopped driving several years ago; can travel to the city in less than hour and husband does the driving! I have gone to Europe solo many times and managed quite well taking public transportation and taxi when I need one. I always check with the local tourist office if any day tours are offered to enjoy as much as possible and these are usually well worth taking and enjoyable also views are much better than from car.

I may change my plan and look for another tour if I cannot get the Dordogne area sorted. Thanks to all.

Aramis Mar 30th, 2014 05:47 PM

Bordeaux or Bergerac are the best entry points for flights for the advice I am giving. Although a car is definitely the preferred way to see the Dordogne I wouldn't write off a visit until you looked into whether organized day trips from 1 or 2 locations would suit your interests.

Sarlat, a jewel of a town in the region, would be, perhaps, the best place to consider as a base. Here is a link to a company that offers a variety of day trips. There are probably others - I didn't do a lot of research to find this one. It is harder to get to Sarlat from Toulouse than either of Bordeaux or Bergerac unless things have changed since I researched and visited the are several years ago.

It gets some pretty good reviews on Tripadvisor;

Google "Sarlat day trips" and "Dordogne day trips". That may lead you to other towns as options for splitting with Sarlat as a abse for you stay allowing you to reach more areas of the region.

Carlux Mar 31st, 2014 01:17 AM

You may of course find day trips as listed by the poster above, but as for general public transportation, it really doesn't exist here. We've lived in the Dordogne, 15K from Sarlat for 20 years now, and virtually never see a bus. There are some buses that meet the train and will take you to Sarlat, and a small inner Sarlat system, but that's about it around here. So you may well be better off on a tour.

Cavangal Apr 1st, 2014 03:22 PM

I looked again at some other tour companies and saw 2 coach tours to Dordogne from UK with very similar itineraries that include many of the towns and sightseeing listed on the more expensive tour. One leaves before end of May while other one beginning of October, both staying at same hotel with half board. I will print out itineraries and look at the route on a map. I would prefer the tour leaving end of May since that would give longer daylight hours to enjoy sunsets. The supplement on both tours is less than the first one I liked, so I will make a call to see if there is space left. I usually travel independently but some times one has to consider what will be most enjoyable without hassle.

Will report back if I can get organized. Many thanks.

rosemaryoz Apr 1st, 2014 04:19 PM

Cavangal, this may be an alternative for you: I can recommend if you are into gardens at all. It is an easy way to see some of the most stunning gardens (eg Marqueyssac & Eyrignac) and interesting chateaux (eg Losse & Fenelon) and some beautiful villages (eg Domme, St Leon sur Vezere etc), but not necessarily a standard tour of the area. I have personally stayed at their Domaine in Monpazier a couple of times, as a chambre d'hotes guest (not on a tour), and it is really beautifully restored. And their tour prices are reasonable. Whatever tour you choose, just bear in mind that late Sept/early Oct is a good time to be in the Dordogne, as the weather is generally mild and stable, and sunsets are still late due to Daylight Savings time.

Cavangal Apr 2nd, 2014 09:28 AM

Many thanks for above. Might get to tourist office tomorrow as I need a new map. Glad you told me travel to Dordogne Sept./Oct. would be fine so taking the later tour might mean a cheaper airfare. Sometimes when I travel I ask tour opera if a land package only is offered and got it a few times and that gave me some flexibility. To connect with a tour near Dordogne, which airport would be closest for pick up. I have been to many cities in France, and have arrived at Toulouse and Bordeaux going onward, but will check the routes when I get a large map.

The garden tour you mentioned sounds lovely. I like to do a lot of walking on holidays and enjoy historic sites and take photos. Will continue to browse the tours and am hopeful I will get a good one.

rosemaryoz Apr 2nd, 2014 02:56 PM

Just for your planning, the closest airport for this area would be Bergerac (which has reliable one hour Ryanair flights direct from Stansted). There are other destinations to/from Bergerac, but I know the Paris flights are limited. On a tour like the one I suggested, they would collect you from the airport on Day 1. There is also Brive airport to the north of Sarlat, but I think it's not as busy as Bergerac (need to check that). And you're definitely going to be in a very photogenic region!

Cavangal Apr 4th, 2014 12:09 PM

Got some help at tourist office yesterday, a map and brochures. One suggestion if I arrive into CDG, to consider taking train to Périgueux for overnight and look for local day tours which might cost less than the 3-5 day tours listed on above tour sites. Those tours are expensive and do not include accommodation. I plan spending about 8 days in the region dividing my time between 2 bases rather than one hotel. If this is not possible because of the lack of public transportation, I will look again at the several tour itineraries and check routes to try fitting in a few stops at scenic areas and good towns.

My reason for traveling solo I feel a great deal of time is often wasted while on day trips stopping at shopping centers and coffee stops. I am active and prefer to do my sightseeing walking about and usually end up seeing much more and if using 2 bases, it will cut down on the amount of travel time on some journeys.

If I travel independently I will travel onward towards Lourdes for 1 or 2 nights with return flight out of Toulouse or Bordeaux to Dublin to take return flight home. Many thanks to all.

StCirq Apr 4th, 2014 01:03 PM

The Tourist Office in Péerigueux does list a few day trips. They are relatively inexpensive, but I see only a couple on the list that would take you to places of interest in the Périgord Noir.

I really don't think you need two bases if there for only 8 days. Packing up and moving what will probably be a very short distance (unless you want to tackle Quercy and the Lot as well as the Périgord) will take the better part of a day, especially because you're going to be very hard pressed to find public transportation that runs more than once or twice and day and goes anywhere you might want to go.

Do you really have to go back to Toulouse or Bordeaux for a flight back to Dublin? There's an airport in Lourdes.

rosemaryoz Apr 4th, 2014 09:57 PM

As StCirq said, this area is not good for public transport at all. There is one train line which runs east from Bordeaux to Sarlat (also stopping halfway at Bergerac), and one running down from Perigueux to Agen (stops at Le Buisson, Siorac and Belves etc along the way, but timetabling is irregular), but the major sights still need car access as they are not generally located close to the train stations. That's why I recommended that garden tour, as it takes you to some of those sights, as well as some of the most lovely villages, and you don't need to be wasting time each day packing up and moving on, matching transport timetables, as you base in one spot. The Orphorus day tours do seem expensive in comparison, but I think they capitalise on people who have no car and not much time in the area.

Cavangal Apr 7th, 2014 10:51 AM

Greatly appreciate helpful suggestions. Have not booked flights yet as last year got much better deals waiting. I looked at some of the day tours offered in cities but some are offered only on few days specified and saw some very nice walking tours that I might like.

Planning for 7 or 8 nights using one base except maybe last night will need to be closer to train going to Lourdes. Lourdes airport is used mostly to carry pilgrim groups on charter flights. I have been to Lourdes many times always by train from Bordeaux or Toulouse or Biarritz. Heard complaints from folks on charters flights about having very long delays arriving in middle of night and doubt they would offer me a one way ticket back to Dublin.
Will be watching this board as I start my bookings. It has been a great help and feel I will enjoy my travel better than on tour buses that waste lots of time making stops that do not interest me.

Cavangal Jun 21st, 2014 01:49 PM

I have flights booked, arr. Bordeaux on 9/18 at 10:20am. Got all my flights on one ticket, return from Dublin to NY. Have not given up on Dordogne but after looking at all the responses, thinking of going from Bordeaux to Bergerac day of arrival, taking some rest and overnight to see areas before going onward to Sarlat next 3 days. Would a half day stop in Saint Emelion be worth if I can get transportation?

Also looked at maps from French tourist office, might consider going to Lourdes after Sarlat, staying overnight, then train up to Toulouse and hopefully the tourist office in Toulouse will have some good day tours to places like Cahors/Lot and Rocamadour. Got lovely brochures and hate to miss out if its possible to get to several areas.

Hope I get some comments from the experts if the above makes any sense. Flight on 9/26 from Toulouse to Dublin where I will be spending most of a week in countryside with stops in Kerry and Cork.

Have not booked hotels yet, will try to order Sncf. tickets on line. Thanks to all for your help and patience. If anyone can help with my itinerary its greatly appreciated.

StCirq Jun 21st, 2014 02:30 PM

Bergerac is a bore. Just stay in Bordeaux if you need to rest. Go to St-Emilion if you like, then on to Sarlat - it's on the same train line.

Doesn't make much sense to me to go from Sarlat all the way to Lourdes, then back east to Toulouse, but if your flight leaves from Toulouse I guess you're stuck with that.

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