France ideas for Sept

Old Feb 2nd, 2018, 03:00 PM
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France ideas for Sept

Hi all,
I was hoping to get some ideas from you experts. My husband and I have started to crank up our traveling. For the past 3 years we have been going to Europe usually in early late May/June and again in Sept. We just love it. This June is Turkey (all planned) but I am working on our Sept trip which will be for 23 days in France. So really about 21 days for fun. We have been to Paris and are saving Provence and Cote d'Azur for the next trip early June 2019.

My thoughts so far are to spend 12 days (or so) in Dordogne starting Sept. 3. (On Sept 2 arrive in London. Fly to Toulouse or Bordeaux the next day and rent a car.)

Here is my question. I now have 9 days left. I am looking for a region that we can spend the rest of our trip. From photos and guide books I am attracted to so many places I am having trouble deciding. Any help to narrow this down would be great. We can turn in our car and fly somewhere after Dordogne or drive to the new area.

Strasbourg & Colmar? Lyon, Chambery & Annecy? Or maybe Dijon & Beaune? Or somewhere else? As I am unfamiliar with these areas I am not sure if we have enough days for any of these spots.

We love small towns, small cities, history, museums, and just wandering around admiring old architecture . We are very easy to please.

Thanks for your input.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2018, 03:23 PM
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Strasbourg is delightful in September, but so are the Pyrénées. What about driving up to Andorra if you are on the western side. Or if you are in the middle area, you might want to try the truly unusual experience of visiting the gorges of Kakuetta.
The Gorges of Kakuetta | Any Port in a Storm
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Old Feb 2nd, 2018, 03:43 PM
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Languedoc-Roussillon. Easy to get to from the Dordogne and full of history, beauty, and lovely surprises.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2018, 03:49 PM
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Yep - Pyrenees would be nice complement to the Dordogne. So would the Gorges do Tarn area. Pays Basque even. IMO, Burgundy & Alsace are too far away.

Here is something I wrote a while back about the Pyrenees. You would do this drive in reverse.

Drive through the Pyrenees
The stars (*,**,***) indicate the rating given to the site by the Michelin Green Guide - which I recommend you purchase. In some sections of the following, I did not look up the star ratings. You'll need the guide for the Atlantic Coast and Languedoc. You will also need Michelin maps # 342, 344, and 343

French Pays Basque.
Visit the La Rhune rack railway***. Plan on 2 ½ hrs – 45 mins up, & 1 hr on top. Do this on a clear sunny day, and get to the rack railway as early in the morning as possible (10:00) so the sun will not be in your face for the view of Bayonne, Biarritz, & St Jean de Luz. Don’t do this on a Sun or Mon morning when shops close.

Then take the D4 to Ainhoa* & visit. Then the D20 to Espelette* & visit. You really can't park in town, so look for parking lots at either end of town. Everything is well marked.

Deeper into the Pyrenees and on to your next location

Leave the Basque area and head east to St Jean Pied du Port* in France. St Jean is a major stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Campestela. You'll see lots of "shell" signs everywhere. St Jean is a tad touristy. It has one of our favorite restaurants in France - Les Pyrenees - which is also a hotel if you decide to spend the night. It's a quite an interesting village.

The following route is through "free grazing" areas - so watch out for cows & other animals on the road. They have the right-of-way - and know it!!

From St Jean Pied du Port, take the very pretty D18/D19 southeast over the Col Bagargui. Continue on the D19 then the D26. Continue on the D26 towards Tardets-Sorholus. When the D26 hits the D918 before Tardets, take the D918 east until it ends at the N134. Take the N134 south toward Lescun for a visit if there is enough time left in the day. Explore Lescun*, and take a walk if you encounter a dirt path (we found it). Then back on the N134 north and take the D294 heading east. This is a very scenic stretch of road. Perhaps visit Bielle* where the D294 hits the larger D934. Then head south on the D934 to the D918 where you head east. Now you're encountering serious Tour de France climbs. This is the famous Col d'Aubisque*** (pics in book). It's quite dramatic. We stayed on the "other" side of this Col in the village of Gaillagos for 2 weeks in '12. My wife enjoyed the "old" hotels in Eaux-Bonne at the west end of the Col.

Continue on to Argeles Gazost and stay overnight in the "Haute Pyrenees". This is your chance for the "stay in one of those lovely, picturesque little villages" . We dined at two very nice restaurants, which are also hotels in the Vercos mountain region in the Pyrenees. They are close to each other - both just south of Argeles Gazost. The first one is La Grange aux Marmottes in Viscos (population 44). La Grange aux Marmottes | Hôtel*** et Restaurant situé à Viscos dans les Hautes-Pyrénées | Hôtel de charme avec Piscine dans les Pyrénées | Restaurant gastronomique Hautes-Pyrénées | . The second one is Les Viscos in St Savin (population 372). Le Viscos - Hôtel Restaurant à Saint-Savin .

Visit the fantastic Pont d'Espagne*** don't miss . This is a remarkable site.

Donjon des Aigles birds of prey show around a crumbling castle. This was fabulous - we've seen several of these in Europe - and this was the best.

The most famous Col in the Pyrenees is the Col du Tourmalet**. Head west over the Col. After Tourmalet, head east over to the equally scenic Col d'Aspin***. At the east end of the Col d'Aspin, Arreau is a nice village to walk around & perhaps have lunch. Then take the D618 to Bagneres de Luchon. Don't stop in Bagneres de Luchon* - we found it to be a bit too touristy for our tastes. Head north on the D125/D44 to St Beat. Perhaps wander in St Beat if you have the time. Head east on the scenic D44 , then the D85 north, then the D618 to Audressein. The D618 to St Girons is ugly, so at Audressein take the D4 south to the D17 and then the D17 through the Vallee de Bethmale* to Seix, and then the D3 past Oust, and connect with the D618 again heading east toward (but short of) Massat. Prior to Massat, take the D18 northeast, and then the D72/D17 over the Sommet de Portal**, Col de Peguere, Col des Marrous - all on the famous Route Verte**. This is the route the TdF took past our gite - near St Pierre de Riviere. Continue on to Foix.

There are not any hotels that I would recommend in Foix. I think I would stay in Tarascon sur Ariege at the new Historic Hotel/Restaurant le Manoir d'Agnes (pics in book). We had a very nice meal there. Hotel Manoir d'Agnes SITE OFFICIEL Tarascon sur Ariege, Hotel 3 etoiles Ariege .

Stuff to do & see around Foix
The first thing next morning, visit the Parc de la Prehistoric **. Open 10-8 Closed Monday???. The Parc Prehistoric is fantastic - we spent several hours there. don't miss. When you get to the ticket booth at the Parc, reserve an English tour (one English tour per day) for the Grotte de Niaux**. There is a discount for both the Parc Prehistoric and the Grotte.

Here are two interesting places to visit.
Underground river of Labouiche* 9:30-4:30 1 ¼ hr boat tour. This was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.

Les Forges de Pyrene* 10-7 This has many medieval tools - quite interesting.

The fort in Foix is not worth a visit.

Take the D117 east to Quillan, Then continue on the scenic D117 to St Paul Fenouillet. At St Paul take the D7 north and the D14 east to the Cathars Castle of Peyrepertuse***. Read about the Cathars and their plight. We walked to & around the castle ruins, and found the footing to be difficult. I fell twice and I usually don't ever fall. Perhaps it is best just to view it from the road - especially after you pass it on the D14 heading for Chateau de Queribus (another Cathars castle ruin). Continue on the D117 east to the A9 Autoroute - and then into Spain.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 10:23 AM
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Thank you so much everyone for your great ideas. The Languedoc-Roussillon area looks amazing and I really like the option of sea and inland sights. And the Pyrenees too looks like somewhere we would enjoy. I am going to research both of these and see if I can narrow it down. Are 9 days good for these areas? I am assuming it would be one or the other.
Dreamgoddess is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 10:30 AM
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how about Province and and Avignon area -so many neat things in a short radius and not a bad drive from Dordogne - going to Paris.

Could easily drive up via Lyon to Beaune and Burgundy.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 10:38 AM
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They are saving Provence for another trip. Beaune is about 6 1/2 hrs away from Sarlat. I do not consider 6 1/2 hrs to be an easy drive.

Dream. I also have an itinerary for visiting the Languedoc that is similar in style to the "Drive through the Pyrenees" above - but my Languedoc guide is 30 pages. I also have one for the Dorodogne, I've sent my various itineraries to over 6,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 10:44 AM
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goddess, interesting that you are focusing on those two areas, because for a 10-day jaunt at the end of February we started out planning a trip to the Pyrenées (Bagnerres-de-Bigorre, Tarbes, Cauterets, and thereabouts), but the focus of this trip is 5 days at a thermal spa, and the ones in the Pyrenées at this time of year want an 18-day commitment, a doctor's prescription, and a lot more formalities `(and time) than we are interested in. Plus, we're already plenty cold here in the Dordogne and snow and winter mountain weather started to seem not so appealing.

So we are headed off two weeks from today to Narbonne for two nights, followed by most of a day in Perpignan, followed by 5 days at a (much less regimented but still thermal and supposedly curative) spa at Amélie-les-Bains, followed by 2 nights in Collioure, then back to Agen for a night before returning home. I've been in the Languedoc-Roussillon a few times before, but DH has not, and neither of us has "taken the waters" in France yet.

As this will be a relatively slow-paced trip (an injured leg that hasn't quite gotten up to speed yet being part of the reason for the spa focus, so we won't be rushing around), I will actually probably write a trip report when we return. I'll also of course take photos. Maybe I'll be able to provide some useful insights for you.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will be lovely. After doing all the research I did, I'm already set to plan a summer trip to the Pyrenées.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 10:46 AM
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"how about Province and and Avignon area -so many neat things in a short radius and not a bad drive from Dordogne."

Not bad for whom? I consider it to be close to hellish unless you take 4-5 days and meander on the back roads.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 11:03 AM
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In Languedoc, we normally like to stay in Uzès. At that time of year I would be tempted to either explore Toulouse and then meander down to Couliore as suggested and then on to Roses Spain and finish the trip in Barcelona, but your time might be too short for that.

Bordeaux and the wine areas around there are also nice in September with the harvesting starting and the coastal areas north of there up to La Rochelle are really nice that time of year when the crowds have just left and the weather is generally pretty nice there. We have a house in that area and have spent many Septembers there and it is one of our favorites months.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 12:50 PM
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Head up the west coast and spend some time in Brittany.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 02:18 PM
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for such a long stay in each area investigate Gites de France - rental houses in small villages and rural areas.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 02:27 PM
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I love the Languedoc - Roussillon area as well as the Pyrenees. If you decide on the Pyrenees, the Cathar Castles are really amazing and doing a bit of reading regarding this ( so- called) heretical sect and their absolute destruction will make a visit even more interesting.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 02:34 PM
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that should have been
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Old Feb 3rd, 2018, 02:40 PM
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We have rented 70 gites through Gites-de-France. Here is something I posted many years ago.

Renting Gites through the Gites-de-France web site

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 4th, 2018, 08:12 AM
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I have received Stu Dudley's guides for several areas and am pouring over those. I love everyone's suggestions so far and have started a few plans on MyMaps. (The best way to bookmark and save places of interest.) I think now I have created about 4 more trips at this point instead of narrowing it down, but that is the fun in planning right? In the past several of my trips I have started off going to one country and never ended up in that country at all by the time I finished the planning. I just wanted to take a second and thank you all for your input and I am sure your ideas will be used at some point in one of my trips if we don't get there this time.

StCirq, I am looking forward to your trip report. My husband will soak in any water (even the questionable gym spa) and would be thrilled to "take the waters" in France. I am keeping this option a secret until I hear more.

Thanks again all!
Dreamgoddess is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2018, 10:56 AM
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Are you sure that you are not poring rather than pouring?

Yes, I am a nitpicker.
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Old Feb 4th, 2018, 11:11 AM
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poring works well too in that context
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Old Feb 4th, 2018, 02:09 PM
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The latest issue of France Today (print and on line) has a fine article on the Cathars and where to visit some of their strongholds.
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Old Feb 4th, 2018, 03:58 PM
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The two of us are planning a 2 week self-drive cruise on the Lot river, close to the Dordogne, and have 10 nights after that before we need to be in London. So far, I have a brief plan to take 2 days to drive through the Pyrenees, not sure where to stop, then spend a week between Biarritz and San Sebastian. Haven't worked out the logistics yet, but that's the direction we are planning.

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