France itinerary critique, please

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Jun 30th, 2006, 07:37 AM
  #1
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France itinerary critique, please

Family with 2 good-sport-type teenage girls, first trip to French countryside of all of us.

Fri: Arrive Carcassone, noonish, from US, pick up rental car, then drive to hotel in Sete.

Sat: Leave Sete by midmorning at latest. Birding along Mediterranean early morning will be high priority for one of us. Hope to shop a market town before noon. Via Milau, drive through Ste. Enimie, St. Geniez, Estaing. Visit Peche-Merle. (negotiable) Arrive at Gluges (east of Sarlat) in time to check in at chambre d'hote.

Sun: Drive by scenic route and tour Lascaux II, especially if we didn't have time for Peche-Merle on Sat. North to our gite in far southern Indre-et-Loire, where we'll stay a week before our week in Paris.
If we didn't find an open town market Sat, will be looking for one now.

Day 2 most problematic. I realize this is far too speedy to appreciate Dordogne/Languedoc, but the drive-by version is the best we'll be able to do this time.
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Jun 30th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Are you flying into Marseille? If so, consider visiting the Camargue, a huge, strange area with wild bulls and white horses..flat land. In the Camargue is a bird refuge where pink flamingoes congregate in huge numbers. Your birder would have a great time there.
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Jun 30th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Markets in Indre-et-Loire are listed here:

http://www.livingfrance.com/lvfra/co...oFrance/?id=47
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Jun 30th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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Flying onto Carcassone.

The Camargue looks like no more than an hr or so's drive from Sete, a mere nothing for the dedicated birder. (At times I remind myself how much less expensive birding is than some other addictions.) Thanks! Flocks of flamingoes would be beautiful.

Maybe a birding trip to the Camargue could be managed the first or really early second day, depending upon jet lag, while the rest of us take to the beach.

And RonZ, thanks so much for the market list.
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Jun 30th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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You would be well advised to plot out your driving itineraries on viamichelin or mappy. I prefer the latter. For your stops and detours use "vias." Realize that time estimates will be far more accurate for autoroutes than for secondary roads.

Personally I would find your day 2 route unworkable. Besides what mappy tells you, the road through the Gorges is slow going.

You also need to decide whether or not you will leave luggage unattended in the car.
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Jun 30th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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Thanks, RonZ. Just realized we had already dropped Ste. Enimie as too far east.
So start on Mappy with Sete, end at Gluges, and put a few via's in and see how long it would take? Mappy does not take into account slow going in gorges, or traffic obviously, so budget for that, I guess.
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Jun 30th, 2006, 12:01 PM
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You don't say when you are coming, but be advised that any weekend from now until the end of August will find lots of traffic on the roads... so Mappy and Michelin times will need to be adjusted.

Patricia
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Jun 30th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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Have to say your ideas confuse me a bit - are you flying direct into Carcassonne? [It's a very small airport!] If not, where are you flying into?
However, having got there, you're not stopping! This is one of the most famous towns in all France, and surely worth at least a night. Then you could spend the next day driving around the Languedoc eg to albi. Then head north to Sarlat.
Alternatively, cut out the Med part of your trip, and head immediately north via Cahors, which is a much more direct route, but still very interesting, and will give you more time in the Sarlat area.
AS usual for a first-timer, you're trying to pack too much into too short a time. Remember, less is more! Just don't miss Lascaux 11.
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Jun 30th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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Hi SB,

I son;t understand this itinereary at all, except for doing some irdwatching along the Med.

>Fri: Arrive Carcassone, noonish, from US, pick up rental car, then drive to hotel in Sete.

Sat: Leave Sete by midmorning at latest.<

Since you have no interest in visiting Carcassone, why not fly into Montpellier?

Sete to Gluges is 4:30 hr by the direct route. How will you be able to visit Peche Merle and do some marketing as well?

Ditto for visit to Lascaux II.

Is there a reason that you have chosen Gluges?

>North to our gite in far southern Indre-et-Loire, where we'll stay a week ..

Is there a reason for this site?

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Jun 30th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Oh, no. The clear-eyed realists!
Well, ira, if you put it in terms of what is physically possible, I suppose you have a point.

I skipped lightly over the parts I felt confident about (like Carcassone, where we plan to spend most of the afternoon before heading to Sete, jetlag willing.)
We have tickets from Dublin to Carcassone on Ryanair, in this coming Mid Sept., so that part is set.

I reserved Gluges one-night lodging because it's about halfway from Sete to Chaumussay, where the gite is reserved, and it looks pretty on the website: www.latuilerie.akoonet.com

Liked the looks of the gite, and they'll loan us bicycles: www.lavillate.new.fr

Say we leave Sete by 1000, pick up some fruit and vegetables at market in Frontignan just to the north (thanks, RonZ), and pull out by 1100. That leaves ~8 hrs until twilight. We jettison Peche-Merle. That gives us a bit of roaming time, and we can throw the eggshells out of the window as we eat and drive. -- No, wait! That's another thread. -- We'll drive fairly directly, with a sidetrip or two, and see Lascaux II first thing on Sunday, head north to Chaumussay.

The way I figure, we'll be at the gite and Paris apartment for a week each, so two days' worth of mad dash at the beginning won't hurt.

Thanks, PBProvence, annhig, Underhill, and ira. I appreciate your time and comments
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Jul 1st, 2006, 05:44 AM
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I can't defend it on environmental grounds -- husband and I both ride our bikes to work feel we have a positive balance of sorts -- but is it not worthwhile to see countryside from a car window? Rather than fly over it?
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Jul 1st, 2006, 08:44 AM
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The last leg on the mappy route to Gluges has you exiting the A20 at exit 55. If going that way, I would get off earlier at exit 57, go to the left, then right on the N20. Then at Payrac, turn right on the D673, taking you past Rocamadour, then left on the N140 to Gluges.
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Jul 1st, 2006, 01:20 PM
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Thanks again, RonZ!
Going back to your comment about leaving luggage in car: not wise?
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Jul 1st, 2006, 01:45 PM
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We don't happen to, but then again we are there for a longer period. One of our posters, who spends a lot of time in France, likes to park the car backed up against a wall or a tree or a post so that the trunk can't be opened.

Have you figured out where you will be returning your rental car?
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Jul 1st, 2006, 02:21 PM
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You have picked out a fabulous area of France to visit, one of our favorites.

As for leaving luggage in your car .. NO, NO, NO. Thieves make a great living this way and can get into your car faster than you an with a key.

Are you renting a car with a separate locked trunk? - or can you get into the truck via the rear seat?

What we do if we are traveling and stop to visit a small city/town with our luggage in the locked trunk, is to spend a few euros and leave the luggage in a locker at the railway station. Some have manned check rooms and some have lockers. The peace of mind is worth the 10 minute detour.

Rental cars are easy to spot (for the bad guys). Even though we leave nothing in sight, we always leave a local paper, in your case in French, in plain sight on the dashboard or on the passenger seat. Who knows if it really works - like hanging garlic from your neck to ward off Vampires, but we always do it anyway.

The car rental companies are very vague about separate locked trunks and they think that I am paranoid (moi paranoid??) for even worrying about auto boosters. They will assure you that those kind of things never never happen!!!

If we absolutely have to leave things in the trunk, we carry a lightweight cord/chain thingy with a combination lock, which we intertwine through the handles of all of the cases. We use the same thing on trains. Again, does it work, well at least it will make it more difficult for them, unless they have cutters with them.

A friend went into a museum in a small town in France, and didn't think it was necessary to chain the luggage, and when they returned 45 minutes later ... the car was empty...every single thing they had taken for the trip.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound so negative. Auto Boostings occur everywhere and I am always overly cautious. I didn't schlep my stuff that far, only to have it stolen.

Carmargue is really beautiful and there is a beach in St. Marie de l'Mer. (It's been a long time, so I probably don't have the name exactly right.)

Enjoy your fabulous trip,

Nina
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Jul 6th, 2006, 12:06 AM
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Hi

you can save time by doing your food shopping in Les Halles, central Sete.

You then have time for birding in Camargue, lunch in Aigues Mortes before heading North.

Peter
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Jul 6th, 2006, 06:36 PM
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Thanks so much, RonZ, Nina66, for the security tips. I completely forgot to worry about luggage in car. How odd they'd want tourists' used and non-chic clothing; maybe they assume one's loaded with consumer electronics. I wonder whether Lascaux II would have any sort of security in its parking area.

Les Halles it is, Peter. Oh, joy, for Fodorites and the Internet. Per Wickipidia, St.Louis departed from Aigues Mortes for crusades. We have a special interest, since our city is named for him, and are always looking for educational tie-ins.

We plan to drop rental car in Versailles, take train in to Paris.

So much appreciate your kind assistance with our trip.
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Jul 9th, 2006, 01:47 AM
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Lascaux has no security that I was aware of, three years ago. It is essentially a clearing in the trees near the site. Unlikely I would think that any villians would make their way up there. But if you are worried, the trick of parking with the tailgate right up against a tree should work.
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Jul 9th, 2006, 10:54 PM
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A couple of little treats from Les Halles, Sete :

Mandarins confits (whole mandarin oranges boiled in sugar over 30+ days)

Mince pies (small pies from Pezenas using the original recipe - the filling is minced lamb with dried fruits - hence mincemeat)

Anything else that catches your eye !

Peter
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Jul 11th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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Thanks, guys. We are not very security minded; will try the tree trick at Lascaux rather than scurry past for the sake of our suitcases.

Peter, you wouldn't know where to find a good bowl of cassoulet in Sete, Carcassone, or points in between? Do the confits travel well?
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