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travelbug Mar 8th, 2007 12:43 PM

Help on my itinerary for the Perigord, Auvergne and Languedoc
 
I've been researching and reading Michelin and posts about the region. My head is spinning (in a good way); We will be in the area for about 4 weeks starting May 9th. How does this itinerary sound? too much in one day or not enough? I'm sure we will be exhausted, but that is my criteria for a good trip!

Bordeaux - arrive afternoon; 2 nights

Sarlat la Caneda via Perigueux:5 nights
- day trip: Domme, Cenac, Chateau de Castelnaud, Chateaau des Milandes, Beynac, Roque Gageac (too much for 1 day?)
-day trip: Lascaux II, Le Thot (anyone stopped here?) Roque St Christophe, St Leon sur Vezere, Eyzies-de Tayac
-day trip: Michelin Perigord Noir driving trip
-day trip: Michelin Vezere to the Dordogne tour; put in a 1/2 day canoe trip somewhere.

Leave Sarlat to Souillac, Martel, Collonges la Rouge, Turenne and overnight at Beauliew-s-Dordogne

Leave B-sur-D: visit Carennac, Castelnau-Bretenoux Chateau, St Cere, autoire, Cirque d' Autoire, Gouffre de Padirac; overnight in Rocamadour

Tour racamadour; side trip to Grotte de Cougnac or go back to Gouffre de Padirac if we missed it yesteray. overnight Rocamadour

Leave for Conques; backtrack to Figeac for overnight;

leave for St Cirq Lapopie via Cele and/or Lot Valleys; overnight St Cirq

Day tour from St Cirq to Pech Merle, Luzech, Bonaguil Chateau; either return to St Cirq for another night or stay one night in Cahors

Leave for Toulouse via Mountauban and Moissac; overnight in Toulouse area

Tour Toulouse; in afternoon drive to Albi for overnight

Tour Albi; drive to Cordes and Najac; overnight Albi

Leave Albi for Montpellier via Cirque de Moureze; tour Montpellier; overnight Montpellier

Tour Pezenas (we'll be there on market day) and Sete; overnight Montpellier

Leave for Gagnes via Grotte de Clamouse, St Guilhem le desert and Grotte des Demoiselles; overnight Gagnes

Leave for Millau via Gores de la Vis, Cirque de Navacelles, La Couvertoirade, Canyon de la Dourbie; overnight Millau

day trip to Roquefort-sur-soulon (can you really tour the caves and farms?) and Chaos de Montpellier le Vieux (is an afternoon too long?); overnight Millau

leave for Ste Enimie via Aven-Armand and Gorges du Tarn (any suggestions for a boat trip at La Malene?)overnight at Ste Enimie

Complete drive through the Gorges, Mont Lozere to Le Puy en Velay for overnight

Leave Le Puy for Mont-Dore via Besse en Chandesse; overnight near Clermont-Ferrand perhaps at Royat?

day tour of Clermont Ferrand and Michelin loop drive to Puy de Dome and Puy de Lemtegy; overnight at same hotel

2 nights in Bourges

1 night near CDG

fly home!!

Is this too overwhelming to read/do? Thanks in advance to anyone who comments.





Michael Mar 8th, 2007 01:26 PM

To see in and around Souillac, taken from my trip report:

We did visit Fénélon castle and Souillac, both of which we recommend. Fénélon has good explanations and nice period rooms, and a beautiful view over the Dordogne valley. Souillac has a church worth a visit, with some interesting stone sculptures. It also has a museum of mechanical dolls that is fascinating and would probably be a joy for children.

AnselmAdorne Mar 8th, 2007 05:35 PM

travelbug, a couple of thoughts about part of your planned trip:

- I like your idea of stopping part way through the Gorges du Tarn. While it doesn't take long to drive through the river valley, I think you'll enjoy the tranquility of an evening surrounded by the tall walls of the gorge. We stayed at Chateau de la Caze in Ste-Enimie (www.ila-chateau.com/caze/index.htm).

- I haven't driven between Florac and Le Puy-en-Velay, but it looks like a lovely drive.

- Your idea of Le-Puy-en-Velay to Clermont-Ferrand via Besse-en-Chandesse and le Mont-Dore could certainly be done in a single day, but you may find yourself wanting to slow down and explore the Chaine des Puys. There are countless tiny roads offering spectacular views in the area west and north of Champeix.

If you've searched previous posts here you've probably seen our trip report on two weeks in that area. We were based in a small village between Champeix and Besse-en-Chandresse:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34742279

- I like the plan to do the Michelin route that includes the Puy de Dome. Take the time to drive up the mountain. If it is a clear day you will have a view that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Anselm

travelbug Mar 9th, 2007 03:19 AM

Anselm, Thank you so much for your comments, and for taking the time to read that long itinerary; I had already read your trip report and hope to see some of the Romanesque churches in the area.

Nikki Mar 9th, 2007 05:45 AM

I don't see Font de Gaume on your itinerary. Font de Gaume is in the area you have planned for your day trip to Lascaux II, and it is a wonderfully intimate cave with original paintings, which might be closed to the public in the future. When I was in the area, that was my must-see, above the other attractions on your list for that day.

Reservations should be made at least a month in advance.


moolyn Mar 9th, 2007 06:06 AM

travelbug, I agree with Nikki about Font de Gaume being a highlight of that area. I would even put it above Lascaux II as it's real. We went to Le Thot and it was okay but it isn't in the same league so I'd suggest dropping it with your limited time.

Definitely canoe down the Dordogne. It was one of the most enjoyable and memorable things we did.

As for a Michelin driving tour in the Dordogne, I wouldn't bother. M. Michelin loves trees and you may be driving through them for many, boring miles as we did when we took part of the drive including Tremolat. It'sd much better to simply enjoy the scenery between interesting destinations. Circle the Most Beautiful Villages of France on your map and try to include as many as possible on you way to the other places on your itinerary.

travelbug Mar 9th, 2007 06:48 AM

thank you Nikki and Moolyn, actually I did have the Font-de-Gaume caves on my list to see, but left it off that long message. I didn't know about making reservations, though. I'll be sure to do that. Skipping the Dordogne driving tour will give more flexability for scheduling the canoe trip. I can't get a feeling for how long to plan for wandering through cute villages but I prefer to spend time walking around instead of taking long driving tours.

ira Mar 9th, 2007 08:21 AM

Hi T,

>Leave for Conques; backtrack to Figeac for overnight;...

I suggest overnighting at www.moulindecambelong.com

Note that the rates include dinner and bkfst.

For the Tarn Gorges, we stayed at http://tinyurl.com/h7tue in St. Chely du Tarn.

More details in my trip report
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...p;tid=34676645

Photos at http://tinyurl.com/sjch4

Enjoy your visit.

((I))

moolyn Mar 9th, 2007 08:45 AM

travelnut, it doesn't take long to explore a village on foot although you can linger longer if you have time. Two MBVFs we especially enjoyed in the Dordogne were Limeuil and St. Amand-de-Coly.

The Grotte de Cougnac has very simillar formations to Peche Merle and would be backtracking a bit from Rocamadour anyway. Consider LaCave which is bigger and closer as an alternative.

I'm adding a link to the trip report I wrote after our visit to the Dordogne and Albi last June. Between it and Ira's report you should get lots of ideas. We also found Stu Dudley's itineraries worth their weight in gold. He has spent many weeks in the area over the years.

http://tinyurl.com/y5oxzw

annhig Mar 9th, 2007 08:58 AM

Hi, travelbug!

zut alors - vous etes tres occupees!

please slow down.

For starters, i find no time in Sarlat itself - what a shame as it's a lovely place.

and you are right about the first day -it's too much. there are also very nice gardens in the area, which you are ignoring - I would give Sarlat a good week to enjoy it to the full.

after your subsequent touring, I would also spend longer in toulouse - 3 nights at least. after all you have 4 weeks - do you really want to spend all of it moving every day or too?

you have an opportunity really to get to know an area, one that the rest of us rarely enjoy. please don't waste it travellling round in the car.

what you will remember are the people you meet by staying still, not the sights you glimpse as you hurry past; they will just be a blur!

lecture over!

regards, ann

StCirq Mar 9th, 2007 09:07 AM

Hi, travelbug. Some suggestions:

Day 1 in the Périgord needs to be edited a bit. First off, Cénac is nothing but the tiny lower town under the hill on which Domme sits. Unless you're into trucker bars (I am), just drive over the bridge and up the hill to Domme. No need to stop. Still, given that everything will close for lunch for about 2 hours, I doubt you can fit everything in on Day 1. Domme needs at least an hour, hour and a half (more if you like to shop); Beynac needs 1.5 - 2 hours; Castelnaud, same; MIlandes you could do in an hour, La Roque-Gageac 10 minutes but if you want to explore the town or take a ride on a garbure, then 1 - 1.5 hours.

Day 2 - don't bother with Le Thot unless you have small kids who might like to see the giant mammoth replica. This will be a full day, but manageable. If you can plan it thus, have lunch in St-Léon-sur-Vézère at either L'Auberge de la Poste or Let Petit Léon. Personally, I'd skip Lascaux II if you're planning to add Font-de-Gaume (which I agree is a must) and go to Castel-Merle instead. If you're hardy, you could hike there from St-Léon-sur-Vézère and discover the "unknown" prehistoric site along the way.

Day 3 - forget a Michelin drive and get out to some of the interesting sites not on your list: the abbey at Cadouin, Monpazier (arguably the most beautiful bastide town in France), the walnut mill in Ste-Nathalène, the Château de l'Herme for a good creep-out, the elbow bridge at Limeuil.....

The rest looks great. If you're not bound and determined to overnight in Ste-Enimie (which is perfectly lovely), I can suggest a wonderful B&B in St Privat-la-Vallongue, called La Baume. PBProvence and I spent a memorable few nights there a few years ago exploring the area, and coming home to a meal by the owner Richard every night was one of the highlights of our visit. You will love the Cévennes!

travelbug Mar 9th, 2007 09:16 AM

Thank you all - StCirq - it's good to hear from you - I've read so many of your posts - Le Thot is off the list and so is the Michelin drive. I expected that at the end of our day trips out of Sarlat we could wander the town in the evening since we are there for 5 nights. There are so many wonderful places to see - and I thought a month was enough time! I'll check on some of the overnight recommendations - the only hotel we have booked is in Sarlat

StuDudley Mar 9th, 2007 09:34 AM

>>Bordeaux - arrive afternoon; 2 nights<<

If you arrive early in the day or mid day, I think 2 days in Bordeaux is a little too much, unless you need these days to recover from jet lag. See my next comment for an alternative.

>>Sarlat la Caneda via Perigueux:<<

I would stay overnight in Brantome, and visit Perigueux (very interesting city - I assume you have my Dordogne intierary), Bourdeilles (prety drive there from Perigueux - interior of the castle is only OK), Puyguilhem, Grotte de Villers, and of course Ch Hautefort. You probably can't visit all these in 1 day, but if you leave Bordeaux after lunch, you could hit Perigueux & Bourdeilles before Brantome. Then visit remainder of the stuff the next day as you make your way to Sarlat.

>>5 nights
- day trip: Domme, Cenac, Chateau de Castelnaud, Chateaau des Milandes, Beynac, Roque Gageac (too much for 1 day?)<<

Nope. Don't think Cenac is worth a stop. Castelnaud is best in the morning. Drive past it going south for a fantastic view with the sun shining on it. See my itinerary for an even better viewpoint.

>-day trip: Lascaux II, Le Thot (anyone stopped here?)<,

All my research pursuaded me to not visit le Thot - we've spent 8 weeks in the Dordogne

>>Roque St Christophe, St Leon sur Vezere, Eyzies-de Tayac<<

Grand Roc & Madeleine if you have the time

>>-day trip: Michelin Perigord Noir driving trip<<

I agree with Moolyn - even the part about Michelin's fascination with tree trunks

>.-day trip: Michelin Vezere to the Dordogne tour; put in a 1/2 day canoe trip somewhere.<<

Here are a few more sites to consider:
-Belves - interesting village & pretty area.
-lunch & wander about high above the Dorogne river at Ch Marqueyssac. Fantasatic views of Beynac, Roque Gageac, & St Julien
-Gouffre de Proumeyssac
-Sunday morning market in St Cyprien
-beautiful sculptured gardens at Eyrignac

>Leave Sarlat to Souillac, Martel, Collonges la Rouge, Turenne and overnight at Beauliew-s-Dordogne<

Meyssac next to Collonges is similar to Collognes, but not as touristy - worth a quick stop, IMO.

>>Leave B-sur-D: visit Carennac, Castelnau-Bretenoux Chateau, St Cere, autoire, Cirque d' Autoire, Gouffre de Padirac; overnight in Rocamadour<<

Re-read the suggestions in my itinerary about timing for Castelnau-Bretenoux.

>>Tour racamadour; side trip to Grotte de Cougnac or go back to Gouffre de Padirac if we missed it yesteray. overnight Rocamadour<<

If you stay in Rocamadour 2 nights, you really don't need to allocate time to tour it - you'll see plenty in the mornings & evenings - without the day trippers. Visit Grotte de Lacave. Cougnac is quite nice, which you've planned to visit. The D673 there is quite scenic.

>>Leave for Conques; backtrack to Figeac for overnight;<<

You'll have time left over in the day - either relax or take a swing over to the Lot river & visit Entraygueus, Estaing, Espalion, St Come, & Ste Eulalie. Then to Figeac on the D920/N140 via Rodez (no need - or time - to stop in Rodez). Check to make sure you really want to do this extra driving.

>>leave for St Cirq Lapopie via Cele and/or Lot Valleys; overnight St Cirq<<

Cele is more interesting, IMO

>>Day tour from St Cirq to Pech Merle, Luzech, Bonaguil Chateau; either return to St Cirq for another night or stay one night in Cahors<<

Fine

>>Leave for Toulouse via Mountauban and Moissac; overnight in Toulouse area<,

Stay in Toulouse - surrounding area is not that interesting & has some bad urban sprawl. Try to get to Mirepoix if you have the time - very interesting Bastide town.

>>Tour Toulouse; in afternoon drive to Albi for overnight
Tour Albi; drive to Cordes and Najac; overnight Albi<<

On the way to Cordes, visit Castelnau de Montmiral - another Bastide town.

>>Leave Albi for Montpellier via Cirque de Moureze; tour Montpellier; overnight Montpellier<<

I was underwhelmed by the Cirque de Moureze.

>>Tour Pezenas (we'll be there on market day) and Sete; overnight Montpellier<<

Consider Aigues Mortes. I've never visited Sete

>>Leave for Gagnes via Grotte de Clamouse, St Guilhem le desert and Grotte des Demoiselles; overnight Gagnes<<

If you mean Ganges, it is not that interesting. Stay in the le Rey chateau, like robjame did - it's a very pretty chateau.

>>Leave for Millau via Gores de la Vis, Cirque de Navacelles, La Couvertoirade, Canyon de la Dourbie; overnight Millau<<

Great

>>day trip to Roquefort-sur-soulon (can you really tour the caves and farms?)<<

yes (don't know about the farms) - Societe has a very interesting tour & tasting of their many types of Roqueforts - from their grocery store offering to their excellent low-volume ones.

>>and Chaos de Montpellier le Vieux (is an afternoon too long?); overnight Millau<<

Nope - I think you may have time left over. The Chaos can be a 30 min visit or a 3 hr visit - depending on how much exploring you want to do. You can really get deep into the chaos - or you can take a petite train through a portion of it.

The town of Roquefort is very drab, IMO

>>leave for Ste Enimie via Aven-Armand and Gorges du Tarn (any suggestions for a boat trip at La Malene?)overnight at Ste Enimie

Complete drive through the Gorges, Mont Lozere to Le Puy en Velay for overnight<<

Great - explore the gorges at different times of the day with different lightings on the canyon walls. Visit the towns I listed on my Languedoc itinerary, which I assume you have also.

>>Leave Le Puy for Mont-Dore via Besse en Chandesse; overnight near Clermont-Ferrand perhaps at Royat?<<

The countryside in this region is fantastic. We spent 2 weeks there last July. I would not stay in Cleremont-Ferrand (only an OK city), or Royant. Stay in the coutryside.


>>day tour of Clermont Ferrand and Michelin loop drive to Puy de Dome and Puy de Lemtegy; overnight at same hotel

2 nights in Bourges

I'm a little exhausted - I'll give you come suggestions about the Puy du Dome region later. We also visited Bourges in Sept last year.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Mar 9th, 2007 11:22 AM

Regarding day 1 in the Dordogne.

Whenever I'm not sure if all the things I would like to do would fit into a day, I put together a more detailed schedule. This way I can tell if I'll get to a chateau just as it closes for a 2 hr lunch, or if I'll miss the last tour of the day.

Here is a scchedule I would put together for your day 1:

9:00 leave Sarlat
9:30 Drive past Castelnaud to get a fantastic view of it nestled against a hill with the tower sticking up. Use my Dordogne itinerary & find the campground for the best view. Drive to the parking lot of the chateau, and walk to the entrance.

10-11:30 Tour the chateau & village. It does not close for lunch & it's a self-guided tour

11:30 exit the chateau & find the bakery at the base of the chateau just east of the D57. Pick up something for a picnic lunch. I've never visited this bakery, but there are other concessions in the area where you should find something for lunch.

12:15 arive at Ch Milandes - it does not close for lunch & it's also a self guided tour. Tour the chateau & have a picnic lunch on the grounds.

1:45 leave Ch Milandes & drive some of the scenic back roads to Beynac. D53 south of Milandes to the D50 to Alles les Mines, across the bridge & then to the Beynac Chateau (acccess it from the top of the cliff - not from the village).

2:15 Tour the Beynac Chateau. My Michelin Guide does not have an opening time for May - so it's either not open then or the guide is mistaken. It does not close for lunch. I'll assume the guided tour takes 1 hr + 15 mins "wait" time

3:30 finish the tour & then visit the village

4:00 leave Beynac & visit Roque Gageac.

4:45 leave Roque Gageac & drive to Domme

5:00 arrive in Domme & tour

6:00 leave Domme & arrive back at Sarlat at 6:30

Options
Have dinner in Domme.
If you get behind schedule, skip Roque Gageac and assume you'll visit it when you do the canoe trip.
If the Birds of Prey show is offered in May at Milandes & you want to see it, skip Domme & visit it later, or have dinner there (I find it more appealing at night when many of the tacky shops are closed & tourists are gone).

Stu Dudley




travelbug Mar 9th, 2007 12:15 PM

Hi Stu, I was hoping you would take a look at this itinerary; Wonderful suggestions. thank you.

We ae staying in Bordeaux 2 nights because we won't arrive until late afternoon, so will spend the next day touring. Then we pick up the car the next day.

Is it possible to stay outside Toulouse and take public transportation into the city? I've heard driving is difficult there (I've read something about parking at the metro stations, but can't seem to get a handle on it.

Yes, I did mean Ganges; staying in the area because it was a convenient stopping place. We tried to book at the Domaine Blancardy but it was full.

travelbug Mar 9th, 2007 12:18 PM

Stu, that day one itinerary sounds great. The information I found on the falconry show is that it will be on at 3 PM and 4:30.

Michael Mar 9th, 2007 01:21 PM

I would not consider Toulouse a drive-by destination. For this itinerary, I would by-pass it and stay either in Moissac (visit the monastery church--its portal will be imitated in Beaulieu /s Dordogne) or in Montauban (the main square is of the same era as the Place des Vosges in Paris and the Bishop's Palace is now a Ingres museum). From either of the towns proceed to Albi.

StuDudley Mar 9th, 2007 02:03 PM

I've driven in and out of Toulouse, and didn't find it difficult. We stayed near the train station, which has some wide one-way roads that makes driving easier. We stayed at the Mermoze once, (which has a parking garage), and at the President (which does not). We stayed outside of Toulouse another time but did't go into the city - we stayed near the airport for a 6am flight. I would strongly urge you to stay in the City.

Did you try Chateau le Rey hotel in the town (no real town there - just the castle) of le Rey near Ganges??? Lovely place. We had dinner there one evening, and robjame seemed to enjoy it (see his recent trip report).

Like I stated in my earlier post, I would stay in the countryside in the Puy du Dome area. I would not even bother with visiting Cleremont-Ferrand. After Bordeaux, Perigueux, Sarlat, Albi, Toulouse, and Borgues next - I think it will be a big disappointment & you'll wonder why you even bothered. Montferrand (different area) is a little nicer - but I would still suggest that you spend your entire time in the very scenic countryside. I may not have time to write down some sightseeing suggestions today - I'll review my travel notes for that area & perhaps get back to you on Monday (busy this weekend).

Are you set on Borgues? I had been trying for several years to visit this city because the Michelin write-up was real positive. Michelin gives it a 3 star rating. We finally visited Bourges last year on an overnight from our base in Beaujolais. I was rathar disappointed - didn't live up to my expectations. On that same vacation, we visited Dijon, Auxerre, and Troyes and enjoyed all of them a lot more than Bourges. The Palais Jacques Couer tour was possibly the most boring & tedious tour I have ever attended in Europe. If you do visit Bourges, the Meillant chateau just south of there is fabulous - don't miss. I think you will find that your last 3 nights & 2 1/2 days in France will be a let-down compared to the rest of your trip. All you will have seen is Bourges & Ch Meillant. Instead, I would swing east & visit Burgundy - staying in Dijon for 3 nights, which I think is much more interesting than Bourges. In Burgundy, there are dozens of chateaux to visit, Beaune, Auxerre, and many other attractions (which you won't have time to visit). The big plus (if you don't have a super early flight from CDG), is that you can take the TGV directly from Dijon to CDG so you won't have to spend your last night near CDG at an airport hotel. On weekdays there is a train that gets to CDG at 8:20, and a little later on weekends. We've done this twice with no problems.

Do you have my Dordogne & Languedoc itineraries?? If not, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll return e-mail them to you.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Mar 9th, 2007 02:15 PM

I didn't find Montauban to be as interesting as Michael did. Both my wife & I thought it was a little grungy, run down, and in need of some attention (which didn't seem to be happening in '03).

Stu Dudley

travelbug Mar 10th, 2007 06:26 AM

I've sent an email to the Chateau-du-Rey asking about vacancies. Hope they have a spot for us. I'm re-thinking the last part of the trip.
so far we only have hotels for Sarlat, beaulieu-s-dordogne, and Albi. So after those stops we are still flexible. I will try to stay in the center of Toulouse for our one day of touring there. On the way to Toulouse our big stop will be Moissac for the cloisters and abbey. More information on the Puy de Dome area would be welcome; perhaps spend one more day in that area and then only one night in Bourges - I really want to visit the cathedral there.

StuDudley Mar 10th, 2007 06:45 AM

The cathedral in Bourges is nice, but so are the ones in Albi, three in Toulouse, Moissac (never visited - take Michelin's & Michaels word for it), and if you go to Burgundy instead there are nice ones in Dijon, Autun, and Vezelay.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Mar 11th, 2007 10:14 AM

Travelbug
I'm still working on the Puy du Dome suggestions - had to get out my notes, photos, maps, wife, Michelin Green Guide, etc.

In going over your original itinerary, if my day-count is correct, you will be staying overnight in Bourges on Sunday & Monday. Sunday day, Bourges will be as dead as can be - except for museums & churches. Monday morning also. If it's like almost all other cities in France of this size, all shops & many restaurants will be closed. Some may open up Monday afternoon - around 2:30 or so. Museums & Churches close for lunch everyday for about 2

StuDudley Mar 11th, 2007 10:30 AM

Previous post by me had a mind of it's own

Start again

Travelbug
I'm still working on the Puy du Dome suggestions - had to get out my notes, photos, maps, wife, Michelin Green Guide, etc.

In going over your original itinerary, if my day-count is correct, you will be staying overnight in Bourges on Sunday & Monday. Sunday day, Bourges will be as dead as can be - except for museums & churches. Monday morning also. If Bourges is like almost all other cities in France of this size, all shops & many restaurants will be closed. Some may open up Monday afternoon - around 2:30 or so. Museums & Churches close for lunch everyday for about 2 hours.

There are 5 restaurants and 2 hotel restaurants listed in my Michelin guide. All but 2 are closed on Sunday - the Michelin 1 star where we dined (expensive), and the Ibis hotel, which would be my last choice for dinner (it's a charmless chain hotel - like a Motel 6). Two are closed on Monday - including the Michelin 1 star.

I think you would be quite bored in Bourges for 2 nights.

Stu Dudley



travelbug Mar 11th, 2007 05:28 PM

Stu, we've spent time in the Chateau area and also along the Rhone, Burgundy, Dijon, Beaune etc on previous trips.

What about a quick stop in Bourges to see the cathedral and continue on towards Troyes or perhaps loop around Paris on the Eastern side? I'd like to find a nice route from the Bourges area to a hotel in the area near CDG. My flight is fairly early, so I'd need to stay pretty close to CDG. I must admit I haven't thought much about these last 2-3 days so all suggestions are welcome. Or what about spending an extra day in the Puy-de Dome area?

StuDudley Mar 11th, 2007 09:07 PM

>>What about a quick stop in Bourges to see the cathedral and continue on towards Troyes <<

Great idea, Troyes really impreseed us - I'll give you some suggestions tomorrow. We're having a major heat-wave here in the San Francisco area - so I'm spending less time in the PC room.

Stu Margarita Dudddddley

tondalaya Mar 11th, 2007 09:12 PM

Margarita? Mrs Stu? The drink?

StuDudley Mar 12th, 2007 07:04 AM

The drink !!!!

Stu Dudley

robjame Mar 12th, 2007 08:00 AM

travelbug - we are considering the same sort of ending for our France trip next fall, leaving Sarlat on a Saturday morning and getting to Ermenonville for Tuesday night for an early Wednesday flight. I would be interested in:
Is east around Paris to CDG easier than west if you are commited to driving?
Where would you recommend staying in Puy de Dome area?
What is the best one night stop between Puy de Dome and CDG?

annhig Mar 12th, 2007 09:03 AM

Hi, travelbug,

we stayed in troyes a few years ago - sorry can't remember the name of the hotel, but it was a posh one in the middle!

Most impressive were the city walls which we walked around- would be intersting any day of the week and not reliant upon shops being open.

regards, ann

ps just looked it up in my red michelin guide. It may have been the royal hotel - doubles are about 77E and the restaurant is open on sundays and mondays! the green guide lists as attractions:
the old town,
the "rue des chats" [missed that]
teh cathedral,
a number of churches,
a modern art museum,

and gives an e-mail address for the tourist office as "[email protected]" -they would probably send you info about what is open when.

Michael Mar 12th, 2007 10:23 AM

annhig,

Are you sure about city walls around Troyes? I do not recall them, but recommend the town nonetheless.

StuDudley Mar 12th, 2007 12:15 PM

Here are some thoughts on the Puy de Dome.

Last July we rented a Gite near Olby & spent two weeks exploring the area. In this region, the natural beauty is the main attraction. Compared to the villages & cities you’ve already visited in the Dordogne & Languedoc, the ones in the Puy de Dome are really not that interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, I would skip Cleremont-Ferrand entirely. Only old Montferrand was mildly worthwhile – but still nothing like Bordeaux, Perigueux, Sarlat, Toulouse, Albi, Pezanes, Bourges, or Troyes. When we were there, we visited about 15 chateaux, but unfortunately very few are open in May. I glanced at my “Route Historique des Chateaux d’Auvergene” brochure, and I found very few – if any - open in May. Here is their web site if you want to search for the few open
http://www.route-chateaux-auvergne.o...te_anglais.htm


The Michelin Green Guide has many driving itineraries. Here are the sections we enjoyed the most
1. The D216/D27/D983 from the N89/E70/D941 intersection, past Orcival, all the way to le Mont Dore
2. The D983 from the above mentioned D216 to the N89.
3. The D922 from Tauves to Lagueuille
4. The small D640 from the D996, to the D150 to St Nectaire. This affords wonderful views of both St Nectaire & the distant ruins of Murol chateau.
5. The D36 from Besse en Chandesse to le Mont Dore.

Here are some of our favorite villages
1 Lavaudieu
2 Besse en Chandesse – probably the most interesting of the villages
3 Montpeyroux – this is an interesting village to explore. It’s right next to the freeway with a great view of it from the freeway
4 Brioude – interesting church also.
5 Blessle
6 Champeix
7 Billom – take the Michelin walk. Excellent Monday morning market. Nice store called Maison de Campagne on Rue Carnot

Some of our favorite sites
1 the Church at Orcival
2 Murol – it’s in ruins, but quite interesting.

The views from the top of the Puy de Dome are fantastic. We had dinner at the restaurant on top one evening, and watched a thunderstorm pass. If you get a chance, have dinner up at the top of the Puy. I’m a big foodie, and I expected the restaurant to be a little touristy – but it wasn’t. In fact, it was one of our 4 best meals in the region.

The other 3 best meals were l’Ours des Roches in Courteix near Pontgibaud, Radio in Chamaliers, & La Belle Meuniere in Royat.

Here are some drives/sites/villages we did not find as interesting as the Michelin Green Guide suggests
1. Gorges d’Aveze – especially if you visit the Gorges du Tarn.
2. The countryside east of the A75 freeway
3. Col de Ceyssat (too many tree trunks)
4. The Funiculaire du Capucin ride from Mt Dore. It was OK, but a little too time consuming


If I were to stay in one town, I would choose Besse en Chandesse. There are several Michelin listed hotels in town. Another option would be Mont Dore, but it’s a thermal/spa town and geared to that crowd. It’s somewhat interesting to visit, but I would not want to stay there. It seemed a little too “fake” to me. La Bourboule would be another choice, but it looked a little tattered & worn. Perhaps it was a more elegant town 100 years ago.

Here’s a nice itinerary to get to the Puy de Dome from le Puy en Velay.

Head northwest on the N102. Just past a large loop in the road, turn right on the D513 to Chavaniac Lafayette. The chateau there is the birthplace of the Marquis de La Fayette – who helped us in our war of independence. If you have time and the inclination, visit the chateau and the exhibits about the Marquis. It’s a self guided tour, and one of the few that’s open in May. It closes for lunch. I’m pretty sure they have a handout in English. After the chateau, head northwest on the small D21, through Paulhaguet, then on the D56 to Lavaudieu. Get out and explore this village – there’s a picture of it in the Michelin Guide. Continue on the D203/D20 to Brioude. This is kind of a perched town. You will first encounter a large parking lot. Park there & take the elevator up into town. We found the church there to be very interesting and a walk through town worthwhile also. See the Michelin Guide for suggested sites to visit in town.

After Brioude, gage the time, and perhaps visit Blesle if you have time & are not “villaged-out”. I would perhaps skip Blesle, and from Brioude, take the D5888 west and get on the freeway towards Cleremont Ferrand. Almost immediately, get off at exit # 17 and drive through St Germain-Lembron, head north a bit and turn left (west) on the small D125 to Chalus (note the chateau to your right), Villeneuve-Lembron (chateau not open in May), and then to Mareugheol, which is an interesting village. After Mareughol, head southwest on the D717, and then catch the D48 west and then the D32 northeast towards Vodable, then the D124/D23 north. At the larger D26 road at Chidrac, head west Besse en Chandesse – noting the interesting St Floret along the way. Most of the route I just described from St Germain to the D26 can be found in the Michelin Green Guide under “Issoire” It’s probably easier to follow the Green Guide’s description than mine.

For the next day explore the Puy de Dome, following the roads I mentioned above and visiting any sites that interest you. Just driving aimlessly in this region is rewarding.

When it’s time to leave the Puy de Dome for Bourges, get on the A75 freeway, but get off at exit #7 to visit Montpeyroux. My guess is that this charming village is inhabited by wealthy people working in Cleremont Ferrand, since freeway access is so easy. Wander around, and climb up the tower for some great views over the village & down into the back yards & gardens of the houses.

You will need map # 326 to explore the Puy de Dome. If you get an older map, it might not show that the A89 freeway has been extended all the way to the A71 freeway north of Cleremont Ferrand.

Make sure you visit Chateau Meillant on the way to Bourges. It will probably be the most interesting chateau you will have visited on this vacation. It closes for lunch. Opening times are in the Dordogne Green Guide.


Thus past Sept we visited Sens, Provins, and Troyes on the same day - staying overnight in Troyes & exploring Troyes again the next morning. This itinerary would be my suggestion for your last night prior to Paris, and on the way to Paris the next day. However, I would not visit Sens – it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the other stops. Like annhig mentioned, Troyes would be a worthwhile place to visit even if shops are closed. I don’t remember going into any shops, and we also toured the city in the early morning before the shops opened – and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Provins is kinda touristy, so shops may even be open on Sunday & Monday morning.

My wife & I were very impressed with Troyes. The old half-timbered buildings there were extremely interesting. We also enjoyed the Hotel de Vauluisant's textile museum (we passed quickly through their religious art museum). If you have the Alsace Green Guide, follow the walking itinerary for Troyes. I would budget at least 4 hours for Troyes. We stayed at the le Royal Hotel (be aware, however, that my only 2 criteria for choosing a hotel are low price, and conveniently located). We dined at the le Valentino – which is on a square off one of the 4 foot wide streets. We had an excellent meal there at very reasonable prices. It’s closed Sun evening & Mon.

The interesting part of Provins is quite small. The folklore museum is worthwhile, but the caves visit was quite tedious & long. It's guided (in French), and you can't 'bug out" early because there is no way you can find your way back to the entrance. I would budget no more than 2 hours if you only visit the folklore museum & not the caves. Also walk around the Ramparts, and climb the Tour Cesar. There is a walking tour inI the Green Guide for Alsace.

Stu Dudley


StuDudley Mar 12th, 2007 12:18 PM

annhig & Michael. I didn't see any walls in Troyes either. I bet annhig was referring to Provins, which does have impressive walls.

Stu Dudley

robjame Mar 12th, 2007 02:26 PM

Stu

<<The views from the top of the Puy de Dome are fantastic. We had dinner at the restaurant on top one evening, and watched a thunderstorm pass. If you get a chance, have dinner up at the top of the Puy.>>

I gather that Puy de Dome is the name of the area but also the name of a particular mountain?
Do you recall the name of the restaurant?

Thanks
Bob

StuDudley Mar 12th, 2007 03:37 PM

It's both the name of the extinct volcano (puy), and the name of the department.

Mont Fraternite It's a Michelin "red man", which means good food at reasonable prices. In the 06 guide, fixed price menus were 24 to 45E. 04 73 62 23 00. In season, there is a "gatehouse" at the bottom that restricts access to the Puy, but If you're having dinner, they let you in. They may even have a list of the reservations. Book several days in advance for this one.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Mar 12th, 2007 03:43 PM

I should not have used the word restrict. They restrict the cars, by making you park down below & take a shuttle to the top.

Stu Dudley

AnselmAdorne Mar 12th, 2007 04:20 PM

I believe that restriction on automobiles varies by time of year. We were there in May 2005 and drove our car to the top of Puy de Dome. We paid an entry fee of 5€, I think it was. It's an easy drive up to the top. I found the descent a bit unnerving; they haven't yet discovered guardrails in that area.

Anselm

klondike Mar 12th, 2007 10:39 PM

If you select Troyes, I can highly recommend Hotel de la Poste (either 3 or 4 star- can't remember). Excellent rooms and service. Nice restaurant. Marvelous patisserie across the street that has baguette sandwiches and salad ready when they open in the morning -a life saver on the plane. And if you book a front street-side hotel you can watch them baking in the middle of the night-they actually use a blow torch to heat the fondant in the huge industrial-sized mixer!) Hotel is located Just across the street from the main square where all the "happening" places are for an afternoon/evening aperatif and the old town starts.


mpprh Mar 13th, 2007 06:36 AM

Hi

you need to do a bit of work on parking for your overnight in Montpellier. The centre is mostly pedestrianised - and there are many one way streets. It may be worth staying somewhere with parking near a tram stop and use the tram to visit. I often eat at L'Entrecote which is visible from La Comedie tram stop.

Allow plenty of time around Vis, Ganges, etc. Many of the roads are narrow and twisty. Photos around there :
http://www.the-languedoc-page.com/ph...gallery-45.htm

Best views of the Millau bridge:
1)From below driving North out of Millau
2)Next to it from the observation parking on the N-S approach.
3)On the bridge travelling S-N

The tolls have increased :
http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2...pic.php?t=1032

More Languedoc photos :
More Languedoc photos :
http://www.the-languedoc-page.com/ph...hoto-index.htm

There is an outer Eastern Paris ring road called La Francilienne. It is shown on michelin maps. It starts near Orleans and ends just short of CDG. It is a long drive, but usually better than the peripherique.



Peter



robjame Mar 13th, 2007 06:46 AM

Thanks Peter for the information on the "Paris bypass". Do you know if La Francilienne is numbered - can't seem to find it on my Michelin France map.
BTW we really liked Millau - doesn't seem to get much play here but it seems to be a great town.

travelbug Mar 13th, 2007 11:48 AM

Peter, I add my thanks to your information. Do you have any suggestions for hotels in Montpellier that would be near public transportation?


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