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Help on my itinerary for the Perigord, Auvergne and Languedoc

Help on my itinerary for the Perigord, Auvergne and Languedoc

Mar 8th, 2007, 12:43 PM
  #1  
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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.




travelbug is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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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.
Michael is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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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...2&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
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Mar 9th, 2007, 03:19 AM
  #4  
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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.
travelbug is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 05:45 AM
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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.

Nikki is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 06:06 AM
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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.
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Mar 9th, 2007, 06:48 AM
  #7  
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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.
travelbug is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 08:21 AM
  #8  
ira
 
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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...2&tid=34676645

Photos at http://tinyurl.com/sjch4

Enjoy your visit.

ira is online now  
Mar 9th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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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
moolyn is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 08:58 AM
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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
annhig is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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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!
StCirq is online now  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:16 AM
  #12  
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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
travelbug is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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>>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 Perigueuxlt;<

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 is online now  
Mar 9th, 2007, 11:22 AM
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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



StuDudley is online now  
Mar 9th, 2007, 12:15 PM
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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 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 12:18 PM
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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.
travelbug is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 01:21 PM
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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.
Michael is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:03 PM
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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 is online now  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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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
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Mar 10th, 2007, 06:26 AM
  #20  
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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.
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