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INPUT PLEASE SW France - N. Spain (including Basque) driving itinerary

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Hello, everyone:

Would you kindly share your guidance about traveling by car in late August between (Part I) Toulouse, France and San Sebastian/Donastia, Spain and (Part II) San Sebastian to Bordeaux with my wife and teenager daughter? This is our 2nd trip to the Dordogne but our first trip to Spain.

Prior to this road trip, we will have spent 10 days in Beynac-et-Cazenac, exploring parts of the surrounding area. We will then travel over two days from Dordogne to Toulouse with an overnight in Albi. Optimally, we would like to spend +/- 3 hours in the car at any one time, but could handle up to 4-5 hours one day. We are more interested in special destinations rather than spectacular mountain drives (although I obviously recognize that the two may go hand-in-hand). As always, any suggestions and input are very welcome and appreciated.

Part I (2 nights) - Our preliminary itinerary includes: Carcassonne, Quéribus/Peyrepertuse, Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

San Sebastian - 2 nights

Part II (2 nights) - From San Sebastian we will travel to Bordeaux from where we will depart home. Our planned stops along the way include: Hondarribia, St Jean de Luz, Biarritz and Bayonne

Bordeaux - 1 night

Depart home

Thank you very much, in advance


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    Don't worry! You'll be in the land of great food, on both sides of the Pyrenees.

    The most direct driving route, Toulouse to San Sebastián-Donostia will take around 3-1/2 hours, depending on how heavy the traffic is between Bayonne and Irun, and then from Irun into Donostia. Traffic could be backed up at the toll booth when crossing into Spain on the A-63/AP-8.

    We usually avoid the A-63 when driving into the Pays Basque from Donostia, instead going by way of Bera (Navarra) to Sare (Lapurdi) on the old sumgglers route.

    This would add a little more time to your drive, but would give you the opportunity to see the beautiful countryside of the Pays Basque, with a stop for lunch in Arcangues (Moulin d'Alotz), Sare (Hotel-Restaurant Lastiry), Ainhoa (Hotel-Restaurant Ithurria), Espelette (Restaurant Pottoka), or at Cédric Béchade's L'Augerge Basque in Saint-Pée sur Nivelle.

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    Hi Steve,

    Your motor tour is much what I would have done.

    Having done something like it, may I recommend a route that was suggested to me by one of our members who lives in the Dordogne?

    Beynac-et-Cazenac (We loved it) to Carcassone via Graulhet and Revel 04:07 hr.

    Except for a short part on the A20, this is a drive along blue highways.

    If you wouldn't mind an extra hour, you can take a drive along the Lot river, visit St Cirque-Lapopie, and skip the A20. (05:07 hr)

    Overnight in Carcassone. It is worth it.
    We stayed at
    just below the walls of the city.

    I think that you will all enjoy an evening/night in the old city.

    On the way from Carcassone to Tarascon, I suggest going via Ax-les-Therme. ((04:19 hr)

    From Tarascon to St Sebastian, I'd go through the mountains via St-Giron/St. Lizier to the A64.

    You might like to visit Lourdes before going on to Pau** for the night. We were very pleased with

    We quite liked Le Majestic for dinner.

    On to Donostia by way of Navarrenx, Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port,Ordoqui and Ornoz-Mugaire.(03:36 hr)


    We stayed at It is only 1* because it lacks a couple of requirements to be a 3*.

    It is located close to the beach. Has parking.

    Hope this helps.

    Enjoy your visit.


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    I was coming from the other direction (San Sebastian toward the Mediterranean), and when I got to St Jean Pied de Pont, I took one look at all the tour buses and tourists, and figured out somewhere else to go. I never got out of my car. And that was in early May, not August.

    I had a similar reaction to St Jean de Luz (too touristy), but did get out of my car, and actually found the adjacent tiny hamlet of Ciboure more enticing. In August I would think the seaside towns are packed to the gills and parking at a premium -- but I've never been so that's a guess.

    I deliberately chose to spend many nights in a row in San Sebastian because I wanted to eat a lot of pintxos and enjoy evening strolls. I really really enjoyed it, and you might consider giving a little more time to the town.

    I spent as much time as I could in the high Pyrenees, and less in the towns, although I did go to St Bertrand de Comminges, which is quite small but with beautiful features, but also quite a dogleg from your projected itinerary, and there are many small towns and you can't see them all. Cannot help but say I detested Lourdes, which I accidentally ended up in because of a detour due to road works. Sincerely, I would not take sensitive children to Lourdes.

    So that's my input...

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    Below is a suggested itinerary I developed for someone on Fodors a while ago.

    Here is a summary of my suggested itinerary.
    Bordeaux/Basque 1 night Sat
    Basque region 5 nights Su-Th
    Haute Pyrenees 2-3 nights Fri-Sun
    Ainsa 1 night Mon
    Foix area in Pyrenees 2-3 nights Tu-Th
    Figeac 1 night Fri
    Rocamadour 1 night Sa
    Sarlat 5 nights Sun-Th
    Albi (optional) 1 night Fri
    Toulouse 1 night Sat
    Total (with Albi) 20 to 22 nights.

    This works out to be an almost "perfect" itinerary because you land on a Saturday so you won't encounter any commute traffic, and there is also time left in the day on Saturday to visit Bordeaux or drive to the Basque region. Also, you depart Toulouse on a Sunday or Sat - so you won't encounter commute traffic. You won't be in a city (Figeac, Albi) on a dreaded Sunday when cities can be quite dead.

    Naturally, I encourage 3 nighters at the places that I have 2-3 nights. See the last page of this itinerary for possible modifications if you can't spend this much time in Europe.

    Below, the stars reflect the rating given to the site in the Michelin Green Guide (0 to 3 stars). TMBVoF stands for The Most Beautiful Villages of France (an "official" classification).

    It is a 2 hr 20 min drive from the Bordeaux airport to St Pee in the French Basque region - mostly all autoroute (freeway). About 2 1/2 hrs is the maximum we would drive the first day.

    If you don't want to do this drive, I would not stay at any airport hotel - bleh!!! What are you going to do Saturday afternoon near the airport? Instead, take a taxi to the Continental hotel in Bordeaux and stay there. It's centrally located . Before you depart the US, print out a page from your PC in about 24 font, that says "Continental Hotel", and the address of the hotel, to show to the taxi driver. Don't stay in a hotel near the train station - the area is not that nice & too far away from the "old" section of Bordeaux. Explore Bordeaux Saturday and have a great first dinner in France. Unfortunately, the restaurant where we dined seems to be closed. Next morning, take another taxi to the train station to pick up your car. The only car rental offices that are open on Sunday are at the airport and the train station in Bordeaux. All downtown offices (with no air/rail $50 pick up fee) are closed Sundays.

    Basque Area
    Maps & Books needed
    Michelin Map #342 – Haute Pyrenees, Pyrenees Atlantiques
    Michelin Map # 335 - to get you from Bordeaux to the Basque region - but you could print something from instead
    Michelin Map #573 Pais Vasco, Euskadi, Navarra, La Rioja
    Michelin Green Guide to the Atlantic Coast
    Michelin Green Guide to Spain

    I don't know whether you want to spend all your time in the Basque area in Spain - or some time in the French part. Or both. We've only visited the French Pays Basque - two trips for 2 weeks each. The first trip, we stayed near St Jean Pied du Port - inland. On the second trip we stayed in Sare, closer to the coast.

    Perhaps if you want to "split" your time, start in the French section for 2-3 nights and then in the Spanish side for 2-3 nights.

    We found that navigating in Spain is a lot more difficult than in France. We even had a GPS - and got lost quite often in Spain. The signage in Spain is not as good as in France. There are two names for most cities - Spanish & Basque - which makes things confusing (same 2 name thing in France too) There's lots of ugly sprawl around San Sebastian - which adds to the difficulty.

    French Pays Basque.
    We stayed in a gite near Sare. I think Sare is a little "over rated". Our two favorite non-coastal villages were Espelette and Ainoa (pics in book).

    One of our "top 2" restaurants on the French side was L'Auberge Basque just outside of St Pee - surrounded by pretty countryside. It also has rooms - so I would consider staying there. The restaurant is a Michelin 1 star.

    Here is what I would do for 2 full days in this French area. See chapter 5 starting on pg 197 in the Atlantic coast Green Guide for info on this area.

    Day 1
    Do this on a clear sunny day, and get to La Rhune 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.
    - La Rhune*** – rack railway – plan on 2 ½ hrs – 45 mins up, & 1 hr on top.
    - Then drive to Sare for a visit.
    - Then take the D4 to Ainhoa* TMBVoF & 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.
    - Then take the D918 to St Pee & visit.
    - Take the road west to Ascain (over-rated, IMO) and then to St Jean de Luz**. Spend an hour or two visiting St Jean. We toured the Maison Louis XIV* museum. Tours are at 11,3, & 4 - but call to confirm at 05 59 26 01 56 Closed Tuesday.

    Day 2
    Visit Bayonne** in the AM. This is an interesting city - but we were surprised at how "dead" it was in the evenings (late June), and during lunch also. Perhaps get there at 10:00. Parking is a tad difficult. Follow the walking itinerary in the Michelin Green Guide. We visited the Musee Basque** - but I don't recall much about it (which might tell you something)

    Next visit Biarritz**. It's quite different from Bayonne. Lots of “Grande Dame” hotels & mansions. Take lots of walks around the coastal points, Rocher de la Vierge* & along La Perspective**.

    Take a tour of a typical Basque house

    In addition to l'Auberge Basque, our other "top 2" restaurant was Table et Hostellerie des Freres Ibarbourne in Bidart - in fact, this was #1 on both of our trips to the Basque area. We also dined at Les Rosiers in Biarritz, le Moulin de Ulia in Arcangues, and Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Bayonne.

    Spanish Basque
    We really enjoyed the town of Hondarribia*. There are pictures of it in the Shutterfly book I sent you.

    We did not visit San Sebastian** - except for dinner one night (pics in book).

    We also visited the Bidasoa Valley - many cute villages (pics in book). Use the 342 map for this. Bera wasn't that interesting, but we enjoyed Sunbilla, Extalar, and Lesaka. Pics in Book.

    We dined at three restaurants in Spain. Our two favorites were Alameda in Hondarribia, and Zuberoa in Oiartzun. Both are Michelin 1 star restaurants. We dined at Kokotxa too - it was fine - but not as good as the others. there are pictures of all these restaurants in the Shutterfly book.

    To be continued

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    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. The last week, there were signs all over the place announcing the closing of this road for the TdF. My wife enjoyed the "old" hotels in Eaux-Bonne at the west end of the Col (pics in book).

    Continue on to Argeles Gazost and stay 2-3 nights 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. So for 3 nights, you could stay in one, dine at both, plus the restaurant I mention below. The first one is La Grange aux Marmottes in Viscos (population 44). . The second one is Les Viscos in St Savin (population 372). . There are pictures in the book of both.

    Our best meal in the region was in Cauterets (just outside to the south) at l'Abri du Benques (pics in book). 05 62 92 50 15. However, they could not "accept" our magnetic stripe credit card - so we paid cash.

    Here are things to keep you occupied for several days in the area (we were there for 2 weeks - see book). Consult the Green Guide to find "extra" stuff to do.

    Switch to the Languedoc/Roussillon Green guide - although this region is in both Languedoc & Atlantic guides.

    1. The most famous Col in the Pyrenees is the Col du Tourmalet**. You'll go over it on the way to your next location/hotel. However, bad weather comes & goes, and I would not want only one chance to visit this Col. So I would go there early in the AM on the first day you're in the region. You might go all the way to Ste Marie de Campan & see the stuffed "people" in various places in Ste Marie (see pics in book). Then turn around & go back over the Col du Tourmalet.

    2. Visit the fantastic Pont d'Espagne*** don't miss (see pics in book). This is described on pg 395 in my Languedoc Green Guide.

    3. 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. Pg 378 in the Languedoc Green Guide.

    4. Take some chairlifts up to higher elevations with great views. The weather was really bad for 10 out of the 13 days we were in this region - so we didn't go on any chair/gondola lifts. We had planned to go on lifts starting from Cauterets, from Gourette on the Col d'Aubisque, and from La Mongie (Tourmalet/Pic du Midi de Bigorre***). There is info in the Green Guide about these - or just wait until you are there.

    5, Explore the Vallee de Gavarnie** - south of Luz St Sauveur.

    6. If the weather was not good when you drove over the Col d'Aubisque - do it again (we did it 4 times).

    Over the Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin, Arreau, into Spain, and Ainsa.
    Head east over the Col du Tourmalet**, then southeast over the spectacular Col d'Aspin***. Watch for wandering cows, sheep, horses (see pics in book). Stop in Arreau for a wander and perhaps lunch. Then head south on the D929/D173 into Spain.

    Switch to Michelin Map # 574 - Aragon, Cataluna

    Continue south on the A138 to Ainsa (see pics in book). Stay one night. We stayed at Los Arcos, and were really pleased with the location and size of the rooms We had perhaps the most interesting/memorable meal of all time at the next-door Callizo. Get their largest "menu". It will really surprise you. Unfortunately, Callizo is closed Sun & Mon nights - but there are other restaurants on the Plaza Mayor. Spend many hours wandering around town. It gets lots of day-trippers - so spend your evening & morning there.

    Continue through the Spanish Pyrenees & then back to France
    Head east from Ainsa on the N260. The N260 will turn north and intersect with the A139. Take the A139 to Benasque for a visit. This is a very interesting town - wander around. Head back south on the A139 and then east on the N260. When the N260 hits the larger N230, take the N230 north - back to France. We didn't think much of Viehla - so don't stop. The N230 will change to the N125 when you enter France.

    Switch to map Michelin Map 343.

    Find N230 (Spain) to the N125 (France) on the 343 map, and head north on the N125 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 (see pics). Continue on to Foix.

    There are not any hotels that I would recommend in Foix. We've had several nice meals at Phoebus however - with a great view of 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. Stay here 2-3 nights. .

    Stuff to do & see
    The first thing next morning, visit the Parc de la Prehistoric ** pg 355. 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. I realize that there are similar caves in the Dordogne - but Niaux is one of the best.

    Here are two interesting places to visit.
    Underground river of Labouiche* pg 148 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.

    Scenic Drive
    Take the D117/D15 from Foix west to Grotte de Mas d’Azil ** pg 350 10-6 45 min guided tour. Then take the D119/D117 to St Girons and then take the D618 south through the Gorges de Ribaouto to Oust. Then take the D32 east to Aulus and visit. Then the D8 west towards Seiz. (pg 355). Do the side trip to Couflens (visit). We went up to the Col de Pause (pics in book) - but it was a scary drive . Then back on the D3 heading to Seix for a visit (Pics in book). At Oust take the D3 north, then the D618 east to Massat. Then take the D618 east over the Col de Port to Tarascon.

    The fort in Foix is not worth a visit.

    Now it's time to head to the Dordogne area.
    Head north on the N20. At exit #7 head east to Mirepoix. This is one of our favorite Bastide towns. Read about Bastides in my Dordogne itinerary. Then get back on the N20/A66 heading north. The take the A61 northwest around Toulouse, and then the A62 north.

    Switch to Michelin Map 337.

    The remaining sites are in my Dordogne itinerary, so I wont elaborate on them - just give you the rough itinerary.

    The A62 will connect to the A20 around Montauban. Keep going north on the A20. Get off the A20 at exit 57, and work your way south to St Cirq Lapopie** and visit. Also, reserve a tour several weeks ahead at Pech Merle*** and do the tour at that time. If you're going to be more "loose" with this itinerary, call the day before to reserve. Continue east on the Cele River (D41) to Figeac** & stay there for 1 night. We have never stayed in Figeac (although we've visited it 4 times).

    Next morning, explore Figeac some more. See my Dordogne itinerary for details. Then head northwest on the D840 to Rocamadour**. Perhaps stay 1 night at a B&B or hotel in/near Rocamadour. Don't visit Rocamadour now - visit the Gouffre de Padirac, Autoire, Loubressac, Carennac, and Martel. Then visit Rocamadour late in the day or early next morning - without the tourist mobs. View** Rocamadour from l'Hospitalet in the AM.

    Now over to the Sarlat area for 5 nights. See my Dordogne itinerary for things to do.

    After Sarlat/Dordogne head back towards Toulouse on the A20.

    You can spend the next night in Albi & visit Albi (not on a Sunday or Monday am) and then on to Toulouse. Or you can go directly to Toulouse.

    For Albi, get off the A20 at exit 59 in Caussade, and switch to map 338. It's a 1 3/4 hr drive from Sarlat la Caneda to Caussade. We stayed just north of here for 2 weeks in about '04. Drive through Caussade and then get on the D916 heading east toward Caylus. Just past Stepfonds, head towards St Antonin Noble Val on the D5. Shortly, when the road starts to curve a little, you will get a fantastic view of St Antonin – get the camera ready.

    Proceed into St Antonin Noble Val*, but before you get to the center of town, look for a turn to the right, which will take you counter-clockwise around town. At the bridge, turn right & go over the Aveyron River. If you want to get an even better view of St Antonin, as soon as you hit the D115 off the bridge, turn right & go 20 yards or so until you see a large park downhill on your right. There are several benches in this park. We’ve spent many hours sitting on these benches, admiring the view, devouring a pizza we bought at the fabulous Sunday morning market, and writing in my wife’s diary. Walk into town and explore St Antonin. There is a lovely covered market in the center of town which is the focus of the Sunday Farmer's market

    Look up “St Antonin Noble Val” in the GG. Follow the driving itinerary # 1 to explore the Gorges de l’Aveyron*+. Take the route exactly as described in the Guide – from St Antonin, through Penne, and then Bruniquel – in the clockwise direction. This direction will give you the best views. Make sure that you cross the Aveyron River when they tell you to – you’ll have to pay attention. There is a fantastic view of Penne+ as you approach this village with large chateau ruins sticking up in the sky. You can get a great view from the road next to the tourist office and across from a restaurant with outside tables (lunch?). This restaurant was very crowded when we were there on a Sunday afternoon (when the French take their main meal of the day). Penne is another of TMBVoF. Read about it in the GG under “Penne” and explore the town. Continue on the drive and shortly you will come to Bruniquel*, another TMBVoF. Explore this town quite thoroughly. See “Bruniquel” in the GG & visit the chateau. This is a real pleasant town.

    After Bruniquel, take the scenic D964 south and then east to a "gem" of a Bastide town - Castelnau de Montmiral. Take a 15 mins walk around the main square in town. Then get on the D922 north to the perched village of Cordes sur Ceil**, another TMBVoF. Park your car as high up on the hill as possible – the walk up from the base of this town is a killer. Cordes is quite touristy (like St Cirq), but it’s an interesting village. Follow the walking itinerary in the GG.

    Head to the beautiful city of Albi*** on the D600. This is one of our favorite small cities in France. Get out the Green Guide to find your way into central Albi. You will follow the road south across the bridge. From this bridge, there is a fabulous view of Albi. Just after crossing the bridge, you are in the old section of town. Look for the underground parking lot (it’s huge), and park there. Emerge from the lot, and retrace your route to take some pictures of Albi from the bridge. Albi "buttons up" tight at lunchtime, except (June through Sept) for the fabulous Cathedral Ste Cecile***. My Green Guide says that the Toulouse Lautrec Museum** is closed for lunch (except July & Aug), but I’m not sure that’s the case. Perhaps call ahead (number is in the GG) to confirm opening times. Toulouse Lautrec is one of the few artists that I like, and I really enjoyed this museum. It’s located in the Palais de la Berbie*+. Don’t miss the gardens outside the palais. Follow the walking itinerary described in the Green Guide**. This is an interesting city. There are informational plaques (also in English) affixed to the outsides of buildings. They describe the architecture & related historically significant events. Many of the old buildings had fallen into disrepair and had been slated for demolition in the 1970s. Instead, the City had refurbished them & they now provide “social” (low- income?) housing.

    Now, hop on the A68 to Toulouse.

    I would not stay at a hotel near the airport. We did that once when we had a 6:45 flight. Airport hotels are ugly and the area is horrid. There is a Hyper-Marche near the airport that has 98 check-out cashiers - that tells you something about the "quaintness" of the airport area. Stay in Toulouse & take a taxi to the airport the next morning.

    Toulouse, along with Dijon, is our second favorite city in France, after Paris.

    In Toulouse, we've stayed near the car return place at the train station twice at the Mermoz, and once at the President. Allow at least a half day for Toulouse. Follow the walking itinerary in the Michelin Green guide. Eat at Le Bibent (see pics in book) - one of Christant Constant's (Paris mentor to many 3 star chefs) new restaurant. If you feel like Cassoullet - dine at Emile

    Taxi to the airport the next morning.

    Suggested modifications to this itinerary if you can't spend this much time in France/Spain

    After visiting the Haute Pyrenees near Argeles Gazost, head east over the Col de Tourmalet and the Col d'Aspin. When you hit the D929, instead of heading south to Ainsa, head north to the A64. Take the A64 past Toulouse to the St Cirq Lapopie & and Figeac area. This will save you 3-4 days. You can save an additional day by skipping Albi.

    Stu Dudley 3/10/14

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    If you're going to be in Beynac for 10 days at the end of August you can expect a good deal of traffic. On the roads and on the river. It can be a zoo, but maybe it will die down by then end of the months - last year it didn't. You can also expect amazing little-known visits to bee-farms, truffle-farms, cheesemakers, evening soirées in tiny towns like Audrix in the hills where there are amazing meals cooked onsite with local music, vides-greniers, visits to bories, and other hidden gems that most people don't know about. And if you want tickets to Font-de-Gaume and Les Combarelles, you'd better secure them now or contact me so I can get them for you.

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    Should be a wonderful trip!

    Do give Toulouse time enough to see the things there that interest you -- it is, IMO, a gorgeous little city absolutely packed with delightful museums and interesting streets and oh, so much more! (I wish I'd had more than 2 days there.) And make sure you have time for Albi's extraordinary cathedral, not to mention the Toulouse Lautrec museum....

    In San Sebastian, consider making time for the San Telmo Museum, which has a small (but excellent) collection on Basque culture and history.


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    Your comments are all so helpful and generous! Your expertise, enthusiasm and depth of knowledge virtually impossible to match. In particular sharing your favorite towns, sights, restaurants, museums and routes is a joy to read. I will go through each comment - and any more that can be shared - with a fine tooth comb and modify our plans accordingly, including making reservations quickly. Many thanks.

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