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Itinerary advice - Bordeaux and the Dordogne April 26-May 3, 2014

Itinerary advice - Bordeaux and the Dordogne April 26-May 3, 2014

Apr 6th, 2014, 10:24 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary advice - Bordeaux and the Dordogne April 26-May 3, 2014

We (a couple in our early 60's) are (at the last minute) planning a trip in a couple of weeks to Bordeaux and the Dordogne. We arrive at the Bordeaux airport Saturday morning, April 26 and leave from there in the morning of Saturday, May 3.

So far, these are our plans and we welcome advice and suggestions. I just received Stu Dudley's fabulous Dordogne report and am in the middle of it but just thought I would post here before too much time goes by.

We planned to take public transportation into Bordeaux where we have reservations for 3 nights at L'Annexe de Gerald on Rue du Temple (have not yet sent a deposit). We plan to rent a car the morning of Tuesday, April 29 (probably Europcar) and leave Bordeaux for the Dordogne.

We thought of driving east, staying somewhere on Tuesday night and then 3 nights in the Sarlat area. We had planned to stay in Sarlat at La Lanterne, but Stu's report made me think of staying at the Belle Etoile in Roque Gageac. I have written them asking if they have a room available. We would like to be in a place where we don't have to drive at night to go to dinner because we like our wine and my husband gets tired of being in the car so much. Stu says there are good restaurants in Roque Gageac in addition to the one at the inn.

We thought we would stay close to the Bordeaux airport our last night as we have an early morning flight on Sunday May 3. We don't have a place selected yet. We also thought we would drop off the car at the airport Saturday night and take the free transportation to the airport hotel.

What we are interested in are museums, gardens, architecture, chateaux, and good food but not so much the prehistorical sites.

I have spent quite a bit of time perusing the forum for Dordogne suggestions and have learned quite a bit from all the generous contributors. I guess my questions right now are where to spend the extra night, are our accommodations good choices, are we spending too much or too little time in places, other thoughts.

Thanks so much for your help!
trautmak is offline  
Apr 6th, 2014, 10:30 AM
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Correction, we leave Bordeaux on Sunday, May 4.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 12:21 PM
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What we are interested in are museums, gardens, architecture, chateaux, and good food but not so much the prehistorical sites.

The Michelin Green Guide covering the Dordogne would be a good source of information.

www.viamichelin.com does provide a list of restaurants for any area specified by the user of the site.
Michael is online now  
Apr 6th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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Trautmak - I think your plan to consider La Roque Gageac is a good one, it is a charming village and personally I prefer it to Sarlat (though if you do not want to do much driving Sarlat will offer many choices for restaurants). There are the beautiful gardens of Marquessac nearby, the Josephine Baker house (Chateau des Milandes), many picturesque villages to explore, kayaking on the river and wonderful restaurants. Another small town nearby is Domme - you might look in to accommodations there.

In Bordeaux we had a really wonderful experience at Les Sources des Caudalie http://www.sources-caudalie.com/en/ a couple of years ago. It is not in the city of Bordeaux, but on the grounds of the Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte (same family, and yes also the same as the fabulous Caudalie products). We stayed for 2 nights and never left the property. Both restaurants were terrific and it was nice to just relax at the pool and spa after spending a somewhat "busy" week in the Dordogne. St. Emilion is a lovely town to visit near Bordeaux (we stopped on our way to the hotel).

I have spent 2 weeks in the Dordogne on 2 separate trips and have never tired of it (it is the only place besides Paris that I have returned to as I have a thing about visiting new places - but I really love this area). There is plenty to do - and it is also my favorite place to not do anything (sit and sip wine or coffee, look at the beautiful scenery that completely surrounds you, smell the flowers, listen to the language being spoken - and eat very, very well). We like to cycle and it is a great place for that.

Personally I don't like packing and unpacking - so I might consider heading straight to the Dordogne on arrival and would stay there for 5 nights (though you might want to venture out by car for dinner a couple of nights if you do that, and if you are willing there are some great places in good proximity). You could pick up your car at the airport and then spend the last 3 nights in Bordeaux, which saves the hassles of changing hotels for the last night (if I did the math correctly you have 8 nights - Sat-Sun?)

And speaking of cars, we had a really terrible experience with Europcar (on the second Dordogne trip) and I will never, EVER rent from them again. I know they are a big company and many people rent from them without complaint (we had previous rentals without incident) - but if you do have a problem their customer service is basically non-existent.

Good luck with your planning and enjoy this wonderful part of France!
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Apr 6th, 2014, 12:46 PM
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And speaking of cars, we had a really terrible experience with Europcar (on the second Dordogne trip) and I will never, EVER rent from them again. I know they are a big company and many people rent from them without complaint (we had previous rentals without incident) - but if you do have a problem their customer service is basically non-existent.


Was the rental agreement directly with Europcar or through a broker? I believe that there is a certain amount of security in renting through a broker such as Autoeurope because it is more willing to keep customers happy. I had problems with Europcar more than once. In one instance there was a mix up in the rental and Autoeurope was able to help although it was a frustrating process, and in the second it could not help because some Europcar agencies are concessionaires who do not depend directly on the central office for their policies. In the latter instance, a phone call solved the problem, but it required fluency in French.
Michael is online now  
Apr 6th, 2014, 01:55 PM
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Ah Michael that is interesting. This rental agreement was directly with Europcar. In this case we picked up the car in France and returned it in Spain. We tried to speak directly with the local offices but they referred us to a customer service email.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 05:29 PM
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I've had many, many problems with Europcar. But fortunately, I rented through AutoEurope and they have always resolved things in my favor.


Stu Dudley
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Apr 6th, 2014, 05:39 PM
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I would do what lynnalan suggested - arrive at BOD and immediately drive to the Dordogne. On Sat May 3, leave early and drive to Bordeaux. Return the car at the train station or downtown, and explore Bordeaux that day, & stay the night. Three-quarters of a day in Bordeaux is fine.

Sunday morning, take a taxi to the airport.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 6th, 2014, 06:49 PM
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Thanks so much everyone. I think renting a car is always risky and I never am comfortable until it is returned without incident. I expect we will rent through Autoeurope and hope for the best.

I think we may spend a bit more time in Bordeaux, Stu, as my husband has seen a number of museums he is interested in. I think we will take the boat ride on the Dordogne that Stu mentioned in his report - it looks gorgeous.

I will use viaMichelin for suggestions although there aren't so many restaurants listed in the area. We like very good food without paying an enormous amount of money for it. We have traveled many times to France and are never (or almost never) disappointed in the more casual, neighborhood restaurants we have dined in.

If you were to suggest a night in a slightly different area from the environs of Sarlat, what would it be?

Thanks again!
Kristin
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Apr 6th, 2014, 06:53 PM
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I will use viaMichelin for suggestions although there aren't so many restaurants listed in the area.

If you enter Sarlat-la-Caneda, viamichelin will list at least 15 restaurants for that immediate vicinity alone.
Michael is online now  
Apr 6th, 2014, 07:05 PM
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I wouldn't spend more time in Bordeaux unless it involved trips to the Dune du Pylat, Arcchon, and Cap Ferret.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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I will take a look at Bordeaux to see what my husband is thinking of. I guess for viaMichelin I had entered Roque Gageac and that is is why there weren't so many restaurants listed. Anyway, I am not too worried about finding good meals!
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Apr 6th, 2014, 08:42 PM
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Restaurants: In addition to La Belle Etoile, we loved Le Saint Martial and Le Petit Paris (in Daglan) which are both within about a 15 minute drive of La Roque Gageac.

We dined at the well known L'Esplanade in Domme but frankly we had much better service (and equally good food) at other places. The views are pretty great though.

If you are feeling adventurous it can be fun to find a night market in a nearby village and pull up a bench with the locals for food and music in the town square. I don't know if they will be in full swing in late April.
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Apr 8th, 2014, 06:45 PM
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Thanks for the dinner suggestions. I just made a reservation at Chateau le Tour in Faux near Lalind for one night and then we will stay in Roque Gageac at La Belle Etoile for 3 nights. I must say that even the set menus with wine seem rather expensive, even coming from New York. WE are really looking forward to our trip.
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Apr 8th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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And Michael - your photos of the Dordogne are fabulous. They really got us excited about visiting the area! Thank you!
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Apr 8th, 2014, 07:34 PM
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We stayed at villa des consuls in Sarlat and really liked that. Sarlat was good for walking to restaurants. That being said Stu is a GREAT source for this area. I have a trip report from 2010 you can read by clicking on my name and going to trip reports. I followed a LOT of Stu's suggestions. We loved this area!
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Apr 9th, 2014, 10:25 AM
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There's no need to spend a lot of money to eat well in the Dordogne. Expensive restaurants are actually pretty rare.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Thanks, mimipan- I made a lot of notes from your trip report. I looked up the blog, Radio Free Daglan, and got many great ideas for restaurants in the area, especially inexpensive ones!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 07:30 PM
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We are almost ready to go and I thought I would ask for favorite (not expensive) restaurants in Bordeaux. We will be there Sat., Sun., and Mon., nights.

And I got an American Express card with the premium car rental insurance as so many suggested and feel much more at ease with renting a car.

Thanks!
Kristin
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