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Need Help Picking 2 out of the 3 (Provence, Dordogne, Puglia)

Need Help Picking 2 out of the 3 (Provence, Dordogne, Puglia)

Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 08:00 PM
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Need Help Picking 2 out of the 3 (Provence, Dordogne, Puglia)

We are taking a trip to Italy and France next May/June for a month. This will be our first trip to Europe with the kids (will be 6 and 8)

The current itinerary will be Umbria/Southern Tuscany -> Amalfi (stay in Cetara) -> Puglia -> Annecy -> Provence

I really want to visit the Dordogne as well. However, Dordogne will add a lot of travel time. The rest of the trip is fairly travel efficient and will be done via car (other than a flight from Puglia to Annecy)

I think I really need to pick between 2 of the 3 (Provence, Dordogne, or Puglia). We could do all 3 and add some extra days to the trip, but I was trying not to overdo things with the kids. I also want to spend enough time in each place to enjoy it and allow time for day trips.



I’ve done a lot of research on all these areas and have spent a lot of time planning. I've also read a lot of Stu's reports. Any option will be wonderful. To give you an example of what we like, in Annecy my plan is for us to bike around the lake, swim in the lake, do a couple day trips to French Alp towns and hike/walk. Food is always an important part as well. I’m hoping Stu will respond and in the words of Stu, We also love scenic drives and "cute little villages" and prefer places that aren’t overly touristy



Dordogne feels the most special, but this opinion is based solely on reading and pictures. Ultimately only we can decide what is best, but would love to hear the opinion of others.

Let me know if I can provide any additional to help.

Thanks
Max
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Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 08:32 PM
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How much of the month will be spent in Umbria, Tuscany, Cetara and Puglia? That already sounds like 3 weeks or more, esp. traveling with small children....
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Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 08:38 PM
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Hi Jean

I'm trying to dedicate at least 5-6 nights at each location.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 08:25 AM
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My take is that the Dordogne has more obvious appeal for children: chateaux including one with raptor exhibits


caves such as the Gouffre de Padirac, the opportunity to canoe on the Dordogne river


The area is reachable from Toulouse, Bordeaux and Limoges, although this last airport is serviced only by Ryan Air.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 08:54 AM
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You might be able to help yourselves if you can fly into Italy and out of France or vice versa. We spend a lot of time in France and when we have visitors who want to venture out of Paris we always recommend the Dordogne since we think it really offers a lot of "bang for the tourist buck". There is a really density and variety of things to do.

One thing to consider is that in order to visit the area you will most likely need a car, and it looks like you will have one for at least part of the trip. If you will be 3 weeks or over, you might look into the car leasing programs offered by Peugeot and others. We lease a car every year and it is a really great program.

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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 08:58 AM
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Are you thinking 5-6 nights for combined Umbria/Tuscany or 5-6 nights for each region? Where in Italy would you fly into?

As you plan, keep in mind that 5 nights is 4 days, 6 nights is 5 days, etc. Driving speeds are not high, and you can't drive into the centers of most towns of any size in Italy which also adds time to sightseeing. (Learn all about ZTLs, zona traffico limitato.) A group of 4 (including 2 small children) takes longer to do everything than 2 adults. Kids can't always power through jet lag in the first days, and some have a hard time adjusting to a late-ish dinner.

If you head to France after Italy, what would the logistics look like... Which airports at each end and how long a drive at each end? A non-stop flight? And what are the logistics to fly home? Would you have to get to Paris? If it was my trip, I'd eliminate all that and add those days to Italy. You could easily spend an entire month in the places in Italy you listed. I would leave France for another trip.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 11:24 AM
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Thank you everyone thus far!

Jean - Umbria/Southern Tuscany would be combined for the 6 nights. We would base in Orvieto and do day trips (no day trips over 1.5 hrs drive) from there.

Yes, I have studied and very well versed in all the applicable ZTLs. We will not be staying or driving into any ZTL areas. We will be staying in smaller towns or Masseria's (Puglia for example). Ease of the trip (and doing so by staying more in the countryside or small towns) is probably the most important.

Logistically, we would fly from Brindisi airport (an easy airport) to Genava (also a fairly easy airport and get taxi service to Annecy), daily direct flights are offered. This is very efficient, and just as efficient or more if we had stayed in Italy for the rest of the trip. I'd prefer a 1.5 hr flight vs a 7 hr drive. Italy will also start getting hot in June and far more touristy. The places in France above will also have some of those affects, but to a lesser degree.

We will ultimately fly out of LHR, so we can be flexible with the connecting flight. I have probably studied the flight connection site for 50+ hours, so there are many options (TLS, BOD, MRS, as well as many smaller regional airports serviced by Ryan Air, etc..). Even BGC could get you to London City on BA.

To combat jetlag, we will be dedicating a full day for recovery, before any of the trip is even started. I understand the point of staying completely in Italy, and my post is similar about trying to add Dordogne, but also balancing without overdoing things. We will have a car in both places, but Dordogne will require much more time getting in and out, but it may be worth it. However, if our last base is Cassis for example, it is easy to get to MRS.

Let me know if that answers your questions! Thank you so much.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 11:58 AM
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Not a fan of Provence at all.... it felt like a lot of beautiful towns that have been bought bup y wealthy expats and lots of tourist shopping and little galleries with bad art and with some cool ruins too. The beautiful drives? Yes lovely but there are many part of the US that are as lovely to drive. But that is just me... my family and I regretted that trip (being that you save for a trip and look forward to it and we wrongly chose that destination for the kind of travel we prefer).
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by RubyTwins View Post
Not a fan of Provence at all.... it felt like a lot of beautiful towns that have been bought bup y wealthy expats and lots of tourist shopping and little galleries with bad art and with some cool ruins too. The beautiful drives? Yes lovely but there are many part of the US that are as lovely to drive. But that is just me... my family and I regretted that trip (being that you save for a trip and look forward to it and we wrongly chose that destination for the kind of travel we prefer).
There's the olive wood items to be had at a very good price:

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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 12:31 PM
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'That already sounds like 3 weeks or more, esp. traveling with small children....' Jean nailed it.
Max, I would not add much beyond your Italian locations. Those French spots are great to be sure, but no matter how seasoned one's kids may be as little travelers, there can be such a thing as 'too much change of scene'.
Have you settled on a base/lodgings yet in Umbria? We have some experience there and have numerous tips to pass along for those who might want.
Likewise Puglia. Our TR 'Bella Puglia' here might be of some use (no fotos yet).

One travelers humble opinion.
I am done. The end.

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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 01:05 PM
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Again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond

RubyTwins - I am sorry to hear that. We have been to the cote d'azur, and I did not enjoy it as it felt too commercialized. I don't mind a bit touristy as it is the definition of France/Italy in the summer, but a balance is nice.

I'm having a hard time reconciling skipping Provence for Dordogne, but very much considering it, which is why I am posting that question here. The nice thing about Provence is that we can find beaches for the kids, and the trip would be more efficient.

Zebec - I would love to hear any lodging suggestions you have in Puglia. We are looking for a nice Masseria (3-4 stars, Itria Valley) where we could enjoy dinner at the end of the day (simple, local, slow foods). There are too many options that I have researched.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 01:46 PM
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Whilst my DH and i liked the sort of holidays you describe, [a few days here followed by a few days there] we quickly discovered that our kids didn't. They liked the sorts of trips where we rented a cottage or gite for a week or two and used it as a base. They liked coming back to the same house, with familiar beds and the feeling of being at home. Of course your kids may be different to ours but I would seriously consider sticking to Italy this time and leaving France for another.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by wildcats73 View Post
Again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond

RubyTwins - I am sorry to hear that. We have been to the cote d'azur, and I did not enjoy it as it felt too commercialized. I don't mind a bit touristy as it is the definition of France/Italy in the summer, but a balance is nice.
.
For what it's worth... my kids are excellent travelers. Only place they did not like was Provence! Maybe we did too much driving? Not sure... they just were ready to come home and that is not like them. Meanwhile they love Rome, Paris, Tokyo and love hiking etc. But Provence... not for them.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 06:46 PM
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FWIW, I think you're limiting your sightseeing in Tuscany/Umbria by staying all 6 nights in Orvieto (which has a ZTL). When you say "no day trips over 1.5 hrs drive," I assume that means one way. Even 90 minutes doesn't take you terribly far from Orvieto, and for many destinations you'd be driving the same roads/highways multiple times rather than exploring on the slower, more interesting secondary roads. If you're getting your driving estimates from maps.google.com, be aware they are simple calculations based on posted speed limits and not reality or real-time conditions. Once you leave the autostrada, there is lots of slow traffic

A few interesting places/things that ARE a relatively short drive from Orvieto: Sorano, Sovana and the Etruscan vie cave (sunken roads). Medieval Pitigliano. The Park of the Monsters in Bomarzo (Al Parco dei Mostri). Marmore Falls near Terni.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 09:43 PM
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I'd choose a fortified farm in Puglia with lots of courtyards bearish to the coast so you can cycle to swim.

Then a flat in Lecce in the pedestrian area so your kids can run around.
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Old Jul 5th, 2022, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by wildcats73 View Post
Again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond

RubyTwins - I am sorry to hear that. We have been to the cote d'azur, and I did not enjoy it as it felt too commercialized. I don't mind a bit touristy as it is the definition of France/Italy in the summer, but a balance is nice.

I'm having a hard time reconciling skipping Provence for Dordogne, but very much considering it, which is why I am posting that question here. The nice thing about Provence is that we can find beaches for the kids, and the trip would be more efficient.
I am with RubyTwins on Provence. It is better in May/June than the height of summer, but we much prefer the Gard next door to Provence. The beaches that are closet to Provence IMO aren't the best stretches for nice sand and swimming compared to other places in France. The Dordogne has a lot of water activities on the rivers that are really fun especially if the weather is good, like canoeing and the very popular boat rides on the many gabarre boats. Here is an example of that: Gabarre Caminade | Découvrez autrement la vallée et les châteaux de la Dordogne

If you do decide to add the Dordogne you might be better to add it to the end of your trip since the weather is likely to be a bit warmer in June than May and as you say Italy may be starting to get too hot by then.


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Old Jul 5th, 2022, 01:46 PM
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From Italy to the Provence or the Dordogne it's not much different in terms of scheduling unless your Annecy stop is required.
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Old Jul 5th, 2022, 02:55 PM
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I certainly acknowledge the advice of staying at fewer places for longer. I prefer this as well (A full week at a place with somewhere to return after day trips). So, the conclusion is that Dordogne and Provence can not both be included. Also, while Amalfi is logistically convenient (Cetara) and was included, we will stay the shortest time with it being lowest on my list. Therefore, 4 of the locations we will be there 6/7 nights per.

@jpie @RubyTwins - I am open to the Gard next door. What would you suggest? I still think the question is, would the Dordogne be preferable to Provence/Gard...

All my route times are based off of www.viamichelin.com and not google, as google isn't the most accurate.

@Zebec & &bilboburgler
I would love to hear any lodging suggestions you have in Puglia. We are looking for a nice Masseria (3-4 stars, Itria Valley) where we could enjoy dinner at the end of the day (simple, local, slow foods). There are too many options that I have researched. ("lots of courtyards bearish to the coast so you can cycle to swim". <----- We would love this)

Thank you!
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Old Jul 5th, 2022, 05:27 PM
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Yo Max, my Puglian lodging recommendations do not include any masseria, which is simply a reflection of our status as self-catering non-drivers. *Below is the link to our Puglian TR here (no fotos yet) and maybe possibly perhaps one could find some suggestions of value therein. Happy to further advise about Umbrian lodgings--some real winners there, including a fantastic splurge.
I am done. the dated TR

Bella Puglia (also Basilicata and Rome)
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Old Jul 6th, 2022, 06:53 AM
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"@jpie @RubyTwins - I am open to the Gard next door. What would you suggest? I still think the question is, would the Dordogne be preferable to Provence/Gard..."

Generally when I am with first time visitors we base in or around Uzès to explore the Gard. I am going again this September with a cousin and I know every time I have been, visitors generally say it is the one of the highlights of the trip. They have a wonderful Saturday morning market and it is really a lovely area to explore. The Pont du Gard is probably the most well known attraction in the area and a visit nicely suited to children since it has lots of area to explore and run and play. It is definitely better to visit on a cooler day however. You can walk across the bridge and have a snack or lunch along the opposite bank which is fun. Nimes is also a nice mid-sized city. We had lunch at the rooftop outdoor restaurant at their modern art museum the Carré d'Art which was fun and casual with a lovely view.

In general, the Gard and the Dordogne might be a good combo for you since Sarlat (kind of the touristic center many people base for the Dordogne) to Uzès is around a 5h30 drive, so an easy two day drive. I wouldn't necessarily do a Gard/Provence combo since they are somewhat similar (and I much prefer the Gard). If you do decide to choose a Gard/Dordogne combo, I personally think the route through Figeac and Rodez is nice than coastal drive, but the coastal drive is about the same distance.

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