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Please critique my itinerary

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Feb 14th, 2016, 09:25 AM
  #1
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Please critique my itinerary

Any comments or suggestions is appreciated....

My husband and I arrive in Paris May 11th and will leave for Amsterdam May 15th. Just 4 short days, but there is never enough time in Paris, right?

My husband has a educational seminar in Amsterdam for May 15th, leaving May 19th. We will fly to Toulouse the morning of the 19th, explore Toulouse and leave on the 20th. We need to rent a car, so the question is, where? Should we rent the car at the airport and then drive into Toulouse or should we take a cab to Toulouse and rent the car the next day at the train station?

Leaving Toulouse, we will drive to Sarlat for 4 nights (May 20-24). Can we take a day and visit the Figeac area or is that too much?

On the 24th, we drive to Albi for 2 or 3 nights leaving on the 26th or 27th. I thought that day, we could spend ½ a day at Carcassonne and then drive to Uzes. We spent a week in that area a couple of years ago, so we are only planning on spending 2 nights there.

On the 29, we have reservations at a hotel and spa above Vence for 4 nights before flying out of Nice. We wanted our last few days to be restful, so I thought we would take a couple of days to tour the area around Nice and then spend the last 2 days just relaxing.

I know we are covering way too much territory, but we booked our tickets using a companion ticket on BA. We were making plans quickly based on what was available. I was not able to get a return from Bordeaux or Marseille, so I just started asking for any city that I could think of as tickets are in short supply. Nice was the only place that we could find. I had no idea how far it was or how much there was to do and see.

So, the things that are set in stone are arriving to Paris, training to Amsterdam and leaving out of Nice.

Does this itinerary make sense given the distance we have to travel? Guess we will just be getting a taste of what area to focus on next trip for a more in depth visit. Stu, I have all your reports for all the areas and all I can say is reading them makes me want to take about 6 months for this trip! Thanks for all the info.

My husband loves to drive, so we look at a 3-4 hour drive as an adventure.
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Feb 14th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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Your itinerary will work.

We always pick up the car at the Toulouse train station the day of departure - like we will do this June. Rental prices from Kemwel/Autoeurope for this year are almost twice what we paid last year when we rented in March for our June trip.

I would not visit Figeac if you only have 4 nights in the Sarlat area. However, if you stay for 2-3 nights in Albi, I would visit Figeac on the way to Albi.

I would not stay in Albi for 3 nights - 1 or 2 are fine. It (Ville Historique) is small. To get to Carcassonne, you might consider the route through Tarbes with a stop in Tarbes if time permits (1 hr visit). We were near Carcassonne for 2 weeks this past June and we did an overnight to Albi. We went through Tarbes on the way there and then took the autoroute on the way back. We both wished that we had taken the "through Tarbes" route both ways.

In Provence, if "that area" is ALL of Provence, then 2 nights/1 1/2 days is short - but a good stopover on the way to the Cote d'Azur. If "that area" is just the area around Uzes, then I would use 1 or 2 days gained from Albi to stay someplace in the Luberon Valley - Gordes, Roussilon, Bonnieux, Menerbes, etc.

If you want to skip Provence altogether, I would spend the 3 nights in the Gorges du Tarn before heading to the Cote d'Azur. See my August '15 update to my Languedoc itinerary for details. Then add a night to Vence if you stayed in Albi for only 1 night.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 14th, 2016, 10:31 AM
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Thanks Stu. I'll recheck your Languedoc report again. The area around the Gorges du Tarn does look beautiful. I know you usually rent Gites for the area, but do you have any hotel suggestions for any place in the Gorges du Tarn or a village to consider?
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Feb 14th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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My itinerary has suggestions - but if $ is not a problem, I would stay in the wonderful Chateau de la Caze
www.chateaudelacaze.com
We dined there, & it was our best meal in the Tarn area.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 14th, 2016, 11:54 AM
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Stu,

Are you sure you mean Tarbes? It is SW of Toulouse, about 90 minutes by autoroute.

topeater, Have you already seen a lot of Provence? You might want to consider heading east, seeing Albi, Carcassonne, etc. then head over to Provence and leave Sarlat for another trip.
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Feb 14th, 2016, 02:04 PM
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>>Are you sure you mean Tarbes?<<

Good catch!!! I should have checked a map. I meant Castres. No reason to go to Tarbes.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 14th, 2016, 02:06 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion Cathinjoetown, but we spent 2 weeks in Provence 2 years ago and I've been wanting to see the Dordogne.

Stu, it looks like Chateau de la Caze has a new owner? The recent reviews are pretty mixed and someone said to let the new owner settle in. Have you heard anything about owner changes?
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Feb 14th, 2016, 04:11 PM
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I does seem that they changed management sometime in September. We were there in July. I read some of the Sept to December French and English "negative" reviews, and it seemed like the main complaints were due to the service and inexperience of the new management and staff - no porters to carry bags, nobody at the desk at early check-out, cold coffee, poor breakfast selections, cold halls (typical in an old chateau). One person complained about a 16E glass of Bordeaux presented in a glass and not [oured out of a bottle - that's what I paid for a red wine last night for dinner (after tax & tip). Some people said the dinners were fantastic and some said they were poor with "not very good" selections. Check out the menu yourself
http://www.chateaudelacaze.com/menus.pdf
This was the exact same menu we were presented with in July. I had the Ecrevisses as an appetizer, and although I almost never order beef in France - I ordered the Aubrec Beef (Aubrec is a region in France near Estaing on the Lot River). On our early trips to France in the 80s & 90s, I had many different types of beef, and Aubrec is the only beef I thought was good - so I ordered it again at the Chateau du Caze. It was fantastic. So were my wife's seafood selections.

For one negative review, there was a explosion in the kitchen and the restaurant was immediately closed. One review stated that the new management planned to "upgrade" when the chateau closed for the winter.

Everyone loved the chateau itself and the setting on the Tarn River.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 14th, 2016, 05:27 PM
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My wife just finished her Sutterfly book for our June/July trip to the Carcassonne area and the Gorges du Tarn.

https://stududley.shutterfly.com/51
Click on "Full screen".
Due to Shutterfly software problems, many titles & captions are either missing and truncated. Castres is on pages 40 & 41. Albi is on pages 42 thru 47. Gorges du Tarn starts on page 48 & continues on thru most of the remaining pages. Chateau de la Caze is on page 63 with pictures of the castle & our dinner.

Her shutterfly book for our 2014 trip to the Cote d'Azur & Provence.
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/28

Stu Dudley
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Feb 15th, 2016, 07:40 AM
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What lovely photos! Makes my decision completely impossible now. Please thank your wife for all the work putting these together.
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