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dac Mar 5th, 2008 02:52 PM

Please give me some suggestions on this itinerary to Burgundy, Dordogne and Paris
Our travel dates to France are September 18 - October 4, 2008

Our tentative itinerary is as follows:
1. Arrive CDG 10AM from LAX. Pick up car and drive to Auxerre where we will spend one night at Maxime Hotel.
2. September 20 drive to Beaune (Hotel Le Cep) visiting towns of interest on the way.
3. Stay in Beaune as base from Sept. 20 - 3 nights.
4. Leave Beaune and drive to Sarlat (Hotel Clos de Boetie) where we will base ourselves for 8 nights.
5. Drive car to Brive and take train to Paris for 3 nights.
1. People have suggested that we stop 1 night in Besse en Chandesee (from Beaune to Besse 307 km 3 hours 42 minutes) Is this worth a stop or we are considering just driving straight to Sarlat(Beaune to Sarlat 476 km 5 hours 19 minutes) Any thoughts on this?
Thanks for any help or thoughts.

JulieVikmanis Mar 6th, 2008 03:30 AM

Sorry, I don't know the town you speak of so I can't answer your specific question. I can however, say that your trip overall sounds great. Maybe my response will bring this back up to the top and encourage someone else to answer your specific question. enjoy.

ira Mar 6th, 2008 03:41 AM

Hi D,

Your friends seem to have given you good advice.

Enter Besse en Chandesee at and click "local attractions".


StuDudley Mar 6th, 2008 07:42 AM

I would stop in Besse & explore that area a bit. It's quite different from Burgundy & the Dordogne. Not as many cute villages (except for Besse), but the countryside is beautiful.

You probably already have my write-up from a prior post, but here it is again:

In July ’06, we rented a Gite near Olby & spent two weeks exploring the area. In this region, the natural beauty is the main attraction. Compared to the villages & cities you’ve already visited in the Dordogne & Languedoc, the ones in the Puy de Dome are really not that interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, I would skip Cleremont-Ferrand entirely. Only old Montferrand was mildly worthwhile – but still nothing like Bordeaux, Perigueux, Sarlat, Toulouse, Albi, Pezanes, Bourges, or Troyes. When we were there, we visited about 15 chateaux, but unfortunately very few are open in May. I glanced at my “Route Historique des Chateaux d’Auvergene” brochure, and I found very few – if any - open in May. Here is their web site if you want to search for the few open

The Michelin Green Guide has many driving itineraries. Here are the sections we enjoyed the most
1. The D216/D27/D983 from the N89/E70/D941 intersection, past Orcival, all the way to le Mont Dore
2. The D983 from the above mentioned D216 to the N89.
3. The D922 from Tauves to Lagueuille
4. The small D640 from the D996, to the D150 to St Nectaire. This affords wonderful views of both St Nectaire & the distant ruins of Murol chateau.
5. The D36 from Besse en Chandesse to le Mont Dore.

Here are some of our favorite villages
1 Lavaudieu
2 Besse en Chandesse – probably the most interesting of the villages
3 Montpeyroux – this is an interesting village to explore. It’s right next to the freeway with a great view of it from the freeway
4 Brioude – interesting church also.
5 Blessle
6 Champeix
7 Billom – take the Michelin walk. Excellent Monday morning market. Nice store called Maison de Campagne on Rue Carnot

Some of our favorite sites
1 the Church at Orcival
2 Murol – it’s in ruins, but quite interesting.

The views from the top of the Puy de Dome are fantastic. We had dinner at the restaurant on top one evening, and watched a thunderstorm pass. If you get a chance, have dinner up at the top of the Puy. I’m a big foodie, and I expected the restaurant to be a little touristy – but it wasn’t. In fact, it was one of our 4 best meals in the region.

The other 3 best meals were l’Ours des Roches in Courteix near Pontgibaud, Radio in Chamaliers, & La Belle Meuniere in Royat.

Here are some drives/sites/villages we did not find as interesting as the Michelin Green Guide suggests
1. Gorges d’Aveze – especially if you visit the Gorges du Tarn.
2. The countryside east of the A75 freeway
3. Col de Ceyssat (too many tree trunks)
4. The Funiculaire du Capucin ride from Mt Dore. It was OK, but a little too time consuming

If I were to stay in one town, I would choose Besse en Chandesse. There are several Michelin listed hotels in town. Another option would be Mont Dore, but it’s a thermal/spa town and geared to that crowd. It’s somewhat interesting to visit, but I would not want to stay there. It seemed a little too “fake” to me. La Bourboule would be another choice, but it looked a little tattered & worn. Perhaps it was a more elegant town 100 years ago.

Here’s a nice itinerary to get to the Puy de Dome from le Puy en Velay.

Head northwest on the N102. Just past a large loop in the road, turn right on the D513 to Chavaniac Lafayette. The chateau there is the birthplace of the Marquis de La Fayette – who helped us in our war of independence. If you have time and the inclination, visit the chateau and the exhibits about the Marquis. It’s a self guided tour, and one of the few that’s open in May. It closes for lunch. I’m pretty sure they have a handout in English. After the chateau, head northwest on the small D21, through Paulhaguet, then on the D56 to Lavaudieu. Get out and explore this village – there’s a picture of it in the Michelin Guide. Continue on the D203/D20 to Brioude. This is kind of a perched town. You will first encounter a large parking lot. Park there & take the elevator up into town. We found the church there to be very interesting and a walk through town worthwhile also. See the Michelin Guide for suggested sites to visit in town.

After Brioude, gage the time, and perhaps visit Blesle if you have time & are not “villaged-out”. I would perhaps skip Blesle, and from Brioude, take the D5888 west and get on the freeway towards Cleremont Ferrand. Almost immediately, get off at exit # 17 and drive through St Germain-Lembron, head north a bit and turn left (west) on the small D125 to Chalus (note the chateau to your right), Villeneuve-Lembron (chateau not open in May), and then to Mareugheol, which is an interesting village. After Mareughol, head southwest on the D717, and then catch the D48 west and then the D32 northeast towards Vodable, then the D124/D23 north. At the larger D26 road at Chidrac, head west Besse en Chandesse – noting the interesting St Floret along the way. Most of the route I just described from St Germain to the D26 can be found in the Michelin Green Guide under “Issoire” It’s probably easier to follow the Green Guide’s description than mine.

For the next day explore the Puy de Dome, following the roads I mentioned above and visiting any sites that interest you. Just driving aimlessly in this region is rewarding.

When it’s time to leave the Puy de Dome for Bourges, get on the A75 freeway, but get off at exit #7 to visit Montpeyroux. My guess is that this charming village is inhabited by wealthy people working in Cleremont Ferrand, since freeway access is so easy. Wander around, and climb up the tower for some great views over the village & down into the back yards & gardens of the houses.

You will need map # 326 to explore the Puy de Dome. If you get an older map, it might not show that the A89 freeway has been extended all the way to the A71 freeway north of Cleremont Ferrand.

Stu Dudley

hausfrau Mar 6th, 2008 08:47 AM

I agree with Stu - Besse en Chandesse is a lovely little town and stopping overnight would give you a glimpse into this beautiful and often-overlooked area of the Massif Central. We also liked Besse more than Le Mont Dore. There are a number of scenic drives you can take in the area that will give you a taste of the gorgeous landscape - unlike anything else I've seen in France. Do a search on Massif Central and you should find my trip report from Fall 2006 and several others.

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