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Provence & the Dordogne Gites & Car for September

Provence & the Dordogne Gites & Car for September

Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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Provence & the Dordogne Gites & Car for September

My wife and I are going to be in France from September 8th until October 7th this fall. We'll fly into Paris (CDG) and then take the TGV to Avignon for a stay in the general area for two weeks. We then plan to drive to the Dordogne area and spend a week in that area. Our last week will be in Paris. We have traveled through various parts of Europe before, and we have usually stayed in B&B's. This time, we are interested in staying in gites. I have been scouring Gites de France, Slowtravel France, and other similar sites, but haven't found too much yet. We're in our early 60's, and both of us are very fluent in French.

I am seeking advice and counsel on where to stay (gites) in the Avignon or Arles area, as well as in the Dordogne. As well, does anyone have any ideas about an apartment "gites" for Paris?

I would also like to rent a car in Avignon, and then drop it off in Paris. Is that possible? I also have a good quality GPS (which will take European downloads) for my car. Should I use this? or Michelin guides? both?

I have Stu Dudley's Provence itinerary, which is wonderful.

I look forward to suggestions and advice from those of you who have the type of experience that we are seeking.

Merci beaucoup a l'avance!

Robert
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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There are many others including Stu who will be able to offer advice regarding gites.

As for the car, it shouldn't be a problem to drop it off in Paris. Check with autoeurope.com. They are brokers who will usually match a lower price found elsewhere. Many people on this forum have used them with good results. Just be aware that pickup/dropoff at rail stations and airports often attract an extra fee these days.

GPS is invaluable! I used one in France last summer driving from Nice to Paris. I have driven in France many times before over the years and all over much of western Europe in my youth... now that I've used a GPS I would never be without one in Europe again. Maps are still a necessity (for planning and to give you an overall view) but by all means take your own GPS... not only will it save you the extra rental fees but you are already comfortable using it.

Our TomTom never once steered us wrong even though we drove through seemingly hundreds of roundabouts!

Bon voyage!

Rob
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:32 PM
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Thanks very much for the info, Rob. I expect my own TomTom will then get a good workout!
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Provence
I would not try to find a gite too close to Avignon - there is lots of pretty ugly urban sprawl there, and the countryside immediatly around Avignon is not as scenic as other regions in Provence (west is OK). I would look for something east of the D31, north of the D950, west of the Rhone, and south of the D99. The Chateauneuf du Pape area is OK. If you locate these boundaries, you'll notice that they kinda form a box - stay outside that box.

We've spent 16 weeks in Provence in 5 different Gites. We started out with 2 weeks in the Luberon near Cabrieres d'Avignon, then 2 weeks just west of St Remy, then 2 weeks near Vaison, then returned for 2 more at the Cabrieres gite, 2 near Uzes, and then 2 weeks south of Mt Ventoux, followed by 4 more weeks south of Mt Ventoux..

For a first timer, I would try to locate something in the Luberon Valley between the D31 and Apt. Others like the St Remy/Alpilles region more than we do. We obviously like the Bedoin region. Arles is a little too far away from many of the top sites. If you want to stay in the Arles region, find a place near St Remy.

Provence is one of the most popular place to stay in France. Next week we'll book our Gite for June '10. September is a very popular month. I would find a place ASAP.

Dordogne.

There are not any pockets of ugly sprawl or non-scenic countryside in most of the Dordogne. We've stayed near Cenac for 8 weeks, and are returning for 2 more this June. Anyplace within 25 miles of Sarlat is fine. I would not stay west of the Tremolat meander, or much north of Montignac, or east of Souillac, or south of the Dordogne river by more than 20 miles. It's not because the areas outside of these boundaries are not scenic (because they are very scenic), but because about 70% of the stuff you'll want to visit is within these boundaries. The sites outside of these boundaries you can visit on a day trip are Peche Merle, St Cirq Lapopie, Cahors, Figeac, Cele River, Rocamadour, Padirac, cute villages of Carennac/Autoire/Loubressac/Martel, Collonges la Rouge, Turenne, and a few caves also.

I don't divulge specifics about the Gite we stay in - there is already too much competition.

Do you have my Dordogne itinerary also???

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:53 PM
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I suppose there are no specific definitions of exactly what a gîte is or is not but in my mind they are usually cottages with a capacity of 4+ people renting for a period of some weeks at a time. Searching for accommodations for 2 people for periods less than 2 or 4 weeks may explain why you are not finding a good number of possibilities on the web sites you mention. Assuming you have ruled out chambres d'hotes (though I should not) here are all of the gîte web sites of which I am aware:

http://www.fleursdesoleil.fr/
http://www.cheznous.com/
http://www.vacationfrance.com/
http://www.gites-de-france.fr/
http://www.clevacances.com/
http://gitelink.com/
http://www.francelodge.fr/
http://www.maisonsdhotesdefrance.fr/
http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/
http://www.lescarmes.com/


For a site specific to Paris:

http://www.chambre-ville.com/

I can recommend an apartment in the heart of Avignon with a parking garage only a few steps away:

http://www.labanasterie.com/
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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There are dozens and dozens of rental property agencies in Provence and the Dordogne other than the Gîtes de France. I'd start by googling Rental Properties Provence. In addition, the tourist offices of every town list rental properties. So does De Particulier à Particulier, which might be especially useful for a rental in Paris. I think there's a big "Location" section on their website.

In the Avignon/Arles area, I'd look around for a rental in the St-Rémy/Les Baux/Maussanne area. In the Dordogne, I'd look for a place within a 20-mile radius of Sarlat, preferably to the north, south, or west.

I'm not much of a fan of driving between the Dordogne and Paris unless I have a particular area to visit along the way, as it's a fairly long, dull drive. I almost invariably take the train from Périgueux or Bordeaux. But there will be no issue with picking up a car in Avignon and dropping it off anywhere else in France. Personally, I don't use a GPS system. I love maps and I don't like strangers barking at me while I'm driving.
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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No problems dropping off the car in Paris - that's what we're doinging this year after 2 weeks in the Dordogne, 1 in the Cantal, and 1 in in western Loire. However, if we wanted to get from the Dordogne to Paris, I would drive towards Brive la Gaillard, visit Collonges la Rouge, then Turenne, then dump the car at the Brive train station & take one of the many direct trains to Paris. You could also head to Bordeaux, visit St Emilion, and then return the car in Libourne & take the TGV to Paris.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 01:16 PM
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The Gites in Gites-de-France rent for 1 week or more - there is no 2 week minimum that we've ever encountered. We're 2 people, and we've rented around 40 different gites all throughout France. One bedroom gites are difficult to find, and I would not rent a 1 bedroom gite anyway. They are usually low-end gites. Most of our gites are 2-3 bedrooms, and we've rented seveal 4 bedroom gites. There is a rating system of 1 to 5 "wheaties" for Gites - just like for hotels. We only stay in 3 wheaties & above and use price as the best guideline for "quality" (unless you get to 4 bedrooms or more, where you're paying extra $$$ for extra bedrooms). About 80% of the Gites we've stayed in are non-attached houses. Most are around 900-1,200 sq ft - some have been more than 2,000 sq ft. Several have been surrounded by vineyards.

The Gite we're returning to in Provence next year is 3 bedrooms, DR/LR/Kitchen, 2 baths, private pool, very large garden area, very private, walking distance to a village with a weekly market & several restaurants. It rents for around 750E per week in Sept.

Our place in the Dordogne is 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, large "open style" kit/DR/LR. Private garden. Rents for 475E per week in Sept.

Sheets & towels are extra, unless you bring them from home.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 10th, 2009, 04:07 PM
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Thanks so very much all. I'm very appreciative of the insider knowledge and willingness to share with fellow travelers and Fodorites. Robert
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Old Apr 25th, 2009, 07:45 PM
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Doing some long range planning for this type of trip myself. Some interesting suggestions so far.
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