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Provence/Languedoc/Dordogne/Spain Itinerary

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Dec 27th, 2015, 11:09 AM
  #1
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Provence/Languedoc/Dordogne/Spain Itinerary

Happy New Year to all .... We are planning a 5 week trip to France and Spain in May/June, 2016. Like everyone else on this site, we are looking to you experts for suggestions. We enjoy wandering the back streets of small villages, sipping wine/coffee in cafes watching people, walking/hiking, bicycling, kayaking, touring countrysides, historical buildings/architecture, abbeys and cathedrals, some museums.

Flying into Paris (Nice/Marseille not doable from our hometown) and out of Barcelona. We are not spending any time in Paris. We spent a week there a few years ago and while we loved it, we try to go to new places each trip. If time and money were no object ... different story.

We would like to "wing" a few sections for flexibility but not sure about hunting down rooms. Prefer not to over plan our trips. We like staying in small hotels, B&B's or apts. Min.3 nights/stay. Trying to keep lodging to around 100E/night.

Below is our tentative itinerary.

5/18 Arrive Paris, train to Lyon

5/18-21 Lyon (3 nights)

5/21-5/28 Train from Lyon to Aigues-Mortes for 7 day bicycle/barge trip - we will be
bicycling though Arles, Vallabreguès, St. Remy, Le Baux de Provence, Aramon,
Barbentane, Abbey of Saint Michel de Frigulet, village of Boulbon, and ending up
in Avignon.

5/28-6/2 Get rental car in Avignon and tour Provence - We'd like to make a 4-5 day base in
Provence but not sure where. The bike trip will have given us a brief taste of various
villages. In a perfect world (no hotel issues), we'd wing this and stay in a village we
really loved on the bike tour.

6/2-6/5 Drive to Pezenas or Beziers for 3 nights (Carcassone, Perpignan or Collioure)

6/5-6/12 Drive to Sarlat-la-Caneda (have already booked an apt for 7 nights here so this part is
set); kayak/canoe, tour Dordogne River Valley, Rocamadour, St. Emilion.

6/12-6/21 Train to Spain (possibly overnight in Toulouse), 3 nights in Girona, cycling, see
Cadaques, Figueres, 5 nights in Barcelona (Montserrat, Sitges)

6/21 Fly Home from Barcelona

Sorry this is long. We appreciate any suggestions.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 12:25 PM
  #2
 
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How are you getting from the Dordogne by train to Spain? I can't see backtracking to Toulouse when you will already have basically passed it on the way from Provence to the Languedoc.

I wouldn't bother with St-Emilion, BTW. It would make for a very long daytrip with nothing much special to show for it. There's plenty of wine in the Dordogne.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 12:29 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Your itinerary seems fine. You don't hit any large cities on the dreaded Sundays when many things you might be interested in are closed (except museums & cathedrals).

I'll scatter a few comments.

>>5/18 Arrive Paris, train to Lyon

5/18-21 Lyon (3 nights)<<

Don't forget to visit the Traboules
http://www.francetoday.com/articles/...traboules.html
Visit them early in the day & get an itinerary from the TI.

>>5/21-5/28 Train from Lyon to Aigues-Mortes for 7 day bicycle/barge trip - we will be
bicycling though Arles, Vallabreguès, St. Remy, Le Baux de Provence, Aramon,
Barbentane, Abbey of Saint Michel de Frigulet, village of Boulbon, and ending up
in Avignon.<<

We've spent 20 weeks in various regions in Provence - and the area covered by your bicycle trip is probably our least favorite (others may disagree). Les Baux/Alpilles will be a climbing challenge, and hopefully you'll be riding through the Camargue on a "cooler" day without mosquitoes. The closer you get to Avignon - the more ugly commerce & urban sprawl you'll encounter. If I were to take a 7 day bicycle trip, I would concentrate on the Luberon (Gordes, Bonnieux, Menerbes, etc) or farther north near Bedoin & Vaison la Romaine.

>>5/28-6/2 Get rental car in Avignon and tour Provence - We'd like to make a 4-5 day base in
Provence but not sure where. The bike trip will have given us a brief taste of various villages. In a perfect world (no hotel issues), we'd wing this and stay in a village we
really loved on the bike tour.<<

Like I stated earlier - the area covered by your bike trip is our least favorite. Base for these 4-5 days in a DIFFERENT area - the Luberon or near Vaison to experience something other than the relatively flat part of Provence that's near the Rhone.


>>6/2-6/5 Drive to Pezenas or Beziers for 3 nights (Carcassone, Perpignan or Collioure)<<

Consider the fantastic Gorges Du Tarn. This year we spent 2 weeks just outside of Carcassonne and 2 weeks in the Gorges du Tarn. Carcassonne is a 2 1/2 hr visit, IMO - but we really enjoyed our 2 weeks in the Gorges du Tarn and Pezenas. Lots of diverse stuff to do in the Gorges area.

It probably won't be "beach season" in Collioure that early in June (were were there for the first 2 weeks in 2004) - compared to what you have experienced in Puerto Vallarta and "anything tropical" (as your profile states). Collioure is around Milwaukee, WI in latitude.

>>6/5-6/12 Drive to Sarlat-la-Caneda (have already booked an apt for 7 nights here so this part is
set); kayak/canoe, tour Dordogne River Valley, Rocamadour, St. Emilion.<<

Personally, I would not go to St Emilion. It s 2 1/2 hrs away - so that's 5 hrs sitting in the car there & back (not that scenic as you get close to Bergerac). Spend the time visiting St Cirq Lapopie/Pech Merle, Cele River/Figeac, Gouffre de Padirac, Carennac, and Martel instead for your longish day-trips.<<

>>6/12-6/21 Train to Spain (possibly overnight in Toulouse)<<<

Toulouse (and Dijon) are our two favorite cities in France after Paris.

>>3 nights in Girona, cycling, see
Cadaques, Figueres,<<

Can you get to Cadaques & Figueres by Bike??? Unless you are huge Dali fans - I think you'll be a tad disappointed with Fogurues compared to Girona, Barcelona, Toulouse, Sarlat, Avignon, Pezenas, and other places you have visited.

>>5 nights in Barcelona (Montserrat, Sitges)<<

Get tickets for most of the Gaudi stuff before you depart the US.

My wife & I have vacationed for 20 weeks in Provence, 12 in the Languedoc, and 10 in the Dordogne. I have extensive itineraries for each of these regions that I have sent to over 5,000 people on Fodors. If you would like copies of them, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach them to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 27th, 2015, 12:41 PM
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What you want to do works. But if it were my vacation I would tweak it as follows:

5/18 Arrive Paris, train to Aix-en-Provence

5/18-21 Aix-en-Provence (3 nights)

5/21-5/28 Train from Aix-en-Provence to Aigues-Mortes for 7 day bicycle/barge trip-ending up in Avignon.

5/28-6/2 Get rental car in Avignon and tour Provence - Make a 4-5 day base in the Luberon area of Provence. Stay,a slight splurge for you,in my favorite B&B Le Mas Perreal http://masperreal.com/index.html

6/2-6/5 Drive to Pezenas or Beziers for 3 nights.

6/5-6/12 Drive to Sarlat-la-Caneda for 7 nights.

6/12-6/21 Drive to Toulouse for one night.Train to Spain, 3 nights in Girona,4 nights in Barcelona.

6/21 Fly Home from Barcelona
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Dec 27th, 2015, 12:56 PM
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There is a 8:01 departure from Toulouse that gets you to Girona at 10:40 - no train changes. There are also four other daily trains from Toulouse to Girona - taking anywhere from 3 to 4 hrs with 1 train change. Toulouse is well worth "backtracking" for, IMO (2 1/2 hr drive from Sarlat). You could easily visit St Cirq Lapopie, Pech Merle, and perhaps Figiac on the way to Toulouse. I would find a way to spend 2 nights in Toulouse if you visit Pech Merle etc on the way (1 less night in Girona & skip Figueres?).

Stu Dudley
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Dec 27th, 2015, 03:56 PM
  #6
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Thank you for your suggestions.

Have read about the Traboules and will be sure to see them.

The bike and barge location was selected by friends. We will take your advice and base in Luberon after. Will do some research on the various villages and will check out Le Mas Perreal in St. Saturnin.

Since we have two strikes for St. Emilion, we will take that off.

I realize we are backtracking but with only 8 or so nights for Spain we thought we should stay in the north. Could go to Basque Country (as we are from Nevada, we have some Basque friends). We will take suggestion from dugi_otuk to drive to Toulouse and train from there.

No we won't be biking to Cadaques and/or Figueres. Thought we might rent a car for a day or two in Girona.
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Dec 27th, 2015, 05:24 PM
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I would be surprised if Mas Perreal has any vacancies in early June. The owner Kevin is from the US (SF Bay Area, like us) and his wife is French. They get a lot of US visitors who normally (like you) want to visit France in June & leave by July to avoid the huge crowds in mid-July & Aug. Let us know what you find.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 27th, 2015, 05:43 PM
  #8
kja
 
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"possibly overnight in Toulouse"

I love Toulouse! I gave it only 1.5 days, and seriously wish I'd given it more. AND I visited Albi separately -- so add at least a day if fascinating Albi is of interest to you.

"5 nights in Barcelona (Montserrat, Sitges)"

That would have been too rushed for my tastes -- I had 6 nights Barcelona + a night in Montserrat, and did not make it to Sitges. But it depends on your interests....

StuDudley wrote, "visit Pech Merle etc on the way"

Ooooh, do see if you can fit Pech Merle into your plans. One of the world's most spectacular treasures, IMO.


Should be a great trip!
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Dec 28th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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In checking out the Luberon villages recommended, St. Saturin les Apt and Bonnieux are topping my list. Any thoughts on one vs the other? After seeing Mas Perreal, I think a country stay just 10-15 minutes from a village appeals to us. I have not yet checked out Mas Perreal's availability.

StuDudley - I do have a couple of your itineraries from a couple months ago. Thank you. Great information.

kja - I will read your trip report this week. There are never enough days in any village, IMO. Will try to arrange an extra day in Toulouse. So many places to see.

We are retiring in a few weeks so finally have more time to travel but even 5 weeks doesn't seem like enough.
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Dec 28th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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Bonnieux is up a hill - so anyplace 10-15 mins away would probably involve a car. St Saturnin is less touristy than most of the other villages in the Luberon, & I think a walk there from Mas Perreal is do-able.

You'll need 3 of my itineraries to cover the areas you are interested in:

Provence/Cote d'Azur
Languedoc - which I revised in about August this year
Dordogne

Stu Dudley
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Dec 31st, 2015, 08:19 AM
  #11
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Very happy that we were able to get a room as La Mas Perreal.

StuDudley - I've only been able to find your Provence/Cote d'Azur itinerary so I would appreciate seeing the Dordogne and Languedoc itineraries.
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Dec 31st, 2015, 09:46 AM
  #12
 
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You are going to be even happier when you arrive at http://www.masperreal.com/ . Le Mas Perreal is a converted farm house located in the Luberon among a beautiful setting of vineyards and orchards. This is the Provence of Peter Mayles.

You will wake up in in the morning with the reality that you are in Provence. You will start out the morning outdoors with a gourmet breakfast. Kevin will help you with planning daily activities, choosing restaurants (make reservations for you). Elizabeth and Kevin are terrific hosts and they will help make your stay a memorable experience.

Do send for Stu's itineraries. Send him an email so that he can easily attach your requested itineraries in a reply to you.
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Dec 31st, 2015, 11:05 AM
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If you like to go on long hikes or bike rides, Keven is an expert on hiking & biking trails in the Luberon. Nearby Apt has several bicycle rental shops.

I sent you my two other itineraries earlier today.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 5th, 2016, 04:33 PM
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Ran into a hitch in the Sarlat to Girona portion of our trip. That's a 7 1/2 hour train ride so thought to drive to Toulouse, spend a night (or two), return our car and train to Girona. But, UEFA tournaments are in Toulouse making getting a hotel room (especially at an affordable price) impossible. Any suggestions.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 05:31 PM
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Try the Hotel President
http://www.hotel-president.com/ang/index.htm

Or Bookings.com

Or stay in Albi

Stu Dudley
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Jan 5th, 2016, 05:54 PM
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We love St. Sat and think it's the perfect location in The Luberon. We have spent close to 20 weeks there in the last 3 years. Le Mas is lovely as are Kevin and Elizabeth. We've hiked with him several times, he is very knowledgable of the area. Enjoy.
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