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Provence or Aquitaine/Dordogne for week with friends?

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Dec 21st, 2011, 11:56 AM
  #1
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Provence or Aquitaine/Dordogne for week with friends?

I am planning a trip to France for a group of friends (10 -12) and myself. We plan to rent a house for a week in either Provence or in the South Western part of France. I have been to Provence before for one week staying in St. Remy, and enjoyed that a great deal. Most of us in the group enjoy wine, and wine-tasting, so I am also thinking that somewhere near the Bordeaux region would be good. Of course we could also visit wineries in the rhone region if we choose Provence. I would appreciate advice from you in choosing the region. I've read a little about the Dordogne, which sounds beautiful, but I don't know enough about the area to get started planning a trip. I understand that Bordeaux is actually in Gironde, but from what I've read, that area may be less scenic than the Dordogne, and maybe not the best place for an entire week. The trip will be in mid-June. BTW - We have done this type of trip twice before in Italy, staying in a house in Umbria. Our group consists of 6 couples in their late 40's/early 50's. Most of us will fly in to Europe at different times and do some traveling before meeting at the Rental house for our week together. Thank you for any help/advice you can provide.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 12:05 PM
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All three are so different in landscape and in cuisine.
I stayed in all three, loved them all though I tend to favor Provence, mainly because I made alot of friends there
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Dec 21st, 2011, 12:23 PM
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Provence & the Dordogne are my two favorite regions in France. We've vacationed for 18 weeks in Provence and 10 in the Dordogne. IMO, the Dordogne has a greater diversity of things to do than Provence. However, Provence is more "laid back", and in June we go there to "start the summer". I certainly would visit Provence or the Dordogne before Bordeaux.

I have a 27 page itinerary for Provence & the Cote d'Azur and a 20 page one for the Dordogne. I've sent them to over 3,000 people on Fodors & aol. E-mail me at [email protected] if you would like a copy of them and &'ll attach them to the reply e-mail.

You had better get your house rented ASAP for June. We always rent our gites/houses at least 1 year in advance for these popular regions.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 21st, 2011, 12:26 PM
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Don't pick an area based on wine unless you are all serious oenophiles. There's every kind of wine available to buy all over France, and every region will have dégustations even if there aren't a lot of visitable wineries around.

I wouldn't want to stay in the Gironde for a week, knowing that one of the world's paradises (the Dordogne) was just next door. If you're not familiar with the Dordogne, start reading and looking at pictures. Fodors alone is full of information.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 12:51 PM
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Flip a coin between the Provence and the Dordogne or start reading guidebooks to help you choose.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 01:29 PM
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Thank you for the replies. Although I have only strted my research on SW France, I came to the conclusion staying in Gironde only to be close to the Bordeaux region might be a mistake. Although I had read some things that suggested St. Emilion was more scenic. I agree that we can drink/taste many good wines regardless of location. For the most part, I think we would want to base ourselves near a village or small town that is central to exploring other villages/sites. If in the Dordogne, we could likely still do a day trip to part of the Bordeaux wine region couldn't we? Stu, Thank you for the offer of the trip reports. I will e-mail you now.
Thanks again!
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Dec 21st, 2011, 02:43 PM
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I, too, like both Provence and the Dordogne, but I would give the Dordogne a slight edge in terms of what I like: great food; gorgeous, lush scenary; interesting history and castles to visit; amazing prehistoric sites.

On one trip to the Dordogne, we flew into Paris, took the train to Bordeaux, and then spent one night in St. Emilion before heading east to the Dordogne. That worked well for us; my DH is a true oenophile, and we enjoyed just driving by some of the name vineyards. We did visit one producer (don't remember which, though DH would) and a nice little cave in town. At least some of your group might choose a similar stop if you rent a place in the Dordogne.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 03:32 PM
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Sarlat is a lovely not too big town in the Dordogne where you might think of basing yourselves, but to get a decent house big enough for you all, you should definitely start looking straight away.

use google to find rental agents.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 04:33 PM
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>>If in the Dordogne, we could likely still do a day trip to part of the Bordeaux wine region couldn't we?<<

I wouldn't.

Pauillac is 3 1/4 hrs from Sarlat. So if you rounded up all 12 people and headed out the door at 8:30am (no breakfast??), you would get to Pauillac at 11:45 - just when all the wineries close for a 2-3 hr lunch. If you have an appointment for a tour & tasting at 2:00 or so, and the tour/tasting takes 1 1/2 hrs, that would get you back to Sarlat about 7pm. All you did for the day was perhaps lunch in one of the un-interesting wine villages in the Medoc and 1 tour/tasting (Ch Mouton Rothschild, Ch Beycheville, Ch Lafite Rothschild, etc).

St Emilion is 1 hrs closer to Sarlat and is a very interesting village also. There are many wine shops in town offering tastings, but there are no wineries in my Michelin Green Guide that offer tours also. There is info in the itinerary I sent you about St Emilion. We've visited it twice - staying overnight once on the way to/from the Dordogne from Bordeaux.

There are many wineries offering tastings and tours just south of Bergerac. This is the Montbazillac sweet wine teritory, but there is some luscious red wine there also (see my Dordogne itinerary). Of course, the Cahors wine west of Cahors is excellent & sometimes difficult to find in the US. Lots of tours/tastings there.

In Provence, Beaucastel offers an excellent tour & tasting. Reserve a week ahead for English tours in June. See my Provence itinerary for info about Beaucastel plus the lovely St Amant estate in the Dentelles (the winemaker is a woman who speaks perfect English).

Stu Dudley
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Dec 21st, 2011, 04:38 PM
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Bergerac has a wine institute with wine tasting. It is said that Bergerac wines, and more specifically Pécharmant, lost their reputation to the Bordeaux wines because the latter were closer to shipping routes. The Pécharmant area is close to Bergerac straddling the road between Périgueux and Bergerac. Looking eastward, there are Cahors wines that are worth exploring.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 08:01 PM
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Michael, thanks for pointing that out. I love Bergeracs, but particularly Pécharmants and Cahors. In fact, I prefer all of them to most Bordeaux wines.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 08:32 PM
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I agree.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 09:44 PM
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So do I
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Dec 21st, 2011, 10:36 PM
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I have read several reports that the
Madiran wines are healthier than any other wines.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:19 AM
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Thank you for the wine-realted advise. I'm not sure I've ever tasted Cahors or Pecharmants, but I think it's an excellent solution to our desire to visit some wineries. I can research wineries in the area. Stu, your trip reports are amazing. I read both last night for "pleasure", and have started to re-readthem with a highlighter in hand for more detail... BTW - we visited Beaucastel and Viex Telegraph and Mont Redon on our trip to Provence years ago. Those were very enjoyable and educational visits. This trip is not focused primarily on wine, but it's usually an enjoyable one day diveersion for us.
Based on the advise above, I'm going to start looking for a house rental in the Sarlat area. Please continue to offer any advise you like. This is tremendously helpful.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 02:06 PM
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One additional question if I may. Have any of you rented houses in the Dordogne, or have the name of a Rental Agency you would trust? There are so many agencies on the internet, but I don't know which ones are trustworthy... I have rented in Italy before through Doorways (VillaVacations.com) but they seem to have only one in the Dordogne (many more in Provence and in Italy).
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 02:23 PM
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Simply Perigord.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 04:12 PM
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Visit the walnut oil mill in St Nathalie(sp?)
Walnut oil is very tasty with fruit salads and other dishes,
Buy a tin of it and their delicious chocolate covered walnuts.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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Thought I would update you all on our plans and thank you again for the suggestions and information. I booked a chateau in the Dordogne, near Le Bouisson de Cadouin (about midway between Sarlat and Bergerac). That will be our base for our week in the Dordogne. After pouring over StuDudleys trip report, and reading through the Michelin Green Guide I have noted 10-15 "must see" sites. Over the next few months I plan to pare down that list because I know we will want to linger over some long lunches, etc instead of "running" from place to place. I've asked the others in our group to make similar lists and then we will compare notes before our trip. This group travels well together... Some days couples will head out on their own, and other days there will be several of us together. My wife and I will be arriving in France one week prior to the group week, and plan to spend most of that time in Northern France - Strasbourg, Reims, Paris, Normandy.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Which château is it, sonodust?

(It's Le Buisson, btw, no "o." ) Good, practical town with all the stuff you'll need, plus a good market (Wednesdayss, I believe).
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