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Question about tying Pech Merle into Dordogne itinerary

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Apr 16th, 2015, 01:57 PM
  #1
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Question about tying Pech Merle into Dordogne itinerary

I'm trying to put the final touches on our trip to the Dordogne and Languedoc and have a question about our visit to Pech Merle. My options are (1) to make a "there and back" route from Figeac or (2) tie the Pech Merle visit into our route from Figeac to Albi which is the next stop on the itinerary. The driving time from Figeac to Pech Merle is about 55 minutes according to viamichelin and about 2 hours 10 minutes from Pech Merle to Albi.

We will have already visited Rocamadour and I see that Cordes sur Ciel could be included on the route to Albi from Pech Merle if it's not much to do in one day so I'm leaning towards option 2. Does anyone have a thought on the best way to best fill this day of our trip?
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Apr 16th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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Last year we visited pech merle on our way from Albi to Figeac. We had planned to also visit Cordes that day, but it absolutely poured rain.

We wanted an English tour, and there were very few available. If that's a consideration for you, that may make the decision easier.
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Apr 16th, 2015, 04:52 PM
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No, I'm okay with a non English tour. My main consideration of the Figeac to Pech-Merle to Albi option is that it would be too much for one day.

Also, the Pech Merle website says tickets begin to be sold at 9:30am but I can't see where it says at what time the tours start. I'm sure you can't enter the site except on a tour, right? I gather from other posters that there are two tours; one in the morning and the other in the afternoon and we would try to make the morning one.

Did you feel rushed despite the rain? It's seems like quite a trek.
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Apr 16th, 2015, 05:01 PM
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No ,we did not in the least feel rushed. We did the afternoon tour because we were going the opposite direction to you. We reserved tickets online because we required English, but paid when we got there. You can't go in on your own, but there is a nice little museum or display to wander through.

It was one of the highlights of our dordogne trip, highly enjoyable!
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Apr 16th, 2015, 06:05 PM
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I'm pretty sure there are more than 2 tours per day at Pech Merle. You can't get into the cave without a ticket and a guide, but there is an interesting museum there that you can visit. I also think it's a good plan to purchase tickets on-line or by phone ahead of time. A few years ago we called and were told that we didn't need to reserve ahead. When we got there, the tour time we wanted was already "sold out" so we had a long wait.

You didn't mention St Cirq Lapopie. I would certainly visit this village - but perhaps not mid-day when it can get quite crowded in "high" season.

I would visit Pech Merle from Figeac. The drive along the Cele river is spectacular, with several interesting villages and buildings built into the sides of cliffs to visit. Here is something from my Dordogne itinerary:

Cele River, from Figeac to Cabrerets/Pech Merle.
We drove from Cahors to Figeac following the Cele River, and back to Cahors following the Lot River. We thought that the Cele River was the more scenic of the two, although both are quite picturesque. Espagnac Ste Eulalie is an good village for a walk-around and St Sulpice has some interesting troglodyte buildings. Marcilhac sur Cele was OK - walk by the Cele river next to the Abbey.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 16th, 2015, 06:42 PM
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kja
 
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By all means, reserve Pech Merle in advance!
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Apr 16th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Thanks Stu, kja and sugar.

We will travel from Figeac to Pech Merle for the morning tour (if we can get reservations), continue to Albi and visit Cordes sur Ciel and St Cirque on the way.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 10:18 AM
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I thought it might be useful to add what I learned in reserving my tickets for Pech Merle.

The website is www.pechmerle.com/english/ and if you select "Costs & Opening Times" from the menu on the right side of the page you will be re-directed to a page which has an "On Line" reservation link. I tried this link many times without success; however, the following day after pausing my ad blocker I got through. I'm not sure if the ad blocker was the problem but the link does work if you are persistent. After filling out the reservation form it allowed me to chose a date and time for the visit. We are booking our tickets for mid June which is about two months in advance. There are tours every 45 minutes beginning at 9:45am and are noted as to whether in French or English. The tours continue to be timed in this manner until 12:00 noon. The next tour after that is 2:00pm then 3:30 and lastly 5:00pm. There was one English speaking tour at 10:30am which we selected. When I revisited the site to make some notes for this post the English speaking tour was no longer available indicating that the tour times are erased as they fill. The confirmation I received explained that each tour lasts one hour and that there is a 20 minute film which precedes the tour. I'm not clear if the total time, including the film, is one hour or one hour and 20 minutes. The cost is eleven euros per person payable at the site.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 02:24 PM
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Thank you prmbrown for this information. We too want to visit Pech Merle and I hope my question does not impose on your thread.

We will be leaving Sarlat on Friday May 23 for a B&B near Figeac where we will be staying for 3 nights heading for Toulouse on May 25. My question is which would be the best day to see Pech Merle? We want to spend some time in Figeac and I wonder about closings on Sunday/Monday. We also plan to visit Albi on our way to Toulouse on Monday. I have recently discovered that the 24th and 25th of May are Whit Sunday and Whit Monday. Will this make a difference?
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Apr 17th, 2015, 02:35 PM
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Kay_P

There are many on Fodor's who can answer your inquiry better than I but just from my Perch Merle reservation experience I would suggest you visit their on line reservation link very quickly to determine which days have an English speaking tour and go from there. I'm speculating that there may be more places open in May than in June but like I say I think I got the last two openings for June 20. The website does say they are open every day including holidays which is a rarity in France.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 02:51 PM
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>>We will be leaving Sarlat on Friday May 23<<

May 23 is a Saturday in 2015

Stu Dudley
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Apr 17th, 2015, 03:00 PM
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Thank you Stu, as usual you are correct. It is of course Friday May 22 we leave Sarlat for Figeac. I think I am delirious from enjoying a sunny 80 degree day here in Michigan.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 03:04 PM
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If you really meant May 22, then I would visit some sites on the way from Sarlat to Figeac. Then see Figeac on Saturday. On Sunday drive down the lovely Cele River & visit the many interesting villages along the way to Pech Merle. Then visit St Cirq Lapopie (shops will be open). Of course, sequence things according to the time of your reservation.

On Monday, visit Cordes sur Ciel in the morning, and Albi in the afternoon after the shops open at 2:30-3:00.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 17th, 2015, 03:26 PM
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prmbrowm and Stu, thank you both for your input. I did go on-line and have reservations in English for 15:45 on Sunday. A tour in English was not showing for the morning so must assume it is filled.

Thanks again, kay
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Apr 17th, 2015, 07:50 PM
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If you want to visit Pech Merle you MUST reserve in advance. When I was there in August of 2013 reservations were mandatory as they only allow a certain number of visitors each day and each group is limited to a maximum number of participants (I think 20 to 25). You might be able to show up and join a group if it isn't at its maximum number but otherwise you will be shut out. Don't just plan on showing up and signing up for a tour. I must say, for a prehistory lover such as myself a visit to this cave was a near religious experience and my archaeologist friends feel the same way.
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