Sarlat to Arles, Need a 1 night stopover

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Aug 13th, 2006, 03:40 PM
  #1
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Sarlat to Arles, Need a 1 night stopover

Hi again, I depart Sarlat oct 7 and check in at Arles Oct. 8. I was thinking of Carcassonne as an overnight stop but is there a more interesting place to stay? Should we just push from Sarlat to Arles the same day? I am driving. I am in Arles 3 days and nice 3 days. I am in Sarlat 3 days.
Thanks for any advice!!
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Aug 13th, 2006, 03:58 PM
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From a scenic point of view, I would prefer the Gorges du Tarn and Gorges de l'Ardèche as a route to the Rhone valley. But without making a detour to Le Puy-en-Velay, I can't imagine any of the towns along that route matching Carcassonne.
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Aug 13th, 2006, 04:51 PM
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ttt
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Aug 13th, 2006, 05:20 PM
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OK, how abour Sarlat to Lyon overnight and then travel the Rhone vally to Arles?
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Aug 13th, 2006, 05:37 PM
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There are lots & lots of intriguing villages, fantastic gorges, caves with stalactites & mites, markets, etc between the two places. What are you interests???

Pezenas is kind of a combination of St Remy & l'Isle sur la Sorgue - cute town (less touristy too) & antiques. Oct 7 is their market day - in the morning.

let me know what your interests are & I'll make some specific suggestions. IMO, Carcassone is a 2-3 hr visit max.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 13th, 2006, 06:11 PM
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Sammy - you need to get a better map. Lyon is nowhere close to being on the route between Sarlat & Arles.

We've spent 6 weeks vacationing in the area between Sarlat & Arles (plus 8 weeks in the Sarlat region & about 15 weeks in Provence/Arles), and there is enough interesting, unique, breathtaking, gourmet things to do & see between Sarlat & Arles that it will be very difficult narrowing it down to just 1 night & two days.

Michael has a good idea of the two Gorges - they are both fantastic. If you'll be in the Arles region for 5 days or more, you can easily visit the Gorges de l'Ardeche and Aven Orgnac cave from there.

Post your itinerary & perhaps describe what your interests are (scenic drives, historic medieval villages, mountains, art, caves, markets, shopping, avoiding tourists, castles etc).

Stu Dudley

If you choose to go to Carcassone, you will somewhat limit yourself to freeway driving and miss a lot of the small villages, scenic drives, fabulous canyons, caves, etc.
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Aug 13th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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Thanks Stu, I am in Sarlat for 4 days so I should get a good dose of the Dordogne region. I used mappy and they gave a route from Sarlat through St. etienne to Lyon in 31/2 hours. Is this not possible? We can see a little Lyon the first day in and then overnight and spend the next day driving down the Rhone Valley to Arles. We are in ARles for 3 days and Nice for 4, so we can furhter explore Provence.
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Aug 13th, 2006, 06:24 PM
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I just used viamichelin.com and got a little different route, but it looks straight across the country for 4 hours.
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Aug 13th, 2006, 09:22 PM
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Via Michelin and Mappy will give you the standard routes. If you do not specify towns between the two destinations, you might not get the most scenic route. So you need some knowledge of the area to get a good route from Mappy or Via Michelin. While I might use them for finalizing an itinerary, the finger over a map is still the best way to get a general sense of the road you want to take.
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Aug 13th, 2006, 09:32 PM
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Why Lyon?? - there is a lot of very interesting stuff just on a path between Sarlat and Arles. That route between Sarlat & Lyon is all freeway and not that scenic - we were on much of that route just 7 weeks ago. On the same trip, we were on the freeway from Lyon to Provence - lots of nuclear power plants & ugly commerce to see, & not that scenic at all, compared to other regions of France. Waste of time, IMO. Lyon is a huge city and it is very hard to get in/out. I don't think you would enjoy this trip. We just got back from 2 weeks near Cleremont-Ferrand - which you would be passing by. Beautiful area, but not from the freeway. Last year we stayed 2 weeks near Valence - just south of Lyon. Believe me - don't travel that itinerary - there is plenty of neat stuff closer to the Sarlat/Arles direct route. Tell me what you want interests you - & I'll suggest something much closer. Moolyn just did a trip report around the Sarlat/Provence area. Klick on my name to find it. Read it.

BTW, 4 days in the Dordogne, followed by 3 in Provence really isn't that much time in either location. You might consider high-tailing it to Provence & spend 4 days there.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 13th, 2006, 09:36 PM
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>>Tell me what you want interests you <<

Jeeze - too late at night & too much wine with dinner. Should be "Tell me what your interests are"

Stu Dudley
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Aug 14th, 2006, 02:37 AM
  #12
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Hi SD,

Saint-Chély-du-Tarn is a lovely little village in the Gorges du Tarn.

It's about 4:30 hr from Sarlat and about 2:30 hr from Arles.

See my trip report for details:
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34676645

Photos at http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-pla2au


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Aug 14th, 2006, 02:40 AM
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PS,

St Chely is pic no. 19.
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Aug 14th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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hi all, OK, so I am hearing the drive from Sarlat to lyon and then lyon to arles is not very scenic. Can some one tell me what route would be scenic? My interests are beautiful scenery, maybe exploring along the way, anything of interest really. Basically, I have 6 days in Provence combining Arles and Nice. I leave Sarlat on Oct 7 with a check in at Arles Oct 8. I could just change the Arles check in to oct 7 or if there is an interestin route you guys have in mind to drive and stop over I would like that as well. Carcassonne is out of the question.
Help?! This whole thing starts Sept 23 in Paris for a week, Amboise for 4 days, Sarlat for 4 days and then on to Arles for 3 and Nice for 4. Then on to Cinque terra for 2 days, venice for 4 days, Florence for 3 days, Tuscany for 3-4 days and rome for 4 days.
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Aug 14th, 2006, 10:20 AM
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Hi Ira, so travel from Sarlat through Clermont ferrand to Saint-Chély-du-Tarn ? Overnight there and head to Arles thrugh Montpellier?
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Aug 14th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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>> travel from Sarlat through Clermont ferrand to Saint-Chély-du-Tarn <<

No offense Sammy, but you really need to get some better maps. Cleremont-Ferrond is nowhere near the route you would take to get from Sarlat to the Gorge du Tarn (where St Chely is located), and then on to Arles.

Here is an excellent route to take, with some of the best villages, gorges, and caves in all of France. This is a beautiful leisurely drive.

Leave Sarlat heading east along the Dordogne. Past Souillac, get on the A20 heading south towards Cahors. I assume you will have already visited Rocamadour and Padirac, so I won't have you stopping there. Get off the A20 at exit #57 and head east on the D49 and then take the D653 south to Vers. Switch to Michelin map #338. At Vers, head east on the D662 following the Lot River towards St Cirq Lapopie. Stay on the D662 along the north bank of the Lot, past St Cirq - you'll get some wonderful views of this village perched above the cliffs of the Lot. Once you pass St Cirq (which is on the south (opposite) side of the Lot, take a right and cross the bridge & go to St Cirq. If you have time, stop for a visit. There is a large parking lot outside of town. Some say the village is a little too touristy, but I like it. If you don't have time for a visit, the view from the road & from the bridge is worth a small side trip. Continue west on the south bank of the Lot (the D40), and at the first bridge cross the bridge & get back on the D662 again - heading east. Almost immediately, take the D41 north towards Caberets. Again, I assume you will have visited Peche Merle cave, so don't stop. Peche Merle is the cave with the best combination of pre-historic paintings and stalactites & mites in this region. If you did not visit, you might consider doing so now if you want to see more caves. In Oct you probably won't need a reservation. However, a tour will probably consume 1 ˝-2 hrs, which you may not have time for. Perhaps call ahead a day or so in advance to find out specific departure times, and if you happen to drive by 10 mins before one departs, take the tour.

Continue northeast on the D41 along the beautiful Cele River gorge, heading towards Figeac. You'll see lots of cave houses perched above the road. This is a very interesting drive. Stop in Espagnac for a drive-around.

At Figeac, drive into town and follow the signs to Decazeville. To get on the road to Decazeville, you'll have to cross the Lot River in Figeac. Figeac is one of my favorite towns, but you probably won't have time for a visit - unless you skipped Peche Merle. If you want a visit, pick up a walking map (in English), at the tourist office - it's an excellent walk. Budget 3/4 to 1 hr for a visit. Get on the N140 to Decazeville. In Decazville, get on the D963 heading north, then on the D42 heading east. Shortly, head southeast on the D90 to Conques - one of the top sites in this area of France. It's rated 3 stars in Michelin. Stop for a visit - it's a little touristy, but well worth a stop - don't miss.

After Conques, retrace your route northwest on the D90 to the D42. When you hit the D42, head east towards Entraygues. The D42 will change to the D141, which will change into the D107 when you cross into the Aveyron Dept & back a few times – very confusing.. Continue to Entraygues and join the lovely Lot River again. You will get some wonderful vistas of this village as you drive past a little and then take a bridge across the Truyere tributary. Drive into Entraygues and get on the D920 heading southeast to Estaing. You will be following the Lot river on the north bank, and there are about 5 villages along this short stretch that are classified as "The Most Beautiful Villages of France" (TMBVoF). Continue along the D920 and stop in Estaing - my favorite. This village & it's castle are real photo-eaters. Walk in the village for awhile, and take a tour of the castle if you have time. If you arrive here about the time you want to stop touring for the day, there is a very nice hotel in town with an excellent restaurant - the hotel Auberge St Fleuret. This was our best meal when we stayed in this region for 2 weeks in '04. Continue along the Lot past the cute villages of Espalion, St Come d'Olt (with the twisted steeple), & Ste Eulalie - staying on the north bank of the Lot on the D141/D19. When you come to Ste Eulalie, look for a parking lot where another road goes right & crosses the river. Park the car & walk to the bench with a great view of Ste Eulalie & sit awhile admiring the view. Visit this village if you like - it won't take long. There is a walking guide you can get from the tourist office.

Continue on the D19 to St Geniez, where you will cross the river - there is a park on your left before the bridge. Drive into St Geniez a bit, and get on the D95 heading south, and then the D45 going east. Don't take the alternate D988 - it goes through a forest & you can't see much. Continue on the D45/D202D998 heading east towards the freeway. Pass under the freeway & head towards la Canourgue - which gets my vote for the cutest town not to appear in any tour book.

Now, we'll head to the fabulous Gorge du Tarn. From la Canourgue, head southeast on the D998. This is a real pretty drive for the next 6K or so. Switch to Michelin Map #339 here. Continue on this road to St Enimie - where you might consider staying for the night if you make it this far today. It's a cute medieval village well worth exploring & has at least 1 reasonably priced hotel.

Here is a description of things to see in the Gorge du Tarn:

1. Ispagnac+ Northeast end of the Tarn. Very cute town with a smallish town square. There is a large Romanesque church, which is worth a visit. To the right as you enter, you can punch a button to get an “audio” guide from speakers in the church. Also, lights focus on the various things described in the audio.
2. Quezac Only OK – stop & explore if you are planning on visiting the gorges area for 2 full days.
3. Castelbouc* Old castle ruins with a small village at it’s base. Park the car along the road & try to limit your pictures to only 3.
4. Chateau de Prads Nice chateau.
5. Ste Enimie* This is probably the only village worth spending some time in, and it’s classified as one of TMBVoF. It’s a great village to explore the nook & crannies. There are several places where you can get a bite to eat or pick up a sandwich (jambon/buerre) to eat on the run.
6. Cross the river at Ste Enimie & take the D986 south. Drive for a while & you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Gorge du Tarn, looking down on the village of St Chely du Tarn and the Cirque de St Chely*. Retrace the route back to Ste Enimie.
7. Chateau de la Caze* If you are not staying here, at least explore the chateau as much as they will let you.
8. At La Malene, cross the river and take the switchbacks up & up & up & up to the Causse Mejean. Pull off as you start the ascent to get a fabulous view of the town of La Malene & the chateau at the front of the village. Don’t be afraid of the switchbacks - they are “doozies” but the reward at the top is well worth it. Once at the top of the cause, turn right on the D16 and then right again to the Roc du Serre** and the Roc des Hourtous**. Visit the Roc du Serre first. Park the car when signs say you can’t go any further, and walk to the lookout over the Gorges du Tarn (it’s an easy 15 min walk there & 15 mins back). This is why you should spend 2 days exploring this region – you probably would not take this detour on a 1 day trip. Read about both these Rocs in the Green Guide under “Malene”. After the Roc du Serre, drive a short distance to the Roc des Hourtous, park the car, pay the entrance fee, and walk a few paces to get another lovely view over the Gorges du Tarn. This spot has a place where you can get some refreshments, and there is a WC. When you are finished with these two Rocs, don’t return to La Malene along the switchbacks (I probably won’t need to convince you of this). Instead, continue west on the D16 to Les Vignes – the descent back to the Gorges is not as bad as the ascent. Return to La Malene – this drive along the gorge floor is the prettiest part of the Gorges.
9. Point Sublime*** This view is why we returned for a second visit. We wanted to see this panorama with a different sunlight exposure.

Visit Aven Armand*** You can get there by driving over the Causse Mejean from either Ste Enimie or Meyrueis on the D986. Remember, there is a lunch closing, except in July & Aug.

After visiting the Gorge du Tarrn, follow the Gorge southwest to le Rozier, then west to Millau & on to the A75 heading south. You will see the famous bridge. Continue southeast on the A75, and then the N109 towards Montpellier andd then on to Arles on the A9 & A54.

Stu Dudley


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Aug 15th, 2006, 05:45 AM
  #17
ira
 
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Hi SD,

>Hi Ira, so travel from Sarlat through Clermont ferrand to Saint-Chély-du-Tarn ? Overnight there and head to Arles thrugh Montpellier?<

Not exactly.

Stu has given you a very nice, scenic route to Figeac, or you could take the more direct route at www.viamichelin.com.

>Ste Enimie* This is probably the only village worth spending some time in, and it’s classified as one of TMBVoF. <

With all due respect to my learned colleague, I rise to demur.

From my trip report:

"We arrived at the Auberge Cascade (http://www.aubergecascade.com/index.htm) in the late afternoon. ... We then checked in and took the luggage up to our room - 1st floor with a view over the town square and the river gorge. We slept with the windows open. The only sounds were the rushing of the brook at night and the calling of the cliff swallows in the morning.

St. Chély du Tarn is a little town, set in a bend of the Tarn at the foot of steep cliffs. Although it has been gussied up a bit to serve the tourists, it is quite charming. The old houses, the communal oven, the church and the churchyard have been restored. There is a bridge over the river from which one can see the stream that flows under the town empty into the river (the Cascades), and there are lights to illuminate the river and the cliffs.

The Auberge is a 2 chimney, Logis du France member. Dinner was the demi pensione. Amuse bouche of olives and tomatoes on toast, appetizer of foie gras for me and scallops for Roberta. I had the veal (tender and flavorful), she had the trout. Four local cheeses preceded the dessert - frozen pear soufflé. We had a pitcher of the house white wine. Very, very nice.

For anyone looking for a quiet, restful stay in a pleasant town nestled amidst glorious scenery, I can highly recommend St. Chély du Tarn".

We drove through St Enemie leaving St Chely, and found it no more interesting than St. Chely.

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Aug 15th, 2006, 06:42 AM
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>>We drove through St Enemie leaving St Chely, and found it no more interesting than St. Chely.<<

You should have stopped and explored the town. There are some very narrow & interesting passageways that climb up the hill.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 15th, 2006, 12:12 PM
  #19
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Thanks Stu and Ira. I booked in at the Cascade and I will take the route Stu gave me most likely. I ordered a Michelin Europe map Atlas as well.
Thanks again.
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Aug 15th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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ira
 
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Hi SD,

>Thanks Stu and Ira. I booked in at the Cascade and I will take the route Stu gave me...<

A very diplomatic decision.

Enjoy your visit.

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