Southern France

Nov 30th, 2013, 03:01 PM
  #1  
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Southern France

After a tour in Normandy I plan to head south to Sarlat and spend 6 days there before flying home out of Toulouse. Do I want to take the train from Normandy to Sarlat or mayabe stop along the way in the Loire valley before Sarlat? Or rent a car in Limoges and drive to Sarlat? I am traveling alone. I was in Paris in September and the traffic was a little scary but I'm wondering if it is calmer in the rural areas. My plan is to explore the countryside by car, visiting castles and caves and small villages. I'm not much interested in the big city. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.
JulieUrion is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 03:28 PM
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I don't think anyone can say what you want to do, but the easiest thing would be to take the train back to Paris from Normandy (Caen, Bayeux), then either take a train from Paris to Brive-la-Gaillarde and pick up you car there, or take the TGV from Paris to Bordeaux, then the TER to Périgueux and up the car there. There's no need to go to Limoges unless you want to.

I'm leaving the Loire out of these suggestions because it's not a favorite area of mine. YMMV.
StCirq is online now  
Nov 30th, 2013, 04:04 PM
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You don't say when this trip takes place. If it's during daylight saving when evenings are long, I recommend getting a car and heading for Blois to visit at least the Blois castle (in town) and nearby Chambord castle. Look them up, especially Chambord is stupendous - the building itself, and how it is situated, and the double-helix stairs - fabulous.

If you did this by train you'd have to get back to Paris and then change train stations, that's a hassle.

While in Sarlat and that region you'll want to have a car anyway, so get one in Normandie and - if you want to avoid autoroutes and tolls etc. - consult www.viamichelin.com and get the Michelin maps and atlas and you'll plot a fine course on good secondary roads.
michelhuebeli is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 10:44 PM
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If following michelhuebeli's advice, there are things to see between the Loire valley and the Dordogne--the abbey church of Saint Savin, Oradour sur Glane and Limoges itself has an improving historical center and an important porcelain museum.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...76890499/show/
Michael is offline  
Dec 1st, 2013, 01:34 AM
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This is all so helpful, thanks everyone. Yes, I thought of taking the train back to Paris & heading south from there. Seems easier than trying to navigate from Bayeux. I will check out the Michelin website. I'm just a little nervous about driving a lot in France. I am traveling in September 2014.
JulieUrion is offline  
Dec 1st, 2013, 08:56 AM
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Well, if you're going to the Dordogne you're going to have to drive, so there's no getting around it. And with the exception of the autoroutes (which even I don't like to drive, but which are entirely avoidable for most tourists), driving on the N and D roads is not only not problematic, it's a real pleasure.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 1st, 2013, 01:02 PM
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The small roads of France are generally amazingly calm and easy to drive. Since I usually rent the smallest (and least powerful) car possible, the only 'problem' is when you find yourself in a chain of cars behind a slow truck. Generally, the truck turns onto another road before I get a chance to pass it, but since I am a placid driver, I usually don't mind having to slow down anyway -- the annoyance for me comes from all of the impatient cars behind me.
kerouac is online now  
Dec 1st, 2013, 02:32 PM
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StC and kerouac have it right. For me one of the tricks to enjoying back road driving is to drive at the speed you want to and have an empty road in front of you (behind you is another matter).

Driving on your own you need GPS, it just saves the frustration of tiny roads and having to stop to look at yet another map.
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:46 PM
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I am renting a car in Caen, putting on my big girl pants and driving south, stopping in Blois & Amboise. Then on to Sarlat for 5 days & then 2 nights in St.Cirq before heading to Toulouse & home. Any additional suggestions along the way?
JulieUrion is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2013, 09:21 PM
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How much time do you have between St-Cirq-Lapopie and Toulouse? I wouldn't spend two nights in St-Cirq-Lapopie. Personally I wouldn't spend much more than two hours. If you're planning to visit the Pech-Merle cave, spend the night (one) in Cabrerets. The Hôtel Auberge de la Sange there is lovely.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2013, 05:57 AM
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I found driving in the region very easy and pleasurable.

Here's my trip report from this past summer and link to the photos - http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...swiss-alps.cfm
isabel is online now  
Dec 4th, 2013, 09:15 PM
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If you are staying in Sarlat for 5 days, a nice day trip would be to the towns of Beynac and Rocamadour.
brendonb28 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2013, 10:33 AM
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Beynac and Rocamadour (which isn't in the Dordogne) doesn't make a logical combo for a daytrip. Rocamadour and the Gouffre de Padirac and Collonges-la-Rouge and Martel is a logical combination, though it makes for a long day. Beynac is more reasonably combined with La Roque-Gageac, Castelnaud, St-Cyprien, Meyrals, Le Bugue, Souillac, Domme, and some of the towns like St-Julien, Carlux, etc., on the south side of the river (not that you could do all of those in a single day).
StCirq is online now  
Dec 29th, 2013, 07:14 PM
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It looks like I"ll rent a car in Limoges and drive to Sarlat, stay there 4 days & 2 days in St. Cirq. Can someone tell me about the drivers license rule? Do I need a European DL to drive in France?
JulieUrion is offline  
Dec 29th, 2013, 08:29 PM
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"Do I need a European DL to drive in France?" NO! Your regular drivers license will do just fine in France.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2013, 08:34 PM
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If coming from Paris by train, its better to go to Brive-la-Gaillarde than Limoges. It's closer to Sarlat and the hours of the car rental agency--if Europcar--are more convenient. The Limoges agency closes for the afternoon on weekdays.
Michael is offline  
Dec 29th, 2013, 08:43 PM
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Yeah, Brive and no, there's nothing that I know of called a European DL, but as of last fall you DO need an IDP to drive in France - new law. You get it an your AAA office for about $20.00.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 16th, 2014, 08:10 PM
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Can anyone comment on train or bus travel from Amsterdam to Normandy? I have searched online and not found anything.
JulieUrion is offline  
Apr 17th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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Easiest (and probably fastest) is to go to Paris and then to Normandy. Use www.capitainetrain.com or www.thalys.com (the latter just for Amsterdam to Paris) for schedules, prices and ticket purchase. Buy tickets up to 3 months in advance for the cheapest prices.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 17th, 2014, 09:45 AM
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Not sure what you want to know about train travel or what you can't find. Of course you can take the train from Amsterdam to Paris and then from Paris to somewhere in Normandy (like ROuen or Bayeux, etc.). YOu can't ever go direct from some other country to some tiny town in a different area of France, Paris is the hub.
Christina is offline  

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