Starting to plan a trip to the Dordogne

Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 02:03 PM
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Starting to plan a trip to the Dordogne

My husband and I will be in Paris mid-July for a birthday party and we would like to visit the Dordogne prior to the party. We have never visited this area before and would appreciate some itinerary ideas, including minimum time needed, number of bases to visit the sights, etc. My husband and I are seasoned travelers and we love to explore the countryside. I am especially interested in seeing the prehistoric caves. Also, is it feasible to add Bordeaux to the iinerary if we have about 2 weeks?
Thanks for your help. Linda
lvs is offline  
Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 04:52 PM
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With a map of the Périgord this photo album might help you make some choices.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Do you have my 20+ page itinerary for the Dordogne?? If not, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll send you one. Also ask me for my 35 page Languedoc itinerary - with has inot on the region adjacent to the Dordogne to the south.

You should be able to see a lot in the Dordogne and someplace else close by in 2 weeks. I would not choose Bordeaux as the other "area", however. I would probably tour the Gorge du Tarn, Conques, and some of the caves there.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 08:00 PM
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I'll be visiting the Dordogne next April. I'm renting a house in a little village near Sarlat. From my research, there are several ways of getting to the area~flights to Bordeaux or Toulouse, TGV to Bordeaux or train to Brive or Perigueux, and then renting a car.

The area is broken up into roughly four areas: Green (most north), white (central), Purple (southwest) and black (southeast).

Sarlat is a popular base, and there's a concentration of sights in easy reach from there. Consider finding one or two gites for a week each, or several days in B&Bs in each area.

If you just want to visit the city of Bordeaux, that's an easy daytrip (by train or car) from the Dordogne. If you want to see more of the area, you might not have enough time....
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Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 11:23 PM
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As someone who lives in the Dordogne, and hasn't yet seen everything, after 13 years, I always recommend people spend at least two weeks here. Coming in early July you will be ahead of the real crowds, and could easily spend two weeks seeing chateaux, markets, villages, Romanesque churches, and of course the fabulous caves and paintings.

You could do a day trip to Bordeaux or St Emilion - other than that we dont find a great deal to see around Bordeaux, compared to the wealth of beauty and interest in the Dordogne.

You might want to have a look at Moolyn's thread - Excellent adventures in the Dordogne. She and her husband spent two weeks in Sarlat and she did a very detailed trip report.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 04:56 AM
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Hi Linda,

We did 2 weeks in Bordeaux and the Dordogne, with some places in between in 2005.

My trip report is at

Photos at

Hope this helps.

ira is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 05:38 AM
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Here's Moolyn's trip report that Carlux mentioned:

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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 06:01 AM
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If you are interested in visiting the wine estates, I would plan a few days in Bordeaux or the Medoc. Otherwise, you might split your 2 weeks as Stu suggested leaving out Bordeaux. You might have one base in the Dordogne and one in the Lot.

I spent a week in the Dordogne in October 2006, based in a rental house in Domme. Although it was easy to access anyplace in the Dordogne from that base, if I had had two weeks I would split it between two places so I would not have to range so far afield on many days.

Last spring (May 2007) I spent a few days in the Albi area (based in Monasties) and I cannot speak highly enough about the region around that charming city. Bruniquel, Puycelsi, Cordes sur Ciel, the vineyards and town of Gaillac...there is SO much to see around there. And it is an easy drive, through Cahors, to the Dordogne.

If you mention your budget and whether you want to rent a house or stay in a hotel or B&B perhaps we can give you a few ideas..

I will try to top my Dordogne trip report for you..
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Since you are especially interested in the prehistoric caves, I recommend Font de Gaume and Pech Merle. Font de Gaume is small and intimate, only small groups are allowed in at one time and you need to reserve several weeks in advance, especially if you want a tour in English.

Pech Merle is a larger site with more people allowed. It is still advisable to reserve, however. There are no English tours there, but there is a handout in English that you can bring with you to help follow along during the tour.

Another prehistoric site I found very interesting was Roque St. Christophe, a spectacular setting for cliff dwellings used over thousands of years. This does not require advance reservations.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 03:09 PM
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I really like Lascaux; despite being a copy it is so well done that you forget that once you're inside. However, you may find it too busy in July - they seem to take too many people around at one time. Font de Gaume is wonderful, but will certainly need reservations several weeks ahead - at least.

Pech Merle is good because it's an interesting cave with stalactites etc., plus some paintings - the caves along the Lot are completely different from those along the Vezere.

Roque St Christophe had a major fire a few months ago - their site says they expect to open in 2008, but I would keep checking to make sure
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 04:28 PM
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>>Roque St Christophe had a major fire a few months ago <<

Wow - what got destroyed? We really enjoyed that place in '05, after avoiding it for about 15 years.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 05:22 PM
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We enjoy the Dordogne area for all the reasons above. We've stayed in Sarlat several times and will return this spring. If you are looking for an apartment, I highly recommend this website--we've stayed in La Vigne and La Bouquerie. The hosts, Susan and Harry, are very helpful and knowledgable about the area.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 02:46 AM
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Thanks Roamer. Don't know if I am allowed to say on the board that I am 'YourfriendsinFrance.' I'll try anyway.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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Ivs, another helpful trip report was written this past summer by fun4all4:

Like roamer, I heartily recommend contacting Carlux. We loved our two weeks in La Bouquerie in June 2007 and robjame was very pleased with his recent month in Le Fournil. If your dates in the Dordogne don't coincide with an opening, however, look into the B&B run by another Fodor regular, La Tour de Cause, described in fun4all4's report.
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 03:56 PM
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Wow! Thanks everybody. I was so busy with work this week I just got a chance to check the responses.

I really enjoyed your photos, Michael. I do have your itinerary Stu and it is great. Maybe I'll reconsider staying in Bordeaux and consider it as a day trip or 2 from the Dordogne if everyone thinks that's do-able without too much driving. That way we could stay 1 week in Dordogne and 1 week in Lot or near Albi. Lot to decide! I'll try and check out the other threads and reports this weekend.

Still not decided exactly where to stay. I was in email contact with your friends in france and for now they are only offering 2 week rentals. I really think it makes sense for us to have 2 separate locations for the 2 weeks as ekscruchy suggests.

We are open to gites/houses, B&B's or hotels. We like a place with charm and character yet comfortable beds and good baths. Our budget is pretty flexible without going crazy. The dollar is so weak it is making everything so expensive. The nice thing about a gite is you can put some food in the fridge. B&B's should hopefully offer reasonable breakfasts. The hotels really kill you with that, so then you have to find a place for a croissant or bread and coffee without wasting a lot of time. Any suggestions and ideas are appreciated.

KateIP which town are you staying in near Sarlat. Can you share the name of the house you're renting? ekscrunchy- where did you stay in Domme?

Suggestions for where to stay for week 2 would also be great.

Thanks again.
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Old Dec 7th, 2007, 04:02 PM
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I'm too tired tonight to do a lengthy posting, but if you do a search on my screen name you'll find about a decade's worth of postings on the Dordogne.

Congratulations on your choice - it's paradise.
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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Here are my photos of the Dordogne and Lot from this past May if you aren't all ready saturated.

I also like the idea of having two bases. We loved both areas and in 10 days we really only scratched the surface. I feel that there is more to do in this area of France than any other region we have visited in the past.

Good luck with your planning.
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 04:36 AM
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If you are in the mood for even more reading:
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Old Dec 8th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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This is the house we're renting: . It's located in the village of St Cyprien, southwest of Sarlat. The village has about 2,000 residents, and a great Sunday market. The owner, who lives in the US, has just started renting, and can probably be flexible on dates. For us, I think this will be a good location as the village is large enough to have restaurants and boulangeries for meals, but not too busy. We haven't decided on what we'll do when we get there~though I will have lots of plans. I think we are planning one daytrip to Bordeaux city, probably by train. I know a week is barely enough to scratch the surface, but it's all the time we have! I have a book on hikes in the Dordogne, so we'll plan some hikes, plus trips to Rocamador and maybe Limoges/Oradour sur Glane.
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