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Suggestions for a small village in the Dordogne

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Suggestions for a small village in the Dordogne

Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 06:00 PM
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Suggestions for a small village in the Dordogne

I am looking to "chill" for a couple of weeks at the beginning of May with DH who enjoys cycling, good food and wine. We have been to France many times but never to this region. I would prefer to be in a small village where we could enjoy a local experience for a couple of weeks. I think DH may be bored if the property is too isolated and I am really not keen on being right in Sarlat. I am also not keen on being amongst a group of holiday rental apartments. I read somewhere that there is a village near an abandonned train line and that the railbed is now a park dedicated to recreational activities. I cannot recall the name, but if there is a small patisserie, a boulangerie and a couple restaurants nearby, it may be a good start. We will rent a car, but I would like to have some basic amenities within walking distance. Any suggestions?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 06:33 PM
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Depending on how 'chilled' you want to be, on the eastern side of the Dordogne, I'd recommend St Cyprien, Tremolat, Monpazier or even Domme (which can be very touristy during the day). All are small villages which have good weekly markets, village restaurants and boulangeries, and are close to many many other attractions & sites. On the western side, north of Perigueux, I think Brantome is lovely too.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 06:45 PM
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We rented a house in St. Cyprien for two weeks last summer and loved the village (and the house too). As Rosemary says, there are restaurants, two boulangeries, a larger supermarket outside of town. It's near the river but not right on the river, which makes it less touristy. The Sunday market is great (and does attract tourists). St. Cyprien was also a great base for visiting other places in the Dordogne.

Here's my review of our rental house, which includes some more info about St. Cyprien: http://www.slowtrav.com/france/vr/review.asp?n=5400

(We also stayed at the Esplanade hotel in Domme... it was beautiful in the evening and absolutely peaceful in the morning, with amazing views, but teeming with tourists during the main part of the day and lots of tourist-type shops. (Great meal at the Esplanade though!)

Kathy
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 10:08 AM
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Thank you both. I will check out those options. Breynac looked interesing as well but I cannot find very many choices for a short term rental.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 10:47 AM
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. I am also not keen on being amongst a group of holiday rental apartments>

then you can pretty much IME cratch the whole Dordogne as the villages mainly are vacation get-aways for not only French but loads of Brits who flock here.

Plus you have a slew of very wealthy foreigners who have bought houses and property here - but besides this influx of wealthy foreigners and folks from Paris seeking an old France it is still a really nice place - just that if looking for a place with no holiday flats and houses look somewhere else IME!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 11:05 AM
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We've rented a gite in Salignac and found it to be a very
quiet untouristed village; not an exciting one or particularly
beautiful but very typical. Lots of places to walk, explore
and take part in touristy activities but nice to come back
after a busy day and decompress. Restos all through the
region so eating out wasn't a problem.

We also stayed at a B&B in Carlucet and had a wonderful time
wandering around this absolutely beautiful area of France.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 11:47 AM
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I am neither wealthy nor British, but I have recently purchased a home in the Dordogne. Contrary to the impressions of casual visitors, purchases of holiday homes are a significant source of revenue in the region and the source of survival for many small villages that would otherwise have neither sufficient population or opportunities for young people. Those villages which do not have these opportunities often are depopulated or otherwise empty.

For example, we visited Najac in 1992 and again in 2010. In 1992, this exceptionally beautiful village was virtually empty. In 2010, with many of its properties occupied by expats, it is a thriving community.

My rant aside, if your level of fitness is good enough to ride out of the river valley on third and fourth category grades, consider one of the quieter towns on the left bank. Cenac-et-Saint-Julien and Castlenaud-La-Chapelle both come to mind. Each has their own services, and they are near to the many restaurants and shops of Beynac-et-Cazenac and La Roque-Gageac. Not too far away from Castlenaud, there are several self-catering cottages on the grounds of the Chateaux Les Milandes.

But, if you prefer more gentle slopes for your bicycling, the northern Dordogne, near Brantome, may be better for you. But, that area tends to be very costly and may be a little harder to reach.

I would also suggest you consider the most southern portion of the Dordogne, from Duras to Miramont-de-Guyenne. (The latter is in the Lot-Et-Garonne.) The villages in this area are very pretty, there are good weekly markets in many of the villages, a night market in the summer on Tuesdays in Eymet, and you will have a choice of flat or rolling hill rides, depending on the direction in which you travel.

We have friends who have a recently renovated home with 4 gites and a pool between Eymet and Miramont-de-Guyenne. If I can have your email, I will send you their information.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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>

BS. There might be a handful of "wealthy" folks around, but most non-French who have bought houses in the Dordogne got them for a song.

To give you some realistic perspective, you're not going to have a clue which are holiday homes and which are permanent French residences, so don't be concerned about that. Houses in the Dordogne, except for ones in busy villages (which you don't want to be in to begin with) have a good deal of distance between them, and unless you're exceptionally nosy you won't know who's in them.

Take Domme and St-Cyprien off the list - they're both crowded and highly touristed. Trémolat and Monpazier are both lovely and fit your needs, but a bit far from the main sites.

I'd suggest Tamniès, St-Génies, Salignac, St-Chamassy, St-Julien, Belvès, Paunat (a bit out of the way), St-Alvère, Cadouin, Meyrals, Bigaroque, Audrix, Manaurie, St-André d'Allas, Ste-Nathalène, Vézac, St-Crépin et Carlucet....I could go on.

Jeff has also given you some good ideas for beyond the "traditional" areas.

I wouldn't go as far north as the Brantôme area - that to me isn't half as interesting or attractive as the area around Sarlat.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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I just found the card for the gites owned by our friends. I think you might find these comfortable if their cat, Basil, approves of you. gitessouthwestfrance.com
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 12:42 PM
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A huge second on St-Genies and St-Crepin et Carlucet. The first is my favourite small town in the Dordogne.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 01:34 PM
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We rented a house, which I loved, on a property near Salignac and the two villages that muskoka mentioned (the sausage with olive that we bought at the Sunday market in St-Genies is one of my favorite food memories). There were also a pair of studio accommodations at a distance on the same property: chantepierre-sarlat.com. This was the dwelling of our neighbor, a short walk up the road: http://www.flickr.com/photos/palmeraie/3521664805, straight out of a fairy tale. Salignac was just 4 km away and had all the necessities--supermarket, ATM, pharmacy.
Here's the link to my brief trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...highlights.cfm
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Old Jan 25th, 2013, 09:43 PM
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Thanks everyone for being so helpful! I was hoping to hear from St-Cirq as I know she is familiar with the area. Merci!
I do not want ot be with masses of tourists and I am hopeful that in early May we will be ahead of the high season. It is so difficult to blindly search on VRBO or even on the French language sites. You have all given me some excellent ideas.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 11:06 AM
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I would certainly recommend St Genies. It's a lovely village with the most beautiful lauze (stone) roofs in the area. A very nice market on Sundays. And close to St Crepin, with one of the loveliest private chateaux in the region.

I too would not go to Beynac or Domme or La Roque Gageac, which are touristy and even in May will be busy. St Cyprien doesnt really do it for me, although it has a great Sunday market.

The fact is that this is an area that attracts tourists - and people with second homes - because it is beautiful. Without the tourism industry there would be virtually no work in many parts of the area. So enjoy it and take advantage of what there is.

(Carlux is not a bad village either! We've been here for going on 19 years now, and still love it)
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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We didn't want you to be inundated with visitors, Carlux!
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 05:42 PM
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Well I have spent the last couple days trying to narrow the options. I have short-listed a newly renovated cottage withing walking distance of Brantome,another cottage outside Rouffingnac (St Cernin), a house on the edge of Villefranche du Perigord and a riverfront cottage in Port St Foy near Bergerac. There are a couple of others in both Savignac de Miremont and Riberac that are also of interest. I am awaiting replies from the owners. Now I just have to figure out the best way to get there from the west coast of Canada! Bordeaux or Toulouse? We will rent a car and drive from either.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 07:22 PM
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Pirouette, NONE of those is really in the "Dordogne proper," so I seriously encourage you to forget them all. Brantôme is a fine destination if you've got lots of time to venture from the Périgord Noir borth. Rouffignac is out in the middle of nowhere on a boring high plain that isn't terribly attractive and not near main sites. Villefranche du Périgord is WAY south and again not near much. Port St-Foy is boooooring and not pretty. Savignac de Miremont and Riberac are also NOT where you want to me.

Is there something about the extensive list I gave you that you don't like?

I don't like ANY of your options. Sorry.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 07:29 PM
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Sorry..."where you want to be," not "me."

Contact the tourist offices in the towns I listed. They have lists of places to rent. Don't just rely on touristy rental sites.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 08:51 PM
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St Cirq, I am most grateful for the list of villages you provided. I searched every single one and not all of them came up on the accommodation sites that I searched. In light of your last post, I will keep searching. I appreciate that you are familiar with the region and your suggestions mean a lot. It is difficult to find adult oriented, higher end accommodation within walking distance from a village, that has internet and WIFI (an essential due to aging, fragile parents). I am also averse to being in a holiday complex full of other tourists. As a bilingual Canadian, I was really hoping to vivre a la francaise for a brief period. Back to the drawing board!
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Old Jan 28th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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Have a look at http://www.les-granges-hautes.fr/en/index.htm
They have chambres d'hotes and several cottages for rent. Walking distance to St Crepin, not very many amenities, but short drive to other beautiful villages. They do have WIFI

There will be other people, but not a 'holiday village full of other tourists.' Beatrice and Jean-Yves are charming and speak some English.

(Tell them Suzanne in Carlux referred you)

I agree with St Cirq that most (all) of the places you mentioned are pretty well without charm and/or badly located.
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Old Jan 28th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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Carlux,

Funny you mentioned Les Granges. I stayed there x number of years ago..before the separate cottages. Nice people. Yes, away from the crowds and convenient to many places.

a bientot..
Joan
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