SW France questions

Mar 1st, 2019, 04:05 AM
  #1  
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SW France questions

I have been following a couple of threads with interest as we are flying into Paris this October where we will rent a car. We arrive on the 12th and have to be in Quarante on the 13th in the later afternoon earl evening. We are driving to Quarante via the Carmegue ( I know, but it is not negotiable we want to try to see the flamingos ). After a watercolor workshop I am attending we will have 4 days to play with. I have 2 questions, well maybe 3.
1. Where might be a good stoping point 2-3 hours out of Paris on arrival day, i am looking for somewhere smallish, easy with a place to rest our heads.
2 & 3. I love Cahor wines and had planned on staying in or near that city until I saw your posts, so (St Cirq and anyone else with an opinion) if you had 4 days where would you want to stay and what would you see? I have been to Bordeaux and not terribly interested in hitting it up again, My partner prefers the country and we are going to end up in Paris so I am trying to honor some more laid back time for her during this part of the trip. I think she might like the caves with the drawings, and I would enjoy some vineyards, but beyond that I am open to suggestion.
AS you can tell we took the hint about the lay over and decided to just drive.
Thanks in advance
Rosie
rosiecaro is offline  
Mar 1st, 2019, 06:44 AM
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You could stay in Cahors itself. For Cahors wines eat at the Hotel le Balandre in Cahors. It has a 50 page wine list of Cahors wines, or used to. You might also want to check the hotels sleeping accommodations. https://www.balandre.com/notre-cave It might make sense to stop overnight in Cahors on your way to Quarante.

Sens might be a good stop on your way south. With traffic around Paris, it might take a couple of hours to get there. My recollection is that it has only one good hotel, right in the middle of town. A stroll through the town is worth a couple of hours.


Last edited by Michael; Mar 1st, 2019 at 07:23 AM.
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Mar 1st, 2019, 06:53 AM
  #3  
 
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If this was my trip, I would not attempt the 8 1/2 hr drive from CDG to the Camargue - even over 2 days. I would take the TGV to Montpellier, Arles, Nimes, or Avignon & start from there.

But, if you feel you must drive, Beaune would be a good stop just off the Autoroute and will provide some interesting things to do & see.

If you want to visit the Dordogne, stay in Sarlat, Roque Gageac, or Beynac. My wife & I have vacationed for 13 weeks in the Dordogne, and I developed a 20+ page itinerary that describes our favorite sites, villages, caves, scenic drives, etc. I've sent my various itineraries to over 6,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 1st, 2019, 07:04 AM
  #4  
 
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Gramat is also a good base with a few hotels, an excellent little market and anything else you might need. Not a busy place at all, which makes it all that much easier to drive to other places from there. (I am talking about the Cahors area.)
kerouac is offline  
Mar 1st, 2019, 07:12 AM
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Bergerac?
bilboburgler is offline  
Mar 1st, 2019, 07:46 AM
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I think your first two days from CDG will be challenging!!!

CDG to Sens....1 1/2 hrs, 19E in gas & road tolls
Sens to Aigues Mortes/Camargue... 7 hrs, 111E fees

CDG to Beaune.... 3 1/2 hrs, 53E fees
Beaune to Aigues Mortes... 4 1/2 hrs 76 fees

So - you land at CDG at noon (guess), secure a car, and you won't get to Sens or Beaune until mid or late afternoon.

Depart Sens at 9am, get to the Camargue at 4PM.
Drive around chasing flamingos for 3 hours - 7PM
Drive to Quarante in 1 1/2 hrs & get there at 8:30PM. Check into hotel & ready to go at 9:15PM

Subtract 2 hrs from this latter leg if you stay in Beaune.

FWIW - I am not a fan of either Cahors or Bergerac.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 1st, 2019, 08:03 AM
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The drive around around Paris from CDG going south can take a couple of hours by itself, it has happened to me. But Sens to Cahors would be easier than to the Camargue. A day trip to the Camargue is easy from Quarante, a two hour drive. I include Cahors because the OP is apparently crazy about the wine.

Last edited by Michael; Mar 1st, 2019 at 08:06 AM.
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Mar 1st, 2019, 09:19 AM
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You can get direct trains from CDG to Bordeaux and points in between - saves a long boring driving day or two and may be cheaper if you nab discounted train tickets at www.oui.sncf - French railways site - for lots on trains check www.seat61.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteeves.com. And consider turningcar in down south and high-speed training it back to Paris.
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Mar 1st, 2019, 05:07 PM
  #9  
kja
 
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You're coming from the U.S., right? Please don't drive straight from the airport! Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. And please note – microsleeps aren’t dependent on getting sleep or not, they result from shifting your waking / sleeping cycle away from the one to which you are accustomed. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience! You should be able to use public transportation for your first day or two quite easily.
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Mar 3rd, 2019, 09:53 AM
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My recommendation is: https://www.lavayssade.com/bandb-tar...-2018/?lang=en

It's maybe 8 miles SE of Cahors. We stayed there about 7 years ago. It's a very nice B&B. The host, Pierre, was very accommodating; speaks English well. They made a dinner available with them, but we didn't take advantage of it. Should have. His wife, Joelle, is an accomplished water color artist; speaks some English.
The map on their website illustrates some nice day trips: St Cirq la Popie; Cordes sur Ciel; Pech Merle (cave paintings) and others.
tomboy is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2019, 10:24 AM
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Frankly, I think it is a terrible idea to arrive in Paris on the 12th and have to be in Quarante on the 13th. That's just impractical. I sure wouldn't contemplate driving. Much easier and more sensible to take a TGV south to Montpellier or Avignon. The drive is one long bore and yes, dangerous after a long flight if going far outside Paris. Yes, it can take you a couple of hours just to get out of the city into the open air, depending on day of the week, time of day, and time of year.

And you don't have to actually go to Cahors to drink plenty of Cahors wine in France. It's available everywhere - caves, supermarkets, fresh markets - and Cahors isn't a particularly appealing place apart from the Roman bridge. Bergerac is more interesting, but not by much. Staying 8 kms outside of Cahors would not be ideal for me, either, no matter how nice the B&B. Gramat, which kerouac mentions, is not a bad choice, but again, you don't have to go to or near Cahors to sample the wines.

Your choices are extremely limited these days with respect to cave drawings/paintings. Pech-Merle is your best bet, though there are drawings at Rouffignac and the Grotte du Sorcier in St-Cirq (NOT St-Cirq Lapopie, but the St-Cirq where I live - impractical to come here, though, most likely). You can of course visit the reproductions at Lascaux.

The entire Bergerac region is full of vineyards, but with only 4 days you're not going to have many choices about what to visit.



Don't count on seeing flamingos in the Camargue. I've been about a dozen times and never seen a single one. I've seen flocks and flocks of flamingos from the train south of Narbonne, though.

Last edited by StCirq; Mar 3rd, 2019 at 10:29 AM.
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Mar 3rd, 2019, 02:34 PM
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I guess you can put me in the camp of thumbs down on this whole idea, at least the beginning part. What you want to do after your art class is your business. There is no reason whatsoever to rent a car at CDG to begin with and drive down the entire country for no reason (and driving around the Camargue will take time). If you were forced to do that for some odd reason, I would also pick Beaune probably for a reasonable place to stay the first night.

I think you should just take a train down to Montpellier or Avignon or whatever, stay the night and then rent the car there the next day. Both are large enough that they have good rental car choices. I've rented at Montpellier gare and it was fairly easy to drive out of the city from it. Of course it's easy to drive away from the Avignon TGV station since it's outside the city. Taking a train upon arrival is a lot more sensible in terms of jet lag, etc., also.

I do not understand the idea of having to stay in a place because you like the wine from there. I drink wine from Cahors in the US, I can easily buy it here, but you can drink it anywhere in France. But if you do want to stay around there, I think the B&B mentioned by tomboy sounds perfect as it isn't that far outside of town (and there aren't very many decent places to stay in Cahors anyway, I know because I looked last summer). It appears to be in the commune of Lalbenque which doesn't amount to anything, of course. It's really 18 km from there to Cahors.

I stayed in a nice B&B in Brive la Gaillarde for a few days last summer, but it's a large town and a hub in the area. I like that (and wanted to stay there as Francis Cabrel was giving a concert there last July) but sounds like you want country stuff even though it was fairly easy to drive out of town from where I stayed near the gare. I quite liked Figeac actually, also, it's much smaller and is popular with tourists, I know. It's not that close to Cahors actually, about 70 km. But it's a reasonable choice in-between a larger city like Brive-la-Gaillarde and being in the middle of nowhere. And it does have a few sites of interest to see in itself. It's a village of only about 10K population. And a lot of those caves are in-between it and Brive. Foissac cave is quite near it and is one you can easily visit. But it's mainly for archeology reasons, it doesn't have any cave art. I suppose that's why you can still visit easily, it's not as popular with the tourists. So if you are going for the drawings, that one wouldn't fit the bill.

I guess it depends what you want. I have no interest in staying in some B&B out in the country, sounds boring to me, I always want to be in at least a small town with some shops and restaurants and maybe even something of interest. But I usually travel alone, so I suppose that's why, at least one reason why. I also like that you can meet and interact with far more people when you are in a real place with a town center and I don't like the idea of eating at the place I'm staying, I want a restaurant and to order what I want. So it depends what type you are as to your choices, I think, hotel or inn/B&B in at least a village/small town or just some B&B in the country.
Christina is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2019, 03:27 PM
  #13  
 
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Maybe we were just lucky, but we saw thousands of flamingos in the Camarque! It was a spectacular sight! This was in October 2015. Maybe the time of year makes a difference? You will be there in October, too, so hopefully you will be as lucky as we were.
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Mar 3rd, 2019, 04:23 PM
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>> I quite liked Figeac <<

So do I. It's one of my "top 5" smaller cities in France. Wonderful architecture and not too touristy. The drive along the Cele River between Cahors & Figeac is one of my favorite "scenic drives". Lots of small villages and houses built into the cliffs. There is more info in the Itinerary I sent you (someone named Rosie asked for my Dordogne itinerary yesterday or the day before). Also, St Cirq Lapopie is along the way.
https://www.francetoday.com/travel/travel-features/saint-cirq-lapopie-one-beautiful-villages-france/

Stu Dudley
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