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The Dordogne- better to go in March or July?

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Oct 2nd, 2012, 02:47 PM
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The Dordogne- better to go in March or July?

I am trying to figure out whether it would be better to go to the Dordogne region in March (second half) or in summer - either July or August. Seems like weather would obviously be better in summer, but I've been reading about how crowded it gets. And small little towns tend to get overrun with tourists making it unpleasant. I generally go to Europe every summer but mostly go to mid to larger size towns/cities which tend to be less touristy. Plus crowds in a city don't tend to ruin the ambiance as much as in tiny villages. As for weather I don't care about temperatures as much as really wanting to avoid rain as much as possible.

So which would you choose?
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Oct 2nd, 2012, 02:55 PM
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The Dordogne is packed in July and August, to the point where the river get so full of people and canoes and kayaks it looks like a human parking lot. Traffic is a pain, and the markets are wall-to-wall people. So I would go in March, but it may very well rain. I've been there many times in March, and the weather is all over the place, including enough rain to make the rivers flood. I've also had warm, sunny weather. The place is definitely not crowded in March, though.
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Oct 2nd, 2012, 02:59 PM
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I too have been in the Dordogne in March/April, and got caught in some serious flooding. But you're also right that it's packed in mid-summer too, so if you're a gambler, try for spring. Frankly I'd pick October if that was an option.
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Oct 2nd, 2012, 04:49 PM
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There is something to be said for full greenery when in the countryside. When we were in the Dordogne in early May a couple of years ago, the leaves had just burst out. I think that March is an iffy proposition in this regard. On the other hand, the old stone buildings will not be hidden by the trees.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 01:00 AM
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I would never recommend anyone come here in July if you have any other option. There are just too many people. Perhaps the beginning of July if there aren't other options, but certainly from mid-July to mid-August,which is the prime French holiday season, everything is packed, and traffic is bad.

March, however, despite what others have said, can be quite nice here. We have Canadian friends who have come 11, or maybe 12 times in March (no matter what the weather is here, it's better than March in Ottawa) and virtually always have had good weather. We often lunch outside with them, and sometimes even manage to have dinner outside.

And of course no one can guarantee the weather. Last year we had the hottest/driest spring in 100 years, this year we had fabulous weather in March and April- except that everywhere was in drought. Eventually it started to rain, and the first half of July was dark, dreary and wet.

I should also mention that the first time we came here we actually had a fair amount of rain (in May). We still fell in love with the area, enough to decide to move here. In fact it was only when I looked back at my notes for that holiday that I even remembered the rain. So some rain may not ruin everything!
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 01:50 AM
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We were near the Dordogne [the Gers region] in the last week of March this year and the weather was just glorious. But weather is weather and no-one can predict what it will do. We had a couple of great weeks and then it turned and the rest of our trip [ nine weeks in total in various areas ] was cool and quite wet at times.

We travel out of season because we like being there without the crowds. Sometimes the payoff is that the weather is not perfect. We have been in some regions of France and have been exploring beautiful villages and have both remarked that we would hate to be doing this in hot temps with hordes of other people. So it really depends on you and what you are prepared to accept.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 04:52 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Sounds like March would be better. Generally I prefer summer (longer days, flowers, better chance of sun) but it does sound like this is one area that crowds in summer means it wouldn't be pleasant. I would be able to go the last week in June/first week of July if I went in summer but it sounds like that would still be pretty crowded. And of course rain is a crap shoot whenever you go (I had 10 straight days of rain in northern Europe this past July).

Now I have to figure out how long I should spend in this region. I'll be combining it with some time in Provence and a few days in Paris.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 05:32 AM
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And in March the flowering trees will be out - our camellia blooms in March too. http://cettesemaineacarlux.blogspot....1_archive.html

Plan for at least 2 weeks here. It wont be enough, but at least an introduction.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:07 AM
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I agree that two weeks is a good start. Be advised also that you will need a car.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:13 AM
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Last week June/1st week July would be better than March, since it is still not peak summer holidays.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:18 AM
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I don't like the stress of crowds, and I'm not crazy about heat. When we went it was late March and into the first week of April. Totally anecdotal, but we had what I would consider pleasant weather. One day was a bit drizzly.

A captivating area with loads to do and see. Have fun.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:30 AM
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Good suggestion by Odin. When our travel times were restricted by my son's school schedule, we used to leave on our summer vacation right after school was out in June. And it worked well. The weather was cooler, the crowds smaller, sometimes the prices lower.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:40 AM
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In 2012 we visited the Dordogne twice- once in March and then again the last week of June. There were pluses for both sides. We were fortunate that the weather was very nice in March- nice enough to lunch outdoors. June was very hot. The only thing I would consider is that Pech Merle was closed in March and at Lascaux II they only were giving French tours. Though we met up with a group at Font de Gaume and had we gone in the afternoon the day we went to Lascaux we could have joined an English tour they did because there were so many to take it. Whichever time you go you will have a wonderful time!
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 08:30 AM
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I would go in late June early July, and plan the visit so that major sites (Lascaux, Domme-La Roque-Gageac-Beynac, etc.) are visited in the first week. We were in the Provence until July 10 and were not overwhelmed by crowds, and I suspect that the Provence has the same summer crowds as the Dordogne.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 09:03 AM
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If you're really concerned about the weather, check out Weather Underground. The following is for Bergerac, the month of March, but you can change dates as you wish. It gives you ACTUAL weather for every day for the last 8 years or so.

http://www.wunderground.com/history/...atename=France
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