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Thoughts on this Dordogne Self-Guided Hiking Trip?

Thoughts on this Dordogne Self-Guided Hiking Trip?

Jan 20th, 2019, 07:35 AM
  #1  
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Thoughts on this Dordogne Self-Guided Hiking Trip?

We are a group of five well-travelled women (ages 55-65) who are planning on taking a hiking trip through the Dordogne area. We are considering booking the following trip through Macs Adventures. https://www.macsadventure.com/us/tou...e-prigord-noir For those who know this area, I would love your thoughts on the itinerary. Is it a good plan, etc? We are planning on going mid-late September. And we will probably add on some time afterward to see areas we missed, like Rocamadour. Thank you!
megdean is offline  
Jan 20th, 2019, 11:15 AM
  #2  
 
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A friend who had the privilege of seeing the original Lascaux cave highly recommends Lascaux IV. From Sarlat it's a 40 minute bus ride to Montignac (Lascaux IV).
Michael is online now  
Jan 21st, 2019, 03:17 AM
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It looks sort of OK to me (I live in the Dordogne, in St-Cirq), but it's not entirely clear to me why someone needs to arrange this for you. Other than the couple of short transfers, and booking hotels and a few meals, what does this company do that you couldn't do on your own?

I would also say I'd probably get tired of so many days of ambling down shady wooded paths and past walnut groves and charming stone houses. And while September is usually the nicest month around here, none of this would be fun in the rain. Are there no actual visits to the many museums and castles? All that walking and you don't get to stop in Castelnaud and learn how to sack a castle? The chance to pop into the tiny church in Vitrac isn't much bait - there are similar chapels and churches every kilometer or so for hundreds of miles around

There are also enough misspellings and small mis-statements of fact that I'd be slightly concerned these people know exactly what they're doing. As an example, you can't just "take a short detour for a visit" to the grotte in St-Cirq - you need to be there at specific times, buy a ticket, and join a tour. And it's not known as the Cave of Witches; nor is it the Grotte du Cirq. It's the Grotte du Sorcier.

The hotel in Les Eyzies is not "adjacent to the river." It's on a small tributary.

If you end up in Sarlat on a Saturday after a 13-km hike you will have missed the market by several hours.

I could go on, but that's enough to make the point.

Lascaux IV is indeed a marvel. But so are the national Prehistory Museum and loads of other landmarks. If I were coming to the Dordogne from afar I'd feel deprived of the chance to see some of them. Walking through cow fields has its allure, but "catching a glimpse of a ch teau through the trees" could just be frustrating if you don't get to stop.


Hope that helps a bit.
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Jan 21st, 2019, 07:10 AM
  #4  
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This pretty much summarizes my worries. Thank you for your feedback. We want to do a lot of hiking but also as you said have time to actually see the place. Though I am very comfortable booking hotels, tickets to sites, etc, I have never done a hiking trip and am not familiar with the resources available. If one did this on their own, how would we get the routings down? Directions, etc. Is there a guide that has the hiking routes? And I guess it would be pretty easy to hire a taxi to take our luggage from hotel to hotel.

And I definitely want to see the cave paintings.

Regarding September, do you recommend late September versus early September? My understanding is that early may be crowded and later may be rainy?
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Jan 21st, 2019, 07:13 AM
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There are maps available: https://www.tripsavvy.com/trail-maps...france-1508302
Michael is online now  
Jan 21st, 2019, 08:16 AM
  #6  
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Thank you. One other question - one of the benefits of the tour was that they dropped luggage for you, giving you the ability to walk from one town to the next without worrying about a car. I do understand a car is helpful in this area for sightseeing. Are there plenty of taxis that can function the same way?
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Jan 21st, 2019, 08:40 AM
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No, it is not "pretty easy" to take taxis, though hotels could certainly arrange that for you. There are very few taxis around and generally they need to be booked at least a day or two in advance. They are also expensive. But with some careful planning you could probably engage (or get a hotel to engage) a series of taxis to deal with your luggage while you are out and about. You could probably negotiate a deal if several taxi trips were involved in a reasonably small area over a few days. Buses are almost nonexistent, though it wouldn't be too hard to arrange a hiking trip using trains, particularly along the Bordeaux-Agen line.

As Michael has shown, maps are readily available (in bookstores you'll find lots of them). Tourist offices can be very helpful with walking plans (and quite possibly with locating a driver to manage moving your luggage around). Here are some other ideas: Walking trails | Vallée Dordogne

Signage is excellent, even in the tiniest villages and communes.

Other than the Grotte du Sorcier, your only real chance to see cave paintings is at Lascaux (II or IV), which as I'm sure you know are replicas (still awe-inspiring IMO!). If Font de Gaume is even still open next fall, you'd have a chance to get into it (and Combarelles) if you get up really early and get in line by about 8:30 am and hope to snag seats (but honestly, with 5 of you, the chances are slim). There are, of course, dozens and dozens of other prehistoric sites to visit, but not with paintings.

Very hard to predict the weather in advance, but yes, the first half of September is usually still pretty crowded (though European kids are back in school, so that cuts down on a lot of the bustle), and hot. I don't think we had much rain at all last September or October.

Fall is also a time when there are innumerable festivals and concerts and exhibitions and such, if those interest you.

Last edited by StCirq; Jan 21st, 2019 at 08:43 AM.
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Jan 21st, 2019, 08:59 AM
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Also, I found this site, which looks like it should be quite helpful https://www.routeyou.com/en-fr/locat...-hiking-routes

Thanks again for steering me in the right direction. Now I see tons of resources for our journey.
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Jan 21st, 2019, 09:02 AM
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OK, thank you. Sounds like we need a car. We will make it work. As we get further along putting our itinerary together, I hope to run it by you for input. Thanks again.
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Jan 21st, 2019, 10:32 AM
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By all means! Happy to help. If you end up in St-Cirq and we're around, come by for an apéro! We're next door to the grotte.

A car is probably a good idea. In general the roads here are pretty good, though narrow, and parking isn't a problem except in Sarlat on market days (big market Wednesday, small one Saturday). Pick up a disque bleue at a tourist office or bookstore so you don't have to pay for parking (unless you overstay the stated time limits).
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Jan 21st, 2019, 09:34 PM
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As a non-driver I've used several companies for solo hotel-to-hotel self-guided walking holidays. Most of which I have very much enjoyed.
I would not rate Mac's Adventures as one of the better companies. For example, they start by saying "On arrival in Sarlat" + the name of the accommodation, without mentioning that, even if you arrive by train (or more often, by train+railway bus) it is not that easy to get to your accommodation with luggage as the station is some distance from the centre, and you are unlikely to happen upon a taxi. You might want to look at alternatives for roughly the same area offered by InnTravel or Headwater Holidays. The latter are more expensive as they employ "on the ground" representatives, and will come to your rescue in case of an accident or illness, but in terms of sheer friendliness I would rate InnTravel very highly as they were extremely accommodating and sympathetic last year when a back problem recurring after the first day prevented me from completing any of the scheduled distances. A good company will take care of you. But if the members of your group are all happy to drive and to take care of each other, the routes and hotels suggested on the companies' sites can help you plan the logistics yourselves.
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Jan 21st, 2019, 10:37 PM
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Hi Mr green,

Here's another self-guided tour from an Austrian company, maybe it'll be closer to what you want --

https://www.eurohike.at/en/destinations/walking-holidays-france/dordogne-perigord-8-days

Sorry, I don't have any experience myself with this company, but I know people who use them, and I see their ads all over the place where I live in Germany. It's popular here.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Jan 22nd, 2019, 07:36 AM
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Thank you for the additional walking tour referrals. So the question for ourselves now is do we sign up for a self-guided walking tour, or should we just stay 4 nights in Sarlat and 4 nights in Cahors and take drives and day hikes from there. We will have to mull this through and make a decision. Positives to the tours: all done - no decision making, can hike from town to town and not worry about driving or needing to loop back, less chance of getting lost. I don't think we would need a car. Cons: Maybe won't see everything we want to see, limited to a smaller geographic area. Positives to doing it on our own: Set own itinerary, stay in only two locations = less moving rooms, maybe less cost, more flexibility to see major sites on our time frame. Cons: Need to rent a car, hikes are going to be limited to loops maybe, no on-ground support if something happens. I plan to meet with my friends to make this decision in the next day or two. Anything I am missing? Thank you again!!
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Jan 22nd, 2019, 07:57 AM
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Well, I would scrap the idea of 4 nights (probably any nights, for that matter) in Cahors. It's good for an afternoon visit to see the Roman Devil's bridge, but it is hardly representative of the Dordogne area, has some unutterably ugly surroundings, and is mostly set in an unattractive, geologically challenging area that features gorges and steep , craggy hills (not the pretty gorges and hills of the Dordogne). Besides, there seems to be a never-ending stream of mammoth construction projects all around the perimeter of the town.

The area around Sarlat has more gorgeous places than you could possibly manage to visit even if you had a month or two. There is no reason to leave it for uglier places south. Stick within about a 30-mile radius of Sarlat (mainly south, east, and north) and you'll be overwhelmed with the possibilities.
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Jan 22nd, 2019, 08:35 AM
  #15  
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Good to know. I had read that Cahors was a good base to see Rocamadour and east of there. But maybe staying a week in Sarlat is better. So day trips. Maybe even rent a house of some sort.
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Jan 22nd, 2019, 08:51 AM
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If you want to see Rocamadour, and have a car, my advice would be to get up very early in Sarlat and make a big loop to Carennac, Martel, Collonges-la-Rouge, the Gouffre de Padirac, and Rocamadour. There is plenty more to see on that route, but that will be more than enough for a day. I would make sure you get an early start, very early, because you don't want to be driving on the roads near Rocamadour in the dark. You could of course do the loop the other way around.

There are hundreds of houses to rent in the area, but don't wait too long to nab one if that's what you decide to do. They go fast, and a lot of people return year after year to the same place.
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Feb 2nd, 2019, 09:19 AM
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Just an update - we decided to stay in Sarlat at a B&B for the full time, taking day trips from there. The others in my group preferred staying in town vs a country home - want to be able to walk places if the rest of the group was off doing something else. Thanks for the help.

The next question I need to tackle is buying advance tickets for the key caves. My understanding is Lascaux IV and Grotte de Font-de-Gaume (still open to public?) are the two must sees. Should probably do that now, right? Anything else we need to handle at this point?
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Feb 2nd, 2019, 11:43 AM
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I doubt that you will need tickets far in advance for Lascaux IV. Even for Lascaux II a same day purchase presented no problems.
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Feb 2nd, 2019, 01:29 PM
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, you will almost certainly not get to see Font-de-Gaume. For the past year there have been no advance tickets, which means you must line up a the crack of dawn (well, around 8 am at the latest and get in line to be one of the very few people who will be let in). And there is only one English language tour per day, if even that, depending on the time of year. Anyway, with 5 people you can pretty well cross Font-de-Gaume off your list.

We went to Lascaux IV for the second time last summer and with no advance tickets ended up waiting in a special line for random spaces to open up. There were only two of us and we did get in at the last minute, but I don't think it's a shoe-in for 5 people without advance tickets. You can always get into Lascaux II at the last minute.
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Feb 2nd, 2019, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
We went to Lascaux IV for the second time last summer and with no advance tickets ended up waiting in a special line for random spaces to open up. There were only two of us and we did get in at the last minute, but I don't think it's a shoe-in for 5 people without advance tickets. You can always get into Lascaux II at the last minute.
Would this apply to the OP's time frame, mid to late September?
Michael is online now  

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