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Trip Report: 10 wonderful days in the Dordogne and 10 not so wonderful days on the Canal du Midi

Trip Report: 10 wonderful days in the Dordogne and 10 not so wonderful days on the Canal du Midi

Oct 25th, 2007, 03:17 PM
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Trip Report: 10 wonderful days in the Dordogne and 10 not so wonderful days on the Canal du Midi

On an incredibly cheep fare ( $540) all taxes included with United, bought on line early this year we had a great non eventful flight form sfo through Dulles, arriving in Paris at 7am. We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel in the 7th, tons of traffic, definitely Monday morning rush hour, 55E including tip. We arrived on Sept 10th.

Staying at the Hotel Mugeut, 130E a night now. We have stayed here many times. Nice room for the price. They seemed to just have redecorated, everything was new, very nice, great location , can sleep with the windows open, it is a very quiet neighborhood. Although we like this price and location, we also have a bit of a personality problem with management. We do not need to be best friends, but we do like good service. When we left for the Dordogne the next day we asked to reserve a taxi to the train station. We were told, no problem just come to the desk when you are ready to leave. We ask again in the morning before breakfast and are told the same thing. We are ready to leave about 9:15 for a 10:10 train and then told that it is rush hour, all taxi's are busy and they can't get us one, we will have to go by metro. Metro isn't my favorite with all my luggage, especially since we have prems tics and we don't want to miss our train. Well, it all worked out with ten minutes to spare, but, I doubt that we will be staying here again, there are just too many other hotels with better service.

Without too much jet lag we decided to go over to the ET and go to the top since it was clear and my DH had never been. It was about 11:30 and the line was manageable. We went to the top in about half an hour or so, this including both elevators...great views. Back to our hotel room which was now ready. We are in room 52 and have a GREAT view of the ET. We slept for about three hours and felt much better. I know everyone says don't do this but I really don't know how one stays awake for all those hours. I almost feel sick, I just have to get a little shut eye.

Dinner that evening was to be at Cafe Constant on Rue St Dominick but it was closed (Mon.evening) even though their other two restaurants were open. We were with three of our nieces and nephews who are living there and/or on vacation there so we wanted something not too expensive and not too adventuresome. We chose Bistro du 7eme and it was perfect. It is a three course meal for 20E, the food is nice and familiar, prepared well, nothing to write home about but a nice little place for a quick meal, not too expensive and with jet lag not too many decisions to make.

susanna is offline  
Oct 25th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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The next morning I walked over to Rue Cler for some pastries and snacks for the train. When I returned my DH came down with the luggage and we asked for a cab to get to the train station and this is where the fiasco started with management. Off we ran down the street with 2 bags weighing in just under 100lbs for the both, not an easy task, and I don't want to hear from anyone about packing light, I just can't do it, this was our pared down suitcases! The metro wasn't as crowded as expected, we needed to change trains only once, and we arrived at the train station with ten minutes to spare. We were so overheated by the time we sat down that we were really mad at the hotel and said we wouldn't stay there again, that was just uncalled for. It was fortunate that we are very familiar with Paris and the metro system.

We rode backwards for four hours to Brive where I was grateful to get off, I felt so sick . Thank you MorganB for helping all of us get prems tickets, now, how do you pick your seats going in the right direction? Maybe that is the snfc little joke on me for getting prems tickets, you don't get to ride going forward, I can't imagine paying full price and riding backwards. We reserved a car through Autoeurope and picked it up with Europecar, piece of cake, except that we reserved a compact car and they so kindly upgraded the two of us to a mini van! I went back to plead for the compact, but of course, they were all out. Thank goodness that I had decided to spring for ALL the insurances because I had the feeling that the sides of this van would never look the same when we turned it back in.
We payed 550 for 9 days with everything.

We drove down to Beynac where we had rented an apartment at Hotel du Chateau. The hotel has 18 rooms and one apartment. We rented this because we wanted more that one week, not two weeks and were not able to start on a Sat. It has worked out perfect. I had great communication with them while renting it, I only had to confirm it with one nights stay and it is quite reasonable, 450E a week plus any extra days. It is a nice little studio, with a little terrace with table and chairs and a portable bbq, comfortable and pretty quiet after the hoards leave at 7pm. It is decorated very simply, kind of Ikeaish, with a comfortable bed. The hotel supplies as many towels as you like, for a small charge, as well as cleanings and linens for the bed if you should need this service, it's nothing fancy but a great deal. Beynac is just a beautiful spot with the river directly in front of you. It is so easy to get around to all the sites here.

I am just going to list a few of the things we did and a few highlights, there is no way I can do the day by day blow, I admire folks with such good memories.

susanna is offline  
Oct 25th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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We went to the Sarlat Market on the Wed, which was our first day there. It was a nice way to wet our feet in the Dordogne. We drove in and parked right outside of town and walked in, there was just too much traffic trying to get a good parking place and it was a nice walk.The market was crowed and lively and we were to see the same vendors at all the other markets we attended so if you only have time to do one, just pick any of the big ones. We wandered around, bought a few things and then had lunch on the main street at L'entre Acte and watched all the stalls close down. It was the first of many many gizzard salads with fois gras, something I managed to have almost every day.

On another evening we returned to Sarlat to have a nice dinner at Le Presidential and have a look around at the wonderful architecture. We ate out in the yard, a beautiful setting on a nice evening. We were surprised how reasonable the prices were, the food was very well prepared and served , I would give it a 7 out of 10.

We went to Gouffre du Padirac which was the cave I was the most looking forward to but they were on strike and had been for 17 days and thought it would last the rest of the season. We moved on to Lacave and it was quite a surprise! If this is the second rate cave next to GduP I can't wait to return and see it. Lacave was enormous with the most unusual stalactites. There are two ponds(huge ponds) that reflect the images of the stalactites which has the optical illusion of looking at an underwater city. This is a place not to miss.

We went that same day over to Rocamadour. Because of the strike at GduP there weren't any tour buses here, they must have just skipped the area. We arrived here about 11ish and it was so uncrowded we were shocked. What a unusual setting for a town, good tip form this forum to park in the L'Hospitalet and then walk to the top of the ramparts, which gave me a vertigo moment, what a view. We wandered all the way down through the town, had a nice uncrowded lunch and took the elevator back to the top of town to get our car.

Another day we went to see Lascaux II, were able to get tickets for the 12:00 English tour with no problem, visited the lovely town of Montignac, which I think would be a lovely town to stay in. The cave was amazing in that they were able to recreate it, that the original is 17,000 years old and was perfectly preserved and that I was standing where people lived so long ago. After seeing this I didn't make it to any of the other caves with art. I really thought that I would love these caves and want to see more but seeing this one was good enough for me, I was much more fascinated in the stalactite/stalagmite caves, which were all different and unique.
We loved loved loved Gouffre de Proumeyssac which has a nickname of"Crystal Cathedral", the name says it all, and Grotte du Granc Roc which has formations resembling coral, both worth a visit.

Josephine Baker's chateau, Les Milandes, was a total surprise. I had an instant connection to her, have no idea why. Loved loved loved all of her photos, her music and the story behind her. The falcon show was no problem to get tickets for and we had front row seats, the birds were beautiful if a little mischievous!

Chateau Marqueyssac was also a surprise, I had no idea how BIG the gardens were or how extravegantly shaped the box woods were. I believe that there were about 6kilometers of gardens to walk through, beautiful views of the valley below from every angle imaginable, and something like 150,000 box woods!

We did a canoe trip down the Dordogne, from Vitrac to St Vincent de Cosse, a very pleasant 2+ hours. It is everything everyone here says it is! This is a very scenic area that includes views of all the castles, chateaus and cute towns like La Roque -Gageac and Beynac. We rented from Roquegeoffre www.canoe-roquegeoffre.com They pretty much let you start just about anytime you would like. The owner, a very fit tan handsome man of about 80 in a pair of Calvin Kline speedos and nothing else takes you upstream in a bus and drops you off where ever you want to start and you cruse back to his base. We have no canoe skills(or should I say I don't but my DH does) and we zig-zagged and did loop di loops down the Dordogne for an afternoon, we had lots of laughs.

Our best meal, by leaps and bounds was in Domme at Cabanoix et Chataigne, 3 Rue Geoffroy de Vivans, 05 53 31 07 11. It is a small restaurant owned and run by a young couple, inside and out door dining. You picked your courses off of a blackboard and you could choose 1, 2 or 3 courses of your choice for a price fix of I think 25E. This was the place where you could have fois gras 6 different ways! The menu had a lot of the usual dishes of the area with a twist, which was a real treat, for example, I had a raw tuna sushimi, diced and seasoned topped with grilled fois gras topped with big huge crystals of salt from Ibiza, I want it right now again! It is not a fussy restaurant and one could eat here every night and be very satisfied .

Right below Domme, the town of Cenas has the wash and dry place that every one here speaks of. They do indeed do a wonderful job, for a very large bag of clothes they charged me 14E, I dropped it off and went up to see the cave in Domme, which was very good too. Here is the name and address of the Laverie: Les Quatre Routes-2450 Cenac et St Julien, 05 53 28 93 19, open 7 days a week 9-19H.00, they are British and speak english!

The Sunday St. Cyprian market had the best food! We bought some of their prepared foods to reheat back at our apartment. We bought way too much even though we bought only one serving of each , cassoulet, paella, basque chicken and rice and grilled quail with roasted potatoes.
We ate like pigs, there was easily enough of each dish for 2-3 meals!

Last but not least was a hot air balloon ride for my DH's "50th". I wanted him to go alone, he wanted me to join him. I am not too crazy about hights or fire so it wasn't on the top of my list. OMG, what an incredible adventure, peaceful, quiet except when they "fire up", just floating over this beautiful landscape for about 1 1/2 hours and ending with champagne in a field at dusk. I can't wait to do it again one day. We used Volez en Montgolfiere, 06 83 26 47 66, www.perigord-dordogne-montgolfieres.com
180E each.

Next up: The barge trip on the Canal du Midi
susanna is offline  
Oct 25th, 2007, 06:36 PM
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Nice report, keep going.
happytotravel is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 04:02 AM
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Enjoying your trip report as we are now planning our trip for next fall to the Dordogne.

Agree with you about Hotel Muguet. We stayed here twice and both times had the same experience - nice hotel, good area, etc., but an indifferent front desk. The last time we were there they gave us misleading info re an early morning taxi to the train station. We made it no thanks to them. They definitely need to work on their people skills. Last year we stayed at the Hotel de Lutece on Isle St Louis and were quite happy with both the hotel and the location.

Looking forward to your next post.
Royal is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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Enjoying your report--we plan to visit the Dordogne area next May. Did the hotel in Beynac have a pool? Hot air balloon ride sounds like a lot of fun. I will definitely rule out any possibility of staying at Hotel Mugeut in Paris--there are plenty of choices in that price range or less that are more pleasant.
nini is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:30 AM
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Thanks Susan it was worth waiting!
I can't believe you had some much foie gras ~gt; during your trip!

Great pics as well, I hope you'll post them here (you wear pink gloves à la perfection ;-) )
cocofromdijon is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:47 AM
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Lovely report..thanks for taking the time. I agree about using Montignac as a base for next time; we had an excellent lunch near there a few months ago at Table du Terroir, recommended by St. Cirq, and I would have liked to spend more time in Montignac itself...

I am tuned in for the next installment...!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:51 AM
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Hi S,

Thanks for sharing.

>how do you pick your seats going in the right direction?

You can't. Trains often reverse direction.

ira is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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Thanks for the nice report. So many things to do in the Dordogne, I don't think we got to any of the same sites you did, makes me want to go again. And more of that salad with the duck gizzards and foie gras please.
Nikki is online now  
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:15 AM
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Thanks everyone for the nice comments, I'll try to do the Canal report this weekend.

Coco: you made me do this!!! Now, can YOU share MY pictures? I have no idea how to do it.

I have all my pictures downloaded on Kodac but I have no idea how to link it to here, the only way to share them is to send someone (coco) a link to visit them...help!
susanna is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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Susanna, you can share the pictures with yourself (making sure to uncheck the box that asks if you want visitors to sign in, unless you do want that), then open the e-mail from Kodakgallery. In small print there will be a printed link to the pictures. Copy that link and paste it here.
Nikki is online now  
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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OOPS, hit the wrong button.

NINI: yes, they have a pool. Although the apartment was OK, I looked in the rooms and they looked nothing like the website, not white and airy , definately a 2*, but, they are quite inexpensive and it is a great location. For my return visit I might prefer to stay about 2K down the road at Domaine de Monrecour which is a beautiful chateau, two pools, lovely rooms as well as 10 gites/apartments.

Royal: I can't believe you had the same train issues, do they have a problem calling taxi's???

Ira: boohoo!
susanna is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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I'm glad you listened to me!
Let's try this link http://tinyurl.com/2726j5
cocofromdijon is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:46 AM
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nice photos. I look forward to the rest of the trip report
bigtyke is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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WOW, you're fast Coco!!!

I appologize for so many pictures, DH took over a thousand, and downloaded over 850 and I then chose about 50 from the two files you are viewing, sorry there are so many duplicates and pictures with us in them!

I see there is also a link to view the Canal du Midi pictures.

Thanks Coco!
susanna is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 07:23 AM
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Great report and thanks for sharing.

I am a bit concerned, however, that you are going to cut off your nose to spie your face re the Paris hotel.

You obviously like the price and the neighborhood, and the views...simply TELL the indifferent front desk what you want next time instead of simply asking for it!!
Dukey is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Looking forward to canal report.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Sigh....another place to put on my list....
gomiki is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:50 AM
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Great report - covering two areas we are planning to visit, so I am looking forward to more!
Canada_V is offline  

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