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What are the best bargains in lodging you know, between Paris and Bilbao?

What are the best bargains in lodging you know, between Paris and Bilbao?

Old May 4th, 2005, 11:11 AM
  #1  
rex
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What are the best bargains in lodging you know, between Paris and Bilbao?

And yes, "bargain" is one of those elusive words - - it doesn't have to mean the cheapest places... but the best VALUE for the cost... with a leaning towards lower priced places.

Features (elevator, A/C) and decor are not so important - - "setting" and location are more important, in my opinion, at least for this particular trip.

Not really looking for recommendations for Paris itself, as I think we will leave Paris immediately and head southwest. No three night stays, and mostly, perhaps not even two-nighters. Would particularly like any recommendations between the French border and Bilbao, including Bilbao itself - - even though sanity would say that I am not listening to my own eternal mantra ("see where you are more, move around less") - - and logically we should not go all the way to Spain at all.

And having solicited your advice, we may stay at some places that just look "so cool" to me, and to heck with the "value" (maybe Chateau de Mercues? maybe some place in Saumur?)

I'm sure I'll be posting more on my own finds - - I'm pretty excited, having just locked in this deal (with $298.50 round trip air fare, taxes included for one-stop May/June travel!) and I am still head-spinning about where we want to stay on this admittedly too-short whirlwind road trip.

Thanks in advance for all input.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old May 4th, 2005, 11:52 AM
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Rex:

Your question poses one of the greatest dilemmas known to modern man. However, in spite of that quandary, I will attempt to dissect your posting in an effort to provide as useful and as accurate information as I can.

First of all, are you driving from Paris or taking the TGV toward the Southwest of France and THEN driving? Assuming you are driving from Paris and are heading in a Southwesterly direction toward the Pays Basque, numerous options present themselves. One of my favorite places is CLAUDE MARCO, in the village of Lamagdaleine near Cahors. It is a lovely inn/restaurant with 1 Michelin Star. I was there in October of 2004 and like my previous visit, the food was wonderful and my room had just the right measure of plush. It is located among vineyards near the Lot River.

In the Gers departement, I also like the Hotel de France in Auch, a charming former coach house built around a 16th century core of buildings in the town center. Auch is a somewhat dowdy town, which nonetheless has captured my heart. Auch has a very lovely old cathedral, the Cathedrale Ste. Marie with lovely stained glasss and carved wooden sibyls. The detail of the woodwork is truly amazing. I was there this past October and as had some fabulous meals and spent 2 great nights in the Hotel de France.

Southwest of Auch, there are some lovely inns/gites/hotels in the Bearn and Pays Basque: too numerous in fact for me to mention.

Suffice it to say, dont cheat yourself and engage in your own version of the "Amazing Race" to get to Bilbao.. Just inhale the foie gras, sip the Sauternes and chase down the Cassoulet with some Cahors!..

Drop me a line if you need some additional info or insight..

Regards..
Luis
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Old May 4th, 2005, 12:30 PM
  #3  
rex
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Greatest dilemmas? quandary? how so? defining what constitutes "value"? and "bargain"? It's difficult because it lies in the eye of the beholder, admittedly...

But yours is the kind of response I might only dream about. Even before I take a look at the places you cite, it captures the essence - - these are - - I am assuming - - places that you believe to be "pricelss", as the MasterCard commercial says.

I'm eager to look.

I don't have a budget in mind, but in my first hour of looking, I am curious - - what is the price point where one is really gambling with "you get what you pay for"? Or maybe that is true at almost every point on the price spectrum. I have found a few places between Azay-le-Rideau and Saumur with demi-pension in the sub 40 euro range (one as low as 33 - - this is per person, of course). I have a feeling that I might turn up my nose at rates that low, if traveling cross country in the US. But maybe not.

So, now I will focus my attention on points further south.

You are wise, no doubt, to advise us to head for the Perigord and go no further.

I can't wait to see if any replies are of the same caliber as yours.

Many thanks.

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Old May 4th, 2005, 05:50 PM
  #4  
rex
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Well, so far, your recommendations aren't going to fit the (ill-defined) mold... Claude Marco has no vacancy (of the four rooms there) for the relevant dates... and the Hotel de France in Auch doesn't look like what I have in mind (too "in town").

But I must say, I have as bad a case of indecision paralysis (at that early stage in planning - - and I only have three weeks to work with!) as any newbie.

I still think we want to head southwest (and have pretty much abandoned the Bilbao idea; additionally, there are no cheap flights on the right dates to get us anywhere in Spain) - - but as we started to talk tonight, I have encouraged my wife to look at this as a (fairly) blank canvas. Neither of us have been to Dijon/Beaune or seen Bourgogne (and Champagne) to any real extent; or, as a completely different plan C, she has also never been to Belgium or Holland.

And I find myself still very ambivalent about whether to choose "really nice places" and pay what it takes (especially if they are "bargains") - - versus just go for what seem to be "good and cheap" options: chambres d'hotes, Logis or Gites de France listings or "Hostelleries" (I realize that these are not the same as "hostels").

So, any and all input, from any corner would still be most welcome.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:59 AM
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Rex:

Sorry to hear the Claude Marco is booked up; it would have been a treat for you and the wife. And yes...the Hotel de France is in the center of Auch, although truth be known, Auch is only a town of 25,000 or so with easily navigable streets either by car or food.

That notwithstanding, you say you may be interested in Burgundy? I have 2 palce in mind. Although they are about 125 miles apart. when you can drive on the A6, at 130 Kph (83 mph speed limit, it does seem far at all.

Choice 1 in Burgundy: La Lucarne Aux Chouettes ( The Owl's Nest) in the village of Villeneuve sur Yonne. This gem of a riverside inn is owned by Leslie Caron. It is a lovely place in a medieval bastide only 75 miles SE of Paris. The food is wonderful and it really is a gem of a village: very small and invites meandering along tiny streets. ( Be advised, it too, only has 4 rooms) E-mail is [email protected] Fax # 03 86 87 12 01

Choice # 2: Chateau de Bellecroix.

This former Commanderie of the Knights of Malta has sections built in the 12th century, but most of what is extant is 18th century. It is located in Chagny, about 10 miles south of Beaune via the A6/N74. It is located in the middle of the Cote d'Or vineyards. The place is set in a vineyard and is quiet yet introspective. Food is fabulous and the dining room is a joy also, done in Louis XV style with copies of Master's painting in the large dining room/reception area. E-mail is [email protected] Fax # 03 85 91 28 62.

You may want to opt for Burgundy as it is easily accessible from Paris, and I think that Burgundy is one of the finest regions of France to meander thru by car.

In any event, let me know if you have any luck with either of these places.

Luis
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Old May 5th, 2005, 04:01 AM
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Sorry ..I committed a faux pas in previous response... At 83 mph.. 125 miles between places DOESN'T seem like a long trip at all.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 10:49 AM
  #7  
rex
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Thanks again, Luis, I'll do some googling, and let you know if you are on the same mental wavelength as me and my wife (and I don't think we know what that is, just yet!) - - we could still take in Azay-le-Rideau, head through the Sologne (another place that sounds mouth-wateringly good to me) en route to Bourgogne, and finish in Champagne!

gne... gne... gne... like part of a bad Three Stooges movie soundtrack!

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Old May 5th, 2005, 02:50 PM
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Rex,

Have you looked at Gites de France?
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Old May 5th, 2005, 02:56 PM
  #9  
rex
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Yes, definitely (see my post above at 8:50 pm); in fact, kind of exhausting, there are so many. See also my post on antoher thread about Annecy.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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I would decide where to stop, and then look for a B&B in that area. That helps in limiting the options. I can recommend the B&B where we stayed near Angers, although I suspect that the banter with the host added to the atmosphere and that requires fluent French. Photos in my Loire Valley Album. Address and phone at the end of my Trip Report: Ghent, Normandy and Brittany.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:33 PM
  #11  
rex
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Well, I am fluent (enough) in French - - but making a decision "there" (and I'm not sure that this is what you mean) would not be my style.

I would rather comb through a hundred places on the internet and pick one, then make a heads or tails decision on the fly... "what do you think - - this place? or should we drive back to that one that we saw 5 miles back down the road?"

While I agree that we have to pick our general route as to what/where/why we want to visit this departement or that... to a certain extent, the lodging IS the destination for this trip (and the towns and villages that surround them) - - as opposed to going to see specific "sites" (castles, museums, or other "known" attractions).
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Old May 5th, 2005, 05:11 PM
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I meant decide where to stop ahead of time, before leaving home. Surely you have some idea of your itinerary and distance you want to cover between stops. But as a matter of fact, our B&B in Angers was a last minute choice, although I had made a list of possibilities before leaving home.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Rex:

Here are two excellent websites. I have stayed in many hotels recommended in Chateaux-Hotels and have never been disappointed.

http://www.chateaux-hotels.com/publi...303756e51395f3

http://www.specialplacestostay.com/home.html


As for personal experience, I stayed for three nights at Hotel Ithurria in Ainhoa in the Basque region. It was an excellent location to explore both sides of the border.

http://www.chateaux-hotels.com/publi...rents.php?id=6

Regards Ger
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Old May 5th, 2005, 09:53 PM
  #14  
rex
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Thanks, Ger... I don't know why, but this place doesn't look my "taste" at all. We are going to consider the Parador at Hondarribia or at Argomaniz - - see my other post on taking the overnight train back from Biarritz... thus, we are still not entirely off the plan to consider going "all the way to Spain".

But still schizophrenically flitting from one choice to another... the Leslie Caron Auberge DOES look like something I/we would like,. A little redfaced to admit, but... the "star power" effect does make a little bit of difference.

Our middle daughter absolutely LOVED Gigi at some point in her budding wanna-be-in-the-film-industry youth -> development -> career.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 05:59 AM
  #15  
rex
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topping... partially to accompany a new thread I have started... more on rhetorical questions associated with planning this trip.
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Old May 7th, 2005, 08:10 AM
  #16  
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Okay - - to Langraft (Luis) and Ger, as well as anyone else who might be following my still-somewhat-split-brained decision making... here are the leading four examples of what I am looking for...

I don't know if "seeing" them will evoke any nostalgic recollections of similar-looking places, but feel free to suggest or comment...

Arrive May 26 at CDG, drive straight to Azay le Rideau (about 3 hours), then spend the night "nearby" (62 km away) at Logis de France "Le Relais du Chateau" in Oiron (technically Poitou-Charentes, not Centre/Val de Loire) - -

http://www.logis-de-france.fr/uk/rec...oiron&x=20&y=8

Sat, May 28 - - Drive 217 km into the Perigord, staying at Logis de France "Des Voyageurs" in La Coquille - - http://www.hotelvoyageurs.fr
- - midway between Limoges and Perigueux (50 km away)

Sun, May 29 - - Drive 405 km to Hondarribia, staying at either Hotel Obispo - - http://www.hotelobispo.com (room 301) - - or Hotel Pampinot - - http://www.hotelpampinot.com/en_tarifas.htm - - both from recommendations on Maribelguides.com

Mon, May 30 - - Drive 97 km (via San Sebastian, spending much of the day there) to one of the casas rurales, "Garro" - - http://www.nekatur.net/catalogo.asp?idal=46#ficha

Tue, May 31 - - explore Bilbao and finish the day by driving 124 km bck to Biarritz (France) for an overnight train to Paris. Doing this to essentially "gain a day" in Spain - - and because I feel like I need to try it (I have always said that sleeping on a train would not be for me).

The point of this post is as much for the pictures as anything. I am putting a lot on trusting that the pictures are what they seem to be. Could be a risky strategy, but it feels like what I have in my head, as far as scratching some kind of ill-defined itch on this trip.
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Old May 7th, 2005, 08:11 AM
  #17  
rex
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Whoops - - error: arrive May 27, not May 26.

And not clear at the end: Depart from CDG at 2 pm on June 1.
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Old May 8th, 2005, 01:04 PM
  #18  
rex
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I guess if I want specific itinerary commentary, I should post anew, asking for others to look at it, in that context... still, I'll send this up the flagpole one more time.
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Old May 9th, 2005, 03:31 AM
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Rex:

Ok..i'll give you the Reader's Digest opinion of your itinerary. In short, too much traveling for a May 27-June 1 trip! Settle for the Loire Valley and do what Balzac suggested: "Eat a mushroom and take in the essential strangeness of the place"..

In any event, whatever you decide, have a great time..

L
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Old May 9th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Rex, I know you donīt want an itinerary critic, but ... it looks pretty hectic to me, specially the last part.
I donīt know why you have chosen that B&B, Garro, but it is kind of far away from Bilbao, not so easy to find, specially if you have spent most of the day in San Sebastian. Seriously, I would choose to a better located place, even if it is more expensive. The following day you are planning :
- going to Bilbao.
- visit the Guggenheim and a tiny bit of the town (you wonīt have time for much more, driving into town and finding a parking place will eat a lot of your time, then walk to the museum and maybe have lunch ... and leave amidst all those misconceptions of nightmarish place you will surely get ...) .
- drive back to Biarritz in order to get a night train, more than likely at the worst time of the day ...


Consider dropping altogether Bilbao from your agenda, and if you donīt want to drop the basque country ... get a TGV down to Bordeaux and pick up your car there.

Rgds, Cova

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