Which region in France besides Dordogne

Old May 6th, 2024, 05:20 AM
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Which region in France besides Dordogne

I'd had my heart set on a few weeks in Dordogne in September or October in a rental house with friends. Looking for a relaxing not super-charged vacation - a bit of hiking, canoeing, walking, and not-too-distance sights to visit. We are planning to go carless, but it seems to be quite difficult just to get to the Dordogne without a car from CDG. So, can you recommend a region, and some villages within that region, where we could get to without too much difficulty and from which we could enjoy a few excursions? I'm thinking of a home base that's in or walking distance to a village with cafes, restaurants, maybe a few shops, and where we could use local buses, maybe a taxi for a night out, and hiring a car and driver for day excursions.

I've been to the Cote D'Azur and Provence twice each so am looking for a region that's new to me and not too difficult to get to. And it goes without saying, lots of charm.


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Old May 6th, 2024, 06:12 AM
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Any of the villages along the lower Loire satisfy most of that. I'd start with a map of the train system of France. CDG trains tend to go into Paris (though not all, by any means) then you get to cross Paris and continue, this is pretty normal in traditional European train systems.

Have a look at Chinon or Saumur for example but, really start with train maps. For the detail this is the best https://www.sncf-reseau.com/fr/cartes but for planning this is about the best https://about-france.com/france-rail-map-hi-res.htm

I still have a soft spot for Cahors, BTW
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Old May 6th, 2024, 07:52 AM
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You might want to run some of this information through Google Translate:

Tourisme durable : visiter le Périgord sans voiture, c'est possible ! - Geo.fr
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Old May 6th, 2024, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by kerouac
You might want to run some of this information through Google Translate:

Tourisme durable : visiter le Périgord sans voiture, c'est possible ! - Geo.fr
The article assumes a bicycle holiday. It mentions 3 plus beaux villages that are accessible, but not the means of transportation, and at least one--Saint-Jean de Cole-- is so far from the Dordogne that staying in the Périgord noir makes a visit impossible. Even Belvès would be difficult for all but the more serious bicyclists.


The fact of the matter is that in the hamlet where we had our house, those without cars were limited to visiting the next town and were amazed that we regularly went to Périgueux (40 km. down the road) on market day. But Brantôme would be a possibility as a base. Itis of some interest and has canoeing down the river to Bourdeilles.


Saint-Jean de Cole is in the area.

I would suggest that a base in the Pyrenees would make more sense. It always had the infrastructure to access the higher elevations because it was oriented toward winter sports and summer hiking. Or a town such as at the base of the train jaune in the Pyrénées orientales.

https://letrainjaune.fr/



The other possibility is Chamonix which has a local train going up and down the valley. I believe that it is free.


Last edited by Michael; May 6th, 2024 at 08:31 AM.
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Old May 6th, 2024, 08:45 AM
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First, Sarlat is not that difficult to get to from Paris by train. It's not instant, like coffee, but there are options for a six hour trip. Seems to be worth it for a multi-week vacation.

Aside from Provence, Auvergne is my favorite region of France. However, most of my travel is by car, so I am not sure which place in the region is good for a multi-week carless base.


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Old May 6th, 2024, 08:50 AM
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Although Chamonix is a possibility, the Savoie is my least favorite part of France. Lack of traditional villages and very little history. Though lots of cable cars.
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Old May 6th, 2024, 10:50 AM
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But once in Sarlat how good are the public transportation options to the various plus beaux villages? Or to the canoeing rentals?

Strasbourg is a possibility. It is a hub from which one can easily get to Colmar by train, probably to the wine villages between Strasbourg and Colmar, and to the pottery villages north of Strasbourg. I suspect that the connection between the north and southern part of Alsace is less frequent than from Strasbourg to either area.




https://flic.kr/s/aHsjpbkZnu

Last edited by Michael; May 6th, 2024 at 10:52 AM.
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Old May 6th, 2024, 11:06 AM
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Excellent advice. I now realize that i had't thought this through carefully. I will probably be carless and i don't think i want to travel more than three hours to wherever we're staying. And I will look at the train school but o have ideas regarding therse new time constraints? Thanks again. Cahors looks great but a little far i think
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Old May 6th, 2024, 02:11 PM
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Welcome, andibrown9172! Check out Montpellier; there is a TGV from Paris, nice student vibe, pedestrian center, and an easy tram to train.

Please share where you end up.
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Old May 7th, 2024, 10:06 AM
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no, it is never a good idea to want a rural vacation without a car.

i travel a lot without a car in France, in fact, it is very freeing and I enjoy taking small local trains for day trips and being with locals. But you are also making it a bit more difficult by saying it can only be within 3 hrs of CDG, is that right?

For example, I have spent time in the Dordogne, but of course, more in a city wiht a train station, so not quite the same experience (Brive-la-Gaillarde), but I did take trains for day trips I started in Toulouse, which I love. Anyway, you say that is out as it it too far from CDG.

I've also spent time in Nancy to the east and Basel, Strasbourg is in-between. I really like Nancy. Those would be within 3 hrs, I'm sure, as well as some of the Alsace towns. That sounds like that might be your ticket for what you want. You can take the bus to some of the smaller places, also, that aren't on the train line. Nancy is a city, no small village.

I think your use of the term village is the problem. If you truly mean a village, you won't have good public transportation and wont' have lots of shops, restaurants, etc. Some villages have nothing but maybe one limited convenience store and non-glamorous tabac or cafe, meaning a place with a few tables.


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Old May 7th, 2024, 11:33 AM
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wwl, this is really helpful. If I raised the travel time from CDG to four hours instead of three, does that make a big difference?

At the moment I'm leaning towards Montpellier or Toulouse. and what term should I be using instead of village? Petite village? Because yes, i'm picturing a small town with shops, cafes, etc. But not a city.

So, have i hit on something now where you might be even more helpful? Can you think of any "village" close to either Montpelier or Toulouse and with some transportation. akso, how easy is it to hire a local car and driver for an afternoon and/or a taxi to take one to a restaurant? A lot of people mentioned biking and maybe a couple of us would do that, as well as hiking and canoeing if that's available. We're fairly active but don't want to run ourselves ragged seeing every possible sight. On my dealbreaker list is a cafe we can walk to for morning coffee and croissants.

Any more ideas?
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Old May 7th, 2024, 11:53 AM
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The minute you choose a small town away from the hub you add a considerable amount of time to your sightseeing. For example, if you found an acceptable location not far from Toulouse, to visit sights like Montauban, Moissac or Albi would require a connection in Toulouse. You are then dependent on two schedules instead of just one,




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Old May 7th, 2024, 12:42 PM
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Have you checked train times? CDG to either Montpellier or Toulouse is a much longer ride than you said you were willing to face, and then you’d still be a further ride away from your smaller place. So I won’t bother waxing poetic about Albi or Foix or Pézenas or Castelnaudry which might tick your other boxes. You might as well stick to the Dordogne plan.

Or have a serious look at the suggestions made for the Loire or Alsace.

Mayyyybe somewhere on the Rhone, north or south of Lyon. Tournon/Tain have good train connections, including a cute steam train into the Ardèche hills (check how late in the season it runs), some hiking, some biking, and good restaurants.

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Old May 7th, 2024, 12:58 PM
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We based ourselves in Bordeaux for a month and it was easy without a car. Public transport excellent.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 06:04 AM
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Hi,
Have a look at Sarlat, at the heart of the black Perigord (Perigord noir in French).
Not so difficult to reach from Paris. Once at the CDG airport, you need to go to Paris-Montparnasse station.
The journey by train from Paris-Montparnasse to Sarlat lasts 5 hours (change at Bordeaux).
Have a great trip !
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Old May 8th, 2024, 06:25 AM
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I love doing rural France by car.

The only country that fits the idyllic image of rural and natural areas easily accessed by public transportation, in my experience, is Switzerland. Just about anywhere else, if you want to visit the countryside, it is very challenging to do it solely by public transportation.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 06:47 AM
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we based ourselves near sarlat and rented an amazing petit chateau with pool and turret! car is needed. we ran out of time with all we wanted to do in a week. used stu dudley's information. from here we drove 6 hours for anohter week in the luberon valley in provence. loved the dordogne.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 06:58 AM
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Tour to discover the Dordogne

Originally Posted by PJ94
Hi,
Have a look at Sarlat, at the heart of the black Perigord (Perigord noir in French).
Not so difficult to reach from Paris. Once at the CDG airport, you need to go to Paris-Montparnasse station.
The journey by train from Paris-Montparnasse to Sarlat lasts 5 hours (change at Bordeaux).
Have a great trip !
At Sarlat, you can easily book a tour to visit the landscapes around.
For instance, on the www.musement.com/us website, look at these tours :
Villages of the Dordogne half day shared tour
Daily shared tour of the paleolithic art of Dordogne
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