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10 days in France with kids - Fly into Toulouse, Dordogne, train to Paris - planning help

Our family of 4 (10 & 8 year old kids) are travelling to France for 10 nights for the first time late August. We have determined that we want to split our time between the Dordogne region and Paris. Our current plan is to:

-Fly into Toulouse: flights arrive early in the morning. *Not booked yet

-Rent a car and spend 4-5 days in Dordogne. We are renting a house with a pool outside in a centrally located town.

-Drop rental car at Brive and take a train into Paris

-4-5 nights in Paris. Looking for a rental vs hotel here as well.

-Fly back to US from Paris

My questions:

-Is Toulouse the best airport for flying into if Dordogne is our ultimate destination? Flights into Toulouse are the same price as flying into Paris.

-Should we spend a night in Toulouse and pick up a car rental the next day? Or pick up a car rental at Toulouse airport day of arrival and either drive to Albi for one night or head straight to Dordogne?

-How would you split your time? 5 nights in Dordogne, 4 nights in Paris or vice versa? If we don't do an overnight in Toulouse or Albi it's an even 5/5 split unless there is another location along this route that shouldn't be missed even if it's only for one night.

My husband and I have done the whirlwind European tour moving around every 2-3 days and have no interest in doing that with 2 kids. We are assuming we will get back to catch the rest another day.

I love reading this forum! Thanks for all your travel tips!

Posted by
1404 posts

Bordeaux is also a good airport for arrival when the first real stop is the Dordogne.

I would not drive immediately after arriving from an international flight. The fatigue can be great and rural roads can be twisty. Look into train and bus options to get to Sarlat. Rent a car in Sarlat when you are fresh the next day.

Dropping the car off in Brive and taking the train to Paris is a good plan.

A 5/4 or 4/5 split between the Dordogne and Paris sounds good to me!

Posted by
2916 posts

Either flying into Toulouse or Bordeaux is good; the driving distance is similar, depending on your destination in the Dordogne. If you fly into Toulouse, I'd recommend staying in Toulouse the first night and renting a car in the morning, or getting a car at the airport and driving to Albi for the night (it's only about 1 hour). If you fly into Bordeaux, I'd recommend spending the first night in Bordeaux and picking up a car at the train station in the morning (it's easy to get on the road and to the Dordogne from there).

Posted by
20840 posts

Toulouse's historic center is full of pink brick and beautiful. It's walkable from the main train station (for me). I haven't been to Paris recently at all, but going from memory, Toulouse has a distinctly different look. I would definitely recommend spending your first night there. The city has multiple worthwhile sights, but I'd prioritize walking around outside, trying to beat off the jetlag. I found the streets very lively during my 2017 visit; there seems to be a large student population.

Albi's a lot smaller but also attractive. The cathedral and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum are both worthwhile. I was surprised at how quiet it was; I think I hit town during the afternoon siesta.

Bordeaux is a handsome city with a more Parisian look (to me). A disadvantage is that the oldest sections are quite some distance from the main train station.

Edited to add: Brive-la-Gaillarde is one of several attractive towns I stayed in last year during my attempt to see the Dordogne and Lot without a car. It's worth allowing some time to walk around the historic center if you can. I can't much recommend the small Resistance museum unless you have fluent French. The amount of English there is somewhat limited, though there's an audio guide that covers one floor, I believe.

Weather warning: Toulouse, Albi and Bordeaux could all be quite hot in August.

Posted by
125 posts

acraven posts (accurately) that the southwest of France can be hot in August. But Paris can also be hot in August. If that will be a problem, then try to book a hotel (or rent an apartment) that has AC, which is a bit hard to find in France. Your stay in the Dordogne should be okay, as you will have a house with a pool. As for splitting your time between Dordogne and Paris, that is hard to say. It depends a lot on whether you prefer to see beautiful scenery and castles, or focus more on museums and Paris architecture. Everyone has a different preference. Peter

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all for the very helpful suggestions!

Based on your feedback, we will stay a night in Toulouse instead of rushing to get a rental car and drive after our flight.

We are coming from VT and will take hot weather whenever we can get it. : )

Posted by
4125 posts

My 2¢ about something you did not ask about:

1 night Toulouse (a charming city), 6 nights Dordogne (= 5 days, you will not be sorry), remainder Paris.

Why shortchange Paris? Which this does.

Here's why. You will return to Paris. You may not return to the Dordogne. It is hard to get to. But it is an exceptional wonderful place.

So enjoy a full 5 days there while you can.