Hi. Our family of 4 (kids ages 12 & 15) will be in France for a couple weeks this summer. I think I have the rest of the itinerary set, but I'm having trouble finalizing this part of the trip. We have an appointment for tour/tasting at a favorite winery in Bordeaux, so I was thinking we'd find lodging in the city for 3 nights and do other excursions from there. However, after reading about the Dordogne River canoe trips and cave paintings, I'd like to take some time to explore that area as well. Would you recommend staying along the river in a smaller village east of Bordeaux and making a day trip to the winery appointment? Or stay in the city and make the day trip up river? I'm leaning toward the former, but would appreciate input, as I've never been to the area. Thank you!!
Bordeaux has spiffed up a bit since the first time that Rick wrote, "Bordeaux must mean boredom in French." But lovely towns like Sarlat and surrounding smaller villages of the Dordogne will ALWAYS be our preference. One of my Francophile colleagues was in Bordeaux last fall and was still not especially impressed.
We stayed for 3 nights in La Rocque-Gageac (at La Belle Etoile) 3 years ago and enjoyed ourselves so much we are going back to that area this June. This time we will be staying in Les Eyzies and touring some of the caves (grottos) that we missed. Other good choices are Beynac is the next village along the river and that is a little bigger and Sarlat is a good sized town. I think the caves are a not-to- be-missed experience, but check times and try to get an English tour if you don't speak French. The canoe trip from Cenac down the river was one of the highlights of our entire trip. The current is so strong you barely have to paddle, and seeing the castles from the river is spectacular! You can beach at Castlenaud and climb to through the village to the top to explore the castle. There are some touristy shops along the way with fake swords and knight costumes, but the castle and the weapons are authentic. Enjoy!
We stayed in near the village of Beynac which we really liked. It's on the Dordogne river, not too far from Sarlat. We stayed at Le Petit Versailles which is a beautiful country house.
Putting a big plug in for the Dordogne area. We've stayed outside Sarlat on three occassions and love each village in the area. All the previous recommendations are spot on! This area is beautiful, lots to do and the FOOD!!!
I've stayed in Bordeaux several times and also along the Dordogne last year, in Beynac. I would definitely choose the Dordogne, UNLESS you feel that your children would be bored in the countryside.
I think most children would love canoeing on the Dordogne and seeing the cave paintings.
I have never stayed in the Dordogne, but recently spent a week in Bordeaux. I like it, since it is a beautiful city with some wonderful architecture, and is right on a river. the only drawback was the mosquitoes. We were in an apartment,, with no AC, and so we would have liked to open up the windows a lot. But when we did so, lots of mosquitoes came in. That was the only drawback. I agree with others that a lot depends on what your kids like to do. If they want to get out in the country and do canoe, etc. trips, then I would recommend Dordogne. but if they happen to prefer big cities, with museums, architecture, lots of different restaurants, etc., then Bordeaux would make sense. Peter
It is a 2.5 hour drive from Bordeaux to Sarlat. Regardless of your home base preference, that's 5 hours driving point to point on a day trip, particularly one focused on wine.
So I would either look at the rest of the itinerary for efficiencies (where are you coming from, where are you going after) or develop a quick love of Cahors and Bergerac wines.
Dordogne for sure! We go there almost every year and stay at B&B Le Lys de Castelnaud in Vézac, a stone's throw from Beynac and short drive from Sarlat. Lots of nearby villages, and the caves, prehistoric ruins, the canoeing, the hot air balloons are appealing choices for all ages. Don't miss the market in Sarlat.