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3 weeks France to Spain

We plan to travel almost three weeks in France from September 11 plus four days in Spain before joining a cruise out of Barcelona. We have previously been to Paris and plan to bypass or transit through Paris, going straight to Chartres for three nights to get over the jet-lag. Then by rental car through the Loire Valley, the Dordogne Region and perhaps a night at Carcassone before a four-night spell in Collioure just before we cross the border.

We have booked Chartres, Collioure and Spain (Montserrat and Barcelona), but haven't homed in on places to stay in the Loire or Dordogne. That leaves about twelve days from Chartres to Collioure. We aren't sure how many chateaux we'll be able to handle in the Loire, and we definitely want to visit Lasceaux, including the early line-up for a "real" cave. Our preference is to stay close to a town square with access to local bakeries, cafes and cultural sites, and spend four or five days to explore the area before moving on. We don't have to see everything, just to experience the place or the region to the extent time allows.

So I have two requests:
1. Recommended walkable towns to stay at in the Loire and Dordogne, and
2. Rental car wisdom (a drop-off location in Spain for a car rented in France seems to add about $600 or 700 dollars extra, if you can book it.)

Thanks much!

Posted by
1391 posts

After Collioure drop the car in Perpignan and take the TGV to Barcelona.
I found Lascaux (a copy) quite disappointing.

Posted by
16771 posts

What makes a town walkable for you? Is it modest size, or does the town need to be flat? With a car, you might prefer staying in rather small places so it doesn't take too long to get out of town when you set out on day-trips.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks; I will look into Perpignan/TGV. I understand that there is are several ancient caves in the valley close by the copy of the principal Lascaux cave, the best of which allows up to 78 (?) entries per day, but the line starts early--not sure how early on a weekday at the end of September.

As for the walkability question, just looking to amble around town and take in the local flavors, sights, and textures. Flat is not a requirement, but not looking to go mountain climbing either. A restful spot to start and end between day-tripping in the regions, which can otherwise fill out a full day.