Planning a trip to the Dordogne area in France next April and May. We are looking for a good home base in the area as we use our rental car to tour......I have heard great things about Beynac and Sarlat........but are these 2 towns too close to use both as bases? We love to explore the markets and towns in the area and need to know where we should stay over our 5 day stay there.....thank you!
We spent five nights here in Beynac and liked it very much, with a car. We went to Sarlat twice. It would be a good base too, with more dining choices, but takes a little longer to drive in and out of. Sarlat and Beynac are pretty close together. If you're looking for two different bases you might look farther away for one of them, but with five days I'd say stick to one base.
We also stayed at Le Petit Versailles in Beynac-et-Cazenac, run by Jean Claude and Francois Fleury, many years ago. What a wonderful place, with fantastic views from the room, but if you’re driving, take care entering or exiting the steep driveway. We visited Sarlat from there one day, and were surprised to run into Monsieur Fleury on the street, doing some of his shopping. So the two towns are close enough for a Beynac B&B-owning local to use Sarlat for buying supplies.
A couple years later, we were in the area, and stayed in Beynac again, without having made reservations. The Fleury’s place isn’t huge and was fully booked, so we had to use another place in town, which was OK, but book ahead and get one of the Petit Versailles rooms, and base there since you’re planning ahead.
Sarlat on market day (Saturday?) is fabulous! Great place to pick up stuff (cheese, olives, bread) for lunch. It might be a tricky day to get into the town. Otherwise it’s a nice size with good restaurants and easy access to places nearby.
They are only less than 20 minutes apart. Beynac is adorable. We were there last summer. Spent a week in the Dordogne.
We are just back from a month in Dordogne. We were in a gite in Simon just outside of Cenac. We like Sarlat and went there frequently but would not want to stay there for an extended period. We prefer something in the country rather than a large town like Sarlat. You will be taking day trips all over so just pick a place central to the sights you want to see. I'd pick a place in the vicinity of Beynac and Sarlat and just south of the river.
Be sure and do the Sunday morning market in St Cyprien and get a rotisserie chicken and veggies from Erik. Pick up pastries and strawberries for desert. Our regular Sunday lunch at the gite.
We spent a week at a house in Beynac a few years ago and loved it. It made a great base. Sarlat is terrific, but the advantage of Beynac was the ease of driving in and out. Instead we just visited Sarlat a couple of times.
We like to stay in small towns and have stayed in rentals in Limeuil and in Cadouin. We used this guy once 15 years ago and once with friends a couple of years ago. While they are focusing on places for couples, the one in Cadouin had two master suites and so was a perfect couples share.
We'd planned on staying in Sarlat for four nights in October, but the comments here make Beynac seem perhaps easier to navigate. Is it better enough to try to change our reservation?
My husband and I chose to use Sarlat as home base in the Dordogne area because it's a bigger town with more to do and more choices of restaurants and stores, and because of its location. We rented a beautiful apartment in Maison Pierre d'Or. The location was perfect for us: five minute walk into the center of town, easy to come and go by car because we were not in the congested part of Sarlat, and along with the usual kitchen, bedroom, living room, sunroom and deck, there were laundry facilities. The owners were available to answer questions but didn't "hover" or intrude. You can rent directly from them or through the usual Air B&B, etc. Feel free to write if you have specific questions.
Anita, we decided on Sarlat for the same reasons, and have a reservation for us and another couple at Hotel Plaza Madeleine, which has parking. I don't know if getting in and out would involve traffic; the hotel says it's at the north main entrance to the medieval city, but I have no idea what that means! The other comments seemed to put a high premium on the ease of getting into and out of Beynac.
Let's not overthink this question re traffic and access. Sarlat is a town of about 9,000 people, Beynac has about 500. Sarlat has more traffic but it's nothing compared to big cities we all know. The tradeoffs are more dining and accommodation choices, a bigger medieval center, and big twice-weekly markets. Beynac is tiny, with a few restaurants and hotels (besides Le Petit Versailles), good views of the river. If you're planning to spend lots of time driving around between towns, castles, and caves, then Beynac might save you some road time. If you already have reservations in Sarlat, don't change them just because of this thread. BTW, the Madeleine is very well located in Sarlat, at the edge of the pedestrian center, close to the market, would be a good choice.
For people who are trying to figure out where to stay, the issue involving traffic and ease of parking is that most of these towns are not accessible by public transit which means many folks arrive by car. These are very old towns with mostly narrow streets. Some of the towns, such as Sarlat, now have additional parking areas within easy walking distance of the towns. During high tourist season or on market days when some streets are closed to traffic, there can be some traffic congestion.
Another thumbs-up for the charming Maison Pierre d'Or in Sarlat. Walked into the old town several times, including market day. Supermarket for groceries a 5-minute drive away. Hosts eager to share tips on close-by towns.
Thanks, Dick--I probably am overthinking this! We will be driving around to explore the area, but having a bigger place to wander for dinner and in the evening is definitely a plus. We'll leave our reservation as is, and I appreciate the info about the location of the hotel.
I echo what previous posters (especially Dick) have said. We have visited the Dordogne three times, and stayed in Sarlat for two of those trips. We like to have wine with dinner (without having to worry about a designated driver), and to have a good selection of restaurants that we can walk to, and Sarlat provides that. We stayed at the very lovely La Lanterne (a B&B) on our last trip, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The parking was a 5-minutes walk away, in town public lot. It was easy to in and out of town from there.
For the OP, I would say that yes, Beynac and Sarlat are close enough together that you don't need to use both of them as bases.
I stayed near Beynac. It's central and a nice place. I visited Sarlat but didn't stay.
Consider Domme, it's also a town worth visiting and I think would have more eating options, especially in April/May.
driving in the Dordogne in season you just get used to being in a line of slow moving cars on clogged narrow roads. We like to head for out of the way spots, but places like Montignac, Sarlat, Domme etc are crowded for a reason. Here is an example of what you might encounter in a tiny untouristed town: