Please sign in to post.

Paris-Bayeux-Mount-Dol-Amboise itinerary: Too ambitious to add Dordogne?

We're making our first trip to France for two weeks late April-early May. We will rent a car when we leave Paris. Planning to be in Paris 4 nights, Bayeux 2 nights, Mont Dol 2 nights, Amboise 2 nights, then returning to Paris for departure. My question: we'd like to add 2 nights in Dordogne after Amboise, which would have us returning to Paris with 2 nights to spare.
I'd appreciate fellow travelers' thoughts about our itinerary and whether it's too ambitious. We haven't included Versailles in our Paris time, and wondered if we could visit on our way back there to drop the car. I don't want to make this a see-everything-now kind of trip, but every area looks so tempting!
Thought about doing this trip in reverse, but I kind of like the idea of ending this trip in the rural part of France. Although I guess coming back in to Paris won't exactly be tranquil. Advice welcome!

Posted by
4818 posts

For a first visit, I think your initial plan looks good, without the Dordogne.

A couple of thoughts. Giverny and the Monet Gardens are on the way to Bayeux. It might be lovely to stop there for a couple of hours en route.

I'd definitely give at least one more night to the Loire. And since Versailles is easily a full day, I'd do it as a day trip from Paris either before or after your driving trip. Depending on what company you rent the car from, you could drop it are the train station at St Pierre des Corps (Tours) and train back to Paris.

Posted by
27041 posts

I'd say the Dordogne is not a 2-night sort of place even if you could teleport yourselves there and back--whcih you cannot. The Dordogne is really lovely, but you have all those charming villages to see, plus some very attractive towns, markets in Sarlat, prehistoric caves, castles, canoeing on the river, etc.

Posted by
6868 posts

Hard pass on the Dordogne. It would take the best part of a day to drive there from the Loire, and a full day to drive back to Paris : really not worth it for two nights.
Parking in Versailles to visit the chateau on the way back from Amboise is smart, however! The drive is 2.5 hours, so it requires an early start (a bit more convenient if you base yourselves in Blois rather than Amboise maybe).

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for these helpful answers! Guess we'll just have to come back another time to visit the Dordogne...

Posted by
6485 posts

Good choice -- this plan is already rushed without adding the Dordogne.

Posted by
7 posts

Any thoughts on skipping our Amboise stay and going to Dordogne instead?

Posted by
6868 posts

That still only gives you 4 nights in Dordogne and you will have two full days on the road: still not ideal IMO.
Also, I find that the appeal of the Loire Valley is more "obvious" to first-timers than that of Dordogne, which is a beautiful region with beautiful villages but none of the famous landmarks that France is famous for (except perhaps for those interested in prehistoric remains).

Posted by
7 posts

We have considered going straight to Bayeux; however I'm concerned that we'll be too tired to drive after our long flight. As much as I want to add in Dordogne, we're going to go with the advice to have fewer stops. Live in the moment and not worry about what we might be missing. This will have to be my mantra, as each turn of the guide book's page and internet search only yields more temptation!!

We do have 3-4 nights at the end of the trip, but we'll plan to stay in a different neighborhood in Paris the second round. My ambitious spouse may take a side trip to Verdun, but I'm thinking of checking out many bakeries, gardens and other things he might be less interested in :)

Thanks for Loire comment, Balso. I'm interested in hearing more from others on the forum about this as well. I seem to have happened on several comments that implied "skip the castles" in the Loire and focus on Versailles. I think it will be cool to see one or two, but maybe not as many as are packed into the Loire? Especially if we are thinking about a day at Versailles? If we do skip the Loire, maybe we'd stretch out our Normandy/Brittany stops; then return to Paris via Chartres, Versailles, Giverny.
Feedback welcome!

Posted by
6485 posts

Some people must be able to drive safely for a long distance after an overnight flight, but I'm not one and I don't know any. It's easy to get from CDG to Bayeux by taxi to Gare St-Lazare and then a train (no reservation needed), if you decide to go straight there on arrival. But I like the idea of splitting your Paris time into two different neighborhoods, since there's a lot of variety in that wonderful city. We did that on one visit -- Montparnasse and the Bastille area, with a road trip to the Loire and Dordogne between. There are many choices.

One reason not to include the Dordogne on this trip is simply the added driving time. You already have a lot on your plate, I suggest making the most of it.

Posted by
7 posts

This is all such helpful info, thank you to all who have replied!
Now a new question has arisen. We are planning two nights in the Loire, and had thought we'd stay in Amboise; however I've since seen some recommendations for Azay-le-Rideau. We'd like to visit Villandry and Chenonceau and then return to Paris. I see that Villandry and Chenonceau are kind of opposite ends of the Loire. Any opinions as to which makes a better base--Amboise or Azay-le-Rideau?

Posted by
6868 posts

Villandry and Chenonceau are a mere 45 minute drive apart. Anywhere in the area will work as a base. I have never been to Azay le Rideau, but next to Villandry, Savonnières is very charming - would need to check if there are hotels there, though. Chenonceaux (the village has an X, the chateau does not) itself has an excellent hotel, Auberge du Bon Laboureur (high-end, but not too crazy expensive either). Otherwise, Amboise is often recommended and indeed very recommendable.

Posted by
4818 posts

As the previous posters gave noted, the distances between the chateaux is really insignificant (if you have a car). We simply organized our tours so that we visited those west of Amboise on one day and those around or east of Amboise on the other days we were there. We easily did both Azay le Rideau and Villandry on the same day.