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Provence and Dordogne?

We love the little villages of Burgundy (Auxerre, Noyer, Semur en-Auxois, Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, La Rochepot, Montreal, Vezelay ) and we would love to see similar villages in other areas of France. I was thinking of Provence and Dordogne. Would these areas be what I'm looking for or do you recommend others?

Posted by
784 posts

My vote is for the Dordogne. The villages are small and quaint, and the area is much more compact than Provence. A car is needed, however, and I think a week will do the area justice, giving you time for leisurely exploration. Sarlat is a bigger town with a wonderful market. We had a vacation rental about 10 km from Sarlat, which was a good home base for us.

Posted by
7025 posts

You don't mention how long you're planning on being there. If two weeks, then one in Dordogne and one in Provence would work for you. If more than 2 weeks, then even better. Both areas have many wonderful little villages for you to visit. I've not been to the Dordogne area but I have to say I loved the little villages in Provence, better than the bigger towns.

I also loved the smaller villages in Brittany that I visited. In fact, almost any area of France is going to have a great selection and variety of small villages that you might like - Normandy, Alsace, etc. You can't go wrong in any of the regions of France.

I'm also assuming that you would be driving as that's the best way to get to the little villages all over France.

Posted by
9 posts

We've spent a week each in Burgundy, Provence and the Dordogne. The Dordogne is more like the small villages in Burgundy but with a couple of river valleys with cliffs. We spent a day on the Dordogne river in a canoe and another in the Vezere valley. Lots of easy driving. We do about 100 km a day from our base. We had a great visit to the troglodyte medieval village of La Madeleine.

Posted by
1914 posts

I'm just thinking about our next trip slated for 2017 the 3rd week in May into June- about 2 1/2 weeks with our daughter, then she will fly home and we'll have another week or so by ourselves.

I was thinking of flying to Nice (1 night arriving late)- rent a car and drive into Provence. I liked the idea of staying in the Luberon area. Provence sounds so quaint and all...but I fear it is crowded with tourists..but not sure, so staying out more remote sounds appealing. Then do day trips from there. Plan to stay 4 nights.

I'm discovering how far it is to get to the Dordogne! Seems to make sense to stop for 2 nights in Carcassonne and then onto Beynac for another 4 nights. From there I thought we'd drive to a train and drop our car (St Pierre de corps?) and train into Paris for another 4 nights. From here we may fly with daughter to Prague (3 nights)- then send her home and us off to Scotland for a week. Or skip Prague and add Brittany /Normandy?? ( I do like to mix up countries a bit to experience more diversity)

Like I said, we love the small villages and have been so lucky find ourselves almost alone in many villages. We also loved the Loire Valley villages.

Will these villages have that same charm? Will they likely be crammed with tourists? Is there a better way to get to Dordogne? Or better way to get out? It seems so difficult to reach.

I appreciate learning from those that have been there and can share their experiences.

Thanks!

Posted by
703 posts

we spent about 5 days in Saint Remy in may/june and loved it. we had a car so could travel out to nearby places each day. just perfect for us. we never felt over crowded with tourists at any of the places we visited. there was plenty to see and luckily our hosts at the b &b gave us great information on what to see and do. it was our ' a good year'
hope this helps.

Posted by
7025 posts

Any small village or town in France that may be a tourist magnet during the mid-day will most likely be lovely in the mornings and late afternoons and evenings. I stayed in Roussillon which is quite small for 5 nights and traveled around to the other towns and villages during the day. I loved coming back in the evening and walking to the main square, having a gelato (glace), and people watching. Also loved taking photos early and late when few people were around and the sun angle made the colors of the buildings pop.

Here's a good website for checking out the villages of the Luberon region: http://www.theluberon.com/

EDIT: The picture on the website when you click on Roussillon is a classic. I took pretty much the exact same photo when I was there.

Posted by
1914 posts

Thank you! Your feedback is helpful!

Is there an easier way to get into the Dordogne than just driving from Provence?

It is discouraging that it is so far and it makes me wonder if our time will be better spent heading a different direction? We have done Loire Valley, more upper Burgundy and Alsace. We have not done Normandy, Brittany or Dordogne or Provence, but they are all of my must do list! But, if we do Provence, it seems like this is our chance to get to the Dordogne.

I just need more time and money!

Posted by
7025 posts

Unfortunately there is no easier way to get from Provence to Dordogne than driving. It would be a long days drive, 7-9 hours (depending on where in Provence to where in Dordogne) so you might consider a one-night stay somewhere half-way between them. Air and train connections are more complicated and take longer as far as I could see. Someone else might have a good alternative for you. You'll need a car for both so driving is most likely the best option. 5-6 days is enough to get a good taste of the different areas within Provence and to visit a good many small towns and villages and experience the wonderful markets etc.. And I would think the same for Dordogne region although I've not been there. So maybe even a 2-night stopover between them and you'd still be in a 2-week time period. Carcassonne, Toulouse, Albi are all good stops approximately half way between them.

Posted by
1914 posts

Favorite less crowded villages in either Provence or Dordogne?

Can I ask where you stayed Nancy?

Posted by
7025 posts

I stayed in Roussillon at Hotel Reves d'Ocres (http://www.hotel-revesdocres.com/home.php). I actually found it on booking.com but found out later that it is (or was at the time) recommended in the RS book. I loved it there - nice friendly owners, simple but very good breakfast, free parking across the street. I don't remember if it had AC but I was there in July and didn't seem to need it. My room had a patio overlooking the valley below. Price was very very reasonable. I highly recommend it.

From my home base there I was able to visit: Isle sur la Sorgue, Vaison la Romaine, Gordes, Bonnieux, Joucas, Pont du Gard, Gigondas, gosh so many wonderful places.

Posted by
6486 posts

We spent five nights in the Dordogne, at Le Petit Versailles in Beynac, one of the many charming villages you'll like. It's a long drive from Provence but I agree with Nancy, there's no more practical or efficient way to get there, especially when you already have the car. If you want to break the long drive, Carcassonne is a good choice. Albi, a little out of the way, is another.

Posted by
189 posts

We stayed in the area near Sarlat for a month back in 2001. Last year we spent two weeks in Italy, drove to Nice spent the afternoon and night enjoying Nice then drove back to the same gite we rented in 2001 spending two weeks there before going on to Normandy and Paris. We spent two weeks in Provence a few years ago and liked it but we love the Dordogne area.

Posted by
418 posts

Arles-Sarlat is perfectly do-able by train. In fact I'm planning this myself for a Sunday in mid-June: dep. Arles 8.50 arr. Sarlat 16.46 (change trains at Agen and again at Le Buisson). Far more restful than driving and lovely scenic route.

Posted by
1914 posts

Thank you for your responses, it is helpful.

What is the best way to "get out" of the Dordogne? Drop the car and train from Tours to Paris?