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provence vs dordogne

Provence has always been on our bucket list, but recently we've watched a Netflix series that featured the Dordogne region of France that is just breathtaking. Looking ahead to a milestone anniversary in 2021, we are wondering what type of trip we could cobble together that might include both those areas, whether Paris should feature prominently, other areas not to miss, and anything else savvy travelers might want to share. We did a fly/drive trip to Tuscany a couple of years ago that, while basic, was such a wonderful trip for our first overseas adventure, and was everything we hoped it would be. We liked the independence of that type of trip, and wondered if that might be a good fit for these regions of France? Would so appreciate any comments and/or advice as we begin our research. Thank you!
Lynn Brewer

Posted by
221 posts

I'll be traveling to the Dordogne in the fall--I'd love to know the name of that Netflix series! Thanks.

Hi Lynn,

I prefer the Dordogne to Provence, but that's just me.

I am curious, though, what the name of the Netflix series is that you've watched.

If you like the Dordogne, or other parts of France profond, check out Martin Walker's Bruno book series about a foodie police chief in a small town in the Dordogne.

Posted by
7 posts

The Netflix series is called "The Great Escapers" and follows ex-pats from the UK as they move to France and Spain to begin a new lives as entrepreneurs. Some set up B&B's, wineries, etc. It is fascinating and the scenery is gorgeous!

Posted by
24 posts

Can you tell us how much time you will have in France?
Also, can you tell us whether you have been to France before and specifically to Paris?

As a general rule, I would not plan a trip based on an inspiration from a television program. Things do not always look the same in real life.

Dordogne and Provence are two of the best places in France, IMO.

Provence is somewhat spread out and it takes a bit of time to go between the different villages. It is well known for art, beautiful towns, Roman ruins, outdoor markets, and proximity to the coast.
We enjoyed the Dordogne very much. We took a canoe trip down the river, stopping to visit the castles and small towns on the way. This takes all day and is very worthwhile. The area is also in close proximity to the cave art locations. Also, the area is famous for foie gras and truffles.

Provence is a bit more artsy, somewhat less formal, and more spread out.

Both are very good, but if you have not been to France I would certainly recommend Paris and the vicinity.
I suggest looking at the RS France, but do not recommend the whirlwind tour at the beginning of the book that covers all of France. I needs to be lengthened by at least two weeks to be practical, IMO.

Have a good trip.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks, Matt! I will definitely check out the Bruno series. We are foodies, so sounds like a good fit!

Posted by
7 posts

We are very early in our planning, but would imagine no more than about 8 days. We've never been to France, and will need to keep to a budget. It would be crazy, but we could do Paris in a day if needed (We followed RS's "Florence in one brutal day" itinerary, and , while truly brutal, was amazing). Guessing the first step would be taking a close look at those two regions and the distance between them. We loved having the freedom of a car in Tuscany, and enjoy getting off the beaten path. Budget-wise, I assume flying into Paris and renting a car would be the best idea? I know the entire country is worth seeing, but are limited in our time, so have to narrow down to the regions that seem most appealing. We are foodies, wine lovers, love beautiful scenery, architecture, rural winding roads, farmer's markets etc. Also, fairly flexible with time of year - thinking spring or fall? We live in Western North Carolina, which has beautiful fall weather, so maybe spring would be better.

Thanks for the responses so far!

Posted by
335 posts

We did the Dordogne last summer and are Provence next week. The Dordogne was awesome and will be hard to beat. We are basing ourselves in Vaison la Romaine and Nîmes. We spent a week next to La Roque-Gageac last summer and it was perfect. We even did a hot air ballon ride.

Posted by
5697 posts

Regarding auto rental -- we have on various trips taken the TGV from Paris to Avignon and rented a car for Provence and also in Dordogne returned a car to Bordeaux with a 2- hour TGV to Paris. No need to drive the long distances from Paris to your selected area.

Posted by
5617 posts

Way back in June 2001, back when we were doing the “seeing more places but with fewer days in each place” travel style, we started in Avignon, in a house for a week. With a rental car, Avignon served as a great base for seeing that city of course (stay in the old walled city center), but also for day trips to Arles and Luberon villages and other Provence towns. We then headed to the Dordogne region, which included a self-guided canoe trip down the river. We didn’t fit Paris into that trip, as we actually skirted over into Northern Italy for our last leg, and departed from Venice, and had visited Paris just 2 years earlier.

If you stay in the Dordogne, stay at Le Petit Versailles, a wonderful B&B in Beynac-et-Cazenac. The last I knew, the Fleurys were still running their place with its magical setting.

Posted by
21037 posts

Check actual day-by-day historical weather data for places you are considering on timeanddate.com or wunderground.com. Go back at least 3 years; 5 would be better. It's rather expensive to take a short trip to rural France, and going to the Dordogne, at least, will add some transportation time. It would be a shame to have serious rain on a lot of days in the spring, which I suspect is possible in the Dordogne--but I haven't checked those stats. I'm in that part of France now, and I am having to keep a sharp eye on the weather forecast. It rained the entire day I was in Sarlat, and I'm not talking about a light sprinkle. That may have been an unlucky day.

I would not attempt a short trip to the Dordogne without a car. Bus/train service is spotty, even non-existent to some beautiful places you'll want to see. With a generous amount of time a car-less person can make it work but will still miss some places unless there is money for village-to-village taxis. Even where there is public transportation, there may be some long walks from the train station or bus station to the actual town. There's one company offering a few bus tours out of Sarlat. I'm not sure how frequent they are in April. There seemed to be more such options in Provence, but I was in that area in late May 2017 and don't know what is running in April.

I suspect April tends to be drier in Provence, but there's potential for the mistral to kick up. I do prefer spring to autumn myself, because of the longer days.

Don't forget to check on holidays during your proposed travel period. (Maybe Easter Monday?) The less commercial sightseeing attractions (and government-run museums) may well be closed then. The shorter the trip, the harder it is to work around holidays. There's a Resistance Museum here in Brive I'd really like to see. It has an English audio guide! But it was closed yesterday for remembrance activities (not mentioned on the website, I don't think), it's closed today because it's Sunday, and it's closed tomorrow for the Whit Monday holiday. I'll have to make an awkward trip back here to see it, which is only possible because I'm on a long trip with a flexible schedule and haven't booked a hotel room for the night I was planning to move north to Limoges.

Posted by
847 posts

I did a trip a few years ago that included both. Flew to Paris, train to Dordogne where we rented a car and after the Dordogne we drove to Provence. I definitely think this is one area (two actually) where a car is really necessary. If you have a total of only 8 days that would really be pushing it to include both. I'd either extend the trip by a few days or do Paris and the Dordogne or Provence.

Here's my trip report - https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/photo-safari-to-the-south-of-france-the-italian-rivera-and-the-swiss-alps-990300/

The photos are now at: https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f667172952

Posted by
4125 posts

Both a great, but I would rate the Dordogne and adjacent regions as greatest if you have the time.

If your plan is to visit Paris for a few of your 8 days and you do not mind a fast-paced trip then take the TGV to Provence for the balance of your time and fly home from Marseilles.

To focus on the SW skip Paris and fly into Toulouse or Bordeaux. You will want a car for your entire trip once you are de jet lagged.

In addition to the Dordogne there are charming sights, and an awesome cave, on the Lot to the south, and even further south are Albi and many small hill towns.

Posted by
7 posts

Wow - talk about whetting my appetite - sad that our trip is so far away! Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Isabel, I loved skimming your trip report and looking forward to a good read through soon! Making lists of all the great suggestions and enjoying watching it come together. Thank you all again.