Multi-city France trip

I am trying to plan a France trip(again). Would someone be kind enough to look over my itinerary and give me some pointers? Fly into Toulouse and get to Lourdes, stay 2 nights. Drive to Dordogne base, stay 3 nights exploring. Drop off rent car, train to Paris, stay 5 nights. Fly out of Paris. Sounds simple enough but I don't know where and when to rent my car for exploring the Dordogne. Should I rent it in Toulouse and drive to Lourdes or should I just take the train to Lourdes and then pick up the car on my way out of Lourdes, maybe in Tarbes? Also I was thinking of dropping the car off in Brive-la-Gaillarde. Does this sound okay? Any help is appreciated!
Allison

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

First, a disclaimer. I haven't been to the areas you plan to visit. However, based on a look at the maps on viamichelin.com and at the train timetables on bahn.de and voyages-sncf.com, I suggest that you take the train from Toulouse to Lourdes. The 2nd class fare is €27.30. Why pay for rental days you won't need while you're in Lourdes? Again, based on the map and the train timetables, picking up a car in Tarbes and dropping it off in Brive-la-Gaillarde looks like a good plan. If you book well in advance (up to three months allowed) on either voyages-sncf.com or tgv-europe.com, you can get a Prem's fare of €30.00 for a direct train from Brive-la-Gaillarde to Paris. The standard 2nd class fare is €66.50.

Posted by SUSAN
DALTON, MA, USA
63 posts

Allison, We also just returned from France (10/9/12), where we rented a car at CDG, drove to Honfleur, Bayeux, Mt. St. Michel. We dropped off our car at Porte Maillot, as suggested by someone on this site...it was very easy - and my husband said the whole trip was not stressful at all. Took a taxi to our hotel, and walked everywhere the next five days. We were convinced we didn't want to drive in Paris, as people warned us on this site that it was rather crazy. I would definitely drop car off at the airport and train in....which is what we'll do again in a couple of years, when we go back to visit the Loire valley and southern France, as well as Paris again. We opted for the GPS in the car, and it was a lifesaver on the small streets of Honfleur and Bayeux - so go for that definitely. Enjoy your trip ! Can't wait to go back !
Sue

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
827 posts

Allison- We just returned from a trip to France where we rented a car. A couple of tips: I wanted to return the car before we went to Paris. I originally planned to return it in a smaller town. However, we wanted to keep it for most of the day, and the smaller town rental places I looked at had limited hours (closed 2 hours for lunch, closed for good by 5:00). We wanted more flexibility, so we returned it at Orly Airport. If you do return at a smaller town, make sure you have excellent directions on how to find the rental place. I originally planned on Versailles, and that town was larger than I anticipated. I am not sure how big the town you are choosing is, but have either a GPS or excellent directions. The airport was easy to find because of signage and we could catch public transportation into Paris.
I think your plan looks great. The Dordogne area was my favorite (we spent 3 weeks touring around France).

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7971 posts

Despite the fact that I had to cheat and see where Tarbes is, my drive-everywhere self would do exactly what Tim said in your situation. Note to self: Tarbes........T....a.....r.....b.....e......s.