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Paris, caves & Swiss aips in 10 days?

I am trying to plan a family trip (2 adults; 2 kids, 10 & 13) this August that includes Paris, cave paintings in Dordogne area, and the Swiss Alps/Berner Oberland area. We will be in Brussels 8/5-8/7 (husband at conference) then need to leave via London 8/19. I am thinking train to Paris, stay for 3-4 days; train to Bordeaux, rent car for Dordogne area (2 days), drop car in Lyon & then take train to Bern, 3 days for Alps; fly to London from Geneva...does this sound feasible?? & if so, what type of rail pass(es) make sense? Thanks for any & all suggestions!!

Posted by
146 posts

Sounds very doable. You have chosen some places my wife and I have enjoyed in recent trips. Defintely do some canoeing on the Dordogne. The castles are great. I am so glad Rick tuned us into this part of France.

The drive from Bordeaux to Sarlat is easy as long as you have a list of towns on the way. In Europe you go from town to town. Route numbers and North South East West signs are rare. "Toutes Direction" sign gets you out of town and then you soon see a sign for the next town on the list.

Do you play Mille Bornes? Driving in France makes that fun game come alive in a new way.

In Beynac area we loved the Bed & Breakfast Rick suggested. Don't have the book with me but Versailles comes to mind, not the famous one of course.

Even if you don't have time to visit a winery, driving through the vineyards near Bordeaux is great. Especially if you are a fan of Captain Picard whose fictional father had a vineyard in Aquitaine. St. Emilion is just East of Bordeaux and is on the way and can be a nice stop if you like wine.

Bordeaux didn't make Rick's cut for his book but we enjoyed the city for a one night stay.

Posted by
4132 posts

These are some great destinations, but also a lot of traveling.

Dordogne to Alps is probably 11 to 14 hours, depending on where you go (and including stuff like eating lunch and dinner and returning the car). You might want to look into flying for that, depending on what's available out of Bordeaux or Tolouse.

The other two days are not short hauls either. And travel like this is not cheap.

How about this? Fly from Brussels to Zurich or Geneva. Get to the Berner Oberland. Fly to Bordeaux or Tolouse. Drive to the Dordogne, then on to Angouleme where you catch the TGV to Paris. From Paris you can decide whther the train or a flight is the best way to London.

Alternatively, knock your three great destinations down to a more-manageable two. You won't be bored with 5 days each in Paris and the Dordogne.

Good luck!

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for your suggestions...very helpful to have input from real people; the internet & guidebooks tend to focus on just one area whereas how to get from place to place seems most challenging at the moment! I suspect we will end up dropping the Swiss Alps & focus on France...though I do love mountains (none here in NJ!) and also thought cooler weather would be nice in August.

Posted by
689 posts

I think sticking with France sounds less rushed than all 3 destinations, but you could also easily do Paris and the Alps. There are TGV trains to whisk you into Switzerland and you never have to bother with a car. If you decide Dordogne make reservations early. We visited in spring and our b and b hosts made July and August sound like a zoo--tons of traffic, crowds, etc.

Posted by
4132 posts

If that's your decision you might consider flying to London from Toulouse or Bordeaux. Or flying to one of those airports from Brussels and working your way north.

In either case more time in the Southwest will let you see more and explore outside of the Dordogne Valley, perhaps the hill town of St. Cirq and the Grotte du Peche Merle, arguably one of the finest neolithic caves in that part of Europe that is still open to the public.

I doubt you want a rail pass for this itinerary.