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Just Returned from Four Weeks in France...Continued

I guess I am too wordy. To continue, after Bandol:

We made two stops in Bordeaux, before the Dordogne Valley and after, to pick up and return a car. The first time we stayed at Hotel St. Louis Beaulieu, a former abbey which is still affiliated with religious conferences and education and which still has an active chapel for mass. The rooms have been converted to simple yet clean and comfortable rooms. No a/c or tv, but wifi, elevators and a good breakfast for 7.50 euros. Our son and his S/O ate dinner at the cafe on site and were quite impressed. The situation is lovely. We had rooftop views out our window of old Bordeaux and the interior courtyard was a good place to relax over breakfast. Parking on site was free and behind a gate. Rooms were about 85-90 euros per night.

On the other end of our trip, we stayed at the Hotel Particulier near the train station in Bordeaux. An apart/hotel, walking distance to the station and restaurants, it had free wifi, separate bedroom, modern bathroom, kitchenette (microwave, small fridge, coffee maker, Keurig, toaster, and washer/dryer combo, two tvs, no AC. We were on the first floor so no elevator, but the staff helped us up and down the stairs to our apt. Parking in a locked underground garage just about 50 meters away for 15.00 euros a night. A good bargain at about 120 euros per night.

The Dordogne Valley...The Gite from heaven. Gites de France, Dordogne region, #125, Le Fort. This was just what I had hoped for when planning this important family trip. An old building, updated to the nines, with 4 bedrooms, three baths, a very modern kitchen (induction stove, dishwasher, etc.), laundry room, balcony accsessible from all three upstairs bedrooms, swimming pool, swings, bbq with nice outdoor furniture, orchard on site, path down to the river, and access to all 10 hectares of property. The owners' beautiful chateau is on the property (they were at their home in Versailles.) Caretakers and their border collie, Loustic, were available at all times. It was located in the countryside between Vitrac and La Roque Gageac, close to Cenac et St. Julian for a grocery store and patisserie. 7-8 minutes drive to La Roque, 5 minutes drive to location of our input for kayaking the river, yet still isolated by our dirt road to feel completely in the country. We did some sight-seeing or activity each day, leaving mid to late morning, eating lunch out, returning to the gite to swim and relax and prepare dinner at our "home", as the grandkids called it. We visited Font de Gaume (worth the time spent monitoring the ticket site to get an English language tour), Lascaux IV, Beynac castle, Castelnaud-la Chapelle, Domme, the Sarlat Wednesday market, and a 3 hour kayaking trip on the river. The little ones (9 and 12) enjoyed just seeing the differences in the grocery stores and bakeries. We went to a fine dining restaurant one evening, the Grand Bleu, in Sarlat. The kids tried all kinds of new foods (they aren't picky.) We also visited a savonerie and a chocolaterie and the Abri de Madeleine. Our son and his S/O explored the grotte of La Roque also, and said it was worth it, although not for the walking impaired. At about $3000.00 for 10 nights, it was super cheap for seven people!

All in all, the trip was what I had envisioned, especially for the younger ones, back in 2020 before the shutdown. We wanted to go in June 2021 for our fiftieth wedding anniversary, so we just celebrated our 52nd instead, and Hubby's 80th birthday.

All in all, the trip was just what we planned. Lots of French family time (maybe our last opportunity to see some of them), some revisiting of places from the past, and a grand introduction to France for the grandchildren. We hope we passed on our love of France to them, as we know we have to our children.

Merci,
I am done.

Posted by
5141 posts

What a heart-warming report. Thanks for sharing your family time. Safe travels!

Posted by
594 posts

Ahhhh love this entire report. So happy you could finally celebrate your important anniversary with your whole family!

Posted by
891 posts

Thank you Pat and Luv2travel. Yes, it was just what I had hoped for! My bucket list top items are fulfilled (this trip, and Egypt in 2019), so I count every trip after this as gravy, if I am lucky enough and stay healthy enough to make them.
Bon yoyage to all!

Posted by
9436 posts

Nice report, thanks!
I’d like to know if you liked Bordeaux and would you recommend staying there?

Posted by
891 posts

Yes, we did like Bordeaux, but had too little time there. We missed the Lumiere des Bassins, which our kids and grandkids went to and enjoyed very much. They also saw the cathedral, which is a typically gothic beauty, they said, though not as elaborate as those further north in France. I was disappointed in the Grand Place du Bourse. It was large, there was a fountain, and was just like many other "grand places" in Europe. The Cite du Vin is worth the visit, but, as I said before, parking was atrocious. There is a very good tram system in Bordeaux, and if it goes near the Cite du Vin, definitely take that. It is worth four hours, and you will need that to fully explore all it has to offer. The quais along the river are packed with bikers and walkers and families enjoying the riverside. Driving along the quais is very, very slow, so taking a bus that follows that route is not a good idea, but a stroll along the river is something I wish we could have done. And, of course, Bordeaux is a good jumping-off point for visiting vineyards in St. Emilion, and in greater Bordeaux itself. I would spend about 3 days there...one for the cathedral, strolling the old center, and the Bassin des Lumieres, another for the Cite du Vin and a riverside stroll, and a third for a full-day vineyard tour. There are those on the forum who have much more knowledge of Bordeaux and surroundings, so they could give you better information than I. I do hope to return and do it justice. (By the way, the River Garonne looked completely muddy. Probably because of the copious rain in the mountains the previous week. At least, I hope that's all it was!)

Posted by
891 posts

Susan, I just want to add that we were very happy at the Hotel St. Louis Beaulieu. It was a long one- block walk to the tram line, probably easy for someone who doesn't need a new knee, like me. (One down and one to go!) I recommend it highly. Not fancy, but charming and comfortable and reasonably priced.

Posted by
9436 posts

Judy, thank you, i really appreciate all your very helpful info!