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First time in France / Sarlat

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First time in France / Sarlat

Hi,

I am travelling through France on an extended holiday with my wife from Early March to June 2013, coming from Dubai where we have been living. We will be returning to Australia after our Holiday.

We wanted to spend some "chill-out" time in a country area in France and absorb the culture and history at a quiet pace.

We will have already travelled through Italy, France (Nice to Marseille) and through Spain before arriving in Bordeaux around April 15.

I have done a little research, and from what I have read the Dordogne is a beautiful region rich in culture and history, offering the opportunity to see much and take "time-out" as well.

It seems to me that Car Hire from Bordeaux to Sarlat is the best option transport wise.

What I was wandering is where should we base ourselves?

We may spend as much as 3-4 weeks in the region.

Would we need to hire a car for the entire period?

Would Sarlat be the best home base?

Is it possible to accommodate a hired car staying in the town?

Should we split our stay across various towns / villages?

I would greatly appreciate any advice .

Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

There's usually a place to park in most towns and villages, even if you have to walk a few hundred meters.

The question of *where*, however, depends entirely on what YOU want to do and see.

I suggest some Googling (try "tourism Sarlat" or "tourism Dordogne") and seeing what interests you, then choose a home base from there.

kle
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2. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

If you want to "chill out" in the French countryside, then I would not stay in Sarlat. While Sarlat isn't a city, it is a bustling town, complete with traffic jams during rush hour. I would suggest getting house somewhere either in or near a small village with some good dining options and amenities. We stayed near Montignac last summer and really liked being outside of the village but within a easy bike ride or car drive. There are others on this board who can recommend other similar villages.

As for the car question, well, a quick glance at this board will let you know that visiting this region without one is neither efficient nor recommended. The country roads are winding and beautiful, but distances are further then they sound and public transportation really does not exist.

We loved the Dordogne and so will you!

Tampa, Florida
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3. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

Sarlat has a population of just under 10,000 people. The term "rush hour" has very little meaning in this context -- from March to June, traffic is negligible. Peak tourist time is in July and August -- and yes, you're likely to see tailbacks, but these are just never going to be on a par with Bordeaux, Paris, or Lyon.

Le Bugue, France
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4. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

Yes, you can hire a car in Bordeaux and drive to the Sarlat area. You might want to continue on from Bordeaux on a local train to Périgueux,though, which is a lot closer to Sarlat, and pick up a car and drive from there. Yes, you will need a car for the entire time there.

I wouldn't want to stay in Sarlat for 3-4 weeks, especially if chiiling out is the goal. It's not a huge place, but it is busy, especially on market days (Saturday and Wednesday) - all year round. I'd suggest you rent a place in a good-size village near enough to Sarlat to go in when you need or want to.

Towns you might want to consider (I'm suggesting places that have a decent amount of commerce, not quiet villages) include St-Cyprien, Le Bugue, Domme, Montignac).

kle
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5. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

Sunshine is right that the traffic in Sarlat is bad only during the peak season, but I was just using traffic as an example of how I don't think Sarlat is small, quiet village. Of course Sarlat is no where close to any major cities. I think of it more as a busy town.

Tampa, Florida
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6. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

but it is still a small town, even by French standards.

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7. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

Thankyou all !!

Sepcial thanks ... StCirq .....

Really appreciate the advice and the alternatives to consider.

From what I have read elsewhere .... as long as we base ourselves within a 25km radius of Sarlat N,W,S, we will have ggod access to many of the treasures the region has to offer.

So I reallly like the idea of being based near a smaller village hopefully with lovely aesthetics and without the need to drive everywhere do do anything. Nice to stroll to local restaurants or whatever and have some choice albeit modest.

Le Bugue, France
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8. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

Well, you're going to have to drive to most things, so accustom yourself to that. But yes, a 25-mile radius from Sarlat, concentrating on north, south, and west will give you lots of choices. East, not so much.

Languedoc-Roussillon...
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9. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

Do remember that often a small place can mean that facilities might not be available in March - not until after Easter in many small places. A smaller village, especially if not greatly visited by tourists, might only have one shop, one restaurant, so not too much scope for strolling round in the evenings.

I like Sarlat a lot, especially out of season, but wouldn't want to spend a whole month there. St Cirq's recommendations are good ones.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: First time in France / Sarlat

As someone who lives is Sarlat I thought I'd add my thoughts. IMO mid April to end May is THE best time to be in Sarlat... the weather is (usually) good, it's before the crowds arrive for summer, everything is open - despite what you read Sarlat is a ghost town in winter - and the market is superb with fruit and veg. . As for traffic at that time of the year you get a 'rush' 1/2 hour at school pick up time and Saturday market day. Your thoughts of picking up a car at Bordeaux is a good one - it's an easy drive....

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