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Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Chapel Hill, NC
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Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Our family of 4 is visiting in August. We are deciding between 1 week in Sarlat in Dordogne or near Gordes in Provence. Our girls are 15 and 12. We want to rent a house with a pool and be able to visit the smaller towns, have some outdoor activities, good meals, enough tourism that there is something to do but not be overwhelmed with t-shirt shops and simply relax. We are spending 1 week in the country and 1 week in Paris. We thought of doing 5 nights in Dordogne, 5 in Provence, and 4 in Paris but that feels like too much.

Based on my readings to date, both areas are fairly similar including summer temperatures. However Provence appears easier to get to via train from Paris, has access to larger towns (eg Aix and Avignon if desired). Dordogne has canoeing/kayaking on the river that Provence does not.

What are the other differences? How would you decide? If you could only do 1 location, which would you choose and why?

Thanks.

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

You will need a rental car to explore either area. From Paris, you can easily take a fast train to either Avignon (for Provence) or Limoges (for the Dordogne).

I would much rather stay in Sarlat than in Gordes. Gordes is quite small and is wholly devoted to tourism. Sarlat is larger and, although it has many tourists, there is a feel of a real French small town.

Chapel Hill, NC
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2. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Sydneynick

Thanks. Are the other smaller towns in Provence instead of Gordes that you would suggest and like more or would Sarlat still be your choice?

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

I would find it very difficult to choose between Sarlat and L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (between Avignon and Gordes). To be honest, I don't think you could go wrong choosing either of these towns.

Le Bugue, France
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4. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

To get to the Dordogne from Paris, I would never take a train to Limoges unless I specifically wanted to visit oradour-sur-Glane along the way. The easiest way to get to the Dordogne by train from Paris is to go to Brive-la-Gaillarde and drive the 40 minutes or so to the Sarlat area. Alternatively, you can take the TGV from Paris to either Libourne or Bordeaux and pick up a car there or continue on the TER to Périgueux.

One of the major differences between the Dordogne and Provence is the plethora of prehistoric caves and sites in the Dordogne, which Provence doesn't have. The topography is also markedly different, with the Dordogne having deep river gorges, alluvial planes, rolling hills, and endless greenery. Provence has the craggy alpilles, rocky outcroppings, marshes, and what at least feels like a drier climate. Each has its distinct architecture, culture, language, history, and cuisine.

Both are wonderful places to visit for a week, but they are very different. I would suggest you do some further reading and looking at photos.

Leeds, United...
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5. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Your question is akin to asking which of your two daughters do you like the most? They both have their attractions and they both have their downsides, but choosing?????

Berkshire, United...
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6. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

If you choose Provence you will be able to visit several excellent Roman sites, amongst them those at Nimes, plus the amazing Pont du Gard and visit the nearby small and lovely town of Uzès (which you might also consider staying in or near). You could also canoe along the River Gardon and see the Pont du Gard from the water. These places are across the River Rhone in the Languedoc. Canoeing can also be done from Ile de la Barthelasse, across the River Rhone from Avignon.

As you will be visiting in August, which is peak season, it would be a good idea to do your research for accommodation as soon as possible as the best are taken early. As you're visiting for a week, a house rental makes sense as quite a lot of owners only rent out by the week in high season.

england
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7. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Look at Bonnieux as an alternative to Gordes if you plump for Provence. I'm a bit confused by your aim to "rent a house" for 5 days or so. You'll get a B&B or a Gite but a house might be hard to find. Given the merits of both areas, I think the deciding factor would be ease of getting to/from each, but personally I'd be tempted to do the more ambitious 5-5-4 option.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

And you may find that you have to rent for a week, from Saturday to Saturday usually.

Champlon, Belgium
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9. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Although maximum and average temperatures in August are likely to be similar in the Dordogne and Provence, the Dordogne, being on the west side of France, is much more likely to be wet (which is why it is much greener than Provence).

Also, August is absolute peak season and attractive gîtes with swimming pools are likely to have already sold out, and, if you do find one, the owner is likely to insist that is rented and occupied for at least a week (usually, but not always, Saturday to Saturday). Note that swimming pools at gîtes are often shared rather than truly private, the description will say "piscine privée" if it is private since this commands a price premium.

If you want to stay five days, you may well find that a hotel with a pool works out no more expensive than a gîte once the cost of meals is taken into consideration.

Chapel Hill, NC
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10. Re: Dordogne vs Provence - which is better?

Thanks for all the replies. we are renting the house for 7 nights. we found an apartment with a pool outside of Rousillon. there was some advice against renting in Gordes. is Rousillon better?