|Subject: Walking trip in France, Black Perigord and Quercy|
We are back from France and I am pleased to report that we had a GREAT time! I had been worried about achieving the necessary kilometers every day but it was fine. In fact, we thoroughly enjoyed the walking times.
We booked our trip through Sentiers de France ( http://www.sentiersdefrance.com/ ). They tailored our itinerary for us, combining the and the C101 Black Perigord and Prehistory (Aquitaine) and part of the C100 Dordogne and Haut Quercy (Midi-Pyrenees) for a 12 night trip starting from Montignac and ending at the train station in Souillac. The itinerary included two Cro-Magnon cave art sites (Lascaux 2 and Font-de-Gaume), Dordogne castles and lovely towns, Sarlat and its famous Saturday market and Rocamadour (including an overnight in the town). Once our photos are available online, I will let you know.
We walked from 9 or so each morning until 4 or so each afternoon. A taxi moved our luggage and sometimes us part way! We really liked that. For example one morning we were driven from Souillac to the beginning of the GR path in the middle of the countryside. Another day we were driven to the Grotte de Lacave to visit the caves and then we walked from there. This allowed us to cover much more territory in our time. As the company says, we avoid the boring bits! We did walk about 15-20 kms a day though! Everything worked very smoothly - the small 2 star hotels were friendly and lovely (we took the "classic" tour), the food amazing, the taxis prompt and the drivers friendly. Breakfast and evening meal was included. Evidently some walking companies negotiate a "walkers' menu" with hotels rather than the menu (table d'hote) available to the general public. With Sentiers de France, we ate from the regular menu. The walking notes told us the price covered for that night - say, the 29 euros menu. Multi-course and featuring local gastronomy. In many cases, the meals included a small starter not on the menu (soup or some other amuse-geule), fish or foie gras course, main (meat) course, cheese, dessert! If we hadn't been walking, we would have gained 20 pounds! Wine and other beverages (other than lots of coffee at breakfast) were not included.
Many of the hotels belonged to the Logis de France association ( http://www.logis-de-france.fr/uk/index.htm ) Some were Gault Millau and Le Routard recommended.
A few stand out:
Moulin de la Beune in Les Eyzies de Tayac: http://www.moulindelabeune.com/ with its beautiful setting, lovely rooms, great dining room, food and service.
Hotel du Chateau in Beynac: http://www.hotelduchateau-dordogne.com/index.htm
Hotel Le Pages in the small village of Cales: http://www.hotel-lepages.com/ Here the very accomplished and accommodating waiter gave details about the food and invited us and the other guests to share the beautiful sunset. A fitting end to a wonderful meal.
Auberge de l'ile, Creysse: http://tinyurl.com/zq99g Near the lovely village of Martel, a gastronomic centre with a well-preserved medieval core.
Just a few points about walking - we were well supplied with information, walking and touring notes and map. We carried a couple of litres of water each (each litre weighs a kilo!), sunscreen, and rain gear and fleece top. We never used the Gortex jackets for rain but some days were cooler or the wind was chilling when we were up higher. Actually, it was great walking weather! We used telescoping hiking poles (must go in checked luggage on the flight). We bought a picnic before we set out each day except at Cales - we ordered one from the hotel.
We found it an amazingly stress-free holiday. Since the majority was prepaid and hotels and restaurant tables were booked, we just had to turn up. It was great to have suggestions about what to see (as mentioned before, we tweaked the itinerary to include what we wanted to see). Sentiers de France booked tickets for the cave, Font-de-Gaume, since tickets must be reserved.
And the lovely countryside - how could I tell you about the Dordogne, Haut Quercy, the Vezere and Lot rivers without telling you that the views were gorgeous, the woods were green and lush, the flowers were lovely and prolific and even the butterflies were special! Rocamadour was very interesting with its long pilgrimage history but the walk along the top of the causse was exhilarating!
We would do it again - and we will!
Frances Toronto, Canada