My family, five adults,will be traveling to France the end of June. We arrive around 10 am on a Saturday at CDG. We are renting a gite near Meyrals. We were thinking about taking a train to Brive or Perigueux then renting a car to have for the week. I'm having difficulty scanning the train schedule. Do you have a recommendation for the best way to get there?
Hi . . . Lori from Texas!
On your question of getting a train from CDG to SW France, YES, finding those best rail connections is challenging. Why??
If I understand correctly, your gite near Meyrals is just a little west of Sarlat, right? In the wonderful Dordogne River area? Train connections to this area are rather limited, however. Not fast and frequent. Sorry!! Brive or Perigueux have train service, but the challenge is getting from CDG without needing too many train changes and/or delays waiting for your connecting next train.
The number and timing of trains leaving from CDG are rather limited in numbers and options, especially to the more rural, isolated areas. You have many more trains departing from within main Paris, but then that involves more time hassles getting there inside this big city, changing to another train or station, dealing with your luggage, etc. Below are some added notes both on this SW area and why the French train system is good for reaching some areas, but not as ideal for others.
Personally, I would probably get a train from CDG to the suburban Tours station in the heart of the Loire Valley, get my rental car there and then drive south to your gite location. From CDG, there are two main train options: either depart at 10:16 AM and arrive at 11:59 AM and arrive at Tours St Pierre Des COR station. Or, more realistically would be the departing time of 2:09 PM that arrives at 3:59 PM at Tours St Pierre Des COR. It is about four and a half hours to drive from this Tours suburban stations to Meyrals or a little more than 200 miles to drive.
As you can see these are not perfect, flexible timing options. Also, in your planning challenge is the question of when your flight arrive at CDG and the amount of time it takes there at the airport to get your baggage, do customs, walk the long corridors there, get to the CDG train station, etc. Lots of time variables and logistical efforts required!!! That makes it hard to set-up things in an ideal, time-efficient manner.
Another option from CDG would be a fast TGV train from the airport at 2:09 PM, arriving at 6:37PM at Bordeaux St Jean station. Then a car from Bordeaux to your give.
When are you scheduled to start at your gite? Could take the train from CDG to the Loire Valley, stay overnight there and see some of that area before heading south? You'll be tired when arriving at CDG after your long, trans-Atlantic flight, all of the time-zone changes, etc.
Reactions to these various ideas and options???? Look forward to hearing back from you with more details and specifics.
Does this start to help a little? What are your needs for added information? Be happy to provide additional info and answer other questions after learning more from you. Be sure to complete the evaluation section so that our "bosses" on this volunteer service know we are working hard to make inquiring minds as happy as possible. ENJOY! Merci Beaucoup!
Thanks. Terry Casey in Columbus, Ohio
SOUTHWEST FRANCE HIGHLIGHTS/OPTIONS:
While there, we stayed overnight at the nearby Hotel B˘nnet in Beynac overlooking the Dordogne River (hotel phone: 011-33-5-53-29-5001). The Sarlat-La-Caneda Market on Saturday is really great with its very attractive medieval quarter! Hopefully Saturday will be one of your days there.
Sarlat-la-CanÚda, or simply Sarlat, is in the heart of the wonderful Dordogne River valley areas in southwest France. It is one of the most attractive and alluring towns with a population of a little under 10,000. Sarlat is a medieval town that developed around a large Benedictine abbey. Because modern history had largely passed it by, Sarlat has remained preserved and is one of the towns most representative of 14th century France. The center of the old town consists of beautifully restored stone buildings and is largely car-free. There are several large foie gras production places in the area and this adds to its appeal. They also produce other cherished products (confits, pÔtÚ, etc.) from these ducks and geese. It is that architecture and history as being the super-star for this great town. Their town website: www.sarlat.fr
Among the other key options in the area are:
1. ROCAMADOUR- Perched on the side of a cliff with one of the most extraordinary sites in France, this village was one of the great pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. This site is also a must-see at night.
2. BEYNAC - Large castle overlooking the Dordogne, it was the site of many battles during the Hundred Years War.
3. LES EYZIES - Known as the Capital of Prehistory, it has a famous national museum.
4. DOMME - Walled-town with spectacular overview of the Dordogne.
5. ST-CIRQ-LAPOPIE - Village with a remarkable site perched on a rocky escarpment overlooking the Lot River valley.
There is also Cahors on River Lot, Cordes and a little farther away is the famed castle/fortress of Carcassonne;
There are other smaller castles, small town markets, wineries, etc. It depends upon what you like to do and enjoy. Just hanging out in and around Sarlat and doing nothing is fun and enjoyable.
For Sarlat, their tourism office is:
Contact them and let them know your specific interests and needs.
For the larger area, check at:
RAIL vs. AUTO REALITIES: In France, overall, the trains are great, especially along certain key routes with the fast and comfortable TGV Express train service. Between Paris and Avignon, as an example, it is only a two hour and 40 minute trip that zooms this route by traveling up to 199 mph. On other TGV routes, the top speed is around 186 mph. These super nice and fine TGV trains are not, however, on all or most routes, nor to all cities. For other routes, mostly between larger cities, the service can be good to very good. BUT, in many rural areas and to connect among various smaller village and country areas, rail service is not available and/or fairly slow or limited. There might be several train changes needed to cover some routings. There is "some" bus service in France, but it is done by many different private companies and it does not have a centralize website, nor fast, frequent service. Because elements of the rail service are so good, it has made it harder to have equally good and frequent bus service in most parts of France.
To be more efficient with your limited time, some combination of rail and car can be better to cover and reach many of the villages, country and rural areas.