View Full Version : France - advice please for April.

03-01-2017, 09:26
We are going to France for four weeks at the end of March and most of April this year and would like some help deciding which area of France to visit.

Reasonable weather is high on the list - but as we all know it varies year on year.

Heading south from Calais seems a decent option but we don't fancy going to the Med coast – probably too crowded and expensive even at that time of year.

We've 'done' the west coast down to the Spanish border a couple of times and somewhere inland seems preferable.

We normally use Aires, remote if possible, and don't need campsite facilities.

We do quite a bit of walking, dog in tow, and prefer walking along river sides or lake sides and the old railway tracks such as the green ways (Avenue Verte or similar) but not mountains or very hilly country.

Being close to village or small towns with a bar/restaurant in reasonable walking distance would be a bonus but we do eat in and cook most of our meals – so, not essential.

We tend to meander around, a few miles to the next stopover some days or perhaps stay for a few days if we really like the place, once we get to an area – a month should be long enough to get deep into France and explore but any suggestions to help us would be appreciated.

:dog: :dog: :dog: :dog:

03-01-2017, 09:30
Why not get a disc of some description and just do the random throw on a map scenario and just visit whatever lies under the disc area

03-01-2017, 09:43
Don't think you can go far wrong with central southern France, I guess the Massif Central. All the Parc national areas are stunning, Parc national Cevennes, Volcans d' Auvergne, both beautiful areas. Good for little villages, walks etc. Then over west towards the Dore valley.

03-01-2017, 09:50
We would head for the Loire and then look at the 15 day weather forecast before deciding which way to head next.

03-01-2017, 19:38
I agree about Brittany,it ticks all our boxes.A superb coastline that I find similar to the rugged Cornish coastline,the locals are generally friendly and there are some excellent eating places,it's a fish dish lovers paradise.Lots of aires,wild camping spots,municipals and ACSI sites although the latter two will most likely be closed in March/April.

The only problem at that time of year could be the weather,it could be rough.As you have 4 weeks,travelling across France shouldn't be a problem,I would look at the forecast closer to the date and follow the sun,if I'd got a 4 week break I would be prepared to travel as far south as the mediterranean coast if the weather was good down there.

03-01-2017, 21:10
I agree about Brittany, varied scenery, everything easy to get to, great food, love Brittany

03-01-2017, 21:23
Hi Keith, sorry can't attach a link to our trip, but if you put in the search box, Lab report, Lechlade on Thames to Briancon, it may give you some ideas. Also agree with David regarding Brittany, love the place. Good luck :heart::camper::cheers::cheers::have fun::goodluck:

04-01-2017, 09:29
Many thanks for the advice.

I love Brittany as much as most of you seem to do but we spent about a month there last year and a month a couple of years earlier and we'd prefer to visit a different region in March/April.

We've also travelled up and down the West coast a couple of times in the last few years and think that inland might be a good idea this year.

The Massif Central seems a good option but I worry it may be a bit too hilly for our liking as we prefer easier flat walks rather than uphill and down dale type walking.

loulou – enjoyed reading your report – I'll look at some of the places you visited.

:dog: :dog: :dog: :dog:

04-01-2017, 10:32
You mention you want a good chance of warm weather so elevation is key. I would choose either the Dordogne and Lot or the Ardeche, Drome and lower Provence. I would avoid the Massif Central that time of year although you will need to traverse some of it if you do all of those areas. Most of the Dordogne, some of the ardeche, Drome and lower Provence whilst not flat are mainly off the higher planes of the Massif central. The areas to the east around the Rhone valley and lower down will be warmer.

We did the Dordogne and Pyrenees in April and May a few years back and had good weather in the Dordogne with day time temperatures in April in the low 20's and plenty of sunshine. The mornings and evenings were cold sometimes though and we even had ice one morning. There is a lot to see and do in all those areas I mentioned though, You could do them in a month I guess but I would want longer.

05-01-2017, 08:15
After a short discussion we've decided we will aim for the Dordogne and find out what the area has to offer.

We had been a bit reluctant to go in that direction after stopping in a hotel in Sarlat many years ago.

We went by car, long before the MH, one June and it rained chats and chiens for the 7 days we were there – the hotel ran out of umbrellas they were providing for its guests by mid-week.

What with the rain, and every meal having a canard theme, we held strong views about the area but we will finally try once more.

There is an article about the Dordogne in MMM this month, mine arrived yesterday, and it gives a good insight to the area and a trawl with Monsieur Google's help, and Barrys input on here, have helped us decide.

Thanks for all your input – very helpful.

:dog: :dog: :dog: :dog:

05-01-2017, 09:20
We went to the Dordogne area a couple of years ago, my son bought us a book 'The Back Roads of France' which has a route right through the Dordogne and Lot valleys which we followed and it gave us an insight into the area which you could miss without a guide.
I'm sure where ever you go in France you will have a great time as it is a historic and beautiful place.

POI Admin
05-01-2017, 11:15
Don't miss Limeuil ... very beautiful.

There's a great wild camping spot by the river and a tap in the car park.

You'll find it in the France POIs.

05-01-2017, 15:50
We went'The Back Roads of France' which has a route right through the Dordogne and Lot valleys

I second that book also Secret Roads of France is worth having.A look at the most beautiful villages of France website is

05-01-2017, 16:02
There are a couple of aires that we like, the first in Caddillac a lovely small town near to Bordeaux, the aire is quite small in a car park near the middle of the town.
The second is at Montbazillac this is in a vineyard and is owned by a motorhome owner, this is in a village with a chateau, it is remote with no café or shop so don't go without supplies. You are expected to go to a wine tasting, which you will be invited too.

05-01-2017, 16:54
as above the aire at cadillac is superb and the one at monbazilliac is also a france passion stop great enthusiastic owner & the nearby chateau is well worth a visit cheap and just left to wander around sit on furniture etc, if you make it to the garonne the aire at caumont sur garonne is perfect it is in all the aires (highlighted salmon colour as special) it has been extended recently but on canal bank can cycle walk miles, there is an aire now at the citadel at blaye and a wine festival on 8/9 april about 80 wine producers for degustation your entry ticket is a wine glass on a cord and entry includes a boat trip round the estuary and various other entertainments,

05-01-2017, 18:40
Keith, we have done France for years and years, and what we usually do, is head south and start from the Periguex or Dordogne area, preferring the river Lot more so than the Dordogne. We usually end up in the Midi Pyrenees area, somewhere south of Cahor, such as San Antonin Nobel Val, Narjac, Carajac, Corded sur Ceil, Albi, Carcassonne, Castelnaundry, Homps. Lots of really nice places, and if you like, just a few miles to Narbonne, and Gruisan (on the med)
Maybe pick a river and trundle down a road alongside, and enjoy what comes. Maybe the Midi Canal, some nice places here. Personally, I would not plan, just go with the flow, you will just fall over nice places, probably much nicer than a plan!

05-01-2017, 19:00
Another nice area, but aires are a little thin on the ground, is Provence. Our favourite there is St Croix de Verdon (the Verdon George) fantastic!
But seriously, one thing to remember, is that what I or others think is fantastic, you might think not!
The number of times, we have gone somewhere on another recommendation, only to think, why have we come here!
So just do your own thing, and go with the flow!

05-01-2017, 19:20
Don't miss Limeuil ... very beautiful.

There's a great wild camping spot by the river and a tap in the car park.

You'll find it in the France POIs.

I think its is no more. It had all changed last year and no tap and no access under the bridge sadly.

Keith. There are loads of great spots along the stretch from Bergerac to Sarlat. I just remembered though I did a whistle stop tour guide for a pal that was going last October so Ill just copy and paste it for you here.

"A Whistle stop tour of the Dordogne

As Promised, some ideas if you decided to have a look at the Dordogne. The stretch from Bergerac to Sarlat is the most interesting with most of the “best” places towards Sarlat.

Plenty of free or cheap Aires but I am doing this from memory as I’m not online so you may need to check on CC Infos for latest prices for parking or services but as you know I Don’t like paying so most will be either free or cheap. I’ve provided GPS in decimal and links to the CC Infos page but I’m not sure if these will work.
I know you don’t have long so I’ve just included the best ones with a couple of diversions from the main route.
Starting at Tremolat. Lovely little village and some nice little villages nearby. Just set back from a deep wide section of the river (I rowed it in 2012) and easy walking to some nice bars and restaurants but sadly they started charging a year or two ago. I think it was 4 or 5 Euros.
44.87381, 0.83025
Link: http://www.campingcar-infos.com/Francais/airepda.php?numid=3356

Two diversions off the main river you could do are St Leon St Vezere to the north or Biron to the South.
St Leon is a stunning village and you have a choice here of either the Aire near the Boules court or (Yes I know but listen) the Municipal campsite. Before you ring me up and call me a pillock for recommending a campsite it’s just about a dozen or so large pitches right on the river on the edge of the village. Just like a really nice Aire. Both are officially to pay for, I think the site is about €10 and the aire €5. Easy walk into the village, should be a couple of places to eat and drink still open.
Link: http://www.campingcar-infos.com/Francais/airepda.php?numid=2574
45.01216, 1.08948
To the south of the main route you have Biron which is mainly just a Chateaux and the only reason I’ve included it is because the Aire (which I think has no services now) is in a huge lovely grassy raised field below the Chateaux and its here that I posted a few years ago about the Stags Rutting all night long close to the van. Not much to see or do around there but it’s a lovely spot but maybe not worth the diversion on such a short trip. If you do go nearby Monpazier is an interesting Bastide town and there is an Aire there.

Back on the main route you have Laroque Gageac, Domme and Vitrac Montefort all near each other and all worth a stop. We always stop at Vitrac as it’s free and a lovely spot. The Aire at Laroque which is one of the major tourist attractions along the river is to pay for and it’s a bit naff but might be ok in October. Don’t know about the Aire at Domme but all 3 places are well worth a look. Loads of castles along this route and the best way to see the area is to rent a Kayak if they are still doing them. This area is probably the most famous of the tourist trail areas of the Dordogne but it should be free of hordes of Brits in October.
Domme is a hill top village, great views down the river and Vitrac is just a lovely hamlet under a Chateaux with a couple of restaurants and a nice walk down to the river about half a mile away.
Vitrac is also the nicest and nearest Aire for Sarlat which is about 3 miles up the back roads. There is an Aire at Sarlat but I have heard it’s grim and I think its 7 euros. Details I have are here. Latitude : (Nord) 44.89584° Décimaux ou 44° 53′ 45′′
Longitude : (Est) 1.21242° Décimaux ou 1° 12′ 44′′.

If you can go to Sarlat on Market day as it’s a good market. The old town is stunning. Lots of places to treat yourselves to something nice to eat there.

44.8244, 1.18394
Link: http://www.campingcar-infos.com/Francais/airepda.php?numid=874

DOMME (24) Aire CCI 1673
44.80121, 1.22185

Link: http://www.campingcar-infos.com/Francais/airepda.php?numid=1673

FRANCE VITRAC Montfort (24) Aire CCI 1036
44.83558, 1.24852

Link: http://www.campingcar-infos.com/Francais/airepda.php?numid=1036

If you have time then just out of the Dordogne less than an hour from Sarlat is Rocamadour. Built into a hillside on a deep valley it’s an amazing place to look at but a bit touristy. Well worth a bit of a detour if you have time and there is a large free parking area at the top of the village but no services.
Unless you’re feeling super fit you might want to take the elevator down to the village!
44.79944, 1.61611
Link: http://www.campingcar-infos.com/Francais/airepda.php?numid=443

So that’s it. A Whistle stop tour of the Dordogne!! Enjoy!

POI Admin
05-01-2017, 19:41
Shame about Limeuil ...

05-01-2017, 19:45
Thanks Barry - that lot should keep me occupied for the next few days - but I thought the bar opened by eight in the evening?

I've just come back from the offy with the wife .......


09-01-2017, 11:00
Have you been to Saumer ? plenty of Aires an interesting area with the Troglodite caves to visit and if you are into horses the Cadre Noir is a good and interesting visit.

09-01-2017, 12:20
We went to the Dordogne area a couple of years ago, my son bought us a book 'The Back Roads of France' which has a route right through the Dordogne and Lot valleys which we followed and it gave us an insight into the area which you could miss without a guide.
I'm sure where ever you go in France you will have a great time as it is a historic and beautiful place.

We have the Backroads Book as well and found it extremely useful finding places you otherwise may have missed