Getting to the Dordogne
One of the main benefits for us and our young family when we fell in love and purchased our French holiday home in the Dordogne, was the close proximity to the UK and the number of available and affordable travel options.
One of my daughters is a nervous flyer and being just a short plane ride away or able to make alternative journey choices has ensured that year on year, she will be found on a sun lounger at Les Milandes! The ease of travelling to our Dordogne holiday home has meant that we have been able to celebrate special occasions with parties at Le Manoir, including our Pearl Wedding anniversary, with friends and family easily able to join us for a long weekend.
The option to drive from the UK has also meant that the luggage restrictions associated with air travel are not an issue – certainly a positive for my wife Sarah! It has also allowed us the freedom and opportunity to take a leisurely trip through France experiencing different regions.
From our home in the south west of England, we usually take the 8.30am Brittany Ferries sailing from Poole to Cherbourg, enjoying coffee and breakfast onboard prior to disembarking at lunchtime. Sailings to France are also available from Portsmouth and Plymouth. Whilst it is very possible to reach Les Milandes without stopping overnight in approximately 7 hours from Caen and 8 hours from Cherbourg, part of getting into the holiday spirit for us is a stay at a charming French hotel to break our journey, such as:
- La Grée Des Landes Eco Hotel – a hotel featuring an organic gastro-restaurant and an Yves Rocher spa where guests reside in harmony with nature. The hotel is located outside the village of La Gacilly in Brittany and approximately 30 minutes from the main road between Rennes and Nantes.
- Château des Briottières – a chateau hotel in the lovely Loire valley near Angers. Family owned, enjoy “table d’hôtes” dining by candlelight in the 18th century dining room and relax in this beautiful chateau set in stunning parkland.
- Next on our agenda, is a stay at Domaine des Etangs in Massignac near Limoges. This 11th century luxury chateau hotel features a Michelin star restaurant and a wellness centre with Gallo-Roman Baths set within 2,500 acres of grounds in the heart of the Charente.
Should time be of the essence we are able to easily fly from Bristol, Exeter or Southampton on a short flight to our closest airport at Bergerac which is approximately an hour from Les Milandes. A number of car rental options at the airport means that we are quickly on our way towards home and a glass of rosé!
Our daughters who live in London and do not enjoy early morning flights (!) can easily join us by catching a very civilised timed flight at 12.15pm from London Stansted to Bergerac and be with us for tea.
There are a number of flights to Bergerac from the UK. Flybe fly from Birmingham; Edinburgh, Exeter and Southampton. As well as London Stansted, Ryanair also fly from East Midlands, Bristol and Liverpool. Jet2 fly from Manchester; Leeds Bradford and from Summer 2019, will also fly from Birmingham. British Airways fly from London City Airport.
Bordeaux to Dordogne
There are also a multitude of flights on a variety of airlines to Bordeaux and Toulouse, often which can be a more cost effective option and are approximately a 2 hour drive from Les Milandes.
Bordeaux is well worth a stay for a night or two to enjoy some sophisticated city culture before the peace and tranquillity of Les Milandes. One of our favourite hotels is La Course. The hotel overlooks the Jardin Public, a public park which was originally completed back in the 1750s. However, the French Revolution destroyed the grounds and it was subsequently re-landscaped. A well-stocked botanical garden has also been added.
Other places to visit include the Cite du Vin, a museum celebrating wine which is easily walkable from La Course with the route dotted with cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. Don’t miss the Palais de la Bourse or the view of the riverfront from the Pont de Pierre and the Grand-Théâtre , one of Bordeaux’s best known public buildings. Cathédrale Saint-André is widely acclaimed as the finest of all Bordeaux’s churches and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Consecrated in 1096, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII were married here.
A drive of around 40 minutes from Bordeaux towards Les Milandes will take you to the beautiful town and famous wine growing region of St Emilion. This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring an array of numerous vineyards where you can sample some delicious vintages and discover more about the winemaking process.
For things to do in Bordeaux and other interesting places to stop on the journey, see our previous blog.
This spring, our eldest daughter (who will be six months pregnant at the time) and husband are intending to travel to Les Milandes by train. Their trip will involve taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. Then a short hop from Gard du Nord to Paris Montparnasse to catch the TGV to Libourne. This journey takes about 3 hours, allowing time to enjoy lunch in comfort on the train whilst watching the French countryside speed by from the window. There is also a fast train from Paris to Bordeaux in just over 2 hours.
Of course, once you are in the Dordogne, there are other ways to get around as well……