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Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

London, United...
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Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

Will it be very busy end of August /beginning of September in the Sarlat region. We hopefully will be going to St Emillion, Sarlat & Rocamadour. We are a little worried on hearing that the traffic along the river can be nose to tail.

Thankyou for any help.

Albufeira, Portugal
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1. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

It was nose to tail around Sarlat in June last year, let alone August and St Emilion was very busy early last August.

The last weekend of August marks the end of the holiday season for the French and they will heading home en masse. There might not be quite the peak volume of traffic and visitors, but all three places are very popular most of the year. You cannot drive into St Emilion for the most part. You will be directed to parking areas around the edge of the village and then you have to walk a few minutes.

It's going to be hard to avoid all the traffic problems.

Perigueux, France
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2. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

Having lived in the area for 10 years now I have never seen nose to tail traffic. Despite what the previous poster says about "most of the year", I have driven the 23 miles to Sarlat in Jan/Feb and not seen another car on many occasions. The bottleneck near the river is Beynac, but locals will avoid that in August.

One thing is for sure, you will never see the volumes of traffic in the Dordogne that you see in many areas of the UK. Brighton and Worthing last January had about ten times as much traffic as we have around her in August.

England, United...
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3. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

What is 'crowded' depends a bit on personal expectations. Our most recent visit to the Dordogne was in mid July last year, and we expected it to be extremely busy. And yes, it was busy, but we did not feel oppressed by it because having been there on previous visits out of high season we were expecting it to be much worse than it actually turned out to be.

It was very hot though at that time, so we thought that it was not over-busy because most locals were staying indoors and that tourists with accommodation with a swimming pool were not out and about. Later I read that tourism in the Dordogne declined by 30% last year compared with previous years, so maybe that also had something to do with it not feeling excessively crowded to me.

The roads that we travelled along were sometimes quite busy but not bumper-to-bumper, and we found parking surprisingly easy in, for example, La Roque Gageac and Domme which are major tourist spots. The smaller roads were really rather quiet. Beynac was difficult though, and we did not go to Sarlat on this trip because we've been several times before and even out of season we did not much like the roads in and out of it.

Sarlat is not a big town (only some 10,000 residents) but it typically receives some 1.5 - 2 million visitors a year. Sarlat tends to be the 'default' town recommended for people visiting the Dordogne, and it's a nice town and in a good central location for visitors who also want a fair amount of facilities and choices for eating out. But in high season it would not be my first choice as a base to stay.

That said, I think end of August when you are planning to go is the time when things empty out anyway. On one of our other visits to the Dordogne we started our stay right at the end of August and it felt generally fine as regards crowds.

If end of August is the only time you can travel there then I say go for it - I'm as sure as can be that you will enjoy your stay.

Le Bugue, France
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4. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

St-Emilion and Rocamadour aren't "in the Sarlat region," but both, like the Dordogne, get their share of tourism. The end of August won't be insanely crowded in the Dordogne, but yes, will still be busy. I have seen nose-to-tail traffic on the riverside roads in mid-July and early August, but my perception is that summer traffic is down a bit in recent years. I think you will still find it enjoyable.

Perigueux, France
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5. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

Strange that visitors here think that when it is hot, us locals stay indoors. The main economic activity here is farming, we also have bakers, butchers, supermarkets and everything else that a civilised economy has. How do you think that we could live here if we all stayed indoors when it was hot? Life would grind to a halt as we residents still need to eat.

The fact is that the roads are not busy in the winter without tourists and it gets busier in the summer, but not as bust as any UK town is at any time of the year. Yes there are bottleneck, Sarlat now has a bypass so that one is eliminated, Beynac is waiting for a bypass, but there are ways around the place.

Today has been a very hot day, but we have driven into Montignac and noticed that there are many more foreign plated cars there, but we did not have to stop and wait anywhere.

Edited: 2:20 pm, June 12, 2014
England, United...
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6. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

[How do you think that we could live here if we all stayed indoors when it was hot?]

Fred, I never said that 'all' locals stayed indoors and I'm also well aware that farming is important to the region.

In my previous post I was relating my experience during an exceptionally hot July last year, which was so unusually hot it was even reported in the press.

sudouest.fr/2013/08/01/juillet-2013-bat-le-r…

The French farmer who mowed the fields next to our gite apologised to us for doing so in the early evening because it just had been too hot to do it earlier in the day.

Perigueux, France
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7. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

I know how hot it was - I live here. It is not a good idea to base a sweeping statement on the word of one French farmer.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

You are probably more likely to curse slow camper vans (certainly not all are slow!) than "nose to tail" traffic.

9. Re: Crowds end of August in the Dordogne

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