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Trip Report Curemonte, E. Perigord -- A snapshot

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I just came upon this email to friends, from a trip in May 2009. We had a great trip to the eastern part of the Dordogne, in SW France -- on the borders of Correze, hence upriver from the more touristed areas around Beynac, Domme, Sarlat, etc.

It was such a nice snapshot of one day in that prodigiously attractive region that I decided to share it:

The Dordogne: Land of low medieval doorways, steeply angled dormers and lethally undersized apertures of all kinds. Even a man of "average" height can come to grief.

Am I really too tall? I have now banged + lacerated my bare forehead three times: On an impossibly low door lintel; on the sloping walls of our bathroom; and on a low stone arch, under which I sought to duck.

Attribute my clumsiness to one of the following, at your pleasure:
■ Distraction, due to the transfiguring beauty of my lush surroundings;
■ dizziness, in the 30 degree heat;
■ drunkenness, from the powerful dark wines of Cahors or the clear, light whites of Quercy;
■.....or general mental torpor, such as is attendant on a steady diet of foie gras, Rocamadour cheeses, duck magret and walnut oil.

Today in the market we asked the local cheese seller to explain the various tints of his cabecou cheese -- from snow-white to near black. "This" -- pointing to the palest -- "was made yesterday. This, three days ago. Five days ago. A month ago. Three months ago. A year ago."

As we come to the end of our week at Le Fleuret cottage (www.lefleuret.com) I am more persuaded than ever that this is among the richest and most beguiling parts of France. Romanesque chapels along rural byways. Small, decrepit Renaissance chateaux spotted on a neighbouring hillside. "Perfect" small towns with distinguished houses and fine market squares.

We have yet to see another N American tourist -- which is just as we prefer it.

After last night's extravaganza dinner at La Terrasse in Meyronne (A plate of 5 amuse-gueule each + a slab of foie gras with walnut bread + a fish course of "sandre" with a reduction of Cahors wine + magret de canard with 4 garnishes + a cheese course + dessert), we eat modestly tonight: A "ferme auberge" -- a farm house on the edge of Curemonte, where you get a set menu described to us as "duck, duck, duck, veal" at a long table with total strangers.

To while away the intervening hours, I plow through Virginia Woolf's The Years (while also working on my tan) by the pool. Every now and then I raise my eyes from the page to look across a valley obscured by shimmering heat. On the other side of the valley are the 3 chateaux of little Curemonte: golden stone towers surmounted by red clay roofs. I take a sip of the sharp rose wine from the Mille et Une Pierres vineyard in nearby Branceilles -- and think how much I am missing Canada and all things Canadian.

Well, maybe missing my friends a little.

Only 5 more days after today. Tomorrow we head of downriver to the "real", ie more touristed, Dordogne. There will be pluses and minuses, no doubt. On which I undertake to report presently....

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