Okay, here's what we did/ate.
First day, by the time we flew into Toulouse, got our car and drove to Sarlat, it was afternoon. We liked the looks of the B&B (Les Cordeliers), the owner was very helpful. We settled in and walked into town. Chris (the owner) had recommended a few places but they were clearly for (British) tourists - most of the meals came with chips, a good hint. There was a strip of this restaurants altogether and they were clearly popular, and inexpensive. We went to one of them, something Glacier. And we had a nice meal, my husband a pizza, I had a lovely salad with lardons, smoked duck, walnuts and a poached egg. We ate outside under an awning while it occasionally rained. Turned in very early because of the time change and travel.
Day 2 the weather looked like it would be decent, so we decided to do our canoe trip right away. Nice breakfast in the B&B (I LOVE the fact that they serve breakfast until ELEVEN). Then to Carsac to find a canoe place. We did the 1 1/2 hour trip (mostly because my husband paddled and I just took pictures), so we only passed one Chateau on the way, Chateau Montfort. At one point the wind really picked up and I thought we were going to get poured on, but then suddenly it was fine. We landed where we were told, picked up and taken back to our car.
On to Domme, around 2:00. Ate at a small sandwich shop, shared a croque monsieur. There were a number of school trips going on, one on a treasure hunt, that was fun to watch. The views from Domme are magnificent, and it's a charming small town (too small to STAY in for any length of time, though, from my viewpoint).
Dinner at Auberge Le Mirandol in Sarlat - very nice. I had duck breat with morel sauce which was great, Mr. canoe was ravenous and ordered one of the formules - foie gras, then escargots in some sort of sauce, duck, a cheese salad and a warm chocolate torte! I could barely watch, but he seemed quite satisfied.
Day 3 was a Saturday, so Market Day in Sarlat! AND it was sunny out. The market is HUGE, and not just in the old city, it spills out everywhere. TONS of food, produce and herbs, poultry,meat, sausages. Also clothes, brac a brac, scarves, toys.... There was a man selling fresh nougat from these huge logs of it, he'd use a long knife to slice you a thin piece - I bought some (with almonds and dried cherries) and it was fabulous. It kept fresh for a number of days and was a real treat. At some point, we bought a sandwich for later and sat at a cafe with an espresso for my husband and my new favorite drink, a noisette, for me, to people watch.
When we got back to the B&B I was astonished to find that the market extended all the way down the street. I bought a cute linen jacket for very little money. I assume this is the largest market in the area.
Since the next day threatened to be rainy, in the afternoon we went to Les Jardins du manoir d'Eyrignac, lovely formal gardens on acres of land. Lots of beautiful, unusual and high maintenance shrubbery, peepholes, Asian gardens, a white garden.... definitely worth a visit.
Dinner (with a single woman from the B&B) at La Presidial - we ate inside as it was pretty chilly. Delicious dinner and it was nice chatting with our dinner companion.
Day 4, Sunday. RAIN. Most of the day, until about 5:30. So we went prehistoric. Went to Montignac, went to a museum there (Le Thot) and bought tickets for Lasaux II. Had lunch at a small cafe in Montignac (lots of things closed on Sunday). Lascaux II was great, we went on the English tour, definitely worth seeing. On the way back the SUN came out, so we stopped at Forte de Reignac, built into a cliff with some recreated rooms.
We both wanted something quick and light for dinner, ate at Aux 4 Terroirs - it was nice, nothing special, but all we really wanted. The weather was still nice so we went for a stroll before heading back.
Day 5 - the weather gods were looking kindly on us, it was SUPPOSED to rain but it was lovely out. We started out the day at La Roque Gageac - a lovely village built into a huge cliff. Lots to see and beautiful tropical gardens to walk through as well. Just wonderful.
Onto Beynac where's theres a great castle and GORGEOUS views of the whole valley, I took a ton of pictures. We had lunch at a small place up near thecastle that SHOULD have been touristy and awful but wasn't. I had a HUGE delicious salad and my husband had a tomato salad. We sat outside, it was lovely.
In the afternoon, we went to Chatuau des Milandes, which Josephine Baker bought and renovated and is now a sort of museum about her. I hadn't known so much about her life, and found it very interesting, she really was an amazing woman. Los of her costumes, hundresds of photos etc. Before we toured the chateau we went the falconry show, which was a treat (even in French). Falcons, owls, a bald eagle, flaying all around bak to the falconer. Great fun.
Finding a place for dinner was a bit of a problem because it was a MONDAY, and we hadn't made a reservation at the place we wanted (one of the few that was open) - so we ended up back at Auberge le Mirandol and had another great meal.
Day 6 - Another icky weather day, and our last day in Sarlat, We TRIED to go to the Prehistoric Museum, but of course hadn't checked and it was closed on Tuesday. THere WAS a market nearby but we got there too late (which did not prevent me from buying a nice waterproof jacket). We couldn't quite figure out what to do with ourselves, but finally found something open - a pizza place, FULL of people, nice and warm inside. We had pizza, salad and beer and it was lovely. The poeple watching was superb. I need to remember that this kind of experience is traveling too, not just the museums and chateaux and landmarks etc.
When we got back to Sarlat, the weather cleared so we headed out to shop a bit (presents for folks at home - always a challenge), visited the Manoir Grisson, which was very nicely done and well worth a visit.
Fabulous dinner at Assiette de Foie Gras. Thank goodness we had a reservation, it's very small and I think they only do one seating per night. Everyone was delicious and I ended with marscapone and mango sorbet on toasted gingerbread. My husband finished with a chocolate souffle with cassis sorbet. GREAT restaurant.
Day 7 - We went via Rocamadour but didn't stop to visit, we just did some of the views. Got to Figeac around 3. Figeac has a lovely old town. We had dinner at a place full of locals (I can't remember the name now, and didn't write it down) - they had a sign outside advertising their moules, so we ordered two different kinds. They brought each of us what must have been 3 lbs of mussels and an equivalent amount of frites! Delicious and impossible to finish. Good people watching again, teenagers, older couples, loud kids....
Day 8 - PERFECT weather, so we headed off to Rocamadour (yes I know this is going backwards, but we had to contend with the weather gods). It was spectacular, so impressive. We walked everywhere, had lovely salads on a shady terrace with a view. We spent quite a while there.
Spent a lazy afternoon, we deserved it. DInner at Grain de Sel, an upstairs terrace - dinner outside! The food was very good, and again, the place seemed mostly frequented by locals. Lovely meal.
I had wanted to see other towns in the area, but - another trip.
I'll leave it here. Let's pretend we magically arrived in Paris in another day, and Part 2b will be about that.
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Okay, here's what we did/ate.