We intended to celebrate a special wedding anniversary in February with a trip to Paris and Provence. I didn’t consider the Dordogne until I discovered there were lots of houses for rent there when I tried to find a gite in Provence. Unfortunately, they weren’t available in February. But, when a February trip didn’t work out, the Dordogne became possible. Plus, in the meantime, I’d stumbled across Fodor’s Forum in my research and had read glowing reports about the Dordogne. DH had no idea there even was such a place but he’s trusting and is always happy with the trips I take him on so he agreed. What he didn’t know then was that I had a whole team of advisors helping me plan the best trip ever. If you are one of the many helpful people who ever submitted a Dordogne report or answered questions about the area, thank you so very much!
Although I spent a great deal of time researching both online and in guidebooks, I made a real effort not to overplan. I simply formed groupings of places I’d like to see based on location and made lists of recommended restaurants at which to eat along with notes on which days we should go or avoid because of markets or closings. I rated the various possibilities so we’d visit all the essential places in case we never returned but mentally started a list of places to see next time. I penciled in some clusters in my journal if they needed to happen on certain days but the only definite dates were a reserved English tour at Font de Gaume and our accommodations including two full weeks in a house in Sarlat.
Naturally I made allowances for last minute suggestions from my husband who always comes up with ideas when he finally reads some guides once we arrive. I tried to alternate days of more car travel with days of less and to spread out the different caves and chateaux. My organized freestyle planning worked out well. Besides, as seasoned travelers we feel no compunction to see and do everything. Our travel philosophy is that it’s better to really enjoy a few special things than to become jaded by too many. Maybe it’s a function of middle age: you realize you can no longer do everything and have to make choices.
France Sans Gluten
I can have absolutely no wheat, rye or barley ever but please don’t let my gluten intolerence put you off reading further. Any restaurant that can cope graciously and proficiently with dietary restrictions will also serve regular diners very well. As it turns out, French restaurant personnel take food very seriously and almost always met my challenge. When they erred I was prepared enough to realize it, ask questions and avoid a disaster. Except for breakfast, France is actually one of the best places, other than home, to eat sans gluten, because chefs cook from scratch. It’s probably one of the best places to eat period!
Next: Moolyn’s Excellent Adventure Begin
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Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006