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Diversions in the Dordogne

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Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:25 AM
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Diversions in the Dordogne

(This report could also be called PERUSING THE PERIGORD POURPRE, which I like better, but I'm never quite certain what the difference is between the Perigord and the Dordogne. I think it has been explained here, probably by St. Cirq.)

Our arrival in the Dordogne was a bit dicey, but ended up on a triumphal tasty note! at Lou Peyrol!
(see my first report: "Paris - Dordogne- Paris - Another 20 Matchless Days")

After our excellent dinner and reunion with our friends, we drove the 2 miles down the narrow road to our house (for a week)

Although we bid and won a week at the house at a Land Conservancy benefit Silent Auction, all arrangements were made through SIMPLY PERIGORD.

(Googling that site will give you a long list of great looking large villas to rent in this part of France, which is the Western Dordogne, and come to think of it, probably more central Dordogne also)

We had no problems at all with the house, made only a couple of minor phone calls about how to lock some of the doors, had a nice gal come to clean mid-week, and basically had everything we needed provided for us, including lists of places nearby to eat, shop, sight-see etc.

It is a large (4 bedroom, three bath) 17th century stone country manor in a tiny village called Pressignac-Vicq, about 8 miles north of Lalinde and the Dordogne river, in the Perigord Pourpre, about half an hour from Bergerac.

The house had a great kitchen-dining room which got most of our business. Then there were two wings, each with two bedrooms. There was a large sitting room, a TV room, plus two other small sitting rooms, office-like, out in the wings.

Our room was huge with a king bed, a brand new bathroom, with giant shower, a fireplace, and a lovely view out on the apple orchard.

There was a large pool, with several outdoor sitting areas, so nothing was missing.

I'm going to give you my impressions, and suggestions, not a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the week, partly since it would just take too long, and I am over wordy, but also, despite diary jottings, my memories are becoming a blur.

So this will be impressionistic.... Commencing with SARLAT TO THE MAX: MARKET DAY, followed by: BREATHTAKING JARDINS D' EYRIGNAC
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Bookmarking to follow. Good start!
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:48 AM
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That sounds like a great vacation house. Big enough for a guest so next time invite me.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 10:20 AM
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Périgord is the Ancien Régime name of the province. Dordogne is the name of the area as a département.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 10:33 AM
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BTW, I finally just got around to reading the first portion of your report. I enjoy the way you write so it doesn't so much matter what you saw and did as much as how you write about it. And I like how you're writing about what you did and saw.

Thanks for the plug about my "Country Villages and Fall Foliage" report but sadly it seems to have slipped quickly and quietly into anonymity. I'll be looking forward to the Barbizon portion of your report. There are so many great villages like that in close proximity to Paris. I wish people would spend a week vacationing just in the region around Paris so they could see for themselves just how many little gems are out there and most of them completely undiscovered by foreign tourists. If you go back to Barbizon you know I'll have lots of recommendations for villages and sites to visit near there. In fact, I recently discovered that the region near there is absolutely full of prehistoric cave art. No masterpieces like Lascaux but loads of engraved art and mysterious symbols. I plan on discovering some of these soon so you know I'll report back when I find something. Anyway, I'm waiting for your next installment.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 02:32 PM
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Michael: thanks so much. I should know that by now. I love the word: 'Perigord"

FMT: The villages around Paris have always interested me, and I would love to do such a week's trip. Maybe I will fantasize about that for a while. Meantime, your photo-essays will spur me on!
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 08:29 PM
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Michael: Thanks. I should have remembered that.

FMT: Thanks for the encouragement. I would love to spend a week or more checking out towns around Paris. Barbizon was just a taste, and I'd love to go back there too!
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:29 PM
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I agree with FMT--a big house like that could accommodate a few Fodorite hangers-on.

Looking forward to the next installment.
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Nov 4th, 2011, 06:28 AM
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Glad to see the report continue...
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Nov 4th, 2011, 06:45 AM
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Awaiting your report to glean tips for our trip to the Dordogne in March. thanks.
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Nov 4th, 2011, 06:55 AM
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Looking forward to the rest of your TR, tac.

We, too, used Simply Perigord to rent an old stone house in a tiny village a few years ago, and it was one of my favorite vacation trips ever.
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Nov 4th, 2011, 06:59 AM
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Just curious... is this the place you rented?

http://www.simply-perigord.com/rentals/view/PRE158
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Nov 4th, 2011, 08:15 PM
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Yes, Mr. go - This is it!!
Thanks for putting up the site, I wasn't quite sure how to do it. the photos are quite accurate, but the kitchen seems to be missing.
That is unfortunate, since it was a fine kitchen, which included the dining area, which we all used as "command central"

the grounds are also lovely as is the pool. We all woke up happy on the first morning, as we wandered around investigating all the rooms, and all the outdoor spaces. there is an apple orchard, and we picked apples, as well as a fig tree, laden with delicious figs! we made good use of them too!

the house was in a very small village, and pretty far from the usual desirable sites of the Dordogne, but we all fell in love with it, and have many happy memories of our week. We a ALL felt we should have planned two weeks there, so we wouldn't be torn between wanting tostay around the pool, take walks, and just chill - AND the pull of all the delights of the Dordogne.

Others have written much about spending time in this area, and I was able to use so many Fodorite suggestions of places to go, but there is so much to see, that even though we had been in the general area 15 years ago, we hardly scratched the surface!


First morning, we sent the two Johns out to the supermarket, and they aquitted themselves very well.
We planned to pick up more food at the Sarlat market, so we left as early as possible for that venue.
although very crowded, we managed to find parking places, and walked only a short way to where the action was, and there was a lot of action!

Only problem was we had split up and gone in two cars and we hadn't quite planned who would buy what!!

by sheer luck, we four ran in to the other four at just the right moment. We picked chickens for dinner and Sarlaidaise potatoes, and the sweetest tomatoes I have ever tasted!! they are called "coeur de boeuf" - have ridges at the top (sort of like pumpkins, but only at the top) so not like our beefsteak tomatoes.
I know that others have said that the best chickens are at another market (can't think of the name at the moment) and that could be true, because although good, it was not the best chicken ever. a few bottles of wine made it better and better (and we got great red wines at the supermarket in Lalinde for very good prices!)

The market is crowded, but great fun, and well worth visiting. We were mostly interested in the food, but there were lots of other things being sold: clothing, gifts, candles, fun to see and chat with the sellers, and pick up souvenirs!

We took the advice of Stu Dudley (I think it was) who said to go early to Sarlet, then leave for Eyrignac garden, and eat lunch at the garden.

and that will be next!
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Nov 4th, 2011, 10:09 PM
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This area is on our list for next Sept. Can't wait for more of your report.
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Nov 5th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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I am enjoying your report! I want to go back to the Dordogne area right now.
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Nov 5th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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First of all, the better roasted chickens are said to be at the St. Cyprien market, so I thought I'd repeat that info.

Secondly, sorry about the typos in last post, I was writing on my iPad last evening, which I should never do since it's hard to make corrections, even in "preview" (or more accurately, I have yet to figure out how!)

Sarlat is a busy town, to be sure, and I tend NOT to like crowded touristy places, but it was very much worth while!

The town itself is quite lovely, and you will see later, if I remember to say it, that we went back on a non-Market day, just to see the lovely buildings, and to figure out why it is so well-regarded and known.

I could even consider staying in Sarlat, as long as I had a way to get out of town rapidement! (probably easy to find a rental or a hotel that would allow that) Mostly because there is plenty to do there, and lots of restaurants, so one would not want for diversion.

There is at least one big hotel: Hotel Montaigne, right in the center of town, and several others. Also many good rentals I'm sure. (I thought Le Presidial had some good looking apartments)

We all left around 12 and drove on up to Les Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac, which is in Salignac, not far to the north east of Sarlat.

This was a huge highlight for all of us, as we are, au fond, a group of garden lovers (and their long suffering husbands!) However, I think I would say that this and Les Jardins de Marqueyssac (another day) were absolute highlights of this trip, and for more reasons than just the gardens themselves.

Here is French garden history at its best. This is an ancestral home, with the centerpiece a stunning 17th century manor house, rebuilt then after its earlier destruction. This has been a family property for 500 years, with 22 generations living here, without a break. It is the epitome of French gardening: lines, vistas and repetition. This was the style developed by Le Notre at Vaux le Vicomte and Versailles.

It is topiary heaven, with a stunning hornbeam walk, and so many vistas I couldn't count. Everywhere one looks there are incredible HAND-clipped box, hornbeam, yew, cypress, even apple trees. There are 10 acres of impeccable lawns and almost 10 miles of hedges!

I could go on and on, but I'll try to stop, and just give you some good info about a visit there. But please do not miss it, if you even just think you like gardens.

We had a very nice lunch in the cafe at the garden, delicious salads, but of course duck confit for the lovers thereof. A lovely spot where one can sit on the terrace and contemplate the views of the gardens.

I must also tell you that I discovered that one can rent a house on this property. You can find the details on the website and we actually, with permission, went and peeked in all the windows of the smaller stone cottage, and I would NOT hesitate to spend a week there. (We once did that with friends at Powys Castle gardens in Wales, thru the National Trust, and it was heaven!)

You can camp there, park free, picnic, there's a nice gift shop, it's really a winner. Take a look at the web site for photos of it all, and much more info. www.eyrignac.com

The afternoon was almost over, so we did what I think I might like best: we wandered back "home" taking a meandering route on back roads, but stopping in Saint-Genies to walk around this lovely medieval town, thanks to a tip from a recent visitor to the area. It was quiet and it was lovely, and most worth while. Nobody ever writes about this one, so our meandering was rewarded. It always is! I recommend it highly, as have others on this board, especially in this part of France.
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Nov 5th, 2011, 07:37 AM
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Oh, forgot to say, coming up:

PRE-HISTORY AT ITS BEST (with no reservations)
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Nov 5th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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I like your travel style taconic and the way you write about your experiences. It's been at least a half dozen years since I've been to Sarlat bu the last time I went it was out of season in October and we stayed in a hotel in the old ramparts. Our room was in one of the old towers and it was one of my most memorable hotel stays. Can't remember the name of the place. You know I'll be looking forward to the pre-history part of your report.
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Nov 5th, 2011, 02:18 PM
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WOW! I just looked at the Eyrignac website which I haven't done in a few months, and I see that people can now have drinks and/ or dinner with the owners!

not sure if I'd like that much commercialism, but don't let it put you off. as a matter of fact, knowing my garden travel group, I think we would all go for the whole thing, because we are all so curious and would love to see the house. (My husband says I am on an "eternal house & garden tour" - which is true)

also there is a lovely chapel near the manor house, with contemporary stained glass windows, sort of Matisse-like.
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Nov 5th, 2011, 11:09 PM
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