Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Old Jul 24th, 2006, 06:13 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 16,197
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Crazy

You and Moolyn are both correct about the location of Carennac. It is ON the Doredogne River(like Moolyn said), but IN the Department of the Lot (like you said).

The Dordogne traverses many departments. We just returned from 2 weeks in a Gite in the Puy du Dome Department - near Clermont-Ferrand. The Dordogne ran close to our Gite - but it's just a small stream there.

Regarding the traffic. We stay south of Sarlat. It you go north to south through Sarlat around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, there is a school that you pass that lets out about then. Traffic is a crawl at that time.

We dined at Le Presidial in Sarlat twice while staying in the Dordogne for 4 weeks last year. The food was excellent, and both the outside and interior settings were lovely.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 06:23 AM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Moolyn,

L'Octroi has been on my list for Sept..Carlux had told me about it. I have some French friends who will be meeting me and spending a few days while I am there in Sept. L'Octroi, Maynardie, Vieux Logis and many others are on my list.

I know I will enjoy staying in Carlux, from "Carlux" in their Le Fournil for a month in the fall of 2007. I don't really do any cooking, but like the space.

I am gathering a great deal of info on Brittany. Looks good!!!

Enjoying your report....
a bientot....
Joan
gracejoan3 is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 08:26 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 894
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Stu...I've added the La Presidial to my list as well. Perhaps we can try one for lunch and the other for dinner as we plan to visit Sarlat twice at least. Once for market day (Wednesday) and another evening, as I understand it is lovely after dark as well.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 12:22 PM
  #44  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 903
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Crazy, Sarlat would have been fine in May but, you know what, there are no right and wrong answers. You’ll be very happy in Cenac too. After all, Stu returns there again and again.

The photos from Bisto de l’Octroi were actually taken from ten meals, our four visits plus that of our neighbours. Sarlat may not have the most highly regarded restaurants but it does have some very good ones. Besides l’Octroi, you definitely should go to le Presidial. Schedule le Presidial for an evening because the ambience then is amazing and it's right in town. Photos to come.

My mental map of our trip was based on rivers so I didn’t pay much attention to departments. Thanks for pointing this out; departments are important to the French if not so much to me.

Lavendrye, it was our new American friend, the one who grew up in Buffalo, who had the Baba Rhume at the recommendation of the server with whom he flirted all evening. He said it was wonderful. I’m intrigued, why did you think the person who ate it may have caught a cold? Was it because there was a bite taken? He dug in before I handed him the camera.

If you follow my food shots you'll notice that there's often a missing bite or two. That because I would get so excited when I saw the food that I often forgot to photograph it before I started eating!

Stu, you are such a diplomat!

Staying right in Sarlat we never had occasion to go north to south in the afternoon so never encountered that traffic crawl. To go north or south out of town in the morning was a cinch, especially north as we were on the northern edge.

Joan, I will be sharing photos and impressions of our meals at Meynardie and le Vieux Logis, both of which Carlux recommended and both of which I think should be on everyone’s list if they visit the Dordogne.
moolyn is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 12:49 PM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4,412
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Moolyn:

Rhume--a cold; Rhum--rum.

I certainly didn't mean to be pedantic, but it jut struck my sense of humour at the time. Of course, many will say say rhum is good for a rhume.
laverendrye is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 12:57 PM
  #46  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,549
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you very much for the trip report and photos. While I have traveled extensively in France, the Dordogne s just one region I have not been to. Most of my travels these days tend to be through home exchanges. If anyone wants to swap a house in the Dordogne for one just outside Washington, DC, let me know!
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 12:59 PM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oyi Moolyn you are making me sooo hungry! That food looks fantastic.

What is a Flottant? - mostly egg and..

Sarlat looks simply fairy tale - lovely. You are really making me consider a week in France during my next trip - did you find the car rental pretty resonable and easy to deal with? I had dismissed the Dordogne becaue of poor public transportation initially.

I'm going to go root through my fridge...

Cheers,

Murphy
murphy89 is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 01:00 PM
  #48  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
oh yes, and that is an excellent tip - if you have dietary concerns to have them written out in the local language before hand
murphy89 is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 01:45 PM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,500
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi again moolyn,

Wonderful installments! Reading your trip report is so delightful and all your lovely pictures make it even better. Sarlat looks like a place of fairytales... in which I have a completely different life and meander around charming village all day and eat amazing cuisine.

I hadn't realized the geography of the Lot Valley vs. Dordogne before your trip report. Found an excellent map on google and am enjoying your journey through France
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2006, 01:47 PM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Moolyn,

Carlux is a great source for restaurants and probably everything else. I think we have the same tastes!!

The Dordogne part of my trip this fall will only be for 6 days..a month next year!!
Not sure if I will do Oradour sur Glane this trip or wait til next year..will see.


gracejoan3 is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 03:40 AM
  #51  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 903
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Rhume--a cold; Rhum--rum. Lavendrye, that’s so funny! I like your sense of humour. I knew that at one time, of course. I can’t spell any better in French than I can in English, obviously. I always joke that I was only allowed to teach kindergarten because that was the limit of my spelling ability.

FauxSteMarie, our family made several exchanges when our children were young with excellent results. We stopped when they wanted to have summer job because we didn’t figure anyone would want a house with two teenagers. Plus we had made friends with our exchange partners in the places we liked to go by then so simply visited back and forth, still do. If you’d like to exchange with us in Toronto some time, let me know. The French family we met at Auberge de Concasty is interested in the idea of exchanging too. They live in France near Geneva.

Murphy, Ils Flottante (Floating Islands) is also known as Oeufs à la Neige. It’s soft meringue on top of soft custard, sometimes with a carmel sauce, very nutritious and, of course, gluten-free. It’s not hard to make either. Google them all for recipes.

We rented through Europcar/ AutoEurope as recommended by Ira and others on this forum. We thought it was very reasonable. Others must agree because there was a long line at their desk at the Toulouse airport whereas other counters were deserted. Besides, if you team up with laartista as I’ve suggested, you could split the cost of the car and the cost of accommodation!

The Dordogne is fairly compact so you can see a great deal from one place. Google Gites de France for an idea of cost. This is how the French do it. As Crazy/Kelly wrote above, the best ones go quickly so you need to book well ahead. Stu Dudley can advise you on this as he’s our gite expert. There also gite.com like the house we rented. These are usually more expensive but tend to be more hotel quality than vacation homes, in my opinion. Carlux can help with these.

Murphy and Jill, you both commented on the fairytale quality of Sarlat. Before we went we watched some movies filmed in the area that really point this up. “Ever After” with Drew Barrymore is an update of Cinderella and “the Duelists” with Harvey Keital and Keith Carradine is darker, as you’d expect, but parts were filmed right in Sarlat. At least one version of Cyrano Bergerac was filmed in the Dordogne too but I’m not sure which.

Jill, I figured that I could sneak more photos in by attaching them to each section. If I presented them in one batch nobody would ever go through them all or realize the significance of each.

Maps are great to have when you read travel reports. I need a map to use when I read your report on Greece!

Joan, I totally agree that Carlux is a great resource. She recommended all of the best places we ate plus many of the Dordogne movies we watched, including "le Boucher" whose setting I’ll track down later in my report.
moolyn is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 05:22 AM
  #52  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 903
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Technical Stuff

We brought along my husband’s laptop computer with my Dordogne files as La Bouquerie has dial-up internet access. Unfortunately this doesn’t work unless your home server offers service in France and ours doesn’t. I really missed being able to check my email early and late when internet places weren’t open; they were mostly just open during the day when we were off exploring. At least with the laptop I only suffered internet withdrawal and not computer withdrawal as well. Carlux is trying to convince the owners to provide broadband. I hope she succeeds before our next trip.

Sunday evening after dinner we passed an internet place that was open late on weekends so we were able to get online. It was expensive, four euros for 20 minutes, and the French keyboard has letters in different places than we are used to so it wasn’t easy to use. I decided that it would be better to compose a group email to our friends and family and bring our laptop next time. Another internet place at the south end of town was much more reasonable, just two euros per hour, and we could plug in our laptop, use our English keyboard and attach our prewritten letters. But it was near the local high school, wasn’t air conditioned and was full of noisy, smelly teenage boys. The very best internet place we found was in the tourist office in le Bugue. Charging only four euros an hour, it was peaceful and pleasant and there was even a printer.

My camera, a Nikon Coolpix 4300, belongs to an earlier generation, like me, but still performs well. I was very pleased to have an eye viewer because it’s almost impossible to see the screen on very sunny days and it was sunny day after day. The sun was often a problem because it was in front of me rather than behind when I wanted to shoot but I couldn’t do much about that so took photos anyway rather than miss out. My main photo-taking problem was that DH would stride on whenever I stopped to shoot, right into the picture! If I noticed at the time I reshot but often I only realized later. Sometimes I took photos of him on purpose and occasionally he grabbed my camera and took a picture of me. The division of labour was that he drove and I took photos. He got very good at deciphering my ohs and ahs when we were driving and pulling over so I could take a picture. Unfortunately it was often impossible to pull over at the most scenic spots.

I soon filled both my 512mb memory cards and tried to find a place to transfer the pictures on to CDs so I could reuse them. The smelly internet place wanted 20 euros. A photo shop in the middle of Sarlat wanted 15 euros but said I needed two CDS; I knew it would all fit on one disc but they were adamant. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay more than I paid for each card in the first place so I downloaded the two cards from my camera on to my husband’s laptop, dividing into files as I went in order to keep track of the places. Back home, since DH doesn’t have a CD burner yet, I uploaded many to Kodak Easyshare Gallery and was then able to start organizing them on my own computer for sharing.

DH bought me an extra rechargeable battery last Christmas and I tucked it away in a safe spot. When it came time to recharge my extra one on this trip I found that it didn’t quite fit into my recharger even though it fit into my camera. It would have been so great to have had a backup battery but I leaned to download my photos every night, run down the battery and recharge. Only when I walked to Henry’s Cameras to complain, bill for the rechargeable battery in hand, did I discover that I hadn’t brought the rechargeable one at all but the regular one that I had carried as backup on a previous trip. This is not a bad way to manage if you don’t have an extra rechargeable, by the way. Anyway, how embarrassing! Hopefully I can remember where that safe spot is before our next trip!

Without radio or television we didn’t know what was going on in the world but weren’t even interested. We would have bought an English language newspaper if they weren’t always sold out by the time we returned to our neighbourhood and passed the tabac. We were quite amazed when our American neighbours asked about the homegrown terrorist group who had been caught plotting to bomb the Toronto stock exchange, just three short blocks from our downtown condo!

After writing that last section I went to my sewing box and guess what I found, tucked away all safe and sound….. my rechargeable battery!


Next: Font de Gaume, St Cirq la Bugue and La Métairie
moolyn is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 06:04 AM
  #53  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 894
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have to figure out how to download my photos for sharing. I have to admit that I am not very computer savvy but I'm should give it a try. It really helps to bring a trip report to life.

looking forward to your next installment.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 09:14 AM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
GraceJoan:

<<<Not sure if I will do Oradour sur Glane>>>

Odd that you should mention the ill-fated Oradour sur Glane, the "massacre" town near Limoges. DW and I are both reading the book "High and Hidden Place" by Michele Clair Lucas, a novel concerning this horrendous event..a great read, so beautifully written.

Stu T.
tower is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 09:48 AM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Stu T...

Oradour...I will go, either this fall or next fall. They say it is quite a moving experience...but could not be any more moving than Normandy cemeteries!

Joan
gracejoan3 is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 02:00 PM
  #56  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 903
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kelly, it's not hard downloading and sharing but there's a few tricky things to master. It's worth the effort.

Joan, I was affected by all those Normandy cemetaries too. Add Anne Frank's House and Hiroshima to your list of really moving places. Oradour sur Glane is on my list of places to visit in the Dordogne next time.

Stu T., nice to "meet" you. By coincidence I stopped at the library to get "The Wayfarers" on my way home today but they didn't have a copy. I've been following Travelgirl's thread where your not-so-hidden identity was revealed.
moolyn is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 06:10 PM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,748
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Moolyn, I'm loving your report and photos; read every word and looked at every one. Now the Dordogne is on short list of places I must get to. Thanks for the great reading and viewing; looking forward to even more.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2006, 06:58 PM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"four euros for 20 minutes"

Ack! That is the worst internet fee I've ever hear of - terrible. Good thing you were prepared.

I am loving your report - I've looked at your Sarlat pictures 3 times Mmmm, dreaming of France.

Cheers,

Murphy
murphy89 is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2006, 05:57 AM
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 903
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Font-de-Gaume and St. Cirq la Bugue

Because of StCirq’s warning about the need to book ahead for an English tour at Font-de-Gaume I asked Carlux if she would make a reservation for us and she was able to do so by phone. This is just one example of the helpful information available on Fodor’s and the kindness of the regular contributors!

We arrived early to pick up our tickets (6.50 euros each) and had an hour to kill before our tour. Rather than waste time sitting around we decided to drive to nearby les Eyzies. At the far side of the town I spotted a sign to St. Cirq and asked my husband to drive there; we were pleased that we did because it’s such a lovely little village, a hamlet actually, and I understand why StCirq has a house there. There are no stores, just houses and the grotte, but it’s only 4k from les Eyzies and about the same from le Bugue. We drove to the top of the village, to the grotte, and I looked for a house with a swimming pool that backed against the cliff with a roof that German tourists could picnic on, thinking that there would be only one possibility. But it’s very popular to build houses backing against cliffs in St. Cirq so, although I actually saw StCirq’s house, I didn’t realize it at the time.

Back at la Font-de-Gaume we climbed to the grotte entrance and awaited our tour. An assistant unlocked a gate to an adjoining chamber where we were expected to store our bags and cameras while we were in the cave. Although I’m a bit claustrophobic and the cave was a series of tunnels rather than chambers as I’d expected, I was fine, completely seduced by the experience. We wore jackets but it wasn’t actually that cold; sweaters would have been sufficient.

The first time we stopped for a painting, we could barely make it out until our guide used her flashlight and laser pointer. Then it sprang into focus. A large red bison, incredible! The guide helped us see the second large bison facing it, this time a black one. The paintings in this grotte were mostly bisons, auroks and antelopes. Sadly, early visitors had scratched their names in the soft limestone right over some of the paintings. Our guide revealed that there may originally have been more paintings in this first section that were worn away by earlier visitors.

I had read that the artists worked directly on rough surfaces but what I didn’t expect was how skillfully they used the contours of the cave walls to reflect the contours of the animals; the paintings were quite sculptural. Appealingly, the artists had portrayed the animals with feelings. As a perpetual art student I was duly impressed with the sophistication of the techniques and the use of some of the same mineral pigments artists use today, manganese (black) and iron oxide (red) for example. I was engulfed by an overwhelming sense of time. Not just because the art was created 15,000 to 18,000 years ago but because of the millions of years of erosion it took to create the actual caves. Literally awesome!

On our walk down from the cave we happened upon an English couple intently regarding a plant. There’s an oxymoron for you. We paused, drawn in by their excitement. “It’s a lizard orchid”, said the woman. “They’re very rare in England. There would be a fence around it there for preservation. But maybe they’re more common here.” And just to prove this point she spotted another one nearby. Then she noticed a bee orchid. Wow! I was excited too. I had read a novel set in the Dordogne just before my trip in which wild orchids figure prominently. I started taking photos but, in my excitement, couldn’t remember exactly how to take close-ups and, without my reading glasses, couldn’t see the little flower that would have reminded me. Accordingly, my wild orchid photos are unfocused. Later I emailed them anyway to the camera less couple and learned that they saw many more lizard orchids during their stay but never another bee orchid. So, if you go to Font de Gaume in May or June, watch out for wild orchids!

The book I mentioned is called “Deadly Slipper” and there is now a sequel, “The Orchid Shroud”. Both mysteries are set in the Dordogne and both revolve around wild orchids. The Canadian author, Michelle Wan, visits the Dordogne every year with her husband who is a tropical horticulturalist. Fodor’s actually interviewed her a while back: http://www.fodors.com/wire/archives/001162.cfm


La Métairie

From Font de Gaume we drove back towards Sarlat to La Métairie, at the foot of Beyssec Castle. The parking lot was quite full so we reversed to a spot near the front and politely waited for another car to drive past. Instead they whipped into our spot! The terrace in front of the restaurant was very pleasant but the noise of trucks whizzing by on the highway echoed in the courtyard so we opted to eat inside. It wasn’t much quieter because the main dining room was crowded with a large, boisterous group. Fortunately we were seated in the smaller, adjoining dining room with just one other couple. We quickly decided on the 15 euro lunch menu with Peregrino rather than wine as we planned to do a bit more driving that day. Our starter was very good, salad with warm chevre, smoked duck and walnut vinaigrette. Since the warm chevre was served on toast I was given regular chevre instead. My husband immediately sensed my disappointment and gave me one of his melted ones. Delicious! DH also had soup and little toast thingies before this so I actually didn’t end up eating more than him! I hadn’t ordered duck before in case it might be my only option sometime and today was the day. It was a lovely, crisped confit served with excellent sautéed potatoes. My husband had the chicken fricassee. For dessert we both had ils flottante, very good but not as good as at Bistro d’Octroi.

In the restaurant we admired a poster of a rooster watercolour by a local artist, Guy Weir. Driving back to Sarlat via a circular route past Font-de-Gaume to St. Ciprien we passed signs for his atelier and decided to investigate. It turned out to be located in the pretty hamlet of Pechboutier but, when we followed the well-signed route to his studio, it was closed. Googling him later I learned that he is an Irishman and his studio “is in the loft of a small rustic barn next to his house. In stalls where cows once fed, Guy displays his watercolors with colorful scenes from his travels in Africa and Latin America.” Well, we saw the barn. Next time.

We were quite happy to eat at home that evening and go to bed early. We both slept very well during our stay at La Bouquerie and DH managed to read three books while we were there. I don’t think he’s finished one book in the last three years. His first was about the Rymans, an unordinary English family who moved to the Dordogne to grow grapes and make wine. DH decided that we would have to visit Château de la Jaubertie in the Bergerac area and try some of the Ryman family’s acclaimed wines.

Photos of Font de Gaume, St. Cirq le Bugue and la Métairie are all on one link so be sure to click on “browse all albums” at the bottom to see all the photos: http://tinyurl.com/nzl34

Next: Perigueau, Limeuil and Trémolat
moolyn is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2006, 06:13 AM
  #60  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,699
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi M,

I think that your latest link is not working.

ira is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -