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Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Old Jul 26th, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Thanks Ira! I made another. Hope it works because I'll be away from my computer all day.

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





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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Very nice pix, moo

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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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I'm hungry...unfortunately my lunch does not look like that!!

I'm going to spend some time this weekend to try and figure out photo sharing.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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Moolyn...enjoying your compehensive, crisply written trip report. We last visited in 2002, and have some very fond memories of the region. In May we visited the Alsace, our last remaining unseen region of France..very interesting and colorfully picturesque.

Sorry your library doesn't have the book...many of the bigger city libraries do, I'm told.

Keep the report coming...nostalgia is
manna for the soul!
Stu T.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 11:18 AM
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moolyn, I am so loving your report! The Dordogne is high on my list of places I want to visit. I first heard about the area here on fodors, and then I saw Rudy Maxa's Dordogne episode and it sealed the deal for me. I fell in love with all the picturesque villages and beautiful countryside, and I have been anxious to visit ever since. I can't wait to read the rest!

Tracy
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 11:28 AM
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>>>In May we visited the Alsace, our last remaining unseen region of France..very interesting and colorfully picturesque.<<

Stu T.
Have you seen the Auvergne near Clermont-Ferrand, Ardeche near Lemastre, Pays Basque near St Paul Pied du Port, Beaujolais, Lot near Estaing (where moolyn "hit"), Roussillon at the foot of the Pyrenees near Ceret, St Antonin Noble Val region in Quercy, Alps near Briancon, the Vercors region of the Alps, Chambery in the Alps, the famous Tour de France climbs in the Pyrenees (Tourmalet, Aspin, etc)???

All extremly interesting & picturesque areas.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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Stu D...been traveling France since 1960..have seen all those you mentioned..but we'd never been to the Alsace until last May. Is there a specific question you have in mind?
My refernce to colrful and pictuesque only applied to Alsace in my post.
Stu T.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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P.S. Stu D:

Since you mention the recently completed T de F..we gave driven (by auto, not by bike!!) every heart-throbbing pass in the Pyrenes that the T de F. has featured. Would recommend this to every one who plans to be in that region.
Stu T.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 04:26 PM
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Your report and pictures are bringing back wonderful memories, thank you.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 06:17 PM
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Your wright ups are great and the pictures add so much more. The talk of the food makes me hungary and then the pictures drive me to the fridge. Unfortunately, not the same food.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 06:21 PM
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moolyn...it took me all night but I finally did it!! My photos are at last organized and published on the kodak site. I know are busy writing your trip report but if you want to take a peek sometime, here is the site.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/crazy4travel/main?view=1
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:38 PM
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Enjoying your report, as I am planning a trip to the Dordogne in October. I don't know if this will be of use, but this is a list I found of free internet providers in France. Has anyone used one of these?

http://www.emailaddresses.com/email_internetfrance.htm
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:14 PM
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I just realized my last post might seem a bit random. It was in response to Moolyn saying she couldn't connect to the internet because her home provider didn't offer service in France...

Leslie
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Old Jul 27th, 2006, 05:02 AM
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Tuscanlitfeedit, thanks for the encouragement!

Murphy, thanks again! And youíve got me thinking of Greece.

Ira, thanks! Iím so glad you noticed the broken link so I could fix it right away! For your reward I have photos of Beynac and Hotel Bonnet coming up in a couple of days.

Stu T., Iím sure Iíll find your book easily once I return to the city and Iím looking forward to reading it. Thanks so much for your kind words about my writing. I find I need to work ahead a couple of sections so I that I can remember all the details, try to correct all my spelling errors and have time to do a lot of editing to tighten it up. I envy writers like murphy and texasaggie and laartista whose words and thoughts seem to flow so effortlessly.

Tracy, youíre so sweet. Lots more to come. I spread out the exciting stuff so we have fun until the end. Iím not familiar with Rudy Maxa but recommend that you seek out some of the movies filmed in the Dordogne and some of the novels.

Stu D., glad youíre still following. Can we expect a trip report from you soon?

Nikki, right back at you!

Kelly and majam, I hope my food photos (foodos?) donít make you too hungry because there are more food stories and photos to come.

Kelly, Iím at a disadvantage being away from my home computer with only dial up internet access at present so I was only able to muster up thumbnails of your photos. Even in miniature, I was impressed and wanted to read all about this beautiful countryside. I clicked on your name and discovered, as I hoped, that you have already written a report! I've downloaded it so I can read it offline today. I know I'm in for a treat from the bits I read. Thanks!

Leslie, thatís very useful information. I checked out the website and really appreciate your adding it to my report. It wasnít at all random to me. Iím sure many other travelers to France will be able to make use of this too. Thanks!

Everyone, I appreciate your patience with this report. Iím about halfway through now, many more excellent adventures to come!
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Old Jul 27th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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Perigueau

Perigueau is about an hour north of Sarlat. After an unintended diversion into an industrial area we managed to drive right to centre ville and find a parking space in the very conveniently located Frenchville underground lot with direct access to the Monoprix. Parking was quite reasonable. The first half hour is free and you can get a further reduction if you present your ticket at Monoprix when you buy something there and youíre sure to need something. For me it was sunscreen. Iíd just run out of LíOreal Ombrelle before leaving and thought Iíd pick some up in France. Strangely, it was nowhere to be found so I had to choose a substitute.

After picking up a map and getting directions at the tourist office across the street from Frenchville we went to market. The Wednesday textile market was quite disappointing but the food market was very good and we selected lunch fixings while we wandered. I bought two fresh Vietnamese ďrouleux de printempsĒ and some strawberries and was debating about cheese when DH pulled me over to a stand handing out samples of cheese from Savoie. The gruyere was especially nice so I asked for a small piece, not noticing that it was over 30 euros a pound. My small wedge cost 12 euros! No wonder the vendors could be so generous with their samples. However, what I didnít eat for lunch was later delicious in omelets.

We settled ourselves to eat on a bench beside the cathedral then followed most of the walking tour on the tourist map but in reverse. One patisserie we passed displayed cepes du Perigord, mushroom shaped meringues glued together with chocolate. How could I resist? I was soon forced to sit down on a wall in one of the many lovely little squares to eat it when the chocolate started to melt in my hot little hands.

We liked Perigueau, or at least the old town, and thought it would be a good place to buy a house if only it wasnít so far from the most interesting part of the Dordogne. First of all, houses are much less expensive in this area. Secondly, there are wonderful buildings in the old town and the whole core is being gently restored. Thirdly, Perigueau isnít a touristy place. Local workers and shoppers fill the many restaurant terraces rather than tourists. Being the prefecture of the Perigord Department it also has lots of facilities. But for visitors, there are many nicer and more convenient places to stay in the Dordogne.

Lots of Perigueau photos: http://tinyurl.com/gadlp

Limeuil and Trémolat

Returning from Perigueau we forked towards le Bugue rather than Sarlat in order to visit Trémolat. Le Bugue was appealing but we planned to return for the market next Tuesday and didnít stop to explore, just to get directions at the friendly tourist office. Just before Limeuil there was a MBVF sign and a sign to Limeuil Haut so we quickly decided on a diversion and drove uphill. Although I later found Limeuil described on Stuís itinerary meaning Iíd read about it before, at the time it felt like weíd discovered an unknown gem ourselves. Even more so because it was so deserted, unlike all the MBVFs weíd visited along the Lot and Upper Dordogne. But then this was a weekday. Iíve heard consequently that it is very crowded in Limeuil in the summer.

Taking the high road was a good move. Isnít it always? We were able to park right beside the Panorama Park that overlooks the confluence of the Vezere and the Dordogne, unfortunately blocking the view unless you pay admission to the park. We took a peak inside, bought a large bottle of Evian and chatted with the multilingual Czech girl who was warping a very simple loom for a class. Then we simply wandered around the village, basking in the emptiness of the streets and the sheer beauty of the houses. Where are all the people, we wondered. We discovered the answer when we drove back downhill and through the lower area. They were all parked below, enjoying the water. I was able to get a shot of the unusually positioned right-angled bridges at the confluence, one over each river. When we returned we drove over them both on our way back to Sarlat.

Photos of Limeuil: http://tinyurl.com/l4wdf

Trémolat was another pleasant surprise. Our reason for going there was to see the location of the Claude Chabrol film ďle BoucherĒ which weíd watched before our trip. The schoolhouse/mairie plays an important part and is still recognizable even though there is now a parking lot in front. The school is still in use. I would have loved to see inside. There is also a 12th century romanesque church and I took some interior photos because there was no one there to disturb. Is that allowed? I also photographed an especially attractive hotel, le Vieux Logis, not realizing that we would return there in a few days for an unforgettable meal.

It seemed fitting to pair Perigueau and Trémolat because the butcher spends a day in Perigueau during the film and there is also a sequence where the teacher rushes the butcher to hospital in Perigueau through interminable woods.

Our second time in Trémolat we drove northwest out of town and uphill to catch the breathtaking view of the Cingle of Trémolat where the meandering Dordogne makes a wide loop. We took a photo out of the car window part way up then discovered that there was parking at the top and a viewing spot that would be wonderful for a picque-nicque. We didnít see any signs forbidding it. Be sure to make this little detour if you go to Trémolat. Donít bother continuing along the Michelin Green Guide drive through Mauzac to le Bugue unless you really like trees or youíll feel like youíre in a that interminable woods sequence from le Boucher. The route via Limeuil is much more scenic.

Photos of Trémolat: http://tinyurl.com/gzkfg

Next: Canoeing Down the Dordogne
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Old Jul 27th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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A week will not be nearly enough time to see all these beautiful villages. It is going to be difficult to pick and choose. I guess I'll just have to remind myself that this trip will be an introduction to what may be a long and wonderful relationship with the Dordogne. Your report will sure help to narrow it down.

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Old Jul 27th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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Dear Moolyn :

As I was was born there, spell it Périgueux!

There are many nice places in the Périgord outside the heavily touristed Sarlat region : Montbazillac, Bourdeilles, Brantôme...
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Old Jul 27th, 2006, 11:41 AM
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We are returning the the region for about a week this September. I think we may stay several nights in Lemieul as it is a different area of the Dordogne (we stayed at Hotel Bonnet in Beynac on our first visit in 2003) than we have visited before. We are then making our way south through the Lot, eventually reaching Spain. But we have a bit over a month and will enjoy rambling around, hopefully able to extend stays when/where we want.
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Old Jul 27th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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Kelly, I agree that a week will not be nearly enough time to see everything but you will enjoy everything you see so what more can you ask? Just do as we did, prioritize and start making a list for the next time. When do you leave?

Trudaine, I sincerely apologize. First of all for spelling the name of your hometown of Périgueux incorrectly. I wish I could go back and correct it for everyone. We really did enjoy our few hours there. I also apologize for writing off places I didnít visit as less interesting. I have read many nice things about Brantôme but it was too far from our home base. Next time. We did manage to visit Montbazillac and enjoyed it immensely. Iíll get to it soon.

LadyOLeisure, I think Limeuil would be a lovely spot to stay. Be sure to have lunch one day at le Vieux Logis in nearby Trémolat. Iíll write about our wonderful meal there soon. I envy your having over a month. There were so many places we would like to have stayed longer.
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 06:07 AM
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Canoeing Down the Dordogne

My plan was to be at the canoe place by 9:00 when it opened but DH had other ideas so it was closer to 10:00 by the time we were life-jacketed and ready to push off. We had picked up several canoe brochures but followed Carluxís recommendation to use a place in Cénac just below Domme. It wasnít until we returned that we realized weíd gone to a different place by mistake. It turned out to be a happy accident. First of all, Le Sioux was more reasonable than other places, just 10 euros each for a three hour 13k trip from Cénac to just past Beynac. Plus one more euro for a waterproof box that turned out to be a plastic barrel big enough to hold several purses or bags. Secondly, our green plastic canoe/kayak hybrid was different from everyone elseís red plastic canoes so we felt unique. Thirdly, Le Sioux provided one regular paddle pour moi and a double bladed paddle for DH. I really liked this because, after I energetically paddled for the first few hundred crooked yards, DH, who had done his homework, said that there really wasnít any need as the current would carry us along at the rate of 5k per hour and he could easily steer from the rear with his clever paddle.

Having very fair skin I came prepared for the hot sun. I slathered on 50 proof sun block and wore long pants and a long sleeved shirt in light cotton as well as a large sunhat. Since we started early the sun was at our backs, another happy accident. This proved beneficial for photo-taking too. I carefully wound my camera strap around my wrist a couple of times for security and took photo after photo of cliffs and chateaux and other boats. I was nervous at first about capsizing but this uneasiness soon faded as I realized how shallow the river was. We could see the bottom and watch the fish swimming between the rocks and water plants. Iridescent dragonflies skimmed over the calm water; at least I think they were dragonflies. My back felt sore after a while but I realized that I could lean back and rest it against the barrel from time to time. Absolutely idyllic!

In the summer Iíve read that the Dordogne is awash in canoes but, in early June, there were times with just one or two canoes in the distance. At the beginning we caught up to a group of canoes with teenagers and a couple of instructors lined up across the river. Iím not sure how they did that, perhaps by holding on to the adjacent boats. One instructor proceeded to run across the flotilla then back and forth until he fell into the water. Then the kids took turns trying his trick but none made it as far as the instructor had. They were wearing bathing suits so didnít mind getting drenched. Several times we passed people swimming or picque-nicqueing along the shore.

Larger tour boats ply up and down the river between Castelnaud and Beyrac, creating waves that rock the canoes if you arenít facing properly. There were squeals from the young canoers the first time they got caught unprepared for the wake. We heard tour guides loudspeaking in français on the tour boats. Little children waved at us and were excited when we responded. Because of all the jumping fish we werenít surprised to observe a couple of fishermen along the banks. We even clearly spotted Hotel Bonnet in Beynac where Ira stayed.

My only regret was that I hadnít thought to pack a lunch but weíd only expected to paddle for an hour or so then return home to eat. After one bridge we saw a sign for frites and pulled ashore, quickly followed by an English couple who had decided this was a good idea too. I gingerly inched my way forward onto the bow to pull the boat ashore. The frites were disappointing, not nearly as good as the fries at my downtown neighbourhood chip truck in Toronto. But they held us until our real lunch and there were toilets there too so it was okay. The English couple revealed that they had a second home in the Dordogne as do many Brits. While we were chatting and munching our frites, the group of young canoers pulled up as well and we realized we were right beside their home base.

Immediately after the fourth bridge we saw a sign indicating the end of our trip and pulled over to the left bank. This time I didnít have to carefully make my way forward as DH pulled in at a right angle to the shore. There was a lovely view of Beynac looking back under an arch of the bridge plus a deserted snack bar. DH was shoed away from sitting at one of the tables, even though they were totally unoccupied, while I found a good spot for taking photos. Soon a bus came along and we climbed aboard, leaving our canoe and life jackets behind. Probably a truck comes along and scoops them all up at the end of the day.

We were surprised at having an entire large bus to ourselves but it pulled over at another bridge and 16 more people climbed on. The last to arrive was a family of four who almost overshot the landing area. The father had to jump in the water, fully clothed, to pull the boat ashore. We were relieved to see the driver count heads before pulling away. Passengers were dropped off at different canoe rental places in Cénac. After all my paddling (ha!) I took a nap after lunch.

Canoeing down the Dordogne was one of the highlights of our trip. The best part was viewing chateaux from the water rather than the road. I canít think of enough superlatives to describe the sensation of floating past one beautiful chateau after another. Hopefully my photos will make up for my lack of words. I just kept thinking: weíre here, this is happening right now, Iím so happy! I was ready to canoe again the very next day but there were so many other places to go and things to do that we didnít. Weíll definitely repeat this excursion next time!

Lots of Photos of Dordogne Canoe Trip: http://tinyurl.com/ku7l7

Next: Moulin de la Tour, Salignac, St. Amand-de-Coly and La Meynardie
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