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Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Old Jul 28th, 2006, 05:20 AM
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Hi Moo,

Lovely report, lovely pix.

"Hotel Bonnet in Beynac: Ira slept here!"

Not only that, our room was the upstairs one on the end of the wing.

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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 05:26 AM
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Great pictures from the canoe. If I remember my nature walks with the kids at the Audubon sanctuary correctly, that's a damselfly on the canoe. They rest with their wings up; the dragonflies have their wings spread out horizontally.
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Hi moolyn,
We're leaving May 15, 2007 for 11 nights. We will be in Cenac for a week.

This info is perfect as are the photos. You have given me so many good pointers. I am also fair so I'll have to follow your lead on the hat and clothing. Thanks!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Moolyn: a terrific report. brought back memories of a trip we took to the dordogne 7 or 8 years ago. your photos are great. But I couldn't get one set, the ones at La Bouquerie, your rental gite, that you yourself took. Can you post that particular site? Many thanks for all the hard work.
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Moolyn: I enjoyed your photos of the canoe trip on the Dordogne, particularly those of La Roque-Gageac and its Chateau Malartrie, where we stayed for a couple of weeks.

We had intended to rent canoes, but never got around to it, as there were so many other competing things to see and do. However, we often did watch from the terrace, glass in hand, and wave to the canoeists and gabares gliding by below. (Sort of a seigneurial wave, such as Queen Elizabeth is wont to use!)
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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A canoe trip! What a fantastic idea and a good price too - the area by Beynac looks just lovely.

It so great to read your report and have pictures of each local - really gives the reader a sense of your trip and the region.

Continuing to enjoy your photo's and report!

Cheers,

Murphy
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 12:46 PM
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moolyn...outstanding photos of the area...makes me want to return soon..
one of the standouts is the reflection of the fourth bridge..classic!!
Happy travels!

Stu T.
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 07:23 PM
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So, catching up on the trip reports, and just finished yours. Here's the problem-another awesome trip report, why a problem? because now the Dorgogne is on the short list for January along with Paris, Lisbon and Croatia. After that report and pictures(which are wonderful!) I must go-don't exactly know where in France the region is but I must go. Thanks for the great report.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 07:22 AM
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Ira and Nikki, thanks again! I appreciate your encouragement, especially since both your Dordogne reports inspired me. I added your comments to the applicable photo captions since I canít change my report.

Kelly, next May, hurray! Iíve got it straight now. You have lots of time to plan. I was so glad I brought that sunhat to cover my hair because I used it every day for sun protection!

Betsy, thanks for your comments! Iím happy to bring back good memories. Hereís another link for my photos of La Bouquerie: http://tinyurl.com/hvg7u

Laverendrye, I loved our canoe trip and still smile whenever I think of that day. Donít miss doing it next time. And thanks!

Murphy, thanks as always for your comments! Canoe tripping is a real bargain. I hope my idea of attaching photos to each section will start a trend because I always want to see some immediately when I read about a new place in a report. Your idea of posting photos separately is good too though because some people just like to look at pictures.

Stu T., thanks once again! The library in the small town where Iím staying at the moment has the book you recommended, A High and Hidden Place, even if it doesnít have yours. I also discovered that it has high speed wireless so I was able to upload some more photos for sharing. It just isnít feasible to do this by dial-up. Iíll post more photos and another report section tomorrow.

laartista, thanks for your kind words. I know just what you mean as I have so many new possibilities too from reading recent reports on Greece and Italy and Croatia. Our kids have been to all these places, at our expense, but not us, as of yet. I didnít know I wanted to go to the Dordogne either before reading about it here. The Dordogne is in the southwest part of France, about midway between Toulouse and Bordeaux, a few hours south of the Loire.
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 05:23 AM
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Moulin de la Tour

Friday morning we drove northward out of Sarlat towards Ste. Nathalene to find the Moulin de la Tour where nut oil is produced in the traditional manner using 150-year-old machinery powered by water from the líEnea River. The large waterwheel turns interconnected gears and stones to grind nuts, bought shelled from local growers. The first and largest grinder is a vertically suspended stone from Domme. Thirty kilos of walnuts are dumped here at a time and lightly ground for about 40 minutes. The resulting paste is scooped into a basket and transferred to a cauldron where it is gently heated for 40 minutes over a wood fire, all the while being stirred by a large paddle also operated by the water wheel. Itís very well engineered. Heating enables more oil to be extracted when the paste is transferred again, this time to a press lined with double layers of jute to act as a sieve. The jute is folded over the paste, several wooden blocks are placed on top and the press is screwed down mechanically. Fifteen litres of oil is then collected below, ten litres if the nuts are almonds or hazelnuts. The leftover ďtorteauĒ or nutcake is reground and sold as animal or fish food or bait.

Afterwards we sampled different oils. Since I prefer almonds and hazelnuts to walnuts I was surprised that I liked walnut oil best. Happily surprised because itís also the least expensive, taking less nuts to produce. Nut oils are recommended for salads or to drizzle on cooked dishes, not for cooking. Tours are 4.20 euros for less than 30 minutes but the nut oil and other nut product are cheaper to buy right at the mill than in more touristy spots so it balances out.

Photos of Moulin de la Tour: http://tinyurl.com/zwoya

La Meynardie

Since the tour was over so quickly we decided to leisurely drive via back roads to St. Amand-de-Coly to fill the time until lunch. Sometimes it felt as though we were driving through farmers fields and sometimes it felt like we were lost but it was scenic and fun. St. Amand is yet another lovely village but with an abbey this time rather than a mere church. It was deliciously cool inside the abbey. I would loved to have poked my head inside the school next door but satisfied myself with admiring the houses and flowers and pollarded trees. Pollarded is the way branches of old trees are amputated to encourage new branch growth, very common in France, especially with the plane trees seen along roadsides both in town and out. We arrived in Salignac only to discover that La Meynardie was back towards St Amand so we could have taken a shorter route.

To get to La Meynardie you drive through a wooded area to what feels like the middle of nowhere in the countryside north of Salignac. We didnít hesitate to eat on the terrace under the canopy as there was a delightful breeze and no traffic for miles around. We decided on the 20 euro lunch menu, both choosing completely different meals for a change. The rosé we selected was the nicest Bergerac rosé weíd had yet, Chateau Laulerie. Just like at sister restaurant Bistro de lĎOctroi we detected a subtle Japanese influence.

First came tiny toast rounds for DH with salsa and blood sausage then lentil soup for us both. My entrée was cold, green and white asparagus with walnuts and walnut vinaigrette. Weíll have to try making this at home with our newly acquired walnut oil! DH had ordered the quinoa and salmon sushi a bit warily because, in spite of his Japanese genes, he wonít eat raw fish and suspected that it was sashimi rather than sushi. It was but he liked it anyway, a breakthrough! My main dish was pigs feet, a bit fatty but delicious nevertheless, and very good confit de canard served with a dollop of pea puree and a ring of perfectly sliced roast potatoes. DHís excellent fillet of St. Pierre came with red wine sauce and polenta. My permitted dessert was four scoops of sorbet: vanilla, grapefruit, coconut and strawberry, good but not as good as the trio of tiny crème brulées brought to DH: vanilla, walnut and pistachio. Why canít I have that, I wondered. It turned out that the server thought sugar cane might be a problem for me but non. DH very kindly switched desserts after merely tasting. I have to rank this triple crème brulée right up there with líOctroi ils flottant.

Photos of Salignac, St. Amand-de-Coly: http://tinyurl.com/mn5sv
Photos of la Meynardie: http://tinyurl.com/jd7pd

Next: Market Day in Sarlat, Chateau Milandes and Domme
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 06:13 AM
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You're killing me with the food photos. My fault...I should have waited until after lunch to have a peek. 20 Euros is a very good bargain for that beautiful spread. I have to say that the French have the right idea with many courses but small portions. I find the Italian portions very large in comparison and I can rarely do more than two without feeling too full.

Enjoying every minute of your report.
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 06:37 AM
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That trio of creme brulee looks awesome-my favorite. If that isn't the cutest restaurant ever. Moolyn, looks like you had that abbey town to yourself, were there not alot of people? The pictures once again are beautiful.
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 07:11 AM
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Lovely report, moolyn.

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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 10:28 AM
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What a delightful trip report, moolyn! It is such fun to read of your experiences, and then click the corresponding photo links to have the picture references. Thank you very much for sharing the beautiful pictures, and the report...it makes this part of France sound absolutely irresistible.

Belinda
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 05:23 PM
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Kelly, you can eat very well for very little in the Dordogne. As you observed, the portions arenít huge so you donít feel stuffed afterwards. Sorry to tell you this but there are even more photos of spectacular food to come, especially when we visit le Vieux Logis and le Presidial.

laartista, St. Armand-de-coly really was quite deserted that day now that you mention it. Partly because it was a weekday early in June and partly because it was lunchtime! Our reservation wasnít until 1:00 so we were still wandering around after everyone was busy eating. Lunch closings can work against you in France, as at Chateau Bretenoux-Castelnau, but they also often worked in our favour as you noticed here.

Thanks again for the encouragement, ira!

Belinda, thanks for your comments! The Dordogne is irresistible and that makes it easy to write about. Glad you enjoyed the pictures too. I wish we were back there now.
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 06:00 PM
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Lovely report and photos. Thanks; I'm taking notes!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 04:25 AM
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Sarlat Saturday Market

Although I had read advice to arrive at the Sarlat Saturday market at the crack of dawn there was no need. The official hours are 8:30 until 6:00 and many stalls were still being set up when we arrived at 8:15. Stalls stretched right from our northeast corner of town to the Rue de la Republique. I noted one stand with a lineup for strawberries right away and decided to return there on our way back but two hours later the vendor had sold out and gone home. For everything else we were fine with examining all the wares and returning later to purchase at the places where things looked best although we almost missed out on the nicest white asparagus! In the main square we observed one vendor sitting down for a breakfast of bread, cheese and vin rouge! Very civilized, I thought. Carlux told us that he had probably been up for many hours by then.

By this time I had discovered that I really like the tiny, fresh, farm goat and sheep cheese so I was pleased to find a cart selling brebicou(?) and cabecou from a farm in the Cantal. They offered samples and it was hard to choose between young and creamy or firmer and more mature so I bought some of each. How often do you find ďfirmer and more matureĒ linked together? They also sold lamb but alas in quantities much too vast for us to consume in our one remaining week. On Rue de la Republique we admired spices on display and bought a mixture of five peppercorns: black, white, green, red and Jamaican.

We spotted Chateau de la Jaubertie wine at one stand and bought a bottle of blanc to try that evening. At another stall, a vendor was offering samples of a Cahors rosé but it was so horrible I wondered why he was willing to let people find this out. Tout a ça goute, or something like that, I guess. We arenít wine connoisseurs by any means but this was the only rosé we tried in France that we didnít at all enjoy. We assumed that it was this particular brand we didnít like but we wondered whether Cahors is not as good at producing rosés as reds.

Overall we were very impressed with the quality of inexpensive wine in France. We probably would have been even more impressed with expensive wines but we didnít go there. We live part time in the winegrowing region of Niagara, slightly south of Bordeaux although people donít realize Canada comes that far south in comparison to Europe. Niagara wines can be very good but we pay twice as much here for similar quality of local wines as in France. Even most of the supermarket wines we tried in France were very drinkable. In Ontario we canít buy wines in supermarkets.

The store selling Mephistos that is closed when we stroll by of an evening was open this morning so I tried some on, hoping to replace my well-worn pair bought in Canada for double the price. Unfortunately, none were nearly as comfortable as my own even though I liked their looks. A larger town would probably have more choice. We walked through the covered market that is open every day then into the adjacent main square to start buying in earnest: the second last bunch of white asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, brown eggs, potatoes and tomatoes plus a demi baguette, some croissants and a wedge of walnut cake for DH. At another stand we decided on some strips of duck and turkey to barbeque that evening and were amazed at how inexpensive they were.

Photos of Sarlat Saturday Market: http://tinyurl.com/j9n5l

Chateau les Milandes

There are said to be 1,001 chateaux in the Dordogne; we decided to visit les Milandes first. We took the road south from Sarlat to Beynac where you can see four or even five chateaux at once, depending on whether you have eyes in the back of your head. Very impressive. An often recommended restaurant, Cinq Chateaux, is located at this point to take advantage of the view.

At les Milandes you can drive right up to chateau level and park in a spacious lot unlike some other chateaux where you park and climb. We liked this very much. Most chateaux seem to offer something besides the chateau itself to attract visitors; itís a competitive business. At les Milandes itís Josephine Baker and a falconry show. Iím not sure how these two relate to each other and blood sport doesnít appeal to us but we arrived just before the 3:00 show and decided to watch. It turned out to be quite charming, no blood at all, just a variety of cute, well trained birds. I even volunteered to put on the trainerís leather glove and hold one of the falcons on my outstretched wrist.

Les Milandes is not only a furnished chateau but also a museum of Josephine Bakerís life and enjoyable for both reasons. There are many beautiful photos of Josephine in costume or not. We knew that she was an American born dancer and entertainer, much beloved by the French, but we didnít know of her role in the French Resistance during WW2 or of her campaign to combat racism, partly by adopting 12 children of different races and religions, her rainbow family. She made les Milandes into a renowned entertainment center but it was eventually taken away from her because she wasnít good at managing her money. Once the highest paid entertainer in Europe and still looking good until her death at age 69, she returned to the stage in her 50s out of financial need. He famous banana skirt and other costumes are on display. Photos canít be taken inside the chateau.

Photos of les Milandes: http://tinyurl.com/h8mzc

Domme

After les Milandes we drove through lovely Roque Gageac to Domme. Here again we were pleased to be able to drive to the top and park then stroll through the village to the panorama point. A wedding was being held at the church and we admired the guests, over-dressed for the heat, as well as the view. Probably everyone who visits the Dordogne takes photos of the river winding through the countryside below Domme; itís mandatory, I believe. At the tourist office I was very happy to finally find the book of the most beautiful villages in France. Iíd been searching for a copy ever since visiting our first MBVF along the Lot River.

Photos of Domme: http://tinyurl.com/zaqxn

Next: Molignac, le Thot, Lascaux II and Quatre Saisons
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:53 AM
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I am really enjoying your report. I only hope you are able to finish before my wife and I go to the area at the end of september!!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:14 PM
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Moolyn, I wanted to drop you a line and let you know I caught up on your report today - still loving it!

I particularly enjoyed your picture of the Milandes chapel - that would be a great one to blow up and frame - in black and white maybe?.....lovely.

Also, I loved your shot of the owl and the bald eagle - how special.

Cheers,

Murphy
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:44 AM
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Murphy, your comments are always so appreciated. Thanks once again! You noticed I like to take photos as it they were paintings. Thatís probably because you do the same thing. I was able to see some of your photos of Greece at my library they were amazing. When things settle down and Iím back home Iíll go through the rest.

Stokebailey and Stephen, thanks! I hope my experiences help you plan your trips. You can find all of the information I used by searching here for other reports on the Dordogne and asking Stu Dudley for his itineraries.

Everyone, circumstances have forced me to take a break from writing this report. The next section will be the last for a while. I promise to share the second week of my excellent adventures and lots more photos as soon as possible.
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