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Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Moolyn's Excellent Adventures in the Dordogne: June 2006

Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:47 AM
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Molignac and Le Thot

We arrived at the ticket office in Molignac at 9:40 and discovered that the English tour at Lascaux II was not until noon. The ticket agent suggested that, instead of buying tickets for Lascaux for 8 euros each, we buy combined tickets for le Thot and Lascaux for 10 euros and visit le Thot in the interval. It sounded like a good plan so we agreed. We took our time walking back to our car, searching for the brass copies of prehistoric drawings imbedded in the sidewalk on the main street. This would be a fun activity for kids: perhaps they could even make rubbings. We admired the view across the river before driving the few kilometres to le Thot.

Le Thot has two sections. Within the building the museum displays an exhibit of cro-magnum life as well as the 10% of the paintings reproduced from the original Lascaux not at Lascaux II. Outdoors is a picque-nicque area and an animal park. What first seemed to be ordinary farm animals soon turned out to be a variety of rare species, including some genetically engineered auroch, an otherwise extinct breed. The model mammoth, complete with special effects, was quite realistic. Le Thot is a good supplement to Lascaux II, especially for children.

Lascaux II

Ticketholders are requested to assemble at the meeting area 15 minutes before their tour. Our group of 24 to 30 people, twice as large as at Font-de-Gaume, had more non-French than we’d seen since the airport: Americans and Aussies as well as Brits. I didn’t actually take a census, though, just noted the accents. Our tour was delayed a further 15 minutes by the arrival of a large French bus tour group that swooped in right at 12:00 but it was well worth the wait.

Our guide spoke excellent English in a clear voice and provided a great deal of interesting background information about the discovery of the cave by a boy and his dog and the reason for closing the original one and creating the reproduction. The important difference between Lascaux and Font-de-Gaume is that the entrance to Lascaux was blocked by fallen rock in prehistoric times so that it remained undisturbed over the centuries and hence better preserved until it was rediscovered in our modern era. Of course, exposed to such modern inventions as cigarettes, it quickly fell victim to smoke, algi and calcium and had to be closed to the public in 1963. Twenty years later this carefully designed re-creation was opened.

The tunnels are wider than at Font-de-Gume but Lascaux II isn’t a large cave. The paintings are much brighter, quite spectacular in fact. I thought this was because they were painted much more recently but they are actually accurate reproductions of the very well-preserved originals. Just as at Font-de-Gaume the artists employed the contours of the cave for a sculptural effect, used scaffolds for the higher paintings and ground minerals such as manganese and iron oxide to use as pigments in combination with such mediums as animal fat. A similar variety of painting techniques were evident: daubing, blowing, brushing…..

The picque-nicque area at Lascaux II was restricted to snack bar customers so we drove on up the Vezere, hoping to find a pretty spot further along the river. Condat was a nice little village with a pretty cascade but Terrason was quite grey and uninviting, possibly because we were hungry and grumpy. Besides I had forgotten Stu’s itinerary for this drive and couldn’t remember the rest. Probably the next place would have been perfect for a picque-nicque but we decided to head home and eat our lunch there. Sometimes you need a break from touring. I’d love to pick up this drive again right now but on that day we were saturated.

Photos of Montignac, le Thot and Lascaux II: http://tinyurl.com/f2wo4
Lascaux website: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/

Carlux stopped by just after we finished lunch and answered most of our pent up questions. She’s very careful about the places she recommends. We asked about le Vieux Logis in Tremolat, praised by a fellow diner at la Meynardie. It turned out to be one of her favourite places for lunch. She also helped us with the pronunciation of place names that we’d only seen written, never heard spoken.

Le Quatre Saisons

That evening, armed with a copy of the ABCs of French Food left by Carlux, we set out to check menus at some recommended restaurants in Sarlat that had baffled us previously. The menu at Quatre Saisons was the most appealing so we climbed the stairs and asked for a table on the terrace. Except for the chain-smoking couple sitting at the table beside us it was a good choice. We decided on just two courses for 23 euros having had a late lunch. The best course was the St. Jacques appetizer, perfectly grilled scallops garnished with crispy cantal cheese and tiny slices of purple potato. It was proceeded by chilled cream of asparagus soup and followed by a very good fish fillet for DH and lamb chops for me. My green vegetables were attractively presented in a small canning jar and I thought of trying this at home. A bottle of Chateau Rez rosé was the perfect accompaniment to mark the halfway point of our two weeks in Sarlat.

Photos of Quatre Saisons: http://tinyurl.com/mzmhu

Still to come after my hiatus are visits to Bergerac, Montbazillac, Chateau de la Jaubertie, la Bugue market, le Vieux Logis, Peche Merle, St. Cirq la Popie, Figeac, Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac, le Rocamadour, Lacave, and last but not least, Bleu de Lectoure. Then there’s our exciting trip home!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 06:25 AM
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Moolyn...OK, OK, we accept your hiatus...but you're not off the hook...we will all be waiting for the next installments...Hope nothing serious caused this delay!!
Stu T.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Yes Moolyn, thank you for this latest installment - I hope all is well with you and yours
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 09:11 AM
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Hi M,

Will be waiting for your return.

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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 09:24 AM
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Hi Moolyn

nothing like a trip to a French market on a thursday afternoon. great installments. was that rabbit real?
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 05:54 AM
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Chateau Montbazillac

The drive from Sarlat to Bergerac was about an hour and a quarter, most of it along the Dordogne River. Subtract 15 minutes from that if you manage to stick to the main highway in Lalinde rather than crossing another bridge and heading north rather than west until you realize your mistake. If you look at a map of the Dordogne River you will notice what appears to be a long island in the middle of the river extending perhaps ten kilometers each side of Lalinde. We wouldn’t have noticed this without our accidental diversion but the Dordogne has a canal running alongside it in this section. It must have been built many years ago because the towns have grown up around the two parallel streams.

The road to Chateau Monbazillac was signposted just after the airport turnoff on the Bergerac bypass. There is a large, shady parking lot behind the chateaux, now owned by the wine cooperative of Montbazzilac. Visitors pass the wine coop building and buy their tickets there before entering the chateau grounds. The admission fee of 5.95 euros each includes complementary wine tasting. Rows of vines with rose bushes planted at the ends surround the chateau but there are also extensive lawns and a number of outbuildings as you approach.

Our Cadogan guide described Chateau Montbazzilac as never damaged and never improved, the main reason I wanted to see it next rather than any of the other thousand possible chateaux. The other reason was that DH wanted to visit the Bergerac wine area having happily consumed so many bottles of Bergerac wine. He’d also read a book by Jeremy Josephs set in this area during some of our quiet evenings at la Bouquerie: “A Vineyard in the Dordogne: How an English Family Made Their Dream of Wine and Sunshine Come True”.

After admiring the imposing exterior, we entered the chateau and exchanged our tickets for self-guided tour brochures. Unlike les Milandes, there were no signs here forbidding photography. The only structural change that we noted was the covering of the original, worn, stone stairs with elm-wood treads at some point. Some floors were tiled while others were overlaid with various hardwoods. The floor in the Grand Salon was especially pleasing: oak, pine and cherry laid in a herringbone pattern. The furniture, mostly cherry and walnut, was substantial but not ornate. Many of the chests and armoires were carved with symbolic Hugenot crosses. One room displayed tools employed by craftsmen in earlier times. The first room we entered had once served as a Hall of Protestantism for religious meetings. Another Hugenot symbol, a dove, hung from the chandelier.

Descending to the lower level we found a wine room, wine museum and kitchen. On the upper floor, one suite was still furnished as a boudoir for the viscountess. Beside it was an informal dining room with carved teak furniture and an array of customized Limoges china in the adjoining tower room. One room displayed cartoons by Sem while another featured black and white photos of chateaux by Rodolphe Germaine plus several scale models of local chateaux.

After touring the chateau and gazing over the countryside we sampled wine in the Montbazzilac Wine Co-operative building. We bought three bottles of a dry white and a half bottle of the sweeter aperitif that the area is noted for, produced by the grapes being infected by a fungus, the famous “noble rot”. It’s much like ice wine but less intense. It was very hot so afterwards we returned to the shady parking lot to picque-nicque rather than sit at a table in the sun somewhere else.

Since we were close to the Chateau de la Jaubertie we drove there next. It was lunch time so it looked quite deserted and a sign on the shop read fermé. As I was taking photos, the door of the shop opened and we were beckoned inside to taste the wines. We liked the Jaubertie rosé better than the white we’d bought previously so added some to our collection. FYI, at 6.30 euros it was one euro less per bottle than at the Sarlat market. Later, when we ordered this very same wine at le Presidial, it was 22 euros, a substantial markup.

We drove into the adjacent village of Colombier to take a photo of the church, the restoration of which was a project of Anne Ryman, the former chatelaine of the chateau. Colombier is definitely not one of the plus beau villages. It’s rundown and overgrown and there are many unattractive, newer houses. The chateau itself seems to be more of a mansion than a chateau, as much of it as you can glimpse through the surrounding trees. It’s probably lovely inside but we did wonder why the Ryman family had spent so much money and effort buying this particular chateau and vineyard. As we drove towards Bergerac we noticed that both Colombier and neighbouring Laberdie are twinned with towns in Quebec.

In Bergerac we parked alongside the river, the ancient port, where tour boats now pick up and disgorge tourists. A tiny old building in the parking lot was called l’Octroi and we knew from the Sarlat restaurant of the same name that this must once have been the tollhouse collecting fees from the boats on the river. It’s no longer in service for river boats or for cars as the parking is free. We set out in quest of the wine centre having decided to sample wines there rather than at any of the other caves we had passed. One sign had arrows pointing in both directions so we thought it was probably on the other side of the block. On our way there we stepped inside the Couvent des Récollets, the former convent of the Sisters of Faith. The welcoming inner courtyard is the home of galleries and obviously, from the stage along one wall, a place for summer entertainment. We didn’t notice then that the wine centre was located downstairs. Right next door is a Protestant temple that now houses exhibits on local protestantism.

Still on our quest we wandered through the old town with its many half-timbered buildings and a statue in honour of Cyreno de Bergerac who never actually set foot or nose in the town. These ancient buildings haven’t been restored as in Sarlat and Perigueau so have their own particular charm. Some in especially bad condition were torn down to create the square beside Eglise St-Jacques. Bergerac is said to have some decent restaurants but we didn’t investigate as we’d already eaten lunch.

Passing the convent again we noticed the sign for the wine centre this time. How had we missed it before? But it was still closed for lunch at 3:30, long after the time it should have reopened and there were many people waiting. It was too hot to hang around in hopes that it would ever reopen that day so we left. The thermometer in our car read 36 degrees when we first got in. Fortunately the car was air-conditioned and we had bottles of ice cold Evian in our cooler!

We stopped at E. LeClerc for some supplies on our way home and I investigated the dry goods section. I found a small cooler bag that would be perfect for our return trip as well as a great crepe pan: larger, heavier and with a better non-stick coating than my old one. I’ll buy buckwheat flour at home to make galettes, using a carefully copied recipe from one of the many cook books at la Bouquerie.
Dozing off over a book after we returned home, DH woke me up by presenting me with a glass of wine and an omelette made with cantal cheese and some of the tasty mushrooms we had purchased at the Sarlat market. Another great day!

Chateau Monbazillac: http://tinyurl.com/ltgoj
Chateau de la Jaubertie: http://tinyurl.com/m7of9
Photos of Bergerac: http://tinyurl.com/p9ybv

Next: Le Bugue Market and Lunch at le Vieux Logis

Sad circumstances have conspired to make my hiatus from writing this report longer than I ever expected. Hopefully now I can add a segment or two a week.
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 08:54 AM
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I'll be looking for the section on Gardens de E.......sorry I don't want to spell it wrong. It always seems a bit out of the way, but I'll be curious if it's worth seeing.
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 09:59 AM
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Moolyn:

>>>Sad circumstances have conspired to make my hiatus from writing this report longer than I ever expected. <<<

So sorry about this...hope everything is Ok with you now...nothing but sunshine from here on.

Stu T.
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Old Sep 25th, 2006, 06:09 AM
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hopingtotravel, I should have the segment on Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac ready next week, with lots of pictures, so you can decide.

Stu T., thanks so much for your concern.

Warning: Don't read the next segment on an empty stomach!

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Old Sep 25th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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Le Bugue Market

Tuesday morning we set out later than usual and drove to le Bugue via St. Ciprien, not the shortest route, especially since there was a traffic holdup in Beynac. The cliff and the river are very close together in one stretch in Beynac so there is very little room for a road. Consequently, the main highway through the village narrows to the point that large vehicles cannot pass each other in opposite directions, creating a real bottleneck. One of the opposing pair of vehicles must back up and let the other go through first and it can be difficult to reverse with a line of vehicles behind. This happened almost every time we passed through Beynac but it was such a pleasant drive along the Dordogne River that we kept choosing that route anyway and taking our chances.

Le Bugue was very crowded by the time we arrived for the market and we thought we’d never find a parking spot but one opened up as we were almost through town. It turned out to be ideal as it was at the far end of the market, the dry goods section. Although it’s a smaller market than at Perigueux, Albi or Sarlat, we liked this market very much. There were some of the same merchants we’d noticed at the other markets but quite a few different ones as well. I found a colourful butter dish right away to brighten up my everyday white dishes but then waited until the end to purchase it so it didn’t get broken. We also bought a kilo of herbs de Provence to take home and share although I momentarily wondered what customs would think of my “stash”. DH bought a small order of potatoes sarladaise to have later for supper. I didn’t think this was a good idea but they actually reheated beautifully. My favourite stand was devoted to prunes d’Agen. Customers were welcome to sample various prunes and prune liqueurs. Prunes d’Agen are much larger and moister than the usual dry, wrinkly ones we have in North America and for me it was love at first bite. I bough two euros worth, about a pound, and restrained myself from eating any more before lunch.

Le Vieux Logis

Le Vieux Logis in Trémolat turned out to be the lovely hotel complex beside the schoolhouse/mairie that I’d admired on our previous visit. I’d actually taken photos of it just because it was so pretty. We parked in the main square where two merchants were still packing up their stalls. Trémolat must have a Tuesday morning market as well, surprisingly, since it’s so close to le Bugue. There is parking beside le Vieux Logis if you drive further down that street but we walked the short distance and were able to see the playground and the back of the school which had also appeared in the film “le Boucher”. Having taught kindergarten for a few years, schools in different countries always interest me.

When I called to reserve the day before, I had inquired whether my gluten free restriction would be a problem as lunch at le Vieux Logis is a set meal for 32 euros per person. The young English-speaking woman I talked with had assured me that the chef could cope and the same young woman greeted us in the lobby and escorted us to the dining patio behind the main building. The terrace was quite beautiful. The branches of well-spaced trees provided a canopy overhead so there was no need of awnings or umbrellas. The chairs as well as the tables were covered with white linen. Our table was located in an alcove of the low wall that separated the terrace from the garden and we were seated facing the large, attractive garden rather than the other diners, a nice touch.

Being a set meal, there was no need to scrutinize the menu except for wine. We decided to drink wine by the glass rather than a bottle and deferred to the advice of the waiter, a wise decision. For me, Chateau de Pennautées carbades rosé 2005 and for DH, Chateau la Colline coté ouest Bergerac blanc 2003, both at 6.20 euros per glass.

I was self-conscious at first about taking notes but the servers were all very helpful about naming each dish in both English and French and the wine waiter left the bottles of wine on the table so that I could copy their names. Nearby, a group of four couples of mixed nationalities were constantly taking pictures of each other and their meal so I soon felt comfortable taking photos as well. It’s a debate whether to simply enjoy the experience or to try to keep a record. For me, it took just a little extra effort at the time but now I can relive the experience anytime I want as well as share it with others.

The first course was small portions of black pudding, parmesan bread sticks and a savoury walnut muffin, none of which I could eat. My more than acceptable substitution was smoked salmon with roe, cauliflower puree and avocado mouse. The second course was served to us both: green asparagus with crème fraiche and scrambled eggs with asparagus served in an eggshell. Following this came chilled vichyssoise with chunky potatoes and shaved ham. Then a simple portion of uncooked, fois gras de canard for me but two different presentations of fois gras for DH, one in a tiny cone and one on a skewer, very impressive.

The fish course was delectable sea bass in some kind of foam with spring vegetables and the meat course was roast veal with gravy, onion puree and an assortment of vegetables, all wonderful. Following the main courses came a local, creamy cow cheese with chives pour moi and skewers of cheese with walnuts for DH, probably melted around some sort of pastry. He wasn’t sure.

Next we were each presented with a glass of small strawberries layered over cream and topped with strawberry or raspberry sorbet. The second dessert was a duo of ice cream and a charlotte on a praline. As the server presented mine he asked whether I could have praline. Since it depended on how it was made, he removed it immediately to check. After a while he reappeared with a bowl of ice cream and a tumbler of plump, succulent cherries. He flamboyantly dumped the cherries on the ice cream, proclaiming, “cherises avec bière”. Oh no, beer is not gluten free! So my dessert was whisked away again, this time to DH’s dismay as well. He would have been happy to eat them. I availed myself of the opportunity to take photos of the garden. When my dessert reappeared, plain cherries on ice cream this time, it was lovely. The cherries were warm and every bit as good as they looked. Finally came some tiny meringues with very tiny strawberries for me and tiny, scallop-shaped vanilla cakes for DH.

The meal and the service were both excellent although we could have used a little more time between courses at the beginning and a little less of a wait at the end. Not a problem, however, as we were thoroughly enjoying our surroundings. In spite of there being so many courses, each was small so we didn’t feel at all stuffed, just satisfied. The presentation added an extra dimension as you will see in the photos. Sometimes the dishes were plain white, other times a slate slab might be used. Glasses or tumblers, spoons and even egg shells were imaginatively employed and there was always a variety of carefully chosen fresh cutlery for each course. We would definitely return.

Just as at l’Octroi and la Meynardie, I felt a subtle Japanese influence in the food and the presentation. Years ago, when my daughter and I visited Giverny, we were pleased and surprised to discover Monet’s extensive collection of Japanese prints. Later, in an art history course project, I studied Japonisme, particularly the influence that Japanese printmakers had on French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Over a century later the Japanese still inspire the French.

Le Bugue: http://tinyurl.com/oyud9
Le Vieux Logis: http://tinyurl.com/rf2fz

Next: Peche Merle and Figeac
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Old Oct 3rd, 2006, 05:43 AM
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Grotte du Peche-Merle

When I called a couple of days earlier to book an 11:30 tour at Peche Merle on Wednesday I was told that it was a full two hour drive from Sarlat but that we could change to an earlier tour if we arrived sooner. Indeed this was true although we undoubtedly saved a few minutes by taking the northeast exit out of Sarlat and driving through Carlux. We left Sarlat at 8:20 and arrived at the ticket booth at 10:06 and were given tickets for the 10:20 tour, just a few minutes away. In retrospect, we could have reduced our driving time by taking the much faster autoroute for part of the way, from Souillac to exit 57. Next time. But we sure wouldn’t omit any of the places we saw that day.

Tours are only offered in français so we requested a printed English guide before being ushered into a room with 24 chairs, one for each member of our group. After announcing that he spoke English as well as French, and asking, in English, for a show of hands of how many people understood French and receiving a very scattered response, our tour guide proceeded to speak for ten minutes totally in français without any anglaise at all. At the end, one woman spoke up and asked why she had had to sit through all this. Another woman, also with a European accent, commented that it wasn’t nice for him to talk only French when so many people couldn’t follow. The guide’s response basically was that it was France so he was going to speak French.

Since there is obviously a desire for English tours at Peche Merle and there is at least one staff member who can speak English, it seemed strange that they aren’t offered. On the other hand, it is great to have the flexibility of changing to an earlier or later tour time if you are coming from a distance and aren’t sure when you will arrive. The brochure provides all the basic information anyway. We decided that we would have been happier if the guide had made occasional English comments before and during the tour as it was obvious that he was relating much more information than was contained in the brief English guide. But, quite honestly, non-Francophones could do some homework beforehand then simply enjoy the experience while they are there.

Once we actually entered the cave, this brief awkwardness was soon overtaken by awe. Peche Merle was everything we expected a cave to be with its several large chambers and magnitude of interesting rock formations. With soaring arches overhead, it almost felt like we were in a cathedral. The art itself wasn’t quite as impressive as at Lascaux II or Font de Gaume, it was more along the line of outline drawings than paintings, but it was still wonderful and the overall effect of prehistoric art and concretions, the French term for rock formations, was simply outstanding. We were quite amazed to learn that one large mural was thought to be the work of a single artist. Because of the spaciousness it was much less claustrophobic and different tour groups could spread out so that we weren’t distracted by other tour guides. Also, with the circular route, we didn’t have to wait for other groups to leave before we could move on.

The most impressive man-made art for me was the black frieze with the spotted horses but even this, I felt, was almost overshadowed by the natural formations created over many millions of years. My favourite concretions were the discs, columns, stalagmites, stalactites and the cave pearls. I recalled the old phrase, “the mites go up and the tites go down!” In one area there were footprints, left by a woman and her twelve year old son, according to the Cadogan guide. The last cave, with the dangling oak root, had obviously been used by bears.

The English only speakers ignored the guide’s outstretched palm as we left the cave and headed en masse to the museum to see prehistoric tools, implements and art as well as a subtitled film that explained much of what the guide hadn’t, in English at least. The film also mentioned the Grottes de Cognac near Gordon, seen in the movie “Le Boucher”, because the rock found there is quite similar so the concretions are as well. Returning outside we spotted the ancient oak tree, marked with a white “?”, thought to be the tree whose roots descend through the final cave we had visited. There was a playground and tables in a shady area and it was time to eat by now but we had plans to see some of the Celé Valley.

From Peche Merle we drove eastward along the tiny Celé River to find the picque-nicque spot beside the river mentioned in the Cadogan guide. It’s near the village of Sauliac-sur-Celé and not far from the Quercy open air museum in Cuzals which we didn’t take time to visit. Next time. A French couple was just leaving as it was now past the traditional lunch time so we had the round, cement table and benches to ourselves. There was a pretty, little cascade beside us in the shallow river and a ruined chateau stood on the hill above. To find this spot, turn right just after the sign pointing left for Sauliac-sur-Celé.

Photos of Peche Merle: http://tinyurl.com/lufkp

Website Photos: http://www.quercy.net/pechmerle/visite_fr.html

Next: St. Cirq Lapopie and Figeac
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Old Oct 3rd, 2006, 06:26 AM
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You were so right about not reading that segment on an empty stomach!

It is good that you are able to take some time from the sad circumstances to which you allude, and I hope you are doing well.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2006, 11:56 AM
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Nikki,

Thanks for your concern; I'm doing well and am finally able to return to my own committments. Hopefully, after my long hiatus, people will be able to find this lengthy report. Not too many segments remain now.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 05:02 AM
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St. Cirq-Lapopie

Backtracking from our lunch spot along the Celé, we enjoyed the drive in reverse every bit as much as we had the drive eastward. At a sculpture studio along the road we stopped to admire work composed of found objects. Almost as soon as we crossed the Celé and headed back east we glimpsed the cathedral of St. Cirq Lapopie dramatically perched on the cliffs high above.

As we drove uphill to the village, almost every turn brought another viewpoint. DH kindly stopped wherever he could so that I could take more pictures. We continued uphill to view the village from the far side and were rewarded with a scenic overview of the Lot Valley below. We could have parked there but chose to park closer to the village. Parking rates increase the closer you park but compared to city parking were not at all unreasonable. It seems only fair to pay somehow for the maintenance of these beautiful villages.

St. Cirq Lapopie is yet another Most Beautiful Village of France. Like most MBVFs we encountered it was very touristy but enjoyable nevertheless. We wandered downhill through the narrow streets and stopped at a wine store for DH to sample and buy some Cahors wine. Then we wandered uphill to the tourist office for more scenic views of the cathedral, battlements and the village itself with its rigorously preserved medieval buildings.

Figeac

Again it was very hot, too hot to be walking up and down hills, so we decided to return to our air-conditioned car and enjoy the drive along the river. Although it looked the same on our Michelin map, the Lot is much wider than the Celé. As we reached the main road it was a toss-up whether to head towards Cahors, which was closer, or Figeac as originally planned. We stuck with our plan.

In Figeac, we sought out the smaller parking lot beside the tourist office instead of the much larger lot beside the Celé River, inexplicably much wider at this point although it is upriver. Armed with a walking tour map, we set out to explore the town, following the map closely at first then improvising, enjoying the many medieval buildings, interesting shops and the overall ambience. Beside the covered market was a fromagerie / wine store where I selected a Rocamadour cabochon for a snack while DH chose some rosé for later. We decided that Figeac would be an excellent place for an overnight stop. Perhaps next time.

The drive from Figeac back to Sarlat was only an hour and a half along a wide, new highway so Figeac would be feasible on its own as a daytrip from Sarlat.

Photos of St. Cirq Lapopie: http://tinyurl.com/jap5k
Photos of Figeac: http://tinyurl.com/hunkl

Next: Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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bookmarking to read later
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Loved the pictures of St. Cirq LaPopie. By the time we got there we were running so late and were so exhausted that I didn't get many pictures. The one blow-up that I have is awesome, however.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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>>We liked the Jaubertie rosé better than the white we’d bought previously so added some to our collection. FYI, at 6.30 euros it was one euro less per bottle than at the Sarlat market. Later, when we ordered this very same wine at le Presidial, it was 22 euros, a substantial markup.<<

Jaubertie makes two grades of white. We buy the "lower" one for Kirs and their top grade for drinking with our meals. I don't remember which one is served at Le Presidial. Ira, Lois, & I had their top grade at Le Meynardie.

I think their lower wine sells for less than 10E & their other is more than 10E. We consumed quite a bit if it while in the Dordogne last year.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 6th, 2006, 06:25 AM
  #118  
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cobbie, I hope you find this helpful.

hopigtotravel, Thanks! Sounds like you have to return and see it properly.

Stu D., I appreciate the info about the different grades of Jaubertie wines. After reading so many rave reviews we were disappointed but thought it must be us. Obviously we were drinking their lower wine. We’ll make sure we get the real stuff next time.
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Old Oct 9th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac

After our lengthy drive the day before, we lingered over breakfast, lounged around La Bouquerie and packed a lunch before heading towards Salignac just before noon. We knew that Les Jardins had picque-nicque facilities but they sure weren’t in the shady acres of trees you drive through when you first reach the grounds. Here there were signs reading “picque-nicque interdit” every which way you looked. The actual picnic spot was right beside the parking lot and it was packed. Every table was full, even in full sun. Likewise, the lovely restaurant overlooking the gardens was also full. If you plan to eat there, be sure to book ahead. We decided to tour the gardens first and eat later, a very wise decision.

Sometimes the traditional noon lunch pause can work in your favour. The gardens were almost deserted at this hour so it was an excellent time both to enjoy them and to take photos. There was a threesome well ahead of us and a family of four behind but we all toured at the same pace and had each area to ourselves until near the end. The garden was mostly green and white but one area had pastel blossoms. It was all very lovely.

The owners still inhabit the 17th century stone mansion on the far side of the gardens. The gardens were originally laid out in the 18th century in the French style of the time which was heavily influenced by the Italian. In the 19th century they were remade in the English manner following the taste of that era. Just 40 years ago, the gardens were carefully restored by the father of the present owner in accordance with their original style.

There were a number of structures that were integrated into the garden design such as chapel and dovecotes. The plantings themselves are quite sculptural. It must have taken an immense amount of planning to predict the expected growth of each tree and bush and an immense amount of pruning now to maintain their shapes. The water bill alone must be enormous. Probably the owners have to accept visitors to pay for the maintenance.

When we returned to the picque-nicque area the young French family was also there with their baby and young daughter. The little girl was wearing only underpants because of the heat. When they left, she refused to put her dress back on. I didn’t blame her. Fortunately, because we were almost alone, we were able to find a shady spot under a tree. The groundskeepers don’t spend much time here. The grass was parched and brown. There hadn’t been any rain since we’d arrived and the days had been very hot.

Photos of Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac: http://tinyurl.com/zp2ao

English Version of Website: http://www.eyrignac.com/index1.html
Be sure to click on the Visit of the Gardens button for an interactive tour!
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Old Oct 9th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip. I had copied part of your report a while back, but now would like to follow along so I don't miss anything.
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