Friday, September 30, 2016
Dordogne region, France
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you! How about an unforgettable holiday with us at New Years’ Jazz in Italy?
Beynac’s clifftop chateau is a stunner – from afar, as well as close up. Wonderfully preserved through the centuries, it was the setting of the 1998 movie Joan of Arc (in fact we were there during the filming – quite exciting to see the Maid herself trot by on an armored steed!)
The easiest way to access the fortress-castle is by driving quite a way inland from the river, then looping around to the upper parking – avoiding the challenging hike from the town below! We wound our way up, parked, then stormed the fortress ;), beginning at the lowest plateau, then climbing up through different courtyards and towers, with spectacular views all the way up! After peering off each side of the highest tower, we swirled down circular stairways to the lowest level, where the kitchen was set up as it was when knights occupied the fortress – swords at the ready at the tables. Kirk drove down to the lower parking and our guests and I stepped carefully down the ancient cobbled paths, passing pretty homes that have hugged the lane for centuries. Our table awaits on the pretty terrace of La Petite Tonnelle, where the food is as delicious as the setting. Check out this unique gazpacho topped with a creme fraiche fluff – and of course there’s no better dessert than a luscious Café Gourmand!It’s a short drive to the riverside drama of La Roque Gageac, where we walk up steep stairs to the cliff-hugging homes. No, we did NOT climb that staircase tacked high onto the cliff – see it above the roofs?!Last on our trio of Plus Beaux Villages today is hilltop Domme. Driving through one of the impressive gates, three of which remain in the powerful medieval walls, we then walk along the Belvedere (more awesome countryside views!) to the center, with its ancient market hall (the bastide town was founded in the 1200s by Philip the Bold). Domme is a great place to buy Dordogne specialties, and we wave goodbye with a few bags of chocolate covered walnuts (we passed those groves on the way here!) in tow.
Our days in this gorgeous part of France have been filled with such delights….there’s so much more we could see if we had more time, but we and our guests are thoroughly satisfied with what we’ve enjoyed.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Dordogne Villages, France
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you! Join us on our newest tour, a Fall Musical Houseparty in France!
What do you find at a Dordogne market? Foie gras and duck in every imagineable preparation, walnuts – whether liqueur, chocolate covered, candied, local wines…table after table of delicacies, even on a rainy day. Yes, Wednesday is market day in Sarlat, rain or shine. The massive iron doors of the ancient market hall are open – come on in and look around!
The day began with rain, but by the time we arrive at our first Plus Beaux Village of the day, Beynac, the sun’s out.
This special designation of villages began not too far from here in 1982, when the mayor of Collanges-la-Rouge (truly a beauty with its rosy cluster of buildings) was inspired by a Reader’s Digest book about the 100 most beautiful villages in France. He noted the many charming old villages that were falling into decay, many nearly uninhabited, and did not want to lose this valuable and beautiful patrimony of France. So Les Plus Beaux Villages de France was founded, beginning as an association of 66 rural villages, and has since become a hallmark by which visitors can discover some of the most beautiful and off-the-beaten-path sites in France.
In addition to stopping by some of these lovelies, we’re on the hunt for just the right hotel and village for our newest tour.
Isn’t this a pretty one?
But there’s a railroad track just across the parking lot from the hotel, and the village is so sleepy we can’t find an open restaurant or even a bakery!
Outside of town we finally find a restaurant serving lunch – and a delicious one it is! No doubt we’re in duck country….my salad’s loaded with foie gras, duck breast, and duck gizzards – yum!
Following the curves of the river, we pause time and again for a photo – such lush countryside!
Next stop, the historic Château des Milandes, built in the 1400s, and purchased in 1947 by the legendary entertainer Josephine Baker, who provided shelter for Resistance fighters during the war, then used the property as a home for a “Rainbow Tribe”of orphans of various races.
Towering on a nearby hill is the fortress-chateau of Castelnaud, the English strongold of the 100 year war glowering across the river to the French-held chateau of Beynac.
Tucked beside the river, our next Plus Beaux Village is La Roque Gageac,
with church, houses, and even a fort built right into the cliff.
From the riverside, we zigzag up, up and around to Domme, another of the listed beauties of the Dordogne – the region’s FILLED with them! With its ancient market hall in the center,
it’s a short walk to views off every side.
Still in search of just the right hotel, we head south west, and pass a little no-name village that we think would make a good candidate for yet another Plus Beaux Village.
Dozing in the warm afternoon, the lanes are quiet, not a peep or a sight of a soul.
No hotels for us around here…so it’s time to return to our home for the next few days.
We’ve got so much running around to do that we’ve scarcely had time to appreciate this lovely apartment! Such an inviting living room…let’s just sit and enjoy!