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!