Wednesday, July 02, 2008


While our boat is in Malause, between Toulouse and Bordeaux we have been doing some sightseeing in the tarn Garonne, Gascony area as well as farther north east to The Perigord Noir--Dordogne. Of all of the places we have seen in France, this area has by far,r the most number of beautiful medieval villages and hamlets that we have ever seen. The countryside is green, luscious and hilly with deep-cut valleys enclosed within the cliffs the rivers have eroded Walnut trees are abundant as are corn fields. This is the area with the largest number of prehistoric painted caves such as Lascaux. In the three days that we were there, I alone took 900 photos. The entire trip was a feast for the eyes. It was sunny, clear and beautiful the entire time we were there. We left Malause early in the morning and soon around lunch time we were looking for a Chambre d'Hotes (B&B) that would be conveniently located for our excursions. In the Upper Dordogne, we found a most charming place called Le Moulin, an actual grain mill powered by a spring. It is more than 200 years old, and the owner herself has converted it into a Bed and Breakfast. From our room on the second floor we had the most amazing view of the Renaissance Chateau de Milandes, whose latest owner was the famous Josephine Baker. The proprietor told me she has inherited the property along with a couple of cousins and that she has been living there for about ten years. The place is at the entrance of a tiny village called St Vincent de Cosses and on the way to the beautiful nearby castles of Castelnau and Marqueyssac.

We visited cities, towns, villages and hamlets, each one gem of a place. Some of the characteristics of the architecture of the area are the yellowish color of the stone and the unique shape of the roofs and tiles called "lauzes". We visited the city of Sarlat, one whose old section had unbelievably beautiful houses. The towns of Beynac and La Roque Gageac, built on the cliffs with their ochre color houses that reflect on the Dordogne's dark, but crystal waters, are almost too perfect. The towns of Souillac, Beaulieu, Martel and Carennac are perfectly preserved Medieval villages, as is the gorgeous bastide town of Domme, whose cliff top view of the chateaux around it and the river valley takes your breath away. The area is well known for its foie gras and truffles which are found everywhere you go. In the town of La Roque Gageac we had one of those unforgettable meals on the terrace of the Restaurant La Belle Etoile, overlooking the river under an unbelievable blue sky. Our senses were definitely on overload during those three days. On the way back, in the morning we stopped at another incredibly beautiful cliff built village in the Department of the Lot, Rocamadour, unfortunately too touristy for our taste, but incredibly interesting. It has been a pilgrimage sight since the XI C and it has an small chapel built for a Black Madonna, who according to history has performed numerous miracles, thus the hoards of people that come to this town. After Rocamadour, we stopped at Loubressac, surprisingly untouched by tourism, totally inhabited and perfectly manicured. The owner of a local little restaurant turned out to be the former mayor, and when I asked him how the managed to keep businesses from ruining their town, he said: "It's very easy, we just say no". Well, it sure has worked for them. Our last stop was the village of St. Cirq Lapopie, built also on a cliff over the river Lot, unbelievably genuine and well preserved with beautiful houses and well kept gardens. Before getting back to the boat, we stopped at Cahors, big city on the Lot to check out the port in case we can navigate the river this year.

As I finish this entry, I shall start packing for my trip to Spain where I will be joining my sister in law, Libia in Madrid. I am taking the train from Bordeaux on July 4 and will meet Libia on the 7. We will be staying with Elena, my friend with whom I lived when I studied there the winter of 95. On July 9 we go to Leon, we'll spend two days there, and on the 12 we begin our walk from Astorga to Santiago de Compostela. We are very excited about our experience, and we hope we can walk all the way to Santiago. We are open to taking buses if we see we cannot do it. I guess we will soon find out. I look forward to sharing this experience with those of you who read this blog. Until the next entry I wish Libia and I a " BUEN CAMINO!"

Chateau de Bonaguil

Chambres d'Hotes Le Moulin



La Roque Gageac

Climbing up La Roque Gageac

Josephine Baker's Chateau de Milandes

Chateau de Castelnau

View of The Dordogne from Domme

One of Domme's three gates


La Roque Gageac

Restaurant La Belle Etoile

Martel, somewhat whiter stone

Entering Carennac


Romanesque decorated door Carennac Church

Carennac houses

Castelnau red stone

Half-timbered houses, Bretenoux

Beautiful abbey at Beaulieu sur Dordogne

Walking down only street in Benyac

La Roque Gageac viewed from top of Chateau de Marqueyssac

Beautiful gardens at Marqueyssac

Chateau de Marqueyssac

Approach to Rocamadour



Village of Loubressac

Road on The Lot

St. Cirq Lapopie view from the top

St. Cirq Lapopie

Beautiful roofs and cobblestone, St. Cirq Lapopie

St. Cirq Lapopie

No comments: