A Travellerspoint blog

Le Chateau Royal d'Amboise

Relaxing in the town of Amboise

semi-overcast 67 °F
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Took the opportunity to sleep in and rest today. Yesterday's long ride and the many sites in the Dordogne left us a bit tired, so it was time to catch up. We hung out in the apartment until lunch time before heading out to enjoy the area. Being Sunday, things were much quieter then yesterday was. Seems like the weekend tourists had gone away - Yay!

After a quick sandwich for lunch, we decided to explore the chateau. The Chateau Royal d'Amboise was built back in 1100 by then king Francois I. Unfortunately, he passed away before it was completed so it was completed by Charles II. The castle is not as large as some of the others, but it is quite impressive nonetheless.

Amboise - Chateau

Amboise - Chateau

Amboise - Chateau view

Amboise - Chateau view

Amboise - Chateau view - Flags

Amboise - Chateau view - Flags

Amboise - Us at the chateau

Amboise - Us at the chateau

Inside the castle, only some of the rooms have furnishings and unfortunately, flash photos weren't allowed in those rooms. The guard's tower was once occupied by D'Artagnon of Three Musketeers fame while he was escorting a prisoner.

Amboise - Guards Tower

Amboise - Guards Tower

Amboise - Chateau Council Chamber

Amboise - Chateau Council Chamber

Amboise - Fleur De Lys floor tiles

Amboise - Fleur De Lys floor tiles

The gardens are very tranquil. They're not elaborate like some other Chateaux, but they add to the ambience.

Amboise - Chateau flower garden

Amboise - Chateau flower garden

Amboise - Chateau view from gardens

Amboise - Chateau view from gardens

Amboise - Chateau Side view

Amboise - Chateau Side view

Amboise - Chateau Back view

Amboise - Chateau Back view

One additional item is the St Hubert Chapel. It is the final resting spot of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Amboise - St Hubert Chapel

Amboise - St Hubert Chapel

Amboise - St Hubert Chapel windows

Amboise - St Hubert Chapel windows

Amboise - Da Vinci's Tomb - St Hubert

Amboise - Da Vinci's Tomb - St Hubert

A beautiful castle on a nice day is a great way to enjoy the day.

Went over to a restaurant near the Chateau called La Reserve. Enjoyed a nice dinner and a bottle of red wine from the region. It was a Borgueil and went perfectly with our dinners.

Afterwards, we head back to the house to relax and map out our route for tomorrow's exploration.

Posted by Herk58 12:45 Archived in France Tagged france chateau amboise Comments (1)

On to the Loire Valley

From Turenne to Amboise

sunny 72 °F
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Up early to get ready for our drive to Amboise. It was great seeing the beautiful sites in the Dordogne region, but now even more sites await us in the Loire. Said our goodbyes, loaded up the car and off we went.

The drive to Amboise is about four hours. Glad we had a comfortable car for the ride; and a fast car since the highway speed was 130 kph or roughly 82 mph most of the way. Driving here requires a great deal of concentration as people tend to drive fast and there are lots of twisty roads.

We stopped at a Service Stop along the way. It really was more like a Super stop. Lots of gas pumps, rest rooms, a parking area, picnic area and a huge market / food shop. Pretty sweet! We topped off the tank and continued on our way.

We passed through many towns along the way, the biggest being Limoges and Chateroux. Lots of flat farmland and then we started to see the occasional vineyard, so we knew we were getting closer. When we crossed the Cher River, we were just about there.

Amboise is a fairly large city that sits on the bank of the Loire River. Population here is about 15,000. There are two major highlights that attract tourists - Chateau Royal d'Amboise and Le Clos Luce, which was Leonardo DiVinci's home near the end of his life.

We are staying in an apartment located right below the castle and right next door to the Manoir de Minimes, where we stayed during our last visit to Amboise. We were greeted by the owners and shown around the lovely property and apartment. Wow, it is a great place. The building was built in the 16th century by a nobleman and has been well maintained. Inside, updates have been made to make it a cozy place to live.

Amboise - Manor House

Amboise - Manor House

Amboise - Front entrance

Amboise - Front entrance

Amboise - Living Room

Amboise - Living Room

Amboise - Chateau window view

Amboise - Chateau window view

Amboise - Chateau

Amboise - Chateau

After settling in, we went for a walk to pick up a few supplies before seeking out a place for dinner. Found a nice looking place called La Patio and we were very lucky to sneak in on what seemed to be the last non reserved table. The dinner was excellent and the staff was delightful. We enjoyed it so much that we reserved a table for our last meal in Amboise next Friday.

A nice walk home to rest up.

Posted by Herk58 02:10 Archived in France Tagged france amboise Comments (0)

Bordeaux or Bust

Long drive to Bordeaux, St Emilion and Chateau Milandes

semi-overcast 68 °F
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An early day and a sad day as we bid our friends adieu. Jan and Dave are heading to Paris, while we have one more day here before heading to the Loire Valley.

We're starting the morning with a drive to the Bordeaux - St Jean TGV station. Our friends at the SNCF necessitated the drive by closing down Gare Austerlitz for for track updates. No station = no direct train from Brive to Paris, so we had to get creative. The TGV from Bordeaux to Gare Montparnesse was an easy train ride, but a long drive. The weather and roads were great as we headed west across the Dordogne. Just a bit of traffic around the station but no real problems at all. We bid Jan and Dave - Au Revoir and then as they headed to the trains we headed for St Emilion.

Travelling with Jan and Dave was great. We had lots of fun seeing caves, chateaux, castles, but the real fun was having good friends around to talk and laugh and share. We'll miss them the rest of the trip.

So it really didn't take too long for us to arrive in St Emilion. It is a lovely town with lots of history and lots of great wines. It was quite crowded when we got there. We've been pretty lucky so far to have been able to avoid the big crowds, but not so today. First thing on the agenda was finding a parking spot. It took a little manuevering, but we managed to find a spot on the ring road to the town. The line of cars behind us then took all the rest of the spots in a flash.

We walked around town a little until we found the Tourist Office. I was hoping for a town map, but instead found the St Emilion Wine Tour. It's a mini-bus ride that takes you through and around some of the vineyards and wineries of the area. You drive through both St Emilion and Pomerol to get a good look at the vineyards. All of the grapes being grown are red varietals with the most prominent being Merlot. We saw the vineyards of Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Pavie and Petrus. The growing season is just getting under way, so we didn't see grapes, but we saw where they came from.

St Emilion - Wine Tour

St Emilion - Wine Tour

St Emilion - Wine Tour Bus

St Emilion - Wine Tour Bus

St Emilion - Vineyards - Chateau Petrus

St Emilion - Vineyards - Chateau Petrus

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

St Emilion - Vineyards

The bus tour costs 10 Euros and lasts a little more than an hour. They have headphones on the bus that let you hear the narration in many different languages.

After the tour, we headed back to town for a little more sight-seeing and lunch. The highlight of the town was the Monolithic Church. Everyone was trying to find the right angle to get the best picture. There are many, many wine shops in town. Some offering tastings, some offering older vintages and some just selling wine to the tourists. We ate lunch and had a half-bottle of wine. Our half-bottle cost as much as seven bottles of wine back in Turenne. Ah, the price of stepping up to Bordeaux.

St Emilion - Monolithic Church

St Emilion - Monolithic Church

St Emilion - Monolithic Church

St Emilion - Monolithic Church

St Emilion - Town Views

St Emilion - Town Views

St Emilion - Town View

St Emilion - Town View

St Emilion - Town Views

St Emilion - Town Views

St Emilion - Wine Shop

St Emilion - Wine Shop

Time to move on. Our next stop will be Chateau Milandes. It's about a 90 minute drive from St Emilion and is on our way back to Turenne. Needless to say, we chose to take the scenic route rather than just scoot back on the highway.

Chateau Milandes was the home of Josephine Baker. Josephine was a young, black woman who left Missouri and tough times to come to Paris. In Paris she became a sensation, singing and dancing her way to stardom. In her later years, she bought Chateau Milandes and after failed attempts to have her own children, adopted many children calling them her "Rainbow Tribe" as she adopted children of many cultures. She died nearly penniless, the result of spending the money she was making too fast and also being taken advantage of by people.

The chateau has many pieces of memorabilia and original furniture pieces. In addition, there is a falconry show that highlights some of the birds of the area. We only caught the end of the show, but they have falcons and owls that make up the show.

Chateau Milandes - Entrance

Chateau Milandes - Entrance

Chateau Milandes - Chateau

Chateau Milandes - Chateau

Chateau Milandes - Rear View

Chateau Milandes - Rear View

Chateau Milandes - Side House

Chateau Milandes - Side House

Chateau Milandes - Rear Gardens

Chateau Milandes - Rear Gardens

Chateau Milandes - Gardens

Chateau Milandes - Gardens

The admission price is 8.50 Euros and you can rent an audio guide for another 2.50 Euro.

The last part of our journey was a ride home, which took a little over an hour. We were tired and hungry, but neither of us felt like sitting in a restaurant for a couple hours. As we rounded the bend to head to the house, lo and behold - a pizza truck.

Turenne - Pizza Truck

Turenne - Pizza Truck

Turenne - Friday Night Pizza

Turenne - Friday Night Pizza

Not just slices of pizza, but rather you order and the woman makes your pizza fresh. It took about 25 minutes for her to make and bake our pizzas, then she waved us back over from our parking spot and we took our hot out of the oven pizzas home to eat. What a great treat. The pizzas were good and the cost was about 8.50 Euros per pie. It allowed us to change, relax and drink our own wine in the comfort of the house.

Bravo Pizza Lady!

Tried to clean up and pack a little as we are leaving tomorrow. Overall, it's been a great stay in Turenne and the Dordogne. Next we are off to the Loire River Valley.

Posted by Herk58 08:07 Archived in France Tagged france chateau vineyards bordeaux dordogne Comments (1)

Les Belle Villages de France

The elusive village of Curemonte

sunny 69 °F
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Another beautiful day for some touring. Today we will once again seek out the village of Curemonte. On our last trip through the area we couldn't find parking and access into the village. Today, we are on a mission - see Curemonte!

The route takes us once again over some of the most winding and narrow roads that we have encountered. Four lanes - no. Two lanes - no. Would you believe one and a half lanes. The ride takes a little over a half hour and it is a beautiful day for a ride. We come up from the back and see the parking area. Laughingly, it is about 25 meters from where we sat and pondered during our last trip here.

Curemonte - Distant View

Curemonte - Distant View

Curemonte - Surrounding area

Curemonte - Surrounding area

You walk down into the village and then cut over to the old section. Though there are modern items like cars, a telephone booth and a post office, it still feels like you are stepping back in time. The buildings are in pretty good shape, many have been restored and are wonderful to see.

Curemonte - Another Beautiful Village

Curemonte - Another Beautiful Village

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village Views

Curemonte - Village Views

Curemonte - Village View

Curemonte - Village View

The main church in the village is Saint Barthélemy. It has had some restoration work done through the ages and is simple, yet very reverent. For a Euro, you can illuminate the church and altar, plus there is music that plays. It really was very nice to see, especially given its age.

Curemonte - Saint-Barthelemy Church

Curemonte - Saint-Barthelemy Church

Curemonte - Saint Bethelemy Church Belltower

Curemonte - Saint Bethelemy Church Belltower

Curemonte - Saint Barthélemy Church Altar

Curemonte - Saint Barthélemy Church Altar

Curemonte - Saint Barthélemy Church

Curemonte - Saint Barthélemy Church

Curemonte definitely deserves to be called one of the most beautiful villages of France. We were so glad that we came back to find it and walk its streets.

After Curemonte, we decided to have a nice lunch as this would be the last day that we would be touring with our friends, Jan and Dave. Tomorrow they head back to Paris.

We found a wonderful little restaurant in the town of Les Quatre Routes du Lot called Au Vieux Four. It was one of those places that you just happen to find and are so glad that you did. We enjoyed a delicious lunch that left us all sated. Now the task would be to drive home without dozing off. Luckily, our pilot Dave, was sharp as a tack and guided us home safely.

Later in the afternoon, the owners of the house stopped by to check on things. They seemed like very nice people and gave us a few facts about the house we were staying in. It was built back in the 15th century and was originally the village counting house or place where people came to pay their taxes. Seems like an appropriate place for a retired Accountant to be staying. They told us a little about how they came to purchase the house after seeing it and its awesome views of the castle tower and valley below. Nice people, nice house.

We got together for one last evening and had some wine with our friends. A fitting finale for a great vacation together. We have a busy day tomorrow and a long ride to Bordeaux to drop them off at the train station, so tonight will be an early night to get some rest.

Good night!

Posted by Herk58 12:26 Archived in France Tagged france village lot curemonte Comments (0)

Another journey underground

A visit to the Grottes de Lacave

sunny 72 °F
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Believe it or not, we have actually seen most of the items on our itinerary. The remaining items either require a reservation that was not available or are too far away. So spontaneity kicked in and we decided to drive to the Grottes de Lacave or Cave of Lacave. Lacave is located close to Rocamadour and only about a 45 minute ride from home. It's a small village with a tremendous natural wonder.

The cave was discovered in 1902 and the two chambers were connected in 1905. There is a small train that takes you into the cliff to the start of the cavern. From there you walk through a series of tunnels and navigate some steps in what can only be described as a walk of wonder. There are stalactites, stalagmites, reflecting pools and crystalline formations. There is also a sense of peacefulness that is hard to describe. While man can build beautiful structures, there is nothing that can compare to what Mother Nature can create.

Lacave - Grottes Building

Lacave - Grottes Building

Lacave - Poster

Lacave - Poster

Lacave - Cave Entrance

Lacave - Cave Entrance

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Cave Interior

Lacave - Train to cave interior

Lacave - Train to cave interior

Hopefully the images give you an idea of what the caves were like. The stalactites grow at a rate of 2 cm per century. Look at the pictures and think about how long these stalactites have been forming. The water is all from the infusion of rain water through the earth.

They also hold concerts down in the caves. In the main chamber, the guide told us that they hold concerts featuring classical, jazz, blues and even reggae music. The acoustics have got to be incredible.

The price to enter the caves is Euro 8.50. Parking is free.

Across from the cave is a nice little restaurant where we had lunch. They have a little of everything on the menu and the prices are very good. They also serve ice cream, sandwiches and crepes for those who just want to pick something up to go.

Les Grottes de Lacave was another awesome place to visit. Highly recommended.

Posted by Herk58 14:33 Archived in France Tagged france caves lot lacave Comments (0)

Sunny day in the Dordogne means road trip.

Beautiful villages and Castles - Domme, Castelnaud and Beynac

sunny 70 °F
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Woke up to thick fog in the valley, which would make driving somewhat treacherous.

Turenne - Foggy morning

Turenne - Foggy morning

Turenne - Foggy morn

Turenne - Foggy morn

Turenne - Foggy morning

Turenne - Foggy morning

Luckily, it burned off by the time we were ready to leave. (Being slow in the morning pays off again)

Today we would start in the beautiful village of Domme. Founded in 1281, it is perched high up on a hill giving you stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You enter the village by driving through one of the ancient portes and then park in one of the scattered parking areas. Parking costs the same as in most areas, one or two Euros for a couple of hours. The village is very charming with a few shops, a few restaurants, an old church and that beautiful view.

Domme - Porte

Domme - Porte

Domme - village view

Domme - village view

Domme - Village view

Domme - Village view

Domme - Village view

Domme - Village view

Domme - Valley view

Domme - Valley view

But there is also a library and a museum and a village full of people; it definitely didn't feel like a tourist trap. In fact, most of the towns and villages we visited were geared towards tourists but didn't feel like they were out to get every last Euro from your pocket. More on that later.

We walked around the town and made our way to the overlook point or "belvedere". The views were breath-taking. After we had taken some pictures and walked around for a bit, a bus load of tourists arrived, clogging up the views and the streets. That was our cue to head out. Unfortunately, in making our escape, we forgot about the Prison des Templiers, where the Knights Templar were imprisoned. Oh well, next time.

Next stop would be the Chateau de Castelnaud. This was a large and imposing castle that also contained a Medieval Warfare Museum. I'll cut right to the chase.. they have Trebuchets and sometimes even fire them off. Unfortunately, no launching of projectiles today but it was still interesting to see them.

Castelnaud - Trebuchets

Castelnaud - Trebuchets

Castelnaud - Trebuchet ammunition

Castelnaud - Trebuchet ammunition

Ok, so back to Castelnaud. Castelnaud or "New Castle" was built in the 12th century. The family, which converted to Catharism, was constantly fighting with the family in the next castle, The Monforts. Through the centuries and the Hundred Years War, the castle was attacked and damaged, then rebuilt. The warring is over, so what exists today is hopefully the last restoration needed. The impressive castle's many rooms contain many weapons and a few displays of furnishings. This is definitely more of a man's castle. Large, imposing and lots of battle toys.

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Armor

Castelnaud - Armor

Castelnaud - Armored horse

Castelnaud - Armored horse

Castelnaud - Orgue

Castelnaud - Orgue

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Castle

Castelnaud - Castle

By way of cost, admittance for adults was Euro 8.60. Parking was another Euro 3.00. There are also a couple of nice restaurants located around the castle with good food at reasonable prices.

After Castelnaud, we went across the river to their arch enemy - Chateau Beynac. Chateau Beynac was much more rustic than Castelnaud. It is also still being restored. The owner lives in a portion of the castle not accessible to the public, so photos are supposedly not allowed - though everyone we saw were sneaking photos.

Chateau Beynac was a very dark, cold castle. Probably looking very much like it did in the Middle Ages. You can only imagine how it must have been back in the day. The cold stone holding the chill and the dampness that seemed to be everywhere. It's high on the cliff above the Dordogne River and seemingly impenetrable, however Richard the Lion-Hearted did penetrate it back in 1189.

Beynac - Chateau Beynac

Beynac - Chateau Beynac

Beynac - Chateau Chapel

Beynac - Chateau Chapel

Beynac - Chateau

Beynac - Chateau

Beynac - Chateau

Beynac - Chateau

Beynac - Chateau walls

Beynac - Chateau walls

Beynac - Chateau

Beynac - Chateau

The tour will cost you Euro 8.50 per adult plus Euro 2.00 to park. The path up to the castle from the parking area is somewhat steep and stony.

After the castle it was back home to relax for the evening. We once again lit the living room up with candles and had some wine and cheese to finish off the evening. Tomorrow will be a mystery day as we haven't yet decided where we want to venture out.

Posted by Herk58 13:35 Archived in France Tagged france castle dordogne domme castelnaud beynac Comments (0)

Rainy day in the Dordogne

Hanging out at the house

rain 56 °F
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Every day can't be a sunny day - at least that's what they tell me. So on a rainy day, we decided to stay home where it was warm and dry.

Turenne - Rainy Day

Turenne - Rainy Day

Turenne - Rainy day

Turenne - Rainy day

Rainy days also tend to be lazy days, and this was no exception. Updated the blog, charged all the camera batteries and looked through all the pictures we've taken. Sue made a nice lunch and then we relaxed with a glass of wine. Jan and Dave would be over for dinner, so we decided to run to a store to pick up a couple items - yes, more wine!

It was not nice at all. Cold, rainy and windy are not words I like to hear used together. However, getting really good wines for under €5.00 is enough to get me to go out in the weather.

A nice dinner, then a few games of cards and then a cozy room with good friends and good wine capped off the evening.

Turenne - Cozy room

Turenne - Cozy room

Tomorrow will be better, so another adventure waits.

Posted by Herk58 14:02 Archived in France Tagged france dordogne turenne Comments (0)

Visiting Brantome and le Chateau de Hautefort

Our long drive day

semi-overcast 70 °F
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Though the weather forecast is iffy, we decided to take a drive to the town of Brantome and then play it by ear and maybe stop at the Chateau de Hautefort on the way home. Both are located to the northwest of us, with Brantome being northwest of Perigueux. SO with fingers crossed, we set out on our journey.

Though it is a longer drive, much of today's ride was on the highway. Driving along at between 90 and 130 kph (55 and 82 mph) made the ride go by quickly. Lots of things to see along the way, though the highway isn't as picturesque as driving through the small towns on the back roads. With only a couple little hitches, we are soon pulling into a parking area in Brantome. It is Election Day in France and people are going into the designated polling locations.

A short stroll and we can see the Abbey and Church in town. Brantome has been dubbed the Venice of the Dordogne because it is actually located on a small island with the Dronne River surrounding it. It is definitely pretty, but it didn't evoke thoughts of Venice. We wandered around a little before finding a place for a light lunch. After eating, we took a boat ride on the river. It was a very relaxing ride on a nice day. The water level and currents were up due to the rain that had pushed through the area. Felt like we should put our heads down under each bridge. Beautiful scenery along the way and the woman doing the narration was fun. She said her English wasn't so good, but we could make out what she was saying.

Brantome - Old water pump

Brantome - Old water pump

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome - Abbey

Brantome - Abbey

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome - Abbot of Brantome

Brantome - Abbot of Brantome

After our boat ride, we decided to head out and try to take in Chateau de Hautefort. The sun was out and fighting against the clouds as we drive to the Chateau. A few patches of rain along the way slowed us down a bit, not to mention the "Deviations" we seem to keep running into. Nothing major, just minor annoyances as they re-pave the roads. On a side note, the roads here have been pretty good. They do maintain them and many of the routes seemed to have been paved recently. Of course, the back roads we have been taking have also been well paved, but they are also narrow and seem to be more curved then straight.

Brantome - Tour Boat

Brantome - Tour Boat

Brantome

Brantome

Brantome - Bridge over the river Dronne

Brantome - Bridge over the river Dronne

Brantome - Views

Brantome - Views

Soon enough we arrived at the Chateau and luckily, the rain seems to have taken a different road as the sun is once again shining. The Chateau de Hautefort is very impressive. It looks great from the outside - high walls, turrets and lovely gardens. On the inside, the rooms are furnished with antique and period furniture - all tastefully done. Tapestries hang in many of the rooms as well as paintings. Overall it is wonderful, especially given its circumstances.

In 1966, right after a restoration effort, there was a fire that ruined much of the chateau. There were pictures there showing the flames and the damage. It was heart-breaking to see. Can only imagine what the owner must have been feeling. Not to be thwarted, they re-restored the chateau once again to what you see today. Wonderful effort. Truly a labor of love.

Chateau de Hautefort

Chateau de Hautefort

Chateau de Hautefort - Views

Chateau de Hautefort - Views

Chateau de Hautefort

Chateau de Hautefort

Chateau de Hautefort

Chateau de Hautefort

Chateau de Hautefort - Guarding the drawbridge

Chateau de Hautefort - Guarding the drawbridge

Chateau de Hautefort - Turret

Chateau de Hautefort - Turret

Chateau de Hautefort - Turret structure

Chateau de Hautefort - Turret structure

Chateau de Hautefort - Turret roof structure

Chateau de Hautefort - Turret roof structure

The formal gardens surrounding the chateau were lush and green. Manicured hedges mixed with flowers that could be seen from the various windows bordered the chateau building. Quite nice!

Chateau de Hautefort - Garden Canopy

Chateau de Hautefort - Garden Canopy

Chateau de Hautefort - Hedge row

Chateau de Hautefort - Hedge row

Chateau de Hautefort - Gardens

Chateau de Hautefort - Gardens

Chateau de Hautefort - Garden views

Chateau de Hautefort - Garden views

As it was nearing 6:00, we started back for home. We would be eating in tonight. I believe the girls have a pasta , sausage and vegetable medley on the menu. I think we might have some wine and then can unwind from the day.

Posted by Herk58 04:08 Archived in France Tagged gardens france chateau brantome hautefort Comments (0)

Market day in Sarlat

A special anniversary with friends.

semi-overcast 66 °F
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Each day has been such fun exploring and seeing so many interesting and beautiful sights. Today will be a shorter day of travels as we need to get back home to clean up for dinner. Our friends are taking us out for dinner to celebrate our 34th anniversary.

Today we are off to Sarlat to explore the market. Sarlat's Saturday market is supposed to be huge, taking over much of the old town with vendors selling fresh produce, meat, cheese, sausage, fish, olives and baked goods, plus an assortment of soaps, gadgets, clothes and wine. Arriving in town, we could guess the way by the line of cars heading down the main road. We found a parking spot that took some precision driving by David to get into and then we walked over to the market.

It really was huge. There were lots of people everywhere - both locals and tourists. Our goal was to find candles and lace curtains among the many vendors - we didn't! But we did have fun mingling and taking it all in. Vendors would offer samples of cheese or sausage or olives as you walked along. Since we were there to experience the market, we bought some fresh broccoli that would make its way into a future dinner. There was a couple called Paris Londres that were entertaining the crowd and selling their CD. They were really good, she playing the violin and he playing a double necked guitar.

Sarlat

Sarlat

Sarlat - Olive Stand

Sarlat - Olive Stand

Sarlat - Huge langoustines at the fish stall

Sarlat - Huge langoustines at the fish stall

Sarlat - Rounds of Cheese

Sarlat - Rounds of Cheese

Sarlat - Cheese Stall

Sarlat - Cheese Stall

Sarlat - Truffles

Sarlat - Truffles

Sarlat - Paris Londres Entertaining

Sarlat - Paris Londres Entertaining

We did a little sightseeing while wandering through town too. There are some beautiful old buildings, a cathedral, brass Oies (geese), and behind the church is a Lanterne des morts. The lanterns of the dead are found throughout France. They are said to be like lighthouses, guiding the souls of the dead. This particular one is strange as nobody knows what is kept in the stoned-in top chamber and nobody will break it open, so it remains a secret.

Sarlat - Lanterne de Mort

Sarlat - Lanterne de Mort

Sarlat - Town scenery

Sarlat - Town scenery

Sarlat - pretty town view

Sarlat - pretty town view

Sarlat - Townscape

Sarlat - Townscape

We grabbed a light lunch in town before heading back home. The town of Sarlat has much to offer and market day is a great way to see, smell and experience it.

After some down time to relax and download pictures it was time for dinner. There is a nice little restaurant in town that we visited on our first night and liked it so much that we are going back. Jan and David wanted to take us out to celebrate our 34th anniversary. A nice dinner with great friends is a perfect way to celebrate. The restaurant is located in a small hotel in town and is called "La Maison des Chanoines". Very pretty and the woman who runs it is a sweetheart. She chuckles at our attempts at French (probably laughs heartily when we can't hear) but was very nice to us on both occasions.

Another great day in the Dordogne. There is so much to see and most are within about an hour's drive of the house in Turenne.

Posted by Herk58 03:43 Archived in France Tagged france market sarlat Comments (0)

Along the Vezere River Valley

Time to get prehistoric.

rain 58 °F
View France 2014 - Retirement Escape on Herk58's travel map.

Today we decided to go back, way back. How does 17,000 years ago sound? Cro-magnon men were painting on cave walls while their contemporaries were hunting and gathering food.

The Dordogne and more specifically, the Vezere River Valley is renowned for the number of caves and troglodyte villages that can be found there. Our first stop is at a place called Lascaux II. It is an exact replication of part of the original Lascaux cave. In 1940, four teenagers wandered into a cave and discovered cave paintings while looking for their dog. The cave paintings have been dated back 17,000 years. After the discovery, hordes of people, almost a million within two years, descended on the caves. Unfortunately, the CO2 from their breath and bacteria that they carried in started to deteriorate the cave paintings forcing the caves to be closed to the public. In 1982, after years of work, a copy of the cave was opened to the public for viewing.

It is a fascinating site to see. When you see the paintings and understand when they were painted you have a new appreciation of our ancestors. It really makes you wonder about what we were taught throughout school. This does not look like something that came from people who talked by grunting. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the cave, but you can buy books which show the works.

The tour takes about 45 minutes and you need to buy your tickets ahead of time. They are available in the town of Montignac which is just a few kilometers from the cave. Admission is Euro 13.50 and includes access to the caves and a museum in the village of Le Thot nearby.

Lascaux II - Cave Entrance

Lascaux II - Cave Entrance

Lascaux II Cave

Lascaux II Cave

Lascaux II - Cave finders

Lascaux II - Cave finders

After visiting the Lascaux II cave, we left in awe and headed to Le Thot to see the museum. The museum is made up of two parts. The first is a zoo with current day animals whose ancestors are painted on the walls of the Lascaux Caves. You'll see goats, deer, horses and bisons, plus exhibits of the houses that the people of the time would have lived in. The second part is a video animation of some of the animals painted on the walls.

In the second part, you go into a room where through CGI trickery, you see a Wooley Mammoth, Wooley Rhinocerus, Cave Lion or Megasaurus. You get to pet and watch them as they interact in front of you. Watch out for the rhinocerus! It is actually quite interesting to see and is especially great for kids.

Le Thot - Prehistoric Museum

Le Thot - Prehistoric Museum

Le Thot - Early Shelter

Le Thot - Early Shelter

Le Thot - Goat House

Le Thot - Goat House

Le Thot - Cerf

Le Thot - Cerf

Le Thot - Mini Bison

Le Thot - Mini Bison

We continued south down along the Vezere Valley until we came to St Leon Sur Vezere. It is a very pretty little village along the banks of the river. Unfortunately for us, it was raining quite hard when we arrived so we decided to grab lunch and see if the weather would change. It didn't! But we did have a great lunch at Restaurant De La Poste. It was a charming restaurant with a delightful owner / waitress who greeted everyone with a big smile and was very nice.

St Leon Sur Vezere - Resto

St Leon Sur Vezere - Resto

St Leon Sur Vezere - Resto

St Leon Sur Vezere - Resto

St Leon Sur Vezere - Village

St Leon Sur Vezere - Village

Since it was still raining hard, we decided after eating to head back home. It was a fairly long ride home and the weather made it seem even longer - as did getting lost for a while. :-)

Getting home, we opted for a quiet evening in. We had a mini happy hour and then hit the sack early in hopes of catching some decent weather for tomorrow's outing.

Posted by Herk58 14:53 Archived in France Tagged france caves lascaux Comments (0)

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