A Travellerspoint blog

A day of fascinating finds

Visiting Martel, Rocamadour and Gouffre de Padirac.

overcast 63 °F
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So we took the rainy day and rested up so that we could be ready when the sunshine returned. Today we are going to visit three completely different sites and hopefully have a day of fun and an evening of discussion.

We will be starting our adventure in the village of Martel. Martel is another of the most beautiful villages in France and is known for its seven towers. We found free parking and then strolled through the village. The village is very picturesque with each shop or square prettier then the last. It is definitely a stroll and picture village. While there are shops, there really isn't much to distinguish it from many other villages. That's not a bad thing, just an observation.

After some photos, we head back to the car to go on to our second destination.

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Just a few kilometers farther and we come to Rocamadour. Rocamadour is a town built tightly against the side of a cliff, with some buildings actually built right into the cliff. We arrived at the top of the hill near the sanctuary. It is made up of very simple chapels, built into the cliff walls and have a very spiritual feeling about them. A group of visitors could be heard singing hymns to the Virgin Mary as we were walking out.

Rocamadour was a pilgrimage site for many Christians. People would travel there and then climb the stairs up to the chapel on their knees. Since we started at the top, we just walked down.

Going down it was interesting to see the shops and stores in town. It definitely has a touristy appeal, but is still well worth a visit. We selected a place to have lunch that had a terrace overlooking the valley. Very pretty place to eat and the food was very good too.

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After lunch we took the elevator and funicular back to the top and headed to our final destination for the day - Gouffre de Padirac.

Gouffre de Padirac is a huge cave or chasm that then leads to an underground cave and river. This area of France is famous for its many caves and caverns, many of which have been found to contain prehistoric cave paintings. For today, we'll just be seeing the wonders of a naturally carved cave below the earth's surface.

You start by taking an elevator down 100 meters to the entrance. You then walk down some stairs and follow a path around to a docking area. From here you take a boat ride along the underground river. The river is fed by rain water, not fed by a stream or spring. Since it had rained heavily the day before the water was dripping down from the ceiling above. Once you reach the end of the river, you disembark and then walk through paths to see stalactites and stalagmites, plus a couple large lakes and natural dams. It's quite a site and really breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, they don't allow photos underground, but we did buy a book with pictures. When the tour is complete, you get back in the boat and are taken back to the entrance. It truly was awesome.

A53BD3772219AC681714ADA985216976.jpgGouffre de Padirac 2

Gouffre de Padirac 2

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With that, we headed back to the house to relax. Tomorrow we'll be heading over to see the Lascaux caves and prehistoric museum.

Posted by Herk58 12:44 Archived in France Tagged france sites lot dordogne Comments (0)

A day to relax

Hanging around the house for the day

overcast 68 °F
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After a couple days of sightseeing and driving around, we decided to chill out for a day. With the winds blowing and the skies threatening it was a perfect day to catch up on things inside. Blogs, photos, map details and upcoming journeys were all given their proper attention.

The house we are staying in dates back to the 17th century. It's located just beneath the ruins of the former castle in Turenne. There is a large chateau plus two smaller guest apartments. There is a small roman pool, two terraces and views to die for. Oh, and laundry facilities.

Speaking of laundry, we did some of that too. While the clothes were washing, we tidied up a bit around the house. Candles in the candelabra would enhance the ambience for the night ahead. Tonight we'll be cooking our meal and then enjoying a quiet evening in. Sue and Jan did a great job with dinner. The wine was flowing, the music set the tone and the conversation was terrific. This is a perfect vacation.

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Decided to head to a couple places tomorrow that would work no matter the weather. With that, it will be fun watching the lightning as we head to bed.

Posted by Herk58 11:44 Archived in France Tagged france rest turenne Comments (0)

Most beautiful villages in France

Collonges-les-Rouges to Curemonte to Beaulieu-Sur-Dordogne

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Decided today we would tone our travels down a little with a visit to some villages that were closer to Turenne. Beautiful villages of France was the theme and we picked three of them to visit. With the sun shining in between the clouds, we headed out around 10am. Our first stop would be in the village of Collonges-les-Rouges.

The village is so named because of the red stone used in the construction of the buildings. It was very picturesque and if you didn't know the year, you guess you were somewhere back in time. The village is still lived in, but now most of the village is geared towards tourists with shops and restaurants leading the way. While that is a fact, it is still a lovely place to visit. We liked it so much that we came back for lunch after visiting the next town.
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And the next town was Meyssac. We arrived hoping to catch the market, but it was pretty much over when we arrived. We did stop at a Supermarket to pick up a couple items, but then moved on to our next stop - Curemonte.

Curemonte is another village listed as a most beautiful village in France. We entered the village and followed the road around and ended up on the other end of the town. Hey, wait a minute! We could see the castle and buildings from up on the hill, but couldn't figure out how to get to them. We looked over the town map and then headed back into the village. Once again we circled around and ended up back where we started. We were hungry and not willing to park way up on the hill to walk into town, so long range photos were the answer. Oh well, we tried.

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Since we were hungry, we chose to go back to Collognes-les-Rouges for lunch. We chose a small restaurant on the Main Street and had a wonderful meal. The food was good, the prices were good and the people were terrific - what more could you ask for? So now, with full tummies, we headed off to Beaulieu-Sur-Dordogne.

Beaulieu is a pretty village located right along the Dordogne River. For us, the highlight was the walk around the riverfront area. There is a small dam there and the views are awesome. After wandering around, nature called, so we stopped at a hotel along the water and had a glass of Rose' before using the facilities. Our friends arrived to join us for a glass of wine before we headed back to Turenne.

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The ride back, like every other ride, was along winding and twisting roads but was actually pretty easy. Minimal traffic, beautiful scenery and great company.

Back in Turenne, we decided tonight would be a happy hour dinner. Wine, cheese, bread and fruit - did I mention wine? Very relaxing and very nice. it's awesome travelling with good friends.

Started raining and the forecast calls for more rain tomorrow. Looks like a good day to relax and get some things done around the house.

Posted by Herk58 13:29 Archived in France Tagged france travel sites dordogne Comments (0)

Sights to see and plenty of sun.

A boat ride and a castle...

sunny 75 °F
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Woke up to another glorious day. Bright sunshine and blue skies can only mean - Road Trip!

Today our travels took us to La Roque-Gegeac for a boat ride on the Dordogne in a Gabare. A Gabare is a flat bottomed boat much like a barge. For today's journey, we went with a company called Gabare Norbert. We arrived in town about a half hour before the next scheduled departure so our wait was minimal. While we waited, we walked around a little bit looking at the awesome buildings.

La Roque-Gageac is a town built between the river and the cliffs. In fact, some of the buildings are built right into the cliffs. There are locations built into the cliffs where the locals fought off attackers coming up the Dordogne River.

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare Sights

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare Sights

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare sights

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare sights

Soon it was time to board the boat and head out. The trip lasts about an hour and you get commentary live on board or by way of a pre-recorded commentary via headphones. I was listening to both as our guide Jordy was easy to understand. The trip was very pleasant and the sites along the way ranged from beautiful to breath-taking. As we sailed on, we passed quite a few kayakers and canoeists enjoying the river too.

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare Norbert

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare Norbert

La Roque-Gageac - Guide Jordy

La Roque-Gageac - Guide Jordy

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare Sights

La Roque-Gageac - Gabare Sights

After our boat trip, we found a cute little place called La Patio and enjoyed a nice lunch. Prices have been very reasonable and today was no exception. I don't think we have paid more than €30 for a bottle of wine out, and buying wine at the store has been an even bigger bargain. Drink what the locals drink. Viva la France!

La Patio Restaurant

La Patio Restaurant

The second part of today's adventure was a drive over to Chateau Marqueyssac. It is a chateau located high on a hill top just beyond La Roque-Gegeac with beautiful gardens and landscaping that has been restored to its original splendor. There is also a "belvedere" or look out point high on the cliffs above the Dordogne River. We have walked more in our few days here so far then I have in ages and I have the sore calves to prove it. The walk through the nearly 6km of paths was worth it as everything was beautiful. The views all along the paths and from the belvedere were fantastic.

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Woodworker crafting items

Woodworker crafting items

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Being tired from the day, we headed home with just a stop at the market to get some supplies and more wine. Then more winding roads back to Turenne where we all decided to just chill for the evening. All in all it was another great day in the Dordogne. I think we have many more ahead of us.

Posted by Herk58 12:53 Archived in France Tagged boat france sites garden dordogne Comments (0)

Beautiful Sunday in Turenne

Hanging around the chateau

sunny 77 °F
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Our second day here in Turenne is a gorgeous Sunday. The sun is shining, the skies are blue with just a few puffy clouds. We're going to just relax and enjoy the town and the house today. Jan and Dave took an early stroll into the village and picked up some supplies for lunch, while Sue and I slept in a little bit. Unfortunately I'm fighting a bit of a cold but the medicinal wine seems to be helping.

We enjoyed a great lunch on the terrace. Umbrellas provided enough shade, but didn't stop the bright sunshine from warming things up. With lunch completed and the wine bottle empty, we decided to walk up to the top of the hill to explore the tower and gardens.

Turenne - Patio

Turenne - Patio

Turenne was the home of the various viscounts who ruled the area. Its castle and ramparts were built over a span of four centuries. What we see today are the remains after Louis XV had it dismantled in 1738. From a tourist perspective, what remains are the main tower or Tour de Cesar and the Tour d.horloge or clock tower, along with the lovely gardens. While up top, and especially from the top of the Cesar Tower, you get expansive views of the surrounding landscape and the town of Turenne below.

Turenne - Cesar Tower View

Turenne - Cesar Tower View

Turenne - Clocktower View

Turenne - Clocktower View

Turenne - Cesar Tower Hello

Turenne - Cesar Tower Hello

Turenne - Guard Room

Turenne - Guard Room

Turenne - Chateau portal

Turenne - Chateau portal

Turenne - Our house from the tower

Turenne - Our house from the tower

A nice happy hour and home cooked meal completed a great day. We are heading out tomorrow to explore the surrounding towns within the Dordogne, Lot and Correze.

Au revoir..

Posted by Herk58 07:39 Archived in France Tagged castles france dordogne turenne correze Comments (0)

Off to the Dordogne - Correze to be exact

Turenne here we come

sunny 74 °F
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Easy Metro ride over to Gare Austerlitz to start the day. Whenever we have big bags there seems to be lots of stairs and today would be no exception. Just a few minutes wait at the station and our train is posted. Voie 18. The train is comfy and in no time we're off on schedule. The train trip will go through Orleans and Limoges on route to Brive-La-Gaillard. It's a nice ride with lots of greenery along the way.

We arrive in Brive on time, but need to kill some time before we can pick up the car. There is a small bar restaurant called "Le Terminus" across from the Gare, so we have a welcoming beverage, then it is off to the Sixt rental.

Dordogne - Gare de Brive

Dordogne - Gare de Brive

Brive - Le Terminus Bar

Brive - Le Terminus Bar

The counter woman speaks very little English and our French is barely passable, but we get through the transaction and get the car. It's a Mercedes B Class and it should be roomy enough to get us around, especially once we dump the luggage. A couple little glitches with the phone, but then we are off to Turenne.

Turenne - Our rental car

Turenne - Our rental car

We pass through some very scenic areas and then see the tower on the hill. We're there!

Turenne - First View

Turenne - First View

We stop at a small grocery store to get some supplies and then it is up the winding twisting road to the top. Wow.. Hairpin turns and narrow roads, but what a view. We get to a point and park and can't seem to find the house, so we walk around a little bit. We actually need to go a little higher. We are literally in Les ombré de la tour or in the shadow of the tower.

The housekeepers were waiting for us when we arrive. Darryl and Diane are a very nice couple, originally from the UK who help out with the guest rentals for the owner. They show us around, help us set up wifi and then hand off the keys.

After getting organized, we decide to walk over to the restaurant for dinner. Tonight it will be La Maison des Chanoines. The restaurant is located in the hotel of the same name. The hostess / owner is Madam Cheyroux and even though we didn't have a reservation, she welcomed us in. The meal was terrific and our hostess was charming. It was a great evening to start our time in Turenne.

Turenne - La Maison des Chanoines

Turenne - La Maison des Chanoines

Turenne - La Maison des Chanoines inside

Turenne - La Maison des Chanoines inside

A good nights sleep would be the perfect way to end a lovely day.

Posted by Herk58 01:25 Archived in France Tagged france house turenne Comments (0)

Enjoying our second day in Paris

Sightseeing in the 6th Arrondisement

sunny 68 °F
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A good night's sleep and the jet lag is gone. Didn't rush as we were hoping Sue's luggage would show up. We got a message from Air France saying they had found it, it was at CDG and it would be delivered. Now the question is will it get there before we leave tomorrow morning?

We took a walk and found a store to buy a new curling iron, tooth brushes, tooth paste and some band aids. I will presume that it was the location that drove up the price as we could have paid for lunch with what we paid for the supplies. Jeesh!!

Took everything back to the hotel and then went for a walk. Saw St Sulpice Church, it being made more famous for being in the DaVinci Code movie among other sites. Decided to have lunch at Les Deux Magots or Cafe Flore. Ended up at Cafe Flore and we were delighted with our lunch. It's great for people watching and there are definitely regulars there, but we were treated great and had a good lunch. We both had the Croque Monsieur, which is a fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a glass of wine.

Paris - Cafe de Flore

Paris - Cafe de Flore

Paris - Cafe de Flore Menu

Paris - Cafe de Flore Menu

Paris - Cafe de Flore Placemat

Paris - Cafe de Flore Placemat

Afterwards, we strolled over to St Germaine des Pres church. It is the oldest church in Paris dating back to the 5th century. It has been restored a couple times and is a real treasure. From there we wandered through the streets until we hit our cross street and decided to head back before dinner. Unfortunately Sue's luggage hadn't arrived so she and Jan improvised an outfit.

Dinner would be at Le Coupe-Chou in the 5th. It was a recommendation by a friend of Jan's. The restaurant was located on the corner of two alley ways near to Sorbonne. The inside was very rustic as it dated back some 400 years. The food was outstanding. I expected it would be good, but it far exceeded my expectations. After dinner, we ordered another bottle of wine and enjoyed it sitting in the old salon. Very nice evening.

Paris - Le Coupe-Chou

Paris - Le Coupe-Chou

DSCN0615

DSCN0615

To top the night off, they delivered Sue's luggage.

Paris - The luggage arrived!

Paris - The luggage arrived!

We are whole again. Perfect timing as tomorrow morning we head to Turenne.

Posted by Herk58 15:19 Archived in France Tagged paris france sightseeing Comments (0)

First day in France

Paris feels like home.

sunny 66 °F
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Despite our travel glitch, we get to the city and it feels great. We are staying at the Hotel Le Clement on Rue Clement in the 6th Arrondisement. It is close to St Germain-des-Pres which is the fashion district. (They'll probably think I'm a model).

We arrived at the hotel and our rooms were actually available. A little nap would be first on our agenda. Turned out to be more than just a little nap, but it was much needed. We got ourselves cleaned up and went out for some dinner. Still no word on Sue's luggage, still have our fingers crossed.
Ran into Jan and David on their way back in. They took shorter naps and did some sightseeing while we slept.

We ended up at a restaurant just a couple blocks from the hotel. It was called La Boussole and was a great choice. The food was very good and there were lots of choices. The theme of the restaurant was the Spice Trade Route, so the meals were rich with flavors. We were both pleased with our meals and our server and other staff couldn't have been nicer. Even an older couple sitting next to us, took a moment as they were leaving to ask if we were enjoying Paris.

Paris - La Boussole

Paris - La Boussole

Paris - La Boussole Decor

Paris - La Boussole Decor

Paris - La Boussole - Essence of life

Paris - La Boussole - Essence of life

Afterwards we returned to the hotel only to find that there was still no news on Sue's luggage. Oh well, we'll deal with the inevitable tomorrow. For now it's lights out after a great first day in Paris.

Posted by Herk58 15:18 Archived in France Tagged paris france dinner Comments (0)

A blip to start the trip

Getting to Paris

sunny 59 °F
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So, sometimes things don't go exactly as planned. We arrived at the airport in Buffalo and zoomed through the non existent security line. Plane was a few minutes late, but not a big deal at all. Two rows ahead is a mother and child and the child is not happy.

As the rest of the plane is boarding, the kid is working herself into a frenzy. By the time we're starting to taxi, the mom is literally trying to hold the child down. The attendant is concerned, the mother is frantic and the kid goes on and on. Finally the attendant talks with the mom and they agree that she will get off the plane, so back to the gate we go. It takes about a half hour to refuel, and get back in the queue for take off. And off we go!

We get to JFK and after having to check back in and go back through security, we're ready - but the plane isn't. The overall delay is about an hour, which probably works to our advantage when we get to Paris, as we'll miss the rush hour traffic and hopefully be able to check into the hotel.

Our plane is an Air France Airbus 380. It's one of the double decker super jumbo jets. For the record, it's huge! We were in row 84 of the upper level in the Premium Economy section. The seats were very comfortable and roomy. Lots of leg room, lots of storage space plus a few extras. The flight over was great. Smooth most of the way, though even the few bumps were minimized by the size of the plane.

A380 - At the gate

A380 - At the gate

A380 - Ready to Go

A380 - Ready to Go

Time passed quickly and we were landing in Paris. Unfortunately, Sue's luggage took a different flight.

We filed our claim and then headed to the train station to head to the hotel. Air France said they would track the luggage and try to get it to us before we leave Paris. Cross your fingers.

Posted by Herk58 14:22 Archived in France Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises paris travel luggage Comments (0)

France 2014 - Dordogne, Loire & Paris

Getting ready to go.

After 36 years of service on my job, I am retired.

So what's a guy to do with all this new found time - travel, of course!

We will be embarking on a month long sojourn to France. A quick stop in Paris to start the trip, followed by two weeks in the Dordogne or Perigord region. Then we'll be off to the Loire Valley before finishing off our trip in Paris.

The Dordogne is one of those regions that people don't know a lot about, but there is so much to see and do. We will be touring castles, fortified towns, pre-historic caves and troglodyte villages. There are beautiful gardens, vineyards and rivers, plus gastronomic delights of all kinds.

In the Loire Valley, there are some of the most beautiful chateaux in all of Europe, let alone France.

And then Paris. If I could only go to one place in the world, Paris would be my choice.

Packing has begun, so it won't be long now...

Posted by Herk58 10:31 Archived in France Comments (0)

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