Started the day with a trip up an unusual elevator to the top of the old church tower in Sarlat. It is a glass elevator that goes up the middle of the tower and then out the top to give a great panoramic view of the town.
Next, on the recommendation of Patrice from the Medievale Biere brewery, we went to see St Leon sur Vezere. This is a sleepy little town compared to touristy Sarlat. Another Kodak town – you can’t stop taking pictures…
Then we decided to walk across the bridge and discovered signs to a park so we walked there – and it was a big park with a dinosaur display, ropes courses, and a prehistoric troglodyte site that was later also inhabited through the Middle Ages.
And more dinosaurs with no comment…
The park actuallly attempts to portray a chronological progress though time from dinosaurs to modern man. It was a pleasant walk and the rest is not simulated – its a real cave dwelling dating back to troglodytes (cave men). They didn’t actually live in real caves as they used fire and would have filled a cave with smoke, but they lived on the eroded away areas of limestone cliffs called abris. This site was used by prehistoric men and also used through the Middle Ages and even beyond as a hiding spot or lookout along the river. Artifacts are found from the various inhabitants.
One awesome aspect was we were here entirely alone – not one other person was there!
And time for dinner at a very cute restaurant but probably our least favorite for food and service.
We found an “experience” on Airbnb that sounded fun – a cooking class by a woman who was formerly a chef in Paris and now moved to the country where she and her husband run a bed and breakfast, wedding venue and cooking class, plus meals on reservation.
First the drive which was about 1 ½ hours to near Monflanquin to Chateau Ladausse.
Castle at Beynac-et-Cazenac
And on to the cooking – it was a hands on class with Diane showing us the techniques. It was just three of us – Bill and I and Rene from Montreal, Canada.
Then a slow drive home with an ending in the hot tub!
The market is Sarlat-la-Caneda has been famous since the Middle Ages. It takes place twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday and pretty much covers the whole of the old city- mainly on the Main Street, Rue de la Republique but also on several plazas and here and there down smaller streets. There is a lot of food and almost any other goods – clothes, accessories, household items, leather goods, toys, a few souvenirs. Many of the shoppers are locals getting food or other items. Biggest market I’ve seen. And all the restaurants offer petit-dejeuner, breakfast, although they are normally closed in the morning. Biggest market I’ve seen!
The big doors even opened in the former church and there was food sales inside – these doors are only partially shown here – their size was shown in an earlier post.
Man showing off his vegetable slicers – looked like they worked great!
Visited the cathedral with its organ from the 1700’s which was being played.
Walking around town this struck me as interesting – such an old building with its big LG air conditioners…
And ok, couldn’t resist one more cute building picture.
Waiting in the sun for our chosen restaurant to open. Le Bistro de l’Octroi is recommended by many locals and it did not disappoint. This building was originally the place where taxes were paid by people importing goods into the city.
The area of the Dordogne and Vezere valleys was home to many prehistoric peoples. The most dramatic evidence is caves with paintings and overhangs called abris where they often lived.
So the morning began with a trip to Montignac and Lascaux cave paintings.
Montignac is another cute town with a flourishing tourist trade due to these caves and prehistoric sites.
First we went to Lascaux caves to buy tickets and reserve an English tour and it was very foggy.
Museum Le Thot
Back to Lascaux. In 1940, 4 boys discovered a cave with prehistoric paintings, it was wartime and it was awhile before any work was done on this. For some years visitors were allowed to walk through but this caused considerable determination of the cave – changing humidity and temperature caused mold and other things to grow. So the cave was closed but digital scanning has been done to recreate the cave exactly in the museum area. This recently opened 4th version of the cave is more extensive and a wonderful look at the work done by very early man in this area. No photos are allowed in the cave but there is a museum with further recreation of the drawings and interactive exhibits that you can photograph so here’s a bit of how it looked.
Next beautiful drive to the Vezere River and dwelling place of the “people of the cliffs”. You cannot drive more than a few kilometers without running into signs for “prehistoric site”. We went to one and on recommendation of our friendly local brewer will visit a couple of others areas later in the week here. Some views of the drive.
Grotte du Grand Roc is a beautiful cave of stalactites, stalagmites and some more rare crystal formations.
Next to it is a prehistoric dwelling area that has been partially excavated and one area recreated to how it was believed to look. This is called Laugerie Basse.
Above – the rocks near the bottom fell from the overhang, covering some of the early dwelling areas that have now been excavated (earlier picture)
Later, back in Sarlat, we visited Patrice again at the Biere Artisanale – had a great conversation about France, Sarlat and travel.
It’s almost impossible to stop taking pictures of this picturesque town!
Popular sculpture of the geese on the site of the old goose market – the area is famous for duck and goose liver – fois gras is big here.
We met Chef Christian Borini who recently opened this restaurant. The food was beautiful and delicious!
We slept almost too well – didn’t get up until 10:30, unheard of for us. But it felt great, really have not had any jet lag effects – we work at this for a couple of weeks before leaving – changing meal times to be closer to our destination and waking up (even if temporarily) at or nearer the time we would be at the destination.
So breakfast was really more like brunch and many restaurants don’t open for breakfast so the one we found was not open for food but just coffee – we saw that at several. But one of the three employees at the one we ate at finally agreed they would serve us. They had omelets so we pretended it was still breakfast…
Then we decided to walk around Sarlat.
Sarlat-la-Canéda most probably developed around a Benedictine community which settled in this remote place in the early 9th century, safe from marauding Vikings. It has been a walled city for centuries – it is known that the wall was reinforced in 1340 but not when it was originally built. The old city has an amazing collection of medieval and Renaissance buildings built of golden limestone in very good repair. Narrow streets go every which way and it would be easy to get lost except the main street, Rue de la Republique, bisects it into two and is the only street cars are allowed on (I think not even that street has cars in summer when there are many tourists).
The old wall still exists in several areas.
As well as some towers and passages (entrances) to the city
Cute little restaurants are everywhere.
This town is seriously so perfect – the only one that compares is Rothenburg on der Tauber in Germany. You could take pictures all day – I did take a few but will only post some.
Biggest door I’ve seen – not sure what this is exactly – according to the historical plaque this was first a 14th century church, Sainte Marie, later taken over in the Revolution and used as a Hotel des Postes and then abandoned. Now used for expositions.
World War II memorial to those who died in the town, in the resistance and in concentration camps.
The local little grocery store had a lot of cookies from Europe and just one familiar to all Americans...
So on to a beer before dinner at a local very tiny brewery run by Patrice.
So after locating our rental car, we took off with only a few oops, turn around here incidents. Once we were out of Bordeaux it was pretty easy going.
Parking lots are outside the old city so we had to walk to our apartment down Rue de la Boetie, our little street
Our door and inside 1001 Nuit apartment (1001 nights)
Next in search of dinner we found the area with restaurants was pretty busy at 8PM – and this place was full – later read that it was recommended by Rick Steves so no wonder…. but it was good, great service and we were happy to get dinner after our long trip.
Packing got done with the help of/in spite of a little visitor.
So off to the airport where the Delta Club was packed with people – barely a seat available – surprising on a Tuesday afternoon.
Arrived right on time at Charles de Gaulle airport – and set off for the train station at the airport, following signs for Paris by Train to the RER B train.
I really love train travel, especially on the long distance fast trains. So much nicer than having to drive and almost always right on time.
Next adventure was finding the rental car desk – evidently not a big thing in Bordeaux as it was tucked away in a hard to find area with few signs leading the way. It helps to know international sign pictures – it was a drawing of a car with a key on it for rental cars.
So next entry will be driving two hours to Sarlat-la-Canéda, our apartment and dinner.
The story always starts with packing. We’ve been so distracted with other packing – from selling my business which required days of counting and packing. The house must feel quite a bit lighter now!
Finally now we are down to the last few days – got railroad tickets reserved and printed, changed around some car rentals, made sure we knew how to get into our first AirBnb, read through Rick Steve’s “how to pack light” list, doing laundry and a few last minute purchases. Have been so distracted by buying a new house, some moving, selling and moving the business that its been hard to even get excited – so the next three days can be focused on the trip!
Here’s a little preview of the first house and last place we’ll be. Stay tuned – the blog will be active soon!