Saturday, 27 September 2014

Dordogne: Part 1

A classic Renault 4 in Tremolat
We spent last week in the sleepy limestone village of Paunat in the Dordogne region of France. We travelled down by train which is a very civilised way of getting there, even if it did include a bit of a sprint to get across Paris to make our connection after our Eurostar was delayed by 45 minutes.

We spent the week doing very little which was just what the doctor had ordered after a pretty hectic time at work and the house project sucking up any remaining hours.

Our first full day was a Sunday and we followed the Dordogne to the market town of St Cyprien. I cleverly forgot to take any pictures of the market, but I was pleased to tick off the classic French market experience on our first morning. It is probably pretty touristy in season, and while there were still quite a few foreigners like us around, the majority of customers were locals. One stall selling only goats cheese had the longest queue of locals in the market so I randomly joined it and bought a round of cheese that I enjoyed for the rest of the week. My favourite purchase though was a couple of duck saucisson that I nibbled on during the rest of the week.
St Cyprien
After the market we climbed up through the village to the church for a quick look around before returning to our gîtes to while away the afternoon by the pool.

For dinner that evening I bbq'd a whole chicken we'd bought in the market. As well as a bag of charcoal, I found a bag of vine cuttings in the house which I added to the fire as well. The vine branches were pretty aromatic to say the least and the smoky smell lingered on the terrace for the rest of the week.

The only downside of our picture box village was the lack of a boulangerie so on the Monday morning Becks and I headed across to Sainte-Alvere before breakfast to pick up some fresh bread. It was Sainte-Alvere's turn to have a, much smaller, market that morning and they were just setting up as we pulled into the village. We had a quick look round the stalls and noticed that many of them were the same as those we'd seen the day before so we didn't stick around for the market to start.

Later in the week I learnt that Sainte-Alvere has France's largest truffle auctions during the truffle season, something I'd love to see if I was in the area at the right time.
Becks by the Dordogne in Trémolat
Later that afternoon Becks and I went to visit another local village, Trémolat. It was another unbelievably quiet picture box village. We headed first into the church which had an amazing echo from the high roof. Becks was a bit embarrassed by my singing, but I'm pretty sure the locals outside loved it.

After the church we headed down towards the river. To get to the Dordogne we headed slightly out of town and cut down a track to a riverside campsite. The weather was a glorious 25 - 30 degrees, and it struck me as the perfect time for a holiday, but the campsite was totally deserted with every pitch empty. It was very odd.

We walked along the river towards the bridge you can see in the background of the photo above. However, when we got there we couldn't find a way back into the village. We tried a footpath under the bridge, but were beaten back by nettles. So instead ended up climbing over a barbed wire fence to get out of the campsite.

As we jumped the fence we were spotted by a local man. I was momentarily concerned that we'd get into trouble, but we had in fact disturbed a cyclist who'd pulled off the main road to have a 'comfort' break. And with that lovely image, our first two days in France came to an end!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Richard! You described everything very well. Certainly, you had a great experience there. Have a nice weekend!
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