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Travel: Dordogne Region-France May 26 - /2014

Updated: 7 days ago


.Date: May 26/2014

Place: Flight from Israel to Toulouse


Air Mediterranean charter plane, on which we depart today from Israel was packed people like sardines, in its space-less narrow sits. Since that was the only direct flight to Toulouse , and then 2 additional hours drive to our destination, we gad no choice.


David had to tuck his tummy as to squeeze into his sit.. and even when later , after the take off , he found an empty  3 sits place  and spread down there, to enjoy his  nap, his body parts were "flowing out" off the narrow sit, to all directions,,

Overall the flight otherwise , was non-eventful one, and got us safely to our destination.


Albi


Upon landing on time, a cold rainy cold grumbling weather greeted us in Toulouse so we decide to drive further south to Albi, on the river Tarn and had enjoyed again this  Bishop episcopal hub city, its Cathedral Sainte-Cécile, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its fantastic museum at the Berbie Palace (the old Bishop residence) which now is the home to many of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (a native of Albi) paintings.




Driving up north for 3 hours,  eventually got us to our hotel - highly recommended




"Manoir de la Malartrie" in the village of Vezac/La Roque- Gageac, a charming small  renovated manor, situated below the huge rock, perched above the river Dordogne which is run by a native French man and a Moroccan most hospitable women.



We were surrounded on one side by the perfect size Manor on its turrets ,towers,  steep stone roofs and colorful window house farms.

On the other, right above us the looming  Mountain Rock . In front, the garden all green grass and full of blooming roses in all colors, tall tress and vegetable patches all in the front the running Dordogne river, with its many little boats.




Deep fatigue had kept us evening that evening at the hotel , where we had a delicious white asparagus soup and salad, which the manor's owner, especially prepared for us.


We were so grateful to Chani and Koby - our dear friends from Israel who recommended this place, right by the enchanting Dordogne river and I full heartily pass the recommendation.


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Date: May 27, 2014

Place: village of Vezac/La Roque- Gageac



Dordone River/valley (here)


The river Dordogne, which runs through the region's same named, that stretch between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, is the confluence of two small torrents above the town of Le Mont-Dore: the Dore and the Dogne. It flows generally west about 500 km flowing into the Gironde, The upper valley of the Dordogne is a series of deep gorges.

cliffs, caves, steep banks, fast flowing water and high bridges are a big tourist attraction.

as well as fertile farmland, well-watered pasture, vineyards, cherry orchards and small town's architecture, with promising gastronomic delights. can all be encountered.

The Dordogne and its watershed were designated Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO on July 11 2012.


Breakfast at the Manor

We woke up to another rainy cold day...but the weather became brighter as the day excitedly unfolded.

We forgot all about the weather, once we started the day with a delicious, breakfast at the medieval looking grand dining hall on its tall slanted ceiling, hanging massive drapery, and sparkling chandeliers.

Wofa the ,Moroccan Manor owner with P.h.d in Finance, - spread out an amazing selection of products for us , and whipped up her old mother's secret recipe of scrambled eggs.

My mouth drools even now,  just reminiscing while writing about it....

Almost all the fruits (raspberries , strawberries and cherries) and veggies served plentifully, are garden grown at the manor. The lushes humongous Dates are from Morocco. And the famous variety of the French running cheeses, are freshly  bought at the neighboring farms.

For an hour and a half... I managed to consume food enough to last for one week long stretch   .. but it was worth every bite..

A barrel was required to roll me out of the dinning room after I overdosed  on all the fresh pastries, cheeses , granola, eggs  and fruits. 


Wofa , also spoiled us with Luisa Tea (from her garden)  and sweets at any time we wished, and have kept offering great local wine and handy tips.


Cave exploring - Prehistoric Sites- UNESCO world Hermitage

The Grotte de Lascaux prehistoric rock dwellings, with the 17,000 years old animal paintings on its ceiling later "copied" at the Sistine chapel.. is a true wonder, The Grotte du Grand Rock has fascinating stalagmites.



The "prime real estate" residence -of the cave man - reveals  a panoramic rock protected city of  at La Roque Saint-Christophe, overlooking the river.





A scenery excursion, through most quint small villages of  Montignac, St Leon-s Vezere , set in a curve in the Vézere River. and Les Eyzies de- Tavac and others, is worth the driving all along the river route, passing the greenest rolling hills on its trees variety,  blazing wild flowers, many poppies,  and with live ducks farms providing the near with stores, the best duck pates...


 The scenic winding narrow roads and the rented car 's stick shift , stimulated David - the designated driver- to practice his racing car skills, and despite of my protest, David stood up, skillfully to the driving challenges, and miraculously, we made it safely back to the hotel, leaving no casualties behind..


The day came to its end with a fantastic dinner at:

" La Belle Etoile"  restaurant located at the enchanting La Roque Gageac village, where I had my divine fix of Pate Foei-Gras and duck breast, which granted a shoot up to my already high cholesterol levels , with today's fat saturated  food consumption... but how could I refrain...



Date: May 28/2014 - 3rd day

Place: Souilac, Montfort , Rocamadour ,


It was nice waking up to a sunny blue sky on Wednesday, so we decided to skip the under-world of the many Caves all around the region, and instead toured the open air delightful outdoors.


To shake off all the great food stuffed in, yesterday, at the restaurant, so we have room

for Wofa's excellent breakfast, we took an early morning hike, up the steep Rock

to nowhere, through the forest above the village, overlooking the  Dordogne river.


Viewing the day before, the pictorial  heroic battles of the Cave Man against giant black bears , at the St Christoph ancient Rock dwelling, my wild imagination was working overtime, on that early morning's power walk in the forest.


 I was worried about having an encounter with those beastly creatures.,

Let and behold thanks to David's courageous rescue mission , in which he bravely carried and raise a provisional walking stick, as a weapon, against a potential curios stumbling bear .. my life was saved... as so I can write you now, that this last sentence is a hoax...


Our ambitious plan to explore a long territorial route , evaporated along with David's short patience. Also the French practice of long mid working day recesses, dictated the trip's experience.

Since the Old Mechanical Toys museum at "Souilac" was on its French elongated recess, when we showed up , we opted to have a close encounter with live playful Macack endangered  spices monkeys. They are kept at designated reservation at "Foret des Singes" by "Hospitalier", where they freely room around and mingle with the visiting alleged more "restrained"  homo sapience.....

 Guess who behaves more civilized..??


A visited the original Chateau Monifort - a castle that clings to a promontory overlooking the Cingle de Montfort (Montfort Meander) on the Dordogne River. reminded us of its  smaller version structure in Israel. It was conquered/built  by  the same crusader Simon Montfort. 6th Earl of Leicester from the 13c


Today the castle is owned by a private family , who for sure  feels extra safe in such super defensible medieval residence, located in the midst of most sleepy non-eventful  back-rural environment..


We boarded a Chu-Chu Train, and  along with the other million tourists (mostly pilgrims) visited the most frequented Rocamadour - a village with magnified Cristian religious industry, which literally means , it is in the business of extracting money off gullible tourists..

It is indeed situated on a beautiful cliff , but  is too commercial and too crowded.



On our excursion we discovered off the main road, and below this most beautiful enormous cliff hanging (Belcastel) Castel, a small 3 stars hotel, with a Michelin star restaurant, at most gem scenic corner, by the river, above which the remains of  an old pictorial bridge's ruins hanged gracefully.



Had we eaten in mid day the 3 course fixed gourmet menu lunch, offered as the only option at the restaurant, we would have been put out of commission, immediately for the rest of the day, as a long nap was required to digest that feast.  However we didn't want to killed our touring plans for the rest of the day..so regretfully passed up on this decadent pleasure, and only nourished our other senses, with the beauty , smells and the music of the river's water humming.

If your curiosity has risen, the place's name is:

Le Pont de L'Ouysse


After playing and commiserating with the Monkeys , my personal  Ape had enough of excitement for one long day , so we headed back to the hotel.


Best Duck Farm

Upon returning we picked up dear Wofa to direct us to one of the best  Duck Farms in the area, named Le TERROIR de LOL , sounding to me like "Terrorism" imposed on the penned Ducks..

Le Terroir de Lol Saint Martial De Nabirat téléphone: 0553294082







We stock up on pure Pate -Poie-Gras supply to last us for the rest of our lives , which  by no doubt, will be shorten, after this high in cholesterol consumption.













The day ended with having most lovely evening at a bit remote restaurant   recommended by Wofa and is called: Le Saint Martial.

It is located in the heart of the village of Saint-Martial-de-Nabirat, not far from Sarlat, in the shadow of Domme.



Since the economy was so down in France (no wonder with such  long recesses...) and fewer local tourists frequented the region this year, we were hesitant to enter this , almost empty, non-promising by look, eating place, which was apparently experienced busier seasons.


However despite David's challenging remarks (to put it mildly) when addressing the owner, the food, to our delight,was delicious, The only other dining couple (from UK)  besides us, with whom we bonded immediately, while raising the volume of noise in this vacant chambers, was a wonderful stimulating company and true partner to creating our own special ambiance of British-Israeli alliance vi-sa-vi the somber French front...


That was quite enough excitements, for one day, which put us fast, dead asleep upon returning to our lovely spacious  room.





Date: May 29/ 2014- Day 4+5th

Place: Dordogne's Food


Food Delights

The Dorgdone is blessed with endless forests, green pastures and plenty of water.

The inhabitants of this fertile lands are growing a large variety of most tasty vegetable, Walnut Trees Orchards, blazing Cherry tree groves, vineyards on rolling hills.




Figs and huge delicious  Cherries can be picked off the trees freely... They are every where. You can just stop the car on route and sample.




Colorful spectrum of both wild and cultured flowers , as well as woolly sheep, white cows, exotic roosters, and many many ducks and geese, were encountered all around

throughout days' the travel.




Excellent products along the way made the day a prolonged tasting feast


Fuei-gras , wines  and cheeses  can be all, found at the many villages' markets , and at the many  private farms populating, the area. Not to forget the many excellent restaurants. And you can not miss the White Asparagus delicatessen, made to perfection here and of course, how not..it  is being served with Fuei-gras


Dulche

If you are inflicted with "sweet tooth" like me, and crave for heavenly Pastries, which can not to be missed here..., make sure to visit lucco which  has stores in 2 locations, in Beynac contact@patisserie-lucco.com/ 05 53 29 25 33 and in St Cyprien.

Lucco - Patissier, Chocolatier, Glacier




The ancient inhabitants practiced conservation of building materials. Many of their old dwellings were either Caves high up the mountains, or cliff hangers elevated and glued to the back of a Rock and  always above water streams,


Fear of heights, and claustrophobia - the luxury neurosis of the bourgeois didn't seem to be, then, a concern, when real fears of being served as a meal to the beasts, or being attacked by an enemy - was a much more realistic threat to survival.


There are many that kind of property sites of ancient dwellings in caves and on Rocks one can visit, if exempt of modern days phobias...


Visiting two caves and one Rock doweling complex, satiated my sense of adventure....

I felt much more grounded, visiting the excellently preserved spacious and elegant medieval Castles and Forts, made up of exotic architecture, and offering spectacular views as well as of lushes groomed gardens.


Garden not to be missed

So if you are a garden lover, you will enjoy  at least an hour walk in the amazing overhanging Marqueyssac Gardens with its  labyrinths , up on a top of a mountain overlooking  breathtaking  views of the Dordogne river and valley.




And if you are into old  Fort-Castles and most sophisticated engineered weaponry from the Middle Ages, you would want to climb up the 13th c  Castelnaud once a garrison.

Cateau de Castelnaud - the picturesquely restored castle, a private property open to the public, houses museum of medieval warfare, and features reconstructions of siege engines, mangonneaux, and trebuchets.




For enchanting Medieval villages with amazing views not to be missed, are:


*Domme- on a steep hill from which panoramic views of the Dordogne Valley are seen


Limeul, - the village is classified as one of "the most beautiful villages of France".


Le Milandes - visit of the Milandes castle in Castelnaud is a wonderful dive into the castle life at the time of Joséphine Baker who resided there.





Date: May 30th/2014

Place- at Manoir de la Malartrie"


on a beautiful sunshine warm weather day Wofa- the Manor owner- surprised us with  yet another fantastic  breakfast, served at the gorgeous garden by the pool.


In the evening Wofa congregated all the house guests and served for a "cocktail hour" wonderful wines  .. the kind that make  3 French couples , one from UK and an Israeli one, to all get along..


Wofa also cooked us, a Lamb tangine a-la Maroccan style  upon David's special request ( we got all Fois-gras - out at this point..) She manged to get a whole lamb in the market, and we were so excited about her home-cooking , so also invited the British couple we met the other night at the empty restaurant, to join the feast.


David fell asleep hours ago, and now is  snoring so loud that it interferes with my , thinking process, concentration and writing.. so I  am calling the night off  and am joining him into the land of sweet dreams..


The Dordogne is, for sure a wonderful place to come back to.