Dordogne Part 1, France (4.4.10 – 4.8.10)

On Sunday morning around 10:30AM, wee set off from Paris, headed for Argentat, an area that borders on the Dordogne region. The drive was expected to take about seven hours. We arrived around 6PM, because we had stopped for lunch, and to pick up some food for dinner, because we expected that by the time we arrived, we would have no luck finding an open grocery store. After arriving at the Pierre et Vacances, a French company that provides apart-hotels, we spent the night getting settled into the apartment.
Monday was a holiday, so we were lucky to find an open grocery store. We stocked up on food, and wine, of course; you’ve got to cover the basics! We figured out where we could get internet in town because, to our surprise and disgust, the Pierre et Vacances didn’t have any internet connection! We spent the rest of the day walking around town, and then we had ice cream at a little restaurant down by the Dordogne River, that runs through town. That night I made dinner, and I taught my dad how to play the card game Speed.
On Tuesday, we drove into the Dordogne region, to Rocamadour, which is a town that was built on the side of a cliff. It is well known for the pilgrimages that people make to the church of Rocamadour, in which they climb up some seven hundred stairs on their hands and knees. It is a truly remarkable place. After Rocamadour, we headed to Le Gouffre de Padirac, which is another truly magnificent sight. The entrance to the Gouffre de Padirac is a chasm that was created when the ground fell, opening up the roof into this chasm, which leads to an underground cave system. The caves are connected, in part, by an underground river. When visiting, you take a gondola ride through the river, and then walk through the continuing caves, that contain stalagtites and stalagmites. Pictures weren’t allowed, but if you’re interested in having a look, then you can do so here.
After the caves, we went home and had dinner, followed by a few rounds of Speed, and then we were off to bed.
On Wednesday, my dad wanted to call on a friend of his who lives in the Dordogne region; he had tried calling him, but as we later discovered, he had dialed the international code incorrectly, so had not been able to contact him. We drove out to his house to drop in on him, and were greeted warmly by Francis and his wife, Karima. We had only intended on dropping by to say hello and make plans to see them again while we were staying in the region, however, Francis is a chef, and incredibly friendly and hospitable, so we ended up staying for hours. He prepared a delectable impromptu dinner consisting of homemade pate, and homemade bread to start, followed by roast duck. We also went to grab a beer at a local café, where Francis saw his friend Bernard, who joined us for a while. The whole day was really pleasant, as both Francis and Karima are warm, friendly souls. They invited us back for Monday, when Francis said that he would make a real meal for us, not an impromptu one. After a wonderful day, we drove back to Argentat and went off to bed.
On Thursday, we headed out to the Dordogne region once more, as we had been invited to join another of my dad’s friends, Odette, for lunch. We arrived at Odette’s around midday, and were greeted warmly by Odette, her son Alain, and Alain’s truffle dog, Supette! Odette prepared a gorgeous meal of beef with a truffle sauce, using truffles that had been found on their property. We spent the afternoon there, and Alain told us all about the process of finding a truffle and how it is that they grow. Apparently, Supette had recently had a surgery, and ever since, she has been unable to find truffles; she can no longer smell them. There are other ways to find truffles that don’t require a truffle dog or pig, but they are far more difficult and time consuming, thus this year, Alain’s truffle crop was not as big as he had been hoping. After having a lovely time with Odette and Alain, we headed back home, but first we stopped at a town called Saint Amand de Coly, which is one of the Plus Beaux Villes de France. This is a designation given to certain towns that have to be kept in pristine condition, and show no trace of the modern age. Looking at these towns today, you see the same view as you would have seen for the past several hundred years; it is a remarkable effort, and the result is impressive. After stopping in Saint Amand de Coly, we continued hoe to Argentat. Once home, I cooked dinner, and we played cards again before bed.

The view of a house visible from our porch, complete with rainbow!

The view of Argentat, on the Dordogne River

We had a walk along the riverside on Monday; this is where we sat and had ice cream. It was serene, and the weather was perfect.

An old building in town


Mon papa, devant Rocamadour

A view of the church at the top of the cliff in Rocamadour

Some of the steps that the pilgrims endure on their hands and knees

Springtime in France!

The chasm at Le Gouffre de Padirac

The view of the chasm opening, as seen when from the bottom.

The Château de Beynac, which we caught sight of when going for a drink with Francis and Karima.

My dad and I, with Karima and Francis

The view of La Roque Gageac, as seen on our drive home from seeing Francis and Karima.

Alain and my dad

Supette, the truffle dog!

Truffles!!! They look pretty gross, but they’re worth so much!!

My dad, Odette, and Alain

A view of one Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, Saint Amand de Coly

Dordogne Part 2, coming up next!


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