On Friday we didn’t do anything; my dad had been driving long distances each day for the past three days, and I understand that that can get incredibly tiring. Unfortunately, being under 25, insurance is hella expensive, and I can’t drive a manual car, so splitting the driving wasn’t an option. So, Friday was a lazy day, and we both took it easy, reading and napping, and then enjoying another dinner prepared by moi. I really enjoyed having a kitchen at my disposal, and using it everyday. I love cooking, and it’s something I’m looking forward to when I get home; I plan on cooking far more often than I did before I left.
Saturday was a busy day, filled with incredible sights. We set off for Castelnaud, a beautiful medieval chateau in the Valley of the Five Chateaus, in the Dordogne. After exploring the castle for quite a while, we drove onto another of the chateaus in the Valley of the Five Chateaus: that of Beynac. At one point, this was the home of Richard the Lionheart, among other inhabitants. My dad has been there before and said it wasn’t different enough from Castelnaud to merit going inside, so we drove up to have a look around the outside. We then drove back down into the town of Beynac, which, apparently, is where they shot some of the footage for Chocolat! We went and got an ice cream down by the river before we got back in the car and headed for La Roque Gageac, which we had driven by a few days before. As you will see in the pictures, the town sits on the side, and at the bottom of a sheer cliff, and sadly, in January of 1957 part of the cliff fell. Several people died, and it took three years for the roads to be cleared and operational once more. People questioned whether or not it was worth it to live there anymore, but in the end, they did stay, and the town is extremely charming. On our way home, we stopped in a town called Domme, which looks onto the Valley of the Five Chateaus; it’s quite quaint. After a long day, full of sightseeing, we went back home and I cooked our meal.
On Sunday we set out to another of the Plus Beaux Villages de France: a town called Collonges La Rouge, which is named for the red sandstone from which all of the buildings are made. Yet another beautiful town… you’d think we’d have gotten tired of them! We then took off, and without meaning to, ended up in a town called La Tourenne, yet another of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. The town sits on a hill, and we walked to the top, where the church stands, which offers a remarkable view over the picturesque town. We then returned back to the apartment, and relaxed for a while before I cooked dinner that night.
Monday marked our return to see Francis and Karima, and the promise of a meal to remember awaited us. We set off around 10, to make it to their house around noon. We arrived at the same time as Bernard, Francis’s friend who we had met the Wednesday prior, and Bernard’s wife. Not long after we had arrived, an incredible lunch was revealed. We had Moroccan cous-cous, and many vegetables dishes that had been cooked in tajines, and the flavors were incredible. (I should mention, by the way, that Karima is Moroccan) It was an absolutely superb meal. After lunch, Francis got out a bottle of champagne, and announced that I was going to try to ‘sabre’ (pronounced sab-ray). So, what does this mean exactly? This means that I was going to open the bottle of champagne… with a sword. You guide the sword along the neck of the bottle, and hit it carefully on the lip, and the top of the bottle, with cork still attached, lies off of the bottle. This creates a clean break, and the champagne is perfectly safe to drink from; it’s quite the party trick! He had me do a practice run first on a bottle of cheap champagne. Once I had successfully done it, he poured the bottle out, declaring that it was rubbish, and then went to fetch a bottle of good champagne. I was convinced that I would manage to screw it up the second time around, but much to my delight, I did it again without trouble! And there is video below to prove it. A while later we went to Bernard’s for a while, and then returned to Francis’s for dinner, which consisted of Moroccan charcuteries, and a truffle omelet. The whole day was spectacular, a statement with which my palate agrees. Not too long after dinner, we had to say our goodbyes because it was already 9PM, and we had a two hour drive ahead of us… so off we went.
Tuesday was another lazy day and we didn’t do much of anything. In the evening, we did take a walk into town, but that was about the extent of the day’s adventures. I cooked again, as I did every night!
On Wednesday, we got up early and checked out of our room in order to begin the long drive to the Port de Crouesty, in Brittany, which was to be ‘home’ for the next week… but first, lots of driving.
Looking over the Valley of the Five Chateaus from Castelnaud
The Beynac Chateau, as seen from Castelnaud
The view over Castelnaud from the Chateau de Castelnaud
This is the “One day son, all this will be yours” pose (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) that I have countless photos of. If I took a picture of him, he would make this pose first, and then I would take a normal photo.
Chateau de Castelnaud
Chateau de Castelnaud
Chateau de Beynac
The view of Beynac from down by the river.
The Dordogne River, running through La Roque Gageac
La Roque Gageac. You can see the area of the cliff to the left that looks newer because of where the cliff broke.
The view in La Roque Gageac
The view over the Valley of the Five Chateus from Domme
I noticed this little guy sitting on a stone in Collonges La Rouge
The gorgeous red sandstone buildings in Collonges La Rouge
The Saint-Pierre church in Collonges La Rouge
La Tourenne, definitely deserving of the title of one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
The view from the top of the hill in La Tourenne.
I didn’t screw it up!
I was less adroit with the champagne pouring than the sabre. The solution is practice… I need more practice.
And here is a fancy video!
My dad, Francis, Bernard, Karima, and me
Now, off to Brittany we go!