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Published: July 31st 2017
Caroline, Patrick and Me
Just before leaving for Lanouelle
Not to be confused with anything Peter Mayle wrote, such as a A Year in Provence.
Caroline and I arrive in Paris on July 5 after an eventful stopover in Dubai. On arrival we were told the plane would leave from terminal A, however somewhere along the way this changed to Terminal C and we, happy in our ignorance, spent two hours sitting in the Emirates Business Lounge in Terminal A. We just managed to board the plane with minutes to spare because of an unscheduled terminal change. The bus ride from terminal A to terminal C was a pretty tense affair, in fact I am working myself up to do battle with Emirates and Caroline is in full Rottweiler mode.
On arrival in Paris, the rental car pickup goes very smoothly, although the GPS has not quite got its French hat on yet and immediately wants to take us back into the airport. We, on the other hand, want to go to Tours in the Loire Valley, around a two hour drive on the motorway, to spend the night and reconnect with Catherine and Patrick, friends from a previous year's home exchange.
After we finally find the house, we immediately go for dinner at their favorite restaurant, “Casse-Cailloux”, in Tours and our first French meal is pretty high on the delicious scale.
The next morning, Thursday, we rise reasonably early and have breakfast of croissants, baguette, jam and coffee sitting by the pool, then it's “au revoir” to Patrick as Catherine has already left for work. We drive into Tours to purchase a French sim card for Caroline's IPAD. As always this takes good sixty minutes.
Then, back to the Peage and on our way to Lanouelle to meet up with the Lauders (friends from Devonport, NZ) for their eldest son's wedding. The venue is stunning, Chateau La Durantie, yes a picture postcard French Chateau. It's the wedding of the year and especially for us as we only ever attend one wedding every year. Two evenings of festivities, food, wine, a great wedding on the Saturday, and on Sunday a BBQ by the pool. Yes, it was an absolutely fabulous event!w
Our days are free allowing us time for sightseeing in the area and most memorably, a visit to a French village destroyed
by the Nazis. Oradour-sur-Glane was preserved by General de Gaulle as a memorial to the cruelty of the Nazi occupation of France. The village was the site of the Nazi massacre of 642 of its inhabitants. This was the population of the whole village in February, 1944. The men were taken to barns and sheds and machine-gunned and the women and children were taken to the church. Incendiary devices were then placed in the church an the women and children burnt to death. Only one women survived by climbing out of a church window. While there have been tribunals to look for the guilty, the officer in charge of the massacre died in Normandy several months later and no others were held accountable!
On Friday, July 7, around 26 people from the wedding party drive an hour to St Leon Sur Vezere, to have lunch at New Zealand chef Nick Honeyman's Dordogne pop-up restaurant “Petit Leon”. We are all warmly welcomed and treated to a really good French meal.
The B&B where we stayed for four nights while attending wedding festivities, Maison Magnolia, is owned by an 80 year old Englishman, Brian.
All renovations at the house he has done himself and, believe me, he has done a great job. Brian is witty and thoroughly enjoying retirement in France, although he does admit to being a bit of a slouch when it comes to the French language. I'm sure he was having a bit of a chuckle as I dragged 2 * 20kg suitcases up three flights of stairs to our very comfortable bedroom.
On the Monday, 10 July we continue our drive to St Meard de Gurcon, approximately one hour south east of Lanouelle and on the outskirts of the Dordogne. This is where we will be living for the next ten days. Two bedrooms, a courtyard, great kitchen and lounge. It turns out the house was the garage for the big house next door; it cost the owners 10K Euro and less than 100K in renovations. We thought about offering 105K and they might even have made a profit. Anyway, it's time to kick back and take it easy, especially as I contracted a flu bug while at the wedding. There's a couple of days where I'm not quite myself, but we venture out anyway.
We took a trip to Lascaux 2 to see the copies of the original art cave found in the 1940 by four young men. Great art and supposedly exact copies of the original drawings made 20,000 years ago by Cro-Magnon man. It's a little bit like Disneyland, with tours going into the caves every 5 minutes or so. The original cave was closed in the 60's to preserve the art and Lascaux 2 is supposedly an exact replica of the original cave and its paintings. These days, you have to be pretty special to get into the original cave, but there are still a few caves in the area with art and still open to the public, such as Font de Gaume which we visited several years ago.
Wednesday, July 12 - The Tour de France is finishing a stage in Bergerac, only a 40 minute drive, so we have to do it. Caroline has not seen the tour before, however I had seen the final stage in Paris in 2010 with Sue and Stephen Western and Kathy Peterson (Russell friends). Anyway, we position ourselves on the bridge in the hot sun, and wait for three
hours before seeing the cyclists pass us in a whole bunch for all of 40 seconds. It's been a long time since I had three hours of anticipation for 40 seconds of pleasure!
Bergerac is a pretty little town on the banks of the Dordogne River. The historic quarter makes for a nice walk and then of course the requisite statues of Cyrano de Bergerac, although the man has no link to Bergerac other than his name.
On Thursday, our friend Ian Binks (UK) joined us for four nights; he is now probably at home with the flu and cursing us! Unfortunately, I was still under the weather and Caroline was starting to cough, so the first day was pretty much a write off. The next four days included a return visit to Petit Leon restaurant (and, as always, it was excellent), a trip into St Foy (12km) for the street market and a Marche Nocturne, immediately outside of our door in St Meard de Gurcon. The Marche Nocturne was great - music, wine and food, a giant street party. As always, I find it pretty easy to chat to people, and this was
My Next Car!
I hope it will tow the boat.
my big chance to talk with some of the locals, however most of them were English. Supposedly, 30,000 Brits living in the Dordogne. I must mention a particularly nice couple, a lady from Liverpool and her French husband, a malaria researcher who lives in Liverpool full time. Malaria and Liverpool, two words that you would be hard pressed to find in the same sentence. Ian's time with us passed quickly and we look forward to the next time we meet up
Monday, 17 July - Immediately after dropping Ian at Bergerac Airport we're off to Quinsac near Bordeaux to spend two nights with friends Francoise and Raymond. Two days of laughter, eating, wine and an occasional dip in the pool. Since the last time I was in Bordeaux there has been a major building boom in the less salubrious areas. New bridges across the river, new apartments and a new wine museum built next to the river. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a photo, but believe me it's an architectural work of art. Two days is too short, it's time to leave and again, we probably left our flu bug with our friends. Hopefully, Francoise and
Raymond will visit us in New Zealand before too long.....
Wine Museum http://us.media.france.fr/en/node/3418
Friday, 20 July - Back in St Meard de Gurcon, we pack our suitcases, have a bit of a clean-up and leave at 6.30 am on July 20 for the 6 hour drive to Paris. As always, I'm dreading driving through Paris as there is very little courtesy to drivers, all cars have dents and the Paris drivers are just so damned aggressive. Anyway, I manage to keep my cool, and Caroline and her beloved GPS system successfully navigate us to our next house swap in the 9th
Tot: 0.046s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 10; qc: 25; dbt: 0.007s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb