The good life


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September 7th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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A wonderfully-flaky croissant, and crusty baguette were the main items - French breakfasts, like most European ones, are quite simple. Nice creamy butter, and delicious preserves were the perfect accompaniments. Bread and jam can be a pretty pathetic breakfast, but not when the bread and jam are top notch like this. The coffee was decent, but the OJ was more like Tang than juice.
Geo: 44.8913, 1.21502

Cool and dark ... big comfy bed ... cozy comforter ... I didn't want to wake up and leave my castle this morning, but I had to get up at 8:45. Breakfast, and then off to rent a kayak for a float down the Dordogne river! Pierre-Henri actually was about to knock on my door as I walked out, at 8:46 - he was worried I wouldn't have time to eat my breakfast before leaving!

The canoe rental place actually will pick you up with advance notice, which Pierre-Henri graciously arranged for me last night. I ended up missing my ride, because as I sat out in the garden eating breakfast, I thought they would knock on the gate. I even poked out my head once or twice, but didn't see anyone. It turned out that I was supposed to wait outside for my ride - oops!

Luckily, Pierre-Henri was on his way to another town, so once again, he was gracious enough to drop me off at the rental place. We had a bit of a chat, and it turns out that he lived in Paris for many, many years, but decided that small-town Sarlat was more his
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The beautiful garden.
lifestyle.

The canoe rental cost 17 euros, and it turned out to be money very well spent. The beauty of the Dordogne is that it's very easy to stop anywhere you like for a photo, a break, or a splash in the river. After a few hours, I was WAY behind schedule, in terms of how long the guidebook says this trip should take, but you don't abide by any schedule when you are touring such a beautiful river region.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped to take a dip in the river, and a drunk guy from the UK named Louis, started chatting with me. I guess his family is originally from the area, and his family has an old house here that he has been slowly restoring over the years. Sounds pretty convenient for him to get here - he takes his car on a night ferry that arrives in Caen, and from there it's a 4-5 hour drive here, so he arrives just in time for a late lunch. You can see why he eventually wants to live here, because the region is gorgeous, and the food so divine. It truly is the good life, here in this
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The Dordogne.
part of France.

Shuttle back to Vitrac, where I started today, and got a ride from the girl that was supposed to pick me up this morning. Seeing her car, I recognized it from this morning just outside the garden at the castle - I apologized for missing her this morning. Surprisingly, we were able to converse a bit in French - she's something like 1/4 Tunisian, but has lived in France all her life. She told me her name a couple of times, but I have no idea what it was, because I couldn't make it out. It was a pretty broken conversation, so I eventually gave up.

Back in town, some quick planning for the rest of the trip at an Internet cafe, then a shower, then over to the TI for some advice on train connections from Sarlat to Amboise. I've found that sometimes in France, if you ask someone if they speak English even in French, you don't always get a great response. I've taken to asking 'Do you speak Spanish or French?", as a way of getting around this. When I did this at the TI, the lady was quite surprised and said "Espanol? Si!" I got the feeling that she likes practicing as well, so that's how we conversed. And it's been confirmed - Spanish spoken with a French accent is still HOT ...

Because of the oddball nature of my train connections tomorrow, she suggested that I buy a ticket ahead of time, so I grabbed a gelato and was off to the train station. Back in town afterward, I had some trouble deciding on dinner tonight, as most places have nearly identical menus - not that what I had last night wasn't great, it's just that I wanted something different this evening. I wandered around for a good 40 minutes, hemming and hawing, coming back to a number of restaurants repeatedly to decide if it sounded any better than the last. I finally settled on Auberge Lys D'or, where I was kindly relegated to the back corner of the terrace - single diners don't get much respect, I have learned over the years.

At least the waiter was really nice, despite difficulties communicating with each other. The bread was like yesterday's, dry and crusty on the outside, but good on the inside, perhaps coming from the same bakery. I sampled a red Bergerac, a wine common in the region - decent, but last night's wine was better. Once again, I ate too much and was full to the point of popping, once again. My eyes were way bigger than my stomach tonight, as I opted for a five course meal! Foie gras is made by force feeding geese and duck, so that their livers become enlarged. After so much gorging in Sarlat, how big has my liver become? Big enough for Hannibal Lecter to eat with "fava beans, and a nice chianti"?



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The first real stop was La Roque-Gageac.
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I missed this dock, so I had to backtrack by foot to get to town.
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One of the first sights in town - a boulangerie/patisserie! I already knew where I was going to have for lunch.
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A sight for sore eyes - public toilets!
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Walnut aperitif - ok. Truffle aperitif - wow! Sometimes I wish I wasn't a backpacker, that I traveled with a big ol' suitcase without worry for how much weight I am carrying, so that I could pick up many bottles of delicious drinks like this!
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La Roque was a beautiful town, but too hot, so I got back on the river once I had a quick lunch. I wanted to take a picnic to the river, but was feeling weak and decided to eat on this shaded terrace. I'm still sick!!! Salmon quiche - it would have been a bit better if it was a little more golden brown. The microwave didn't do a good job of warming it up, either. The second pastry was a salty, creamy ham pie. I skipped an Orangina today even though I wanted one, instead opting for a can of OJ. Mistake! The can of OJ was actually a can of a different type of orange soda, which was nowhere near as good as an Orangina would have been :( Nor as good as the hottie cashiers!
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These steps go up to the Fort Troglodyte - I didn't feel like hiking up there on a hot day like today.
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Chateau of Castelnaud, atop the hill. Again, too hot to hike up there!
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Basque cuisine!!! Notice the price reduction? The value-added tax in France has recently been reduced, I wonder if for economic stimulation purposes?
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Some classic cinema for sale in Castelnaud!
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Instead of getting exercise by hiking up the hill, I instead exercised my tongue with a gelato. Bad white peach ... oops, I didn't get white peach, after all! I may be mildly colour blind, but that sure doesn't look like white peach!
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In French, a duck is called a "canard". In my language, a duck is called a "really good dinner".
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I thought these stone slabs looked like giant potato wedges.
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I can't resist skipping stones, especially on a placid river like the Dordogne. Half the fun is finding the perfect skipping stone, and the search took forever and was fruitless. But still fun!


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