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Published: September 22nd 2013
Dordogne Valley in France – Rocamadour, Sarlat la Caneda, Les Cabanes du Breuil Village and La Roque Gaega,
The road from Cahors to Rocamadour was narrow and hilly until we wound down into a steep valley, round a corner and then was confronted by the town of Rocamadour which appeared to cling to the cliffs above the Alzou River, 150 metres below. This river flows into the Dordogne River.
Rocamadour has been a Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle-Ages and is now listed as one of the “Great Sites” of the Midi-Pyrenees region. The whole site is listed as UNESCO world heritage site. One of the chapels, which is built into the rock and contains the statue of the Black Virgin.
We wandered and climbed up big stone stairs and zigzagged up the hill. At each turn in the zigzag was a shrine (12 of them).
At the top of the climb was a fort-like building so we walked along the ramparts and saw a spectacular view of the Dordogne Valley.
We also wandered through the little streets where there were chocolate shops, lolly shops, nick-knacks for tourists, icecream outlets, and a few restaurants. All this
was between the chapels, sanctuary, churches and a crypt.
We found a little restaurant which seemed to be tipping over the cliff. We had a lovely meal and pulled ourselves away, back to the camper to continue our journey along this beautiful Valley.
The whole Valley is sprinkled with fortified castles, stone villages and Romanesque churches. It was very green everywhere.
Travelling west, our next stop along the Valley was Sarlat la Caneda. The centre of this town was full of walking malls with each street bound by more little shops. This area is known for its wine and other produce, as well as chocolate and nougat. We had to buy some of course. There was an an old wine press in the middle of one of the streets. The area is also famous for truffles, cheese and gingerbread
All the buildings were built with sandstone with wooden divisions. We were learning that this was common practice in the Dordogne Valley.
While in Salat la Caneda, we spotted a pamphlet of an unusual village which was on a farm. The little huts that were discovered centuries ago, are made of stone, but have no mud,
concrete, wood or any other material to hold the stones in place. They are unsure who built them, but the roofs are peaked and at the top the stones were many layer thick. This Les Cabanes du Breuil Village had 14 little buildings, all used for different purposes. They are now a tourist attraction on a working farm.
On the night of 15/9, after visiting the Les Cabanes du Breuil Village we stayed in a little village called La Roque Gaega in Dordogne Valley. We camped on the banks of a river with other camper. In France, there are a lot of areas where campers can park for anything from 2-7 Euros. There are no showers and sometimes there are toilets. The little town was jammed between the river and high cliffs so we went for a walk before dinner. It was really quiet, perhaps because of the rain. All the buildings were terraced up the hill.
We then had dinner and while we were eating we heard this loud noise. It was 2 hot air balloons flying very low. Everyone gathered to watch.
The next morning was still raining so we could only see the local
Chateaux through the mist!!
Today was a day of ferreting around lots of little villages. We went through Les Deux Vallees, Saint Cyprien, Siorac-en-Perigord and Lalinde. They were all lovely.
We continued heading west from here to Bergerac, further along the Valley. This was yet another quaint town, a little larger than previous villages. Bergerac is known for its long history of wine making. There was a time line on the history of wine production which started in the Middle-Ages. The Dordogne River was a lovely feature of the town, with its Roman bridges crossing it.
We had to rug up to walk through the town which was set up for pedestrians, tourists, eaters and drinkers. We saw more of the buildings with a mixture of stone and wooden walls.
This was the last of the Dordogne Valley as we headed north to Poitiers.
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