Sunday, May 30, 2010

WEEK 3, DAY 15



WEEK 3, DAY 15
BREAD AND FISH AND WINE
Golden Beef, 10 Av. Aristide Briand, 24200 Sarlat
This morning’s early mission was to get some bread. No problem. Strolled down to the nearby butchers who have a Depot de Pain. Back in less than ten minutes with a baguette that cost 78 cents.
Pavillion de la Marée, Martine Fredieu, rue Henri Rebiere, ZI la Serve, 24110 St Astter
It took much longer to work our way through the huge market that takes over most of Sarlat’s streets on a Saturday morning. After the beef excesses of the previous night, decided on some fish from our “regular” stall: Pavillion de la Marée. Selection didn’t include Julienne but we did buy some panga, despite the fact that neither of us knew what it was and not one of our books had a translation!
Picked up a few other bits and pieces and also ticked off another one of our wines with a 7 euro purchase of a 2002 Bandol rouge.
Still on the lookout for Julienne (ling), we were disappointed not to see a second fish stall that we had previously used. Called to the Fishmongers on the main street but their selection was very limited and we gave up waiting on the queue at the local traiteur as it was out the door. Out of luck also at a small store who had sold out of prepared dishes but we did buy a jar of Soupe de Poissons (always handy for lunch).
That meant a return visit to the Golden Beef. The queue here was also big enough but eventually we got our turn and turned down stuffed cabbage in favour of a carton of freshly prepared paella which contained enough for two and cost us €6.36.
With the food safely in the gite, it was time to head out for the bastide town of Montpazier, another of France’s most beautiful villages. This little town has remained almost unchanged for 800 years and has been used as a location for quite a few medieval period films.
No films today but some of the old games for kids, including stilt-walking, were on display and being put to use. Much the same, though not exactly so, as those seen in Sarlat a few days ago. Certainly the old Market Hall and the archways of the town, where many of the houses have balconies, was a most unusual setting and well worth a visit.
Sat down under the brollies in one of the square’s restaurants for a cup of coffee (€3.00 for double espresso). Enjoyed that before moving on to the nearby hilltop village of Belves where there is a 15th century Covered Market and some medieval remains. A picturesque spot and another of France’s most beautiful places and that is official!
Back then to the gite for that paella and Bergerac Sec but first a bottle or two of Hoegaarden! (The bottles are small!).


Photos from top: Sarlat Market, poppy field and Monpazier

















WEEK 3, DAY 16
Rainy Day Sarlat
J Grolier Foie Gras
24260 Le Bugue
05 53 07 22 64

If all the restaurants in the centre of Sarlat are serving up Foie Gras, then all the shops seem to be selling it. But are they? You need to read the labels carefully, otherwise you could well be presenting Aunt Mary with a Terrine du Canard.
We had an idea of what we wanted by the time we called to Groliere Foie Gras on rue de la Liberté and met a helpful person who had once visited Ballina and had happy memories of eating salmon there. She pointed us in the direction of a special offer that meant we left the store having bought three jars of the real thing for the price of two.
The previous Sunday in Sarlat had been a scorcher but this was what we Irish like to call “a soft day”. We’d thought we’d take advantage of the lack of crowds to do the Sarlat tour, a tour we had neglected since arriving, a bit like the Corkman not ringing the bells of Shandon.
We have been using the excellent DK Eyewitness Travel Guide for the area since we arrived and followed its street by street guide here, seeing some medieval streets and buildings we had not seen before or had half-seen with a bunch of market stalls up against them.

Sunday, though, we more or less had the place to ourselves and, at our leisure, as the mist came and went, we strolled through the narrow streets of Siege and Rousseau, past the Chapel of the White Penitents (right)before coming to the familiar rue des Consuls and our favourite Mirandol restaurant. Then on to Place de la Liberté, around the back of the Cathedral, into the huge church , where an organist was playing, and out again.
Just in front of us was the famous Maison de La Boétie (left) which was hosting an exhibition of photos showing Sarlat before and after its reconstruction.
Enjoyed the walk and the sights. Then called to the tourist office for the latest leaflets before doing that little bit of shopping that saw us meet the lady who must have loved the Moy salmon!


WEEK 3, DAY 18
Bergerac Museums



There was always going to be a trip to the Maison de Vins in Bergerac and we took the opportunity today, a dull day with temperatures at 22 degrees, fine for a 70 km drive. Our Sat-Nav took us right to the door but the parking was full, though there was ample within walking distance.
The facility though was closed from 12.30 to 14.00, so we lunched in a nearby outdoor (and indoor) restaurant:  Le Croq Magnon, Pl Pelissiere, 24100 Bergerac. Here we had a massive omelette with potatoes for €10.00.
The house of Bergerac wines is in an old religious building, the Cloitre des Recollets and, if you enter from the back, you will be in the old courtyard. A long panel tells the story of wine through the ages in French and English and then you go downstairs.
Here you may take in a video, again in English or French, on the season in a vineyard. Then you must do your sniffing test. All the parfums are in little glasses. Check how good your nose is. Mine was dire.
The next stop is the shop. There was no real buzz here, maybe because the visit was free. I think most of the tourists who make their way here really want a bit of help with their purchasing. There is a huge stock, all of the AOCs, and many of the producers represented. It is a bit much to take in unless you have some guidance, even a leaflet.
There was also a tasting facility but that didn’t seem to be operating. It was however, very well laid out with the bottles numbered and priced around a centre stand.  Already pretty well off in some of the AOCs, I concentrated today on Montravel and went to choose a few bottles.
The assistant was very helpful at this point and even offered to change one of my larger notes for me, which is pretty unusual in France.
Later, on way back to gite, called to supermarket where I added to collection with a bottle Cotes de Duras, a lively little white that didn't last very long, polished off that evening with some Julienne (white fish).
From there, we made the short trip to the Museum of Tobacco (there is also a Museum of Wine but we gave that a skip). The Tobacco story is told in another old building, Maison Peyradede. It is rather unexciting, consisting of the most part of old smoking devices (mainly pipes) and bits of machinery along with much written information.
Tobacco, as most of you know, came from the New World and one of the more amusing exhibits was a pipe used by the Native Americans, it’s like seen in many westerns over the decades. Tobacco is still grown in the Dordogne.
Had my camera ready and eye peeled but failed to find a Fumer Interdit sign here. Disappointed not to find one but at only four euro and boasting a badly needed toilet (the one in the House of Wine was closed and a Pay and P facility nearby was out of order), the visit passed pleasantly enough.


Pics from top: Cyrano has a better nose than me, old Bergerac and the House of Wine.












WEEK 3, DAY 19
Les Jardins de L’Imaginaire
Rue Jean Rouby, Terrasson
05 53 50 37 56



A short few years back, the people of Terrasson put their heads together and came up with the idea of a Garden area of Imagination as an attraction for their small town.
Visited it today and, despite a touch of hype in the brochures and also from the guide, it was a very enjoyable hour and a quarter. Water is perhaps the main feature of the garden and all the water is recycled right down to the fountain at the entrance.
There are moss terraces and a rose garden and other distinct areas. All are well laid out and there is also a belvedere where there is a brilliant view of the area of the town below dominated by the church.
Dry stone walls feature in the gardens and also in a living breathing structure at the end of the walk, a structure that contains an exhibition of the Japanese art of Niwaki, not to be confused with Bonsai.  The trees are allowed to grow bigger and into more natural shapes.
We followed the tour with a walk around the town and enjoyed its many water features and vistas, particularly those around and about the 12th century bridge which spans the Vezere here.
This morning saw us visit the medieval quarter of Sarlat for our 3rd Wednesday market in a row. People ask us if we get fed up of the markets. The answer is no. For always there is some variation. This morning, for instance, there were two new musical acts.
We did get a few bits and pieces in the stalls but our big call today was to the traiteur called Charcuterie de Campange, SAS Vaux, 24200 Sarlat. I’m surprised at the amount of Irish people  who visit France who do not even know of the value of the traiteur.
Here, you can get many French classic dishes and other lesser known classy ones for a very good price. That means your dinner is sorted. Heat in the oven or microwave as required and voila you get a terrific meal.
We spent just over 15 euro there this morning. Top purchase, at €4.99, was Jambon with sauce medere (ham with Madeira sauce); Sarlat potatoes; tomatoes farci (stuffed tomatoes) and Boudin Noir with onions which cost €1.37.
Having returned from Terrasson, we had that ham along with the potatoes and it turned out to be excellent, going down well with a bottle of Fronton. Dessert was a few very tasty macaroons (at €1.50 each) which came from an artisan producer in the market.
Just to give you a comparison, the meal costs were as follows: Melon starter 2.60, mains 9.89, dessert 4.50, wine c 2.00. Total for two: €18.99.

Pics from top left: Sarlat market, Terrasson Town and Garden


WEEK 3, DAY 20
 Chateau de Beynac





A bit wary as we headed up to Beynac to view yet another château but we needn’t have worried as this turned out to be an excellent visit which cost €7.50 per adult.
This is a most impressive building, dating from 12/13th centuries. You pass the 12th century keep just after the entrance. Richard the Lionhearted was here in 1189. As you go on, you see the parts from the 14th and 17th centuries.
From the 14th century keep, you step onto the southern terrace. Here you are some 450 feet above the Dordogne and overlooking a beautiful panorama of river, villages and fields. The reconstruction goes on and will be completed until 2130.
Then, in the hot sun, we walked down the narrow streets to the river and enjoyed a lunch at one of the riverside cafes where a Steak Haché and chips cost €8.50. Back to the gite and a dip in the pool.
Late, in the afternoon, strolled back to the old quarter of Sarlat where we enjoyed a drink (Stella Artois, 3 euro for 25cl) at one of the square side cafes, Le Festival. Here we enjoyed watching the world go by before heading to the gite again and a dinner based around Stuffed Tomatoes and Black Pudding.

Photos: Detail from 14th cent oratory, Castle stables, Dordogne at Beynac and view from the Chateau













WEEK 3, DAY 21
Cadouin, Limeuil
Cloitre de Cadouin, 221 bis, rte ‘dAngouleme, 24000 Perigeux

Woke to a lovely morning here in Sarlat, made even lovelier when a small deer skipped its way around the garden shrubbery. Just in case you think it was dawn, it was far from it as it was  just before ten.
Headed out then to visit the World Heritage site of Cloitre de Cadouin, a decent drive away. Here the good mood continued when the receptionist, who enjoyed here three months in UCC improving her English, presented us with a smashing bottle of Bergerac Molleaux (from the Caves de Monbazillac) as a reward for being persistent tourists.
We had clocked up four visits to such sites and so earned the wine. As it was, we had visited almost twice that number but didn’t realise that such a scheme was in force until well into our holiday.
The complex boasts a fine church but is it the 15th century cloisters in the Flamboyant Gothic Style, and sponsored by Louis X1, that are the highlight here. Fine doors at the four corners, the abbot’s throne and the restored chapterhouse are the features, though there are many more. A short but quite impressive visit.
We weren’t too far from Limeuil so we headed there for lunch, to the bar brasserie A L’Ancre de Salut (05 53 63 39 29) that we had visited earlier. They were very busy but we got a table where I enjoyed a Galette Complet (more or less a sturdy crepe with fried egg, ham and cheese). A fine plateful for €8.50. A 25 cl jug of Bergerac Rose, a delightful drink on the hot day, cost €3.50.
Then walked over the two nearby bridges, one over the Dordogne and one, its last, over the Vezere. This is the meeting of the waters and two now flow as the Dordogne. Under the trees, close to the restaurant, there are quite a few tables and here small groups were enjoying a do it yourself meal or just a rest from the hot sun.
Drove up then to the nearby Cave of the Vins de Perigord producers only to find it closed. This was a very warm day so we drove back to the gite and a welcome dip in the pool.
But not before a needed call to the neighbouring Casino Supermarket. Here we picked up a pack of lamb chops (about 7) for €7.15, some freshly made ratatouille from the deli counter, also some prawns (with Provencal sauce), fresh strawberries and a pair of millefeuillie, all for tonight’s barbecued meal.
Enjoyed the meal and also the wine: a Montagne Saint-Emilion, a Grand Vin de Bordeaux, which cost us €6.99. This is apparently a wine from a Bordeaux satellite but if I’m on the last spaceship out of here, I’ll be happy to stock it up with this one.


·         A tip. Some French restaurants, particularly in tourist areas, are spread across a road. You will usually find that the tables across the road from the main building are for drinks only.