At last year’s Guitar Retreat in France I remembered just how much I like France in general and the Dordogne Region in particular. I thought that I might spend time after the Retreat doing a wee road trip around the region and then working my way north towards Belgium where I planned to visit the war grave of a relative who was killed at Ypres during the First World War.
I had decided that AirBnB was the route to take and I booked a couple of night’s accommodation in Sarlat, Tours and Rouen. My first stop in Sarlat was just a short drive from St. Martin de Riberac and after a quick lunch with Johnny and the others left at La Perdrix I said my goodbyes and set off. Being in no particular hurry, I took the back roads to Sarlat and arrived around 5pm. There’s a market held each Sunday in Sarlat and I was hoping that any congestion would have died down by the time I arrived. The apartment was right in the centre of the city and as most of the medieval part of the town is pedestrianised I would have to use one of the many car-parks which are just outside the centre. Fortunately, there was one about 50 metres from the flat and I didn’t have far to carry my bags and guitar case. The apartment was fantastic with everything I needed – well almost, I had hoped there would be a washing machine. It was located to the south of the main part of the town and directly opposite a wonderful little restaurant “Le Tourney” and the Tourist Information Office. I took a stroll around the town and found a café in the town square where I sat and had a beer before returning to “Le Tourney” restaurant for my tea!
The following day I left early to visit the castle at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and then on to the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. The medieval village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle sits above the Dordogne River and is dominated by its magnificent castle. The castle was founded in the 12th century and as well as being a magnificent structure in itself, it also houses a great collection of weapons, armour and siege machines. The houses of the village are in beautiful perigordine style with stone walls, large deeply-sloping roofs of terracotta tile and wooden shutters, arched gateways, half-timber houses and wonderful displays of roses and vines. After spending the morning in the castle and wandering around the village, I had lunch in one of the many cafés and drove to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. The museum was very interesting and told the story of Dordogne’s pre-history and the caves at Lascaux. On the way back to Sarlat I had a wonderful drive through the French countryside along The Vezere Valley to Abri de la Madeleine, a prehistoric site on the banks of the River Vezere where I spent a couple of hours.
I spent the evening joining some locals in a bar just off the main drag - brilliant!