11.05.2014 - 18.05.2014 22 °C
Sometimes when you arrive at a new destination it takes a while to feel comfortable, others times you feel right at home on arrival. As soon as we arrived at the stone cottage in the Dordogne and were greeted by its English owners Steve and Jane we instantly felt at home. The house was beautifully decorated and extremely comfortable. After a month of constantly moving around it was time for some down time and this part of France was the perfect place to relax.
The Dordogne is classic French countryside. Perfect stone houses with colourful flowers, picturesque villages, fields of fresh produce and the Dordogne River complete the picture. Most of our time was spent relaxing in the garden, enjoying the warmth. The boys would play football while Bret and I would enjoy the wine and local culinary delights. When we did venture out it was to see the local markets that were around the region everyday or to walk around villages that were straight out of a tourist brochure.
The two well known towns of Beynac and Sarlat are beautiful, but the lesser know towns of St Cyprien, Belves, Berbiguieres are just as nice, in fact you just don't travel pass any town in this region which is not picture perfect.
Having had enough of churches and museums it was suggested the boys might enjoy a visit to a cave that had been discovered in the area only recently. Expecting to see a few stalagmites and stalactites, we headed into the cave with our english speaking French guide. What we saw was nothing short of spectacular. The caves were full of crystals that resembled coral - mother nature at her best.
After a few days of recharging and once again feeling energetic we decided a 28km canoe trip down the Dordogne River was a great way to see the many villages that lined the river. Canoeing is very popular in the region and at the peak of the holiday season up to 10,000 canoes can be in the river; luckily for us we almost had the place to ourselves.
Fitness seemed to be the flavour of the week as Bret and Ben started daily jogs. Out the front door, down the pebbly driveway, past the local farmers working their fields and along the country road to Berbiguieres or Cladech. They noted that the wonderful country side did not make it any easier.
There are also a number of medieval castles in the area, so we headed to Castelnaud-La-Chapelle, a Chateau that would change from the French to the English during many times during the 100 years war. We have seen many castles on our trip with Castelenaud being amongst one of the best. It is beautifully maintained with amazing views of the river from the top.
One of our highlights for the week was having dinner with Steve and Jane. With good food and wine, great conversation without the need for a French dictionary and lots of laughs it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night in the French countryside.
All too quickly our week in the Dordogne had come to an end, we could easily spend a year here, perhaps one day we will.
Next stop Provence.