Not so hidden gems of Sarlat and a few of Périgueux

Sarlat

We have been visiting Sarlat since 2009 so imagine my surprise when on our way back to the car a couple of weeks ago when I noticed for the first time the not so hidden gem at the tops of the street lamps. Beautifully ornate decoration around the top of the lamp with a crown of castles. It just shows that I need to look up more often than I do.
a crown of castlesThis particular lamp is to be seen just at the entrance to the car park.
 

O.K not really new to us, however a very unusual gem of a medieval property. I particularly love the quirkiness of the building in the centre of the picture.
cut to fit It looks like it has been cut in half to make it fit into the space available.
 

Chocolate gemsChocolate gems of chickens, fish, ducks and eggs to be found in the various Chocolatiers in Sarlat.
 

Wow, just look at the owlWow, just look at the owl.
 

Pâtisserie MassoulierThis was taken inside Pâtisserie Massoulier, rows and rows of treats for Easter.

Périgueux

Our first time exploring Périgueux resulted in me finding this fabulous Chocolatier in the Medieval district.

fabulous ChocolatierPaul says that I am like a homing pigeon for linen, lace and chocolate.
 

organ grinderAn organ grinder who looked like he had just stepped out of a Dickens novel, he had a great singing voice too.
 

The town of Périgueux has been in existence since Neolithic times, and later became an important Roman centre. Like so many villages and towns in France it suffered during the Middle Ages through the Hundred Years War. Therefore a great deal of construction was needed in the 16th and 18th C.
 

La cathédrale Saint FrontResulting in a very interesting Medieval and Renaissance centre with attractive boulevards and streets which line the area around the Cathédrale Saint Front.

We only had a short visit to Périgueux but we intend to go back in the near future to explore more of the area.
 
 

Event:-

A Children’s Easter Treasure Hunt in Daglan this Sunday 9th April, 10 o’clock until 12 o’clock. You will need a reservation for there are only thirty places but it is open to all. Children under ten years must be accompanied by an adult. Phone 06 42 98 22 26 for a reservation.
Children's Easter Treasure Hunt
 
 

Nearly Easter

The next two blogs will be on my favourite time of year…, Easter. As a confirmed chocoholic, being faced with the mastery of the chocolatiers in the Perigord is pure delight.

So first, the array of Easter delights at Maison Carré at Castlenaud-la-Chapelle.

As I entered the shop this morning my senses were hit with the outstanding display of chocolate creations which are produced by the Master Chocolatier.
 

 Easter themed cartoon charactersHere are just a few examples from the large selection on show.

There are Eggs from small to large and Easter bells, bunnies, and chickens, to pretty flowers and Easter themed cartoon characters, all displayed on the tables and cabinets throughout the shop.
 

too gorgeous to eatSome are just too gorgeous to eat, well nearly!
 

Service with a smileThey also sell the most delicious macarons and gâteaux, petit and grand, that you have ever tasted. Plus an assortment of fine French breads and pastries, which are always served to you with a smile.
 

The youngest member of the team. The youngest member of the team at Maison Carré. It is a delightful Boulangerie, Patisserie and Master Chocolatier in one shop.
 

Sunday breakfastPaul and I go most Sundays mornings to buy our breakfast treat of the week and to stock up with their delicious breads.
 

delicious french  breadWe have found that French bread will freeze well for short periods of time of up to a week if wrapped in cling film.
 

Next blog:- The Easter delights of Sarlat and Périgueux.

I hope we picked a winner!

Sarlat was inundated with Master Chocolatiers last weekend, they were showing their skills at the Chocolate Festival which had been organised, for the second year, by the Rotary Club. If you love chocolate as I do, last weekend was amazing.

Your senses are first aroused by the Masterpiece creations which were displayed on a long tables near the entrance. They are each numbered and you pick the one you think is best, which I found extremely difficult, once you have made your choice you write the number onto a card along with your contact details. If you have picked the same as the judges your entry is placed in a draw for a hamper of chocolate.

This is the one that I picked, keeping fingers crossed that it is a winner.
 

I also liked the golden eggs, and,,, and,,, and…
 

Paul picked number seven in the middle of the picture, in front of the Rotary Club sign.
 
One room was used for chocolate demonstrations where classes were held to teach a little of the art of working with chocolate. There were also films about growing cocoa for chocolate.
 

Two other rooms housed what was for me, the main event…
 

Rows upon rows of chocolate creations for sale from the Master Chocolatiers of the Perigord.
 

Chocolate cartoon characters, Wow yummy
 

This was my favourite, a chocolate Peruvian mask which was made from the rich dark chocolate from Peru. Unfortunately it was tucked away behind a pile of chocolate pieces in a corner of a display cabinet, hence the poor lighting!
 
 

Events:-

Sunday 19th Daglan Spring Festival in and around the Place de la Liberté http://www.daglan.fr/fete-du-printemps/. At 11:00 there will be the official inauguration of the Stèle de la Paix, (magnificent carved tree), alongside the church. The Café de la Fleur will be holding a mini market.

Morning of Wednesday 22nd Daglan Children’s Carnival http://www.daglan.fr/carnal-des-enfantscarnaval-ecole-2017/.
 

 

Now for something yummy.

The Newly decorated and renamed Pâtisserie Massoulier (ex Roland Mertz ) is to be found at 33 Rue de la République in Sarlat. It is the kind of shop that you just have to stop and take pictures, the window display is always a cake lovers artistry and everything they sell is so delicious I could buy the lot but my waist band and my bank account would not allow it.
 

Pâtisserie MassoulierSo yummy

 

dscn2343Rows and rows of hand made chocolates for every occasion
 

dscn2342Sorry I think that I got a little side tracked, here is a little of the new décor, furniture and fittings.
 

dscn2340Just about to eat breakfast. Besides wonderful gateau they also serve excellent coffee, a wide variety of teas, real hot chocolate, fresh squeezed orange juice and of course, delicious pastries.
 
 

Wow… This is my time of year

Sarlat Chocolate FestivalChocolate Festival in Sarlat on 11 and 12th March, at the Ancien Evêché, next to the tourist office on Place du Payrou.
 
 

More Hidden Gems of Sarlat

It is always worth wondering around the side streets of any town in the Perigord Noir however, the Medieval Quarter in Sarlat stands out as one of the best, where you can find hidden treasures literally just around every corner. This happened to Paul a few weeks ago when he was passing the time waiting for me while I was at our hairdressers.

If you walk up the main shopping street in Sarlat, pass the chocolatiers, Burton’s Store and the store that sells knifes and guns! You will come to a small cobbled lane on the left that doubles back and rises up to take you around the bend. There, hidden around the bend on the Rue J.J. Rousseau you will find the 17th Century Chapel des Pénitents Blancs with its magnificent portico.
 

17th Century Chapel des Pénitents BlancsChapel of the White Penitents XVIIth century
 

dscn2256The beautiful baroque door is the only ornament of the Chapel of the Récollets (a reformed branch of the Franciscan order) of the White Penitents.

In 1944 the chapel was classified as an historical monument and since 1970, it has housed a museum of sacred art.
 

In the old quarter take the lane which is found on the left of the Cathedral and runs past the Lantern of the Dead.
 

twisty, narrow laneTake the first left at the antique shop and you will find a twisty, narrow lane which in turn leads you into the myriad of Medieval properties which we had never seen before.
 

A beautiful balustradeA beautiful balustrade with artisan jewellery shops on the first level of the property.

Meandering through the narrow cobbled lanes of artisans and art galleries you will come to Rue Fénelon, turn left where you will find cafes, a Thai Restaurant (which we must check out) and antique shops.
 

Tall houseOn the right, tucked in between the shops you will see another interesting 14th C property.
 

Aux Bonheurs De SopheFurther along the same lane towards Rue de la Liberté you will find on the right, ‘Aux Bonheurs De Sophe’. A Millinery shop where I could spend hours browsing and buying almost everything. It sells beautiful materials, cottons, wools and accessories, in fact everything that you need, including silk embroidery threads which I needed for my new hobby.

Past the milliners you will see the Truffle Market on the right and the magnificent Place de la Liberté with its Wednesday and Saturday markets.
 

Truffle Festival

This is undoubtedly the highlight of January, Sarlat Truffle Festival which ran for two days last weekend. There are not many things that would entice me to leave the warmth of a log fire when the temperature outside is -2 and I have a bad cold but the prospect of buying a truffle wins every time.

At up to one thousand euros a kilo the fusty, musty, heady truffle is among the worlds most expensive foods, comparable to caviar that is a similar price.

You can find truffles used in moose, macerons, chocolate, and thinly sliced on top or in various meat and vegetarian dishes. When Paul and I had a holiday in Umbria many years ago we were introduced to truffle ice cream, sounds a bit icky but it was so delicious.

Due to the fact that it can be used to flavour foods before you actually use the truffle it can be quite economical. Dropped in with other foods such as eggs, pasta, chicken or rice so the truffle aroma and taste will permeate most food products you can make a small truffle last for several meals.
 

Medieval Quarter in Sarlat Medieval Quarter in Sarlat where truffle hunters and Chiefs from all over the Perigord Black sell their truffles and truffle creations.

There have always been truffles in the Perigord Black but due to the First and Second World Wars, the nurture of the truffle went into decline, on one hand due to the loss of the smallholders and on the other hand the shrinking forests due to changes of land use and the exhaustion of truffle friendly trees. Across France in the 1930’s, the truffle harvest was roughly 1000 tons. During the 1960’s replanting of trees such as the French Oak was introduced plus other trees to test the growth of truffles. Now however is the constant threat of climate change. Hotter Summers and less rainfalls in other parts of France is reducing the growth of the truffle. So as the harvest starts to decline so the price increases. Today in sharp contrast it is only about 50 tons.
 

Truffles on displayVery proud owners of the truffle selling their finds at various weights and quality.
 

Truffle mooseTruffles made into moose with grated truffle on top, or thinly sliced between pate.
 

Two young Chiefs Two young Chiefs competing for the best truffle macerons. We did buy two macerons from them and ate them while the Chiefs waited for our response. Truly delicious boys.
 

Truffle maceronsOf course we had to buy two large macerons from another Chief to take home with us. You can not beat coffee or chocolate macerons made with truffles, the flavour is magnificent.
 

Our little truffleOur little prize along side a dessert spoon, we only paid fifteen euros so a really good price. We placed the truffle on top of eggs and left them over night. The truffle had permeated the egg shell by the morning giving the scrambled eggs the luxury flavour of truffle. Now the truffle is sitting in the rice container to flavour the rice.

A pig or a dog is usually used to sniff and find truffles in the forests, however I think that we may have the first truffle cat! Our kitten Cleo loves the smell of truffle.
 

Events:-

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 28th and 29th January for the International Céou Canoe Race.

Daglan 19th March for the Second Spring Festival of Flowers.

Sculpture extraordinaire Lau. Dussol.

A work of art has been created from a dead tree which stands just outside the library opposite the church in the village. Instead of digging the tree up and taking it way the Maire and the Commune decided on a brilliant idea of transforming the tree into a work of art. M. Lau. Dussol was duly commissioned for the task.

Paul and I have taken many walks past the tree over the months and seen the transformation. Starting from the bottom up two people came into view.
 

dscn2146On this side is a lady wearing traditional dress and clogs.

 

dscn2145On the other side is a gentleman in a top hat.
Above them both are various heraldic shields, one of which is the shield of Daglan.

 

dscn2144What I love though are the gargoyles on top of the tree at the back and sides, with the dove of peace at the front.

 

Now consider the artists tools, most of the work was carried out with a chain saw which really highlights the fine skill of the artist.

He was also commissioned to create a totem pole for the Primary School in the village, brilliant.
 

dscn2203A proud Maire and I admiring the artists work.

 

Event:- See you all at Sarlat Truffle Festival on Saturday the 14th January, we will be the couple eating truffle macaroons, they are so good.