Le Domme Express + Hidden Gems

These two “express” trains offer tourists a guided tour around Domme. The tour lasts about twenty minutes with visits to Porte des Tours (templar prison) and Panorama Maison du Gouverneur or the entrance to the caves of Porte Delbos, and of course the ramparts at Porte de la Combe.
Domme ExpressThe trains stop in the large car park below the Porte des Tours. It’s well worth hopping on there to save the steep climb up to the town.

Domme Express

Hidden Gems

Flying Plant PotThis is one of the hidden gems, it was only after several visits to Domme that I spotted it and just had to take a picture. If you look closely it seems that the large plant pot is precariously balancing right on the edge of the metal sign above the café next to the car park in Domme centre.

Ancient PlanterIf you have the time take a walk off the main street to wander the charming side roads you will find this gem of a planter. The knight’s templar fighting in the holly war.

Monpazier-revisited

For a change no market and very few visitors which gave us the chance to enjoy the gorgeous building of the 13th century that surround the square.

DSCN0734A typical bastides town set out in straight lines is more than 700 years old.
It is also the birthplace of Jean Galmot, journalist, writer and Member of Parliament who was disgraced and then assassinated by his political rivals at the beginning of the 20th century. I do not think that our political parties would go that far in eliminating the opposition on the run up to the General Election on the 7th May!

DSCN0733O.K a few visitors

P1000831These measures were used for the sale of grain

P1000833I could not resist at least one picture of market day which brings Monpazier to life every Thursday morning. These two buskers were really good.

Issigeac – stepping back in time

Issigeac is a medieval town which was built mainly in the 13th to 16th century; it is situated on the edge of the Dordogne near the bordering department of the Lot et Garonne.

Unlike many bastide towns, the narrow roads snake around the town in ever decreasing circles until you reach the centre, with beautiful medieval houses sit side by side with more unusual timber frames of the 14th and 15th C. Be prepared for a stiff neck since you are constantly peering upwards at the architecture. Many of the buildings have carved features for example the “Maison des Tetes” on the corner of the Grand Rue, with its carved heads on its upper level. Like Sarlat, you are certainly transported back in time, I had the feeling that a Musketeer would step out from one of the buildings, well I live in hope!

Just waiting for a Musketeer to ride down the narrow alleyway..

Just waiting for a Musketeer to ride down the narrow alleyway.

We reached Issigeac at lunch time so the shops were closed, therefore fairly quiet and a great way to properly see the many features. We shall certainly return again. I am thinking about a Sunday when they have an excellent market.

Superb architecture, it is well worth a visit or two

Superb architecture, it is well worth a visit or two

The small shops sell artisan pots, linen, soap and of course wine and chocolates.

A few of the many small shops

A few of the many small shops

Market day is Sunday – The third weekend in July is the basket market where vendors and artisans come from all over France to demonstrate their craft at the Foire aux Panniers (basket fair).

This one has the wow factor.

This one has the wow factor.

Also, in July and August are the annual bodegas which are held all over the Perigord, (Issigeac is one of the largest). Bodegas are street parties organised by the local rugby club as a fund raiser. Bands play into the small hours while you eat and drink the local produce.

Domme revisited

The shops in Domme are always worth a look, so instead of taking photographs of the stunning views and the splendid architecture on our last visit, I focused on the wonders of the main street.

I love the bright vibrant colours of the pots in the shop below

Bright and attractive

Bright and attractive

This is the wine shop that I always head for in Domme, welcoming and ready to serve you a sample taster of the local wine and if you are lucky a small taste of the lacquer (walnut my favorite) and of course samples of chocolates of the region.

Wine for all occasions

Wine for all occasions

This shop sells jewelry, crystals, stones, pottery, perfume, body lotions etc.

Stones

Stones

For the meat eater, Saucisson, or “saucisson sec,” is a thick, dry cured pork or veal sausage with wonderful flavorings herbs, garlic, mushroom, pepper etc which are sold at the market every Thursday morning.

Market Meat

Not for me but Paul loves them.

A small statue of a child thinking outside a jewelry shop.

Thinking

Thinking

You can even own your own suit of armor?

Is it Knight

Is it Knight

There are of course many more shops to look at in Domme, plus the museum, the caves, restaurants, cafes, plus the beautiful buildings, gardens, medieval walls and views to die for.

Domme

Honey stoned Domme is a typical ‘bastide’ town, well almost, it is a town that has been transplanted onto a bluff-top eyrie. Philippe III the Bold built it in 1281, however he had to use threats to get the local people to live in the town, it is very high up. Today you drive up the long winding road to the top. This is one of our favourite places for outstanding views, an excellent market on a Thursday, and lots and lots of tourist shops and cafes. There is an excellent shop selling local wines including La Vieille Noix (liqueur) this is gorgeous and you can sample a small drink in the shop.

Domme

Domme

This jewellery shop is just a few steps from the car park

Once you climb up the hill past all of the shops you reach L’Esplanade offering a terrific panoramic view of the Dordogne valley.

l'esplanade

l’esplanade

The picture below shows just part of the view, it has the wow factor

A view from l'esplanade

A view from l’esplanade

The town walls have three of the original gates. To the west there is the best preserved gate, the 13th –century Porte des Tours, its narrow entrance is flaked by two large guard towers built by Philip the Fair. These were converted into prisons in 1307 when the King ordered the arrest of the knights Templar; a few of the Templar lingered in the prison until1318, engraving the crucifixes and other graffiti onto the stone walls.

La Prison des Templiers

La Prison des Templiers

This is our last ‘blog’ for a while, we are going to France, so we shall ‘blog’ again on our return. Thanks again for reading and looking at our favourite places, and for the excellent comments.

Monpazier

Monpazier, “the most perfect bastide”, (which is a fortified town), designed in a neat rectangular grid around an arcaded square with a market and church is one of “Plus beaux villages de France” with 32 listed buildings. It was founded late as bastides go, in 1284, by Edward 1 of England. It prospered long enough to have a perfectly rotten 14th Century, when the town was a football which was kicked around during the Hundred Years War, then came bad harvests, typhoid fever, and finally the Black Death. However, life in Monpazier continued.

It was during the next round of warfare, over religion, that the Duke of Sully recorded a story about Monpazier which is worthy of a Monty Python sketch: by sheer coincidence Monpazier decided to raid Villefranche-du-Perigord, the next bastide to the east, on the same night that Villefranche decided to do the same to Monpazier. By chance each took a different road; each was delighted to find their goal undefended and easy plunder, and carried its booty back-to ransacked homes. An agreement was struck, and both sides gave back everything that they had stolen and peace was restored.

Note that the regulation cornieres, or arcades around the square are irregular.

A town with history

A town with history

Every time we go to France we plan our next visit to Monpazier, it is always worth a visit, especially on a Thursday, market day.

Market square

Market square

You can see the gorgeous vaulted ceilings as you walk around the square.

On the right is my favourite clothes shop.

On the right is my favourite clothes shop. (“one” of [added by Paul])

We had to stop and buy a selection of olives, the smell was gorgeous, herbs, garlic, cheeses etc

Olives

Olives

Just look at the variety and size of the locally grown tomatoes, they tasted good too.

tomatoes

Tomatoes

This was taken just off the market square.

Underneath the arches

Underneath the arches

Buskers outside the church

Busking in the sun

Busking in the sun

You are being watched! We have been to Monpazier several times and have only recently noticed these wonderfully artistic carvings

live wood carving

live wood carving