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.
 

Hidden Gem Château de Fayrac

Beynac is having major road and pavement constructions which will not be completed until next winter. However, the road will be open as normal from spring to autumn for the tourist season.

We wanted to go to St Cyprien which unfortunately is to be found at the other side of Beynac, so a new route was in order. We have already followed the diversion signs that take you around Beynac to avoid the roadworks but this new route, told to us by friends in the village, did sound promising for the lovely vistas. So off we set on a rather cloudy morning.

From the bridge at Castlenaud take the D53 leading to Les Milandes so you will have the river on the right hand side and a stone cliff face on the left.

DSCN1108Bridge over troubled waters

The trees looked like they were slowly descending into the swollen river Dordogne.

Continue and you will pass Château de Fayrac on your left.

DSCN1112Château de Fayrac, how awesome is that!

Unfortunately the Château is not opened to the public, but is still magnificent on the outside and is worth a look.

In the 14th century, the Château belonged to the Lords of Castlenaud to serve as a lookout post during the Hundred Years War between the French and the English. In the 18th C during the French Revolution, it was seized has a National Property and sold to the composer Fernard Fouant of Tombelle who restored the Château to its former glory.
Like Beynac, Castlenaud, Milandes and Marqueyssac, it is part of the tourist complex called the “Valley of the five Castles”, which I hope will open to the public at a future date.

If you want to go on to St Cyprien follow the D53 until the junction where the road bears left to Les Milandes, do not turn here but head straight on to take you through two lovely villages of Envaux and Allas les Mines and over a narrow, single track bridge to a wonderful vista taking in fields, hamlets and forested hills and on to Les Cauffours at the D703 between Beynac and St Cyprien.

DSCN0696
The bustling market at St Cyprien

DSCN1109On our return journey the sun was shining so we had to stop and take this picture of Beynac, still magical in winter with the houses clinging to the rock face.

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.

Reserve Zoologique de Calviac

Rare and Endangered Species

We found the Zoological Reserve by chance on our way home from visiting one of the many Chateaus in the Perigord Noir. About 10Km from Sarlat on the road to Souillac, it is home to about 200 animals and birds from all over the world.

The site is a meandering path through the woodland areas to observe a variety of animals and birds from Europe, Madagascar, the Americas and Oceania that I have never seen before. For example squirrel monkeys, elegant maned wolfs, tapir, lemurs, wallabies, ibis etc. It is a none- profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and is well worth a visit or two.

You can enter most of the aviaries and walk through or past the many animal compounds.

DSCN0166Adorable, to get up close to a Lemur is a real treat.

 

DSCN0167Female red bellied Lemur, who runs up to you and then sits and stares at you for food, but you are not allowed to feed them, so of she ran after a few minutes.

 

DSCN0170Squirrel Monkey

 

DSCN0177Tapir

 

DSCN0185Wallabie

 

DSCN0191Ibis – they seem to wear the masks that people wore in medieval times during the Plaque epidemics, fascinating creatures.

Reserve Zoologique de Calviac

Open from February to September


 

Rouffignac

Rouffignac at Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin won’t be found in many of the local guide books, I do not know why! It is a hidden gem that is well worth a visit. The cave is about 50km North East of Bergerac not far form the Vézère Vallée.

Known as the “caves of mammoths”, because so many of its 250 engravings and line drawings of animals are of mammoths; with some drawings dated to about 14000 years old.

Paul just going into the cave
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There is a small gift shop at the entrance to the cave, information boards and pictures. The number of tickets is restricted so that you have to be there before 10.30 in July and August to buy a ticket for the same day. No reservations are available and you are not allowed to take photographs inside the cave, which is a pity.
P1020513

An electric train takes you on an hour-long tour of the caves (wear warm clothes, the temperature is about 13C but feels a lot colder)
Roufignac_train

The drawings are truly superb, not coloured but excellent representations of the mammoths and other animals which were roaming about the Perigord thousands of years ago.
Rouffignac1

This line drawing is one of my particular favourites, so much detail, it is awesome.
Rouffignac

The Grotte de Rouffignac official website

The cave is at 4 km south of Rouffignac village along the D32.
GPS Latitude : 45° 00′ 26″ x Longitude : 0° 59′ 16″

Hidden gems of Domme

If you turn of the main street of Domme with all of the interesting shops, market and cafes, you come across some very interesting gems. We thought that we had seen most of Domme but we had not. If you go to the top of the main street to experience the terrific views of the surrounding area, then turn left and follow the wall you will come across a lovely park were you can sit and have a picnic.

This sign is to be found just outside the park area.

This sign is to be found close to the park area.

Turn first right from the main car park you travel down the slope of ‘rue del la Porte des Tours’, towards one of the main gates, which was the prison cells for the Knights Templar who were imprisoned there by Philip the Fair in 1307 until they died in 1318. On route to the Knights Templar prison cells, you will find a stone plaque with carved symbols of the cross which the Knights used to send messages and on the wall on the right you will find the code which they used. The crosses were carved into the walls of their cells with other graffiti.

Code and the code breaker.

Code and the code breaker.

I just had to take this picture of this beautiful house with its blue shutters and grapes dripping from the vine.

grapes dripping from the vine

grapes dripping from the vine

Back to Daglan after our visit to Domme and another hidden gem, our home is on this sign bottom right.

You can see our house from here

Daglan, You can see our house from here

After a long morning enjoying our walk around Domme it was time for lunch, so we stopped at Fabrice le Chef Boutique shop, for a delicious Thai fish curry with rice. www.fabricelechef.fr

Fabrice le Chef

Fabrice le Chef
food Boutique, Thai fish curry

More Hidden Gems of Sarlat and this weekend events.

Walk down any of the medieval side streets of the old town of Sarlat and you come across the hidden gems. This “gem” is a vegetarian delight, ducks that you do not eat! The store specialises in ceramic ducks of all shapes and sizes; I particularly like the ones that hang over the side of the shelves and windows.

ducks

ducks

We were late shopping in Sarlat this particular day so after a trip to the market for the fresh produce it was time for lunch. Our first thought was to try to find a restaurant down one of the winding side streets which we had not visited before. There are a lot to choose from.

We had to look for a restaurant that caters for both meat eaters and vegetarian, Paul eats meat and I do not. Which is difficult to find, I do eat fish though which does make the decision easier.

As a ‘vegi’ and bird lover I had to persevere past the many duck menus but there are a variety of gorgeous meals to find, and this is where we stopped for lunch.

Auberge des Lys d'Or

Auberge des Lys d’Or

This was my dish, scallops, rice with salad in a cream sauce.
Although delicious, the salad was covered with vinaigrette which did not go with the cream sauce.

scallops

scallops

Paul’s was a beef dish with lots of potatoes and mushrooms. He said that the meat was very tender and also delicious.

a beef dish

the beef dish

We did not have dessert, they looked very tempting but we were trying not to put on the calories… too much.

This was the start of another side street that leads to the main shopping area of Sarlat. The variety of squashes and the colour was amazing. You can just see the pumpkins on the left of the picture, which were cut up into pieces for people to buy.

squash

squash

A favourite Patisserie which is found down the main street in Sarlat, I did not buy any cakes but I love to stop and look at the artistry of the baker. We stopped for a coffee and sat outside to watch the world go by on market day.

A favourite Patisserie

A favourite Patisserie

This weekend events:-

Vintage Car Rally in Sarlat on the 26th October
Also in Sarlat, a Brocante on the same day.