Childrens Carnival

The Judgement of Pétassou

Last Wednesday on a gorgeous sunny day the children from Three local Primary schools got together for the Children’s Carnival and the Judgement of Pétassou.

The tradition dates to the Medieval period and is performed all over south western France to welcome the start of Spring. Pétassou was the object of a thousand evils from theft to explosions, he is tried by the children and condemned, then burned for his faults, therefore bringing an end to the cold and frosts of winter.

The Carnival ProcessionThe Carnival Procession was lead out of our local Primary School and around the village by Maire P. Dussol and 2nd adjoint Thierry Cabianca.

You can see the effigy of Petassou in the trailer on the back of the tractor.
 

So cuteSo cute, dressed in animal or insect costumes.
 

Superb head dressersAnother school sported superb head dresses.
 

Walking FishThis class had made themselves up to be fish.
 

Bless her,Bless her, a sit down at the front of our home. She did rejoin the Carnival on their return through the village.
 

Anita, and one of the mothers  enjoying the day.Anita, and one of the mothers in face paint enjoying the day.
 

Singing and dancing was performed by all of the children.
 

Burning of PetassouPétassou’s effigy is burned in the open ground at the Salle des fêtes in the village.
 

Spring is hereSpring is here.

More pictures at the schools of the RPI vallee du Céou website.
 

 

Events:-

Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle from April 1st to May 1st, sword fighting lessons for children aged five to fourteen. From April, Demonstrations of a crossbow from the Hundred Years War.

Easter Monday, Sarlat Easter Egg Hunt around the Medieval Town.
 

 

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.
 

Vitrac & Vitrac Port.

Vitrac consists of a port and a small village near the hamlet of Monfort. Vitrac Port is located on the D46 between Sarlat and Cénac et Saint Julien, Vitrac village is about a kilometre away along the D55.

Although we drive through Vitrac Port a couple of times each week on our way to and from Sarlat we have never stopped to look at the twin villages before, so on a very cold but sunny day we ventured out to take a look.
 

dscn2016A magnificent Château is to be found at the entrance to Vitrac village
 

dscn2017Vistas over the Château grounds to the swirling mist on the hills and the dordogne river in the distance.

The village itself is quite small, in the main square is the church of Saint Martin, opposite is a narrow lane that leads off to the artists studio.
 

dscn2022This photograph taken at Vitrac Port reminded me so much of a scene from the film ‘A Good Year’, staring Russel Crow. If you have seen the film it is the scene when he is taking photograhs of the grounds in order to sell the estate. However, each photogragh he takes reminds him of his deseased Uncle and the wonderful memories of his childhood. The photogragh just needed a smoked cigar in an ashtray on the table to complete the scene.
 

dscn2023The rushing water of the Dordogne completes this magnifisent property.
 

dscn2019Just over the bridge there is an excellent park area where each table and benches are enclosed in a horse shoe shaped hedge.

Of course in Spring and Summer you can rent a canoe or two from Vitrac Port and slowly meander your way down the river. Or you could go further along the road and visit Monfort, Domme, Daglan or Sarlat.
 

Close by is the Château de Montfort.
dscn2232aThe Château has had a turbulent history starting with Bernard de Casnac who was not a very pleasent person to meet if you were Catholic for he swore “to cut to pieces” any Catholic that he enounted. Which was at odds with the peaceful Cathars at that time! Then came the infamous Simon de Montfort and a list of others throughout history who pilaged, burned, rebuilt and destroyed again. In fact it is quite a feat for the Château to be here at all, but I am glad it is.

Sadly it is in private hands so not open to the public but it is still worth a visit just to see its magnifisant turrets.

 

 

 

 

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.

What a pur-fect Christmas it was…

This was our kitten’s first Christmas and she loved every minute of the day. From helping to unwrap the presents (hers and ours) to playing with her new toys, wrapping paper and ribbons.
 

CleoCleo finding a fluffy mouse from underneath the wrapping paper.

 

You just cannot get better than a comfy bed with three duvets and four toy mice.

AngelA very contented looking Angel.

 

Our son came to visit over Christmas so it was an extra special time for us. He likes to keep fit and trim and only gained a few pounds in weight over the week which is brilliant, he thought it would be more. I have a tendency to over feed just a bit!
 

Mairie in Daglan.Mairie de Daglan.

 

The fourteenth century Church of St. Martin.

Church of St. Martin.I love the decorations on the church this year.

 

Hoping that you all had a brilliant holiday and Bonne Annee to everyone from the village of Daglan.
 

 
Events:-
29th December Sarlat Organic Night market.
31st December Sarlat morning Truffle Market from 9 until 12.
14th and 15th January Sarlat Truffle Festival in the Medieval Quarter.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

…everywhere you go.

Here are just a few of my favourite things in Sarlat. First of course is the Patisserie, Chocolater shop called Roland Mertz, which is to be found on Rue de la République in Sarlat. Everything that you want to eat or rather should not eat is here.
 

Patisserie Roland MertzMouth watering delicious display of everything naughty but nice for a Christmas treat.
 

Chocolate fixOur breakfast stop at the above shop, to indulge ourselves with steaming hot chocolate or coffee and pastries. I think that they may have made a slight mistake with mine, they served what seemed to be a soup bowel of hot chocolate. So warming and delicious.
 

Sarlat Tourisme OfficeSarlat Tourisme Office, seasonally decorated with festive window displays featuring Russian dolls
 

Red CarpetThe decorations on this shop are brilliant, with its own red carpet and it also has Russian dolls in the window.
 

Msocow this wayJust a few signs to let you know how far it is to Moscow, St Petersburg etc. and of course, the Christmas market
 

We will be posting our last blog before the Christmas break in a few days time.
 

Doctor Zhivargo comes to Sarlat!

Sarlat Christmas Market.

The Christmas market in Sarlat consists of about forty chalets, all offering artisan products from Christmas decorations, toys, paintings, candy, macaroons, chocolate, scarves, hats to beer, mulled wine, snacks and more. Our first visit to the market was last Thursday but I am sure that there will be more. I love Christmas and the Christmas market in Sarlat fills me, and I am sure many others, with joy. This year the Christmas market and indeed the Medieval Quarter and the main streets all have a Russian theme, which looks brilliant.
 

Entrance to Sarlat Christrmas MarketEntrance to the market along the red carpet, which is to be found in the main car park in Sarlat. The Commune have spent over a month getting the car park transformed into a winter wonderland.
 

Russian Winter sledgeRussian Winter sledge which brought back memories of the film Doctor Zhivargo, I could just picture myself sitting wrapped up snug and warm alongside Hugh Jackman. I know he was not in the film but a girl can dream.
 

Russian dolls I love this collection of Russian dolls for sale, such vivid colours.
 

Fresh baked PretzelsFresh baked Pretzels, oh my another temptation, trying to loose a few pound before Christmas has never been so hard, I think that I will leave the diet until the New Year!
 

Artisan potteryAll hand made pots in different colours.
 

St PetersburgSt Petersburg back drop in the centre of the Market.

There is also a large ice skating rink for all ages and of course Father Christmas is to be found at the entrance. The market is open until the 30th December.