Investigating the narrow streets of Perigueux

As a tip, always head for the medieval quarter of Perigueux on route to the Cathedral of Saint-Front which acts as a striking focal point as you ramble through the narrow lanes; it has a very curious power of popping out at you whenever you think that you are lost. This happened to Paul and I a few weeks ago when we visited the former department capital. However, we did find a few very interesting small boutique shops.
 

A violin shop, the owner makes each instrument by hand, how amazing is that?

I am unsure if these are gnomes or trolls, but never mind they are very cute in the violin shop window.
 

The architecture is stunning in this area which is full of very tempting boutiques, filled with luxury foods, wine, chocolates, cafes and restaurants. Not forgetting the clothes shops of course. However, what we wanted to see was the Renascence architecture which can be found in any of small squares or narrow lanes.

Absolutely gorgeous entrance to the Maison Tenant.
 

Brief accounts of the history of many of the historical buildings in the city are to be found on plaques fixed at the front or side of the property. The above says, this dwelling consists of two habitable units, set at right angles to each other, with a turret at the second flour. Renaissance doorway with this inscription on the lintel: “Remember we all have to die one day. He who enjoys speaking ill of those who are absent, let him know that this house is forbidden to him. The greatest glory comes from displeasing the wicked. This house, built in 1518 with the blessing of the Almighty”.

The tympanum is emblazoned, framed with pilasters with a shell decoration mounted above.

In 1850 the house belonged to a pâté maker named Franconi and in 1897 to Pascal Tenant a friend of Catoire. (A Russian composer of French decent, have a listen to some of his music here, it is brilliant.)
 

Wednesday is market day, held near the Cathedral of Saint-Front. Paul and I had a treat of crêpes with Nutella sitting at an outside table enjoying the sunshine.
 

This stall was overflowing with different breads and cakes of the region.
 
 

Event:-24th September, Vintage car and motorcycles dating from pre 1980’s to be found in Marche Aux Noix Square Sarlat from 10:00 to 12:30.

 
 

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Rocamadour Part Two

Rocamadour’s first important patron was Henry 11 of England, who endowed much of his treasure to Rocamadour. His eldest son, the Young King Henry Court-Mantel, stole the treasure along with the Black Madonna in 1183 to pay for his routiers in his war against his father: he even so the legion goes, replaced the Durandel with his own sword.

He had not gone very far when the Black Madonna got her revenge, striking young Henry down with a fever. Full of remorse, he asked his father to forgive him, had an alter put on his neck and laid naked in a bed of ashes and died.

The Bishop of Limoges gave him absolution for his sins due to his father promising that he would replace Rocamadour’s treasure.
 

Basilique-St-Sauveur built into the rock face during the 11th and 13th Century’s is truly stunning.
 

Over the alter hangs a painted wooden 16th Century Christ shown crucified on a tree, his right side pierced by a lance instead of the customery left side.
 

St Amadour relic, who’s bones where hacked to bits during the Wars of Religion by the Huguenot Captain Bessonies who desecrated the shrine.
 

Many of the ships on display are from the Breton Sailors who held the Black Madonna in high esteem.
 

Darkened by candle smoke the Magnificent Black Madonna still holds court today. She is carved out of walnut in the 11Century and sits quite stiffly on her throne with the Christ child balanced on her knees.
 

Outside various walls are decorated depicting various scenes from the Annunciation and Visitation. These two skeleton figures are pleading for salvation.
 

Further up an hairpin walk lined with the Stations of the Cross takes you up to the ramparts of the Château, built in the 14th Century to defend the shrines.
 

Engraved tunnel of copied tombstones, and pledges is fascinating to read.
 

In order to see Rocamadour arrive early in the morning in July and August. Better still arrive in the Spring, Autumn or Winter to avoid the tourist season.
 
 

Events:-

Sarlat : Napoleon Bonaparte, with Josephine and some of his army (complete with a cannon) will arrive for the Historic Weekend which starts tomorrow. Lets just hope for fine weather.

Daglan : The 8 à Huit Supermarket will be closed from the 21st September to the 28th September.

Up, Up and away…

…in my beautiful balloon.

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier was born in 1740 and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier was born in 1745, they were paper manufacturers from Annonay in the Ardèche region of France. Both were inventors in their own right but are mostly remembered for their joint collaborations in inventing piloted hot air balloons. They launched the first ascent in 1783 which covered 2km and lasted ten minutes at a maximum altitude of about 2,000m. Success followed success and the Montgolfier hot air balloons were, and still are, a prominent feature in the “skyscape” of France, especially in the Perigord Noir.

 
Down, down over the forest at Castlenaud.

 
Slowly the balloon descended towards the house!

 
Apparently just missing the roof.

 
A companion landing in the field in front of the house and close to the road.

 
These pictures were taken a few weeks ago on our way to Sarlat early one morning. “Champagne breakfast over the forest anyone”?

 
They floated right over our heads and you could see the people inside the baskets. What a superb view they must have, not of us but of the Château’s, the Dordogne River and the surrounding forests and countryside, sight seeing at its best.

 
 
Event – Brocante at La Rock de la Gageac, 3rd September

 
 

Le Croquant de Sarlat.

Le Croquant de Sarlat is a dry and crunchy, caramelised sugar ‘biscuit’ like treat, often made with almonds or walnuts. It is mainly made in the South West of France with each pâtisserie having their own, closely guarded variation on the recipe.

It was only a couple of months ago that Paul and I first saw these biscuits at Pâtisserie Massoulier in Sarlat so, feeling the need to assuage a sweet tooth we just had to try them.

Croquant is French for crisp or crunchy, the ‘biscuit’ is often named ‘crunchy Perigord’ and they are delicious.

 
The ‘biscuits’ may be large or small, plain or with nuts.

 
They are something like a brittle, hard and perfect to crumble over ice cream, layered into parfaits, or to eat as they are.

 
More tempting delights at Pâtisserie Massoulier.
33 Rue de la République, 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda.
 
 
Event:-. The bunting and flags are flying, the Bumper Cars are all set up to go in La Place de La Liberty. Daglan Fête starts on Friday 18th August.

 
 

The Extraordinary Tour de France.

Crowds of smiling, happy people lined the streets of Perigueux last Tuesday to greet the start of stage 10 of the Tour de France through Sarlat and on to Bergerac. It was just what Paul and I needed to lighten the mood after we had just received some upsetting news. It lifted our spirits so much so that we began to focus on the positive rather than the negative.

So here are just a few of the many pictures taken last Tuesday.

Sky team bus

 
The amazing Sky team being presented to an appreciative audience.

 
Cheers for Chris Froome and the team.

 
TV interview with the King of the Mountains.

 
Riders looking relaxed and having a chat before the start of the race.
 

And off they go.

Second later all the riders were gone, having started on a 178km tour of one of the most beautiful parts of France
 

So over to our roving camera crew Sherry and Angus who took these brilliant pictures. Thank you so much.

The Caravan runs through Beynac.

 
Wow, brilliant

 

 
They look happy to be here, and who wouldn’t be enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Dordogne valley. Good luck guys.

 
“Come on Chris Froome”… Just a little bias there,

 
The Perigord will bring a smile to your faces too.

 
 
Event:- 14th July – Fête National, all across France.

 
 

Have you seen the fairies dance upon a Summers night?

Marqueyssac by candlelight is amazing. Illuminated by over two thousand candles the gardens at Marqueyssac are a site to see. We arrived just before dusk and took refreshments at a table with a breath-taking view across the Dordogne valley where we could see Castelnaud, Fayrac and Beynac Château’s.

As dusk slowly arrived we walked through the candle lit gardens towards the increasing sound of music and children’s laughter. I would highly recommend anyone to visit the gardens at night, every Thursday evening in July and August from seven to midnight.

Fairies on stilts, “Les Marraines Fees” by the Lilous Company.

The faces of the children as they where sprinkled with fairy dust was brilliant. The costumes and the make up are outstanding.

A magical moment that the children will never forget.
 

Various niches, fountains and rocks around the garden are illuminated.
This particular fountain changed from yellow to purple to red and back again.
 

Jazz and blues on the Esplanade by Karima and Oliver. They are brilliant.
 

Classical music in a circle of light by DJamano.
 

I am unsure what dance Judith and I were performing in the above picture but we all had a terrific time. My friend Michelle was taking a selfy as light scattered around us.
 

At last we saw ‘Kan’ the L’allosaure which is new to the gardens this year.

 
 
Events:-
The Tour de France goes through Perigord on Tuesday, wow. 178Km from Périgueux, through Sarlat and on to Bergerac. Tour De France Stage 10

Daglan events;-

 

 
 

Once more, here is Sarlat.

For no other reason than I never get tied of taking pictures of this medieval/renaissance town, especially on market days. It is magical but you need to arrive early if you want to park your car during the tourist season. On a Saturday and Wednesday morning fresh produce is for sale along the pedestrianised Place de la Liberté which runs all the way down the old quarter, while on Saturday, along the main Rue de la République you can buy anything from shoes, leather goods, linen clothes, books, toys, tableware and more.

Ready to sell their fruit, vegetables, cheeses, bread and cakes.
 

A walnut grinder demonstration.
 

Fantastic display of mushrooms.
 

We always make a point of wondering the maze of side streets of Sarlat to find hidden gems. This gem of a courtyard was found down Rue Alberic Cahuet. I love the old stones which they used for planters and the olive tree centrepiece.
 

Second hidden gem, flower pots shaped to sit perfectly onto the iron rail. what a brilliant idea.
 
 

Events:-

Sarlat market days, Wednesday for fresh produce and Saturday for the full market.

Daglan, market every Sunday morning.

La Rogue-Gageac market every Friday morning.

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Brocante, 13th July 8:00 to 18:00

Marqueyssac – Candlelight evening with entertainment. Every Thursday from seven PM until midnight in July and August.