Hidden and not so Hidden Gems of St Cyprian

Arriving at St Cyprien you are first greeted, by the commercial area with Carrefour Supermarket which has a very handy chemist, plus other stores including a DIY and a household electrical stores which we have found very useful. Head up to the town and you reach the main street the Rue Gambetta.

Along this charming road there are many restaurants and bars, a good fresh fish shop and a number of boutiques, there is also an excellent shop selling beautiful cabinets and stone hand basins for the bathroom. If you are looking for a coffee, a meal or simply a stroll taking in the French atmosphere, this is the street to head for. The tourist information office is on this street and they can give you a very useful map for exploring the old town.

Our not so Hidden Gem. If you use the Credit Agricole bank in St Cyprian you will have noticed across the road from the bank a very interesting Roman style sunken garden which is I am afraid to say is somewhat neglected now but you can imagine how wonderful it once was.

It looks gorgeous even now.
 

A market is held every Sunday morning throughout the year and Wednesday mornings in the summer season.

The array and variety of fresh produce is outstanding.
 

Every basket you could possibly want is on display
 
Our Hidden Gem. A weekend Brocante is held each April and is hidden away at the back of the Sunday market in and around the Salle des Fetes.

Does anyone remember these dress makers models? My mother used to have one like the model to the back, right. Very awkward to use, she had to take it apart and rebuild every time she needed another size. With my help due to the fact that it was always very difficult to attach the pins.
 

Our purchases from the Brocante. Blue and gold leaf coffee cup
 

Plus a red and gold leaf tea cup and saucer
 
 
Event:- Cenac this Sunday, 30th April for the Flower Festival
 
 

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
 
 

One of our dinosaurs is missing!

One of our dinosaurs is missing is what I was thinking when Paul and I went to Marqueyssac Gardens last week for their Grand 20th Anniversary open day. As garden ornaments go, having your own dinosaur is very OTT. Could we find a dinosaur… no… and we looked everywhere. I thought that it would be lurking behind one of the many high bushes in the garden, like the dinosaur that I remember in the Natural History Museum in London. I turned a corner in the museum to be face to face with a dinosaur. Lets just say that I was making more noise than the dinosaur exhibit.
 

The gardens are magnificentI must say that the gardens are magnificent, the views of the Dordogne valley are wonderful and well worth a visit or two.
 

rosemary in lavender.Above is a favourite on our walk through the gardens, the curling rosemary hedge in a bed of lavender.
 

Tree HouseThis is just one of the hands on displays that are new to Marqueyssac this year, the double tree house.
 

Play TimeAlong the “Esplanade” were new musical animations designed and constructed by Alfred de la Neuche for children of all ages to play with, (including myself).
 

Tree ClimbingWe were informed that we could have a go at shimmying up the ropes to the top of the tallest tree for a breath taking view over the valley, and even after reassurances that it was easy we said ‘no thank you, we will watch you’.
 

flowers and perfumeThis bicycle train looked like old style bird cages, they were full of flowers and perfume.
 

in the ChâteauI love this room in the Château from the wallpaper to the furniture gorgeous.
 

 peacockStill looking for “dino” we spotted this peacock, what magnificent plumage.

After looking everywhere Paul and I decided to ask in the gift shop. It turns out that we were too early for the unavailing of the dinosaur which would take place in the late afternoon.

An Allosaurus named KanThe above was as close as we came. No problem, we shall have another visit in a few months time to see a 7.5 metre long and 2.5 metres high, 150 million years old Allosaurus named Kan.
 

Other events at Marqueyssac will be the Great Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday and Monday, where eggs will be hidden around the gardens.

Curious about Nature? Arts and Crafts workshops, creating animal masks, mobiles and dolls. During Easter and All Saints Day, plus every weekend during the school holidays in the months of May and June.
 
 

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.

 

 

 

 

New to Castelnaud

A few weeks ago we took a friend to Castelnaud were I am delighted to say they have a few new and interesting exhibits to see and to play! One of which is the new computer game where your task is to save a captured prince from the castle using your knowledge of Castelnaud. Our friend played the game while Paul and I observed and helped where we could. After successfully saving the prince and the game had ended, we were walking away when we heard the computer saying that our friend had won a prize and to write down the code on the screen to be presented at the reception desk. Armed with this knowledge we continued out visit and found another computer, on which my friend played the game once more and won another prize. After collecting both prizes she gave one to me.

CastelnaudNow we both have a poster which is great, ours is on display on our office wall and every time I see it, it brings back fond memories of her holiday with us.

Another new find at Castelnaud is the Nine Worthies: which is a new wall painting created as it would have been in the Middle Ages. The theme of the Nine Worthies was highly prized by the nobility for decorating their castle walls. These notable chevaliers illustrate a whole segment of narrative literature, painted using the traditional techniques of the period. Popular heroes and paradigms of chivalry are divided into three groups of three: the Pagans (Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar), the Jews (Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus) and the Christians (Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon). They look brilliant and there is a film about how the artists worked and painted to create this piece of art.

CastelnaudArthur and Charlemagne
See the video of how the mural of the Nine Worthies was made

Event:- Château de Castelnaud 22 and 23rd October, “Chevaliers et gens d’armes en parade”. Where you will see the deployment of armed men, ladies, maids, blacksmith and a master chef. Weapons handling demonstrations, trying on armour and the shooting of the trebuchet, I can not wait.
http://castelnaud.com/en

 

What a wonderful week!

Our friend of many years, (about thirty five); came for her first visit to the Perigord Noir last week and what a wonderful time we had, catching up on the latest news from England and visiting some of the attractions of the area. There is never enough time and we were sorry to see her go last Saturday, however we were already planning her next trip while we waited for her flight at Bergerac airport, which will include vineyards and horse riding, wonderful.

I just had to take her to see the home of Josephine Baker, Château des Milandes and its park. When we were last at Milandes last May with my sister, part of the park was being transformed, so I was particularly pleased that it was now open to the public and we could look around.

In the 1900’s Charles Claverie had the entire park laid out by Jules Vacherot who was the landscape architect in Chief of Paris at that time. Through Jules Vacherot guidelines the park was then set out into a large grid with lawns, terraces, balustrades and sculptures to create and enhance the park.

Since 2003, a succession of works have been completed such as boxwood hedges surrounding the terraces and flower garden at the front of the Château.

In the spring of this year work was started on the “Renaissance” of the Château and the park. The restoration of Jules Vacherot park now blends the Renaissance Period, with Art Nouveau and the Modernism periods together.

 

Château des Milandes dscn1811One fascinating thing that I had missed on previous visits to Milandes was the bell at the front of the Château. Unsure what it could be used for I imagined sitting in the garden and ringing the bell to summon tea or perhaps is was a fire bell?
 

Château des Milandes dscn1807How gorgeous is this? It certainly has the Wow factor.
 

Château des Milandes dscn1802Cascading water features and the infinity pool.
 

Château des Milandes dscn1803This fountain is to be found on the right of the new garden with excellent seating area to relax for a few moments shaded from the sun.
 

Château des Milandes dscn1799I just had to take another picture of the gargoyle
 

Château des Milandes dscn1791This is Monsieur Steene the Chief Falconer at Milandes with one of the protected birds of prey that he presents several times a day until the end of October. I love the moustache on this little bird.

The falconers look after about seventy birds of prey at Milandes and their shows are always a treat to see.
 

Château des MilandesThis is a new bird which has been added to the collection of birds of prey. We do not recognise the bird, if anyone can tell me please I would be very grateful. It hopped and ran alongside the falconer and only flew when it could not keep up.