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.

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Inspired by Les Jardins de Cadiot

There are quite a few magnificent gardens in this area of the Perigord but the gardens of Cadiot is a hidden gem that stands out as the one that I would highly recommend.

At the very start of our visit we fell in love with the gardens as we walked through an ancient stone arch which leads to the kitchen garden, full of aromatic herbs, gorgeous.

It is not just one or two gardens either, you can walk through ten individual styles which where created by the owner in the 1980’s with a mix of artistic flare and nature.

The collection of flowers include peonies, ancient roses, hydrangeas, day lilies, etc. All grown organically and in tune with nature.

The gardens include, an apple orchard, woodland and meditation garden, Italian, French, Spanish and English gardens, plus a maze and sculptures from Zimbabwe in the wild garden.

A section of plants in the English garden.
 

My favourite, the Sphinx chamber with its mystery and calmness. Between the wild garden and the more formal Tuscan garden.
 

Entrance to the Tuscan garden.
 

Woodland, wild garden with its Roman style water feature.
 

Tranquility, a series of patios weave through the rest areas. where you can enjoy teas, coffee, soft drinks, ice cream and light lunches. They even have a day bed which I was tempted to use.

Something like the above would look brilliant over our well in the courtyard. Always one to think big, perhaps the tiles that you see on the walls at Pompeii or Herculaneum! Or those like the above, roses on tiles and perhaps a border of matching tiles going up the side of our steps to the veranda.
 

Another of the patios.
 

Topiary which leads out of the French garden.
 
 

Gardens of Cadiot are to be found near Carlux and are open everyday in the months of May to October, from ten in the morning to seven at night. The entrance fee is €7.50 per adult. Groups are by appointment only.
 
 

Summer comes to Daglan

Traffic has been steadily increasing for a few weeks but the real sign that summer is here is that the Supermarket next to our home is now open every day including Monday for the summer season, and “Wonder Woman”, our new name for Virginie due to the fact that she can lift the most heavy gas containers, is hard at work.

Virginie (Wonder Woman) looking good
 

People make time to stop and chat in the Sunday market.
 

This glorious display was for Mothers Day which fell on May 28th in France.
 

If you visit Daglan make a point of wondering the side streets where you will find some of the hidden gems. This picture was taken at the end of the lane at the side of our home.
 

A stunning array of roses in full bloom cascade down the side of this property.
 

Trying to hide from view. This is gorgeous Meemow, so named because she talks to you none stop.
 
 

Event:-

The Tour de France comes to the Perigord Noir on Tuesday, 11th July. Stage 10 begins at Perigueux, passes through Montignac, Sarlat, Vitrac, Domme, La Rogue-Gageac, Beynac, Saint Cyprien and on to Bargerac.

Check out the 178km route at http://www.cyclingnews.com/
 
 

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
 
 

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.
 

Grotte de Rouffignac

Situated below one of the highest plateaus in “Dark Perigord”, the Rouffignac Cave has been the home of bears and people since the Late Magdalenian about 13000 years ago.

The first thing that you see is a large cavern mouth which was originally explored in 1575 by Francois de Belleforest, it was known by the local people has “cluzeau”.

RouffignacThe cave grows larger when you pass through the entrance so there is no need to duck. One tip is to wear warm clothes on your visit, it is chilly inside.

It was not until 1956 when most of the drawings and bear scratch marks were discovered and recorded by L.R. Robert and L. Plassord. They found drawings of rhinoceros, horses, ibex, bison and mammoth as well as bear scratch marks on the walls leading to the “Great Ceiling” where they found the most detailed drawings of the above forenamed animals.

Inside the cave entrance there are two exhibitions, one displaying scenes from the cave walls and the other recordings of finding the art work in 1956. You can not take photographs inside the cave but you can buy reproductions, books, place mats etc. at the gift shop.
 
mammoth drawingsThis is the only cave in France which has mammoth drawings, on their own, in herds, some just quick sketches and some in detail, there are so many I lost count,
 
short legged horseA short legged horse with feathering effect for the mane and tail.
 
BisonBison with the artist signature of hands.

The visit is on board a small electric train, the journey gives you the feeling that you are descending back in time through the centuries past the “Bears dens” which are large hallows in the ground made by the bears going around and around in circles until they wore a depression comfortable enough to hibernate for the Winter months. Notice the stretch and scratch on the walls.

I must point out that bears lived in the cave centuries before humans, therefore they never met. Well, in this cave at least. It was several thousands of years later humans arrived in the caves. With only tallow lamps they explored the caves creating over two miles of art work in narrow constricted conditions. Using drawings or engravings the artists were able to use the caves to create outstanding artwork in such detail that you can see the animal features and fur. At the Great Ceiling the train stops allowing you to alight and investigate the artwork close up.
 

Les EyziesA sketch of “the Great Ceiling” that was drawn in 1982 by Claude Barrierre. It seems in a few places that the drawings were not up to the artists liking, so the artist drew over them, just like any artist would today.

The visit lasts approximately an hour, after the cold of the cave the sunshine was most welcome and a hot meal and drink in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac was great.

the Great CeilingThis is the famous statue by the museum of prehistory at Les Eyzies.