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.

 

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.

Just Messing About Near The River

Céou Valley

Named after the River Céou that starts at Gaumier in the South and meanders to Castlenaud La Chapelle in the North where it feeds the mighty Dordogne. Along the way it passes through a number of small villages, one of which is Daglan.

Céou River. It is so crystal clear you can see the many fish and pond life swim by.River Ceou

Every Thursday morning in July and August there are guided 6Km walks around some of the dry stone houses which date back several centuries. The walks include an interesting stroll along the banks of the River Céou where you will find recreation areas, picnic grounds, tennis courts and children’s play areas, Ideal to relax and watch the Céou flowing by.

Paul having a relaxing few minutes.River Ceou

This picture was taken adjacent to the River Céou, where you’ll see several horses grazing in the fields with to the background song of cicadas.Horses grazingWell it was a hot day!

Events

If you are in the Perigord this weekend, why not try Monpazier for the Music Festival which starts today.

Also, at Castlenaud La Chapelle there is an evening concert and a “raid”, no it is not climbing up the castle walls with sword in hand, a “raid” is running, biking and canoeing races.

The evening Bio Markets start every Thursday eve in Sarlat at the end of June, where you can buy lots of lovely organic food.

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