I hope we picked a winner!

Sarlat was inundated with Master Chocolatiers last weekend, they were showing their skills at the Chocolate Festival which had been organised, for the second year, by the Rotary Club. If you love chocolate as I do, last weekend was amazing.

Your senses are first aroused by the Masterpiece creations which were displayed on a long tables near the entrance. They are each numbered and you pick the one you think is best, which I found extremely difficult, once you have made your choice you write the number onto a card along with your contact details. If you have picked the same as the judges your entry is placed in a draw for a hamper of chocolate.

This is the one that I picked, keeping fingers crossed that it is a winner.
 

I also liked the golden eggs, and,,, and,,, and…
 

Paul picked number seven in the middle of the picture, in front of the Rotary Club sign.
 
One room was used for chocolate demonstrations where classes were held to teach a little of the art of working with chocolate. There were also films about growing cocoa for chocolate.
 

Two other rooms housed what was for me, the main event…
 

Rows upon rows of chocolate creations for sale from the Master Chocolatiers of the Perigord.
 

Chocolate cartoon characters, Wow yummy
 

This was my favourite, a chocolate Peruvian mask which was made from the rich dark chocolate from Peru. Unfortunately it was tucked away behind a pile of chocolate pieces in a corner of a display cabinet, hence the poor lighting!
 
 

Events:-

Sunday 19th Daglan Spring Festival in and around the Place de la Liberté http://www.daglan.fr/fete-du-printemps/. At 11:00 there will be the official inauguration of the Stèle de la Paix, (magnificent carved tree), alongside the church. The Café de la Fleur will be holding a mini market.

Morning of Wednesday 22nd Daglan Children’s Carnival http://www.daglan.fr/carnal-des-enfantscarnaval-ecole-2017/.
 

 

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.
 

Minus 5 degrees C

All I needed was a large St Barnard dog to come along with a barrel of cognac. What I got instead was the wonderful sight of three grazing Roe deer.

Roe deer are to be found in much of rural France. They are quite small 70cm tall and 130cm in length and are easily identified by the white fur on their rear. Only male Roe deer have antlers which are shed each year and grow back in winter.

The preferred habitat of the Roe deer is lightly wooded, forest land with plentiful hedgerows and open spaces to feed. Paul and I were travelling to Sarlat market when we spotted these three deer grazing in a field between the forest and road.

Roe Deer

In common with some other smaller mammals such as rabbit or mice, the Roe deer prefer to emerge at dawn and twilight to eat grass, berries and leaves. They also manage to eat their way through many garden plants from time to time.

Luckily we were the only traffic on the road and the deer were not spooked for a few minutes so we were able to stop and take these pictures.

Roe Deer Grazing

After a few moments of close scrutiny one made a dash but we did not hear the “barking” warning noise to the other deer to run for cover. In fact the one on the right had jumped into the next field before the other deer even looked up and realised that she was missing.

Winter frostI know these are not deer but the cows looked so wonderful against the frozen background.

A little warmer today -2 but feels like -3 and I am forcing myself to drink hot chocolate laced with cognac, delicious and warming. “another please Paul”.

Event:- Not to be missed is Sarlat Truffle Festival on the 14th and 15th January, try the truffle macaroons they are delicious.

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.
 

Grand Inauguration of the Renovated Marie and Post Office

One of the many reasons that we love the village of Daglan is the coming together of the people that live in and around the village. There is an excellent community spirit for helping and celebrating the achievements of the village. The most recent achievement is the renovation of the Mairie which now includes the Post Office.

A few days ago we received an invitation to the Grand Inauguration which took place this morning and was attended by most of the villagers, the Maire and dignitaries from the Perigord.

 
Daglan Mairie Our splendid Mairie with its grand tower

Our Maire, Pascal Dussol, guided the dignitaries, followed by a precession of the guests, around the municipal projects of Daglan. First we went to the Presbytère which was used as a temporary Mairie during the renovations and will now be put to use as art rooms, a library and music room. Then the long parade were shown the new apartments which were created in an old building and are designed for young families. Next was the Cemetery which has been extended.

 
View over Daglan and the Céou valley.From the Cemetery there are gorgeous views over Daglan and the Céou valley.

Then the precession returned to the Mairie.

 
Scissors on a velvet cushionWhere M. Dussol was presented with a pair of scissors on a velvet cushion by a very cute little girl from the local Primary school.

After cutting the ribbon we were invited to inspect the renovation work. It looked splendid, keeping the original features it is modern and efficient. To the right of the reception area is the new post office. The building which used to house the post office is for sale which will generate money for Daglan and the community.

 
Exposed stone and the superb fireplace and bread ovenThe committee/conference room with the exposed stone and the superb fireplace and bread oven.

 
Grand Inauguration of the Renovated Marie, DaglanBefore the buffet and wine came the speeches from the Marie, and august dignitaries, the Prefect de la Dordogne, Depute de la Dordogne President du Conseil Departmental, Vice-President du Senat Senateur de la Dordogne and Conseillere Departmental du canton de la vallee Dordogne. It was an honour for the Marie and for the village for them all to attend. They all spoke highly of the village, one said, “Perfect location, perfect village and people”. Wonderful.
 
 

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.

 

The Purple Pansy Eater of Daglan!

After filling our tiny border with pansies last Spring a curious thing happened over night, something had selected pansies to eat and not just any pansies but only purple flowering pansies! Whatever it was left the yellow, orange and the white pansies alone. Thank goodness my sister was visiting, she remembered an old Yorkshire trick of putting a glass in the soil which was part filled with beer, the slugs love beer and would fall into it quite happily. No more problems we thought… incorrectly, during the Summer months another curious thing happened, again it seemed at night when another selective insect or slug had arrived which eats every leaf in sight except our jasmine plant!

Purple Pansy

An example of one of our tomato plants which resembles worn lace curtaining after a cat had played with it for a while – large and small holes on every leaf. After a few weeks the beast strips the leaves and in a few cases it kills the plant. We tried several home made remedies and some shop bought repellent which the insect or slug seemed to love because they returned for more. Then friends of ours were talking to an artist, who was exhibiting his paintings in Daglan, about garden problems and he told them that this problem was new to the area and had happened in his garden in Beynac. He went on to tell them what the problem could be and how it could be treated.

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The culprit that the artist described was this particular moth, it’s the larvae that does the damage. So armed with this local knowledge we can now make up a spray for the moth larvae and a backup of slug pellets which are both animal and environmental friendly. So far so good no more problems we hope!

If you have this problem the moth treatment is called Pyrale du Buis and the slug pellets are called Anti-Limaces Ferramol which you can buy from a DIY store or Garden Centre.

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Now for the wow factor in our garden, two bunches of grapes ripening in the sun. I know not many and we will never be in competition with the local vineyards in our area but it is our first ever grape vine, so our first babies. The vine was bought as a twig which blossomed, the instructions said not to let it set fruit for the first year, but…

 

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Now they are nearly ready to eat, Paul and I just tasted a couple of grapes – wow

 

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A couple of new additions to our meagre garden, we have a well which we were not using until a few weeks ago. Now we have a water pump that has helped tremendously in the hot weather to water our plants which seem to thrive on the fresh spring water.  We also have a water feature that looks great and our cat, the birds and bees use it to drink from.

Event:- Brocante 4th September at La Roque-Gageac.

News:- Johnny Depp has relisted his French estate for sale at wait for it … €50 million, which is double its original asking price. The former village near St-Tropez was marketed by Sotherby’s International in June 2015 but was removed from the market after a few months. It centres around a village square and includes a church which was converted into a guest house, his former five bedroom home has a pirate themed wine cellar, two pools and a art studio… any takers?