Friday, May 29 - The Dordogne

This was a wonderful day. It began with a free morning, which we spent back in the old city at Sarlat, since B had not gone on the evening walk earlier. This gave me time to take some more pictures and we got to see the covered market in the old church. Entrance into the church was delayed for a funeral service but we managed the intricacies of a self washing public restroom. The street flowers in this town are beautiful.

Then we took our bus to the nearby town of Vitrac for lunch at a hotel that is managed by three generations of the same family. The setting was marvelous, the weather perfect, and the food delicious. We had a fascinating conversation with Denise (president of the local Experiment France chapter) about her experiences in Alsace during WW II.

We had had a lecture on the Bastides in the bus and we were going to visit the one nearby at Domme.

Bastides are fortified new towns built in medieval Languedoc, Gascony and Aquitaine during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries In an effort to colonize the wilderness especially of southwest France, almost seven hundred new towns were built between 1222 (Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn) and 1372 (La Bastide d'Anjou, Tarn) Domme was founded by Philip the bold in 1281.

Access to Domme is by a small motorized train. We took it to the top of the hill where Domme is located. We were only there long enough for a view from the cliff top over the Dordogne valley and a visit to the church. The view is breathtaking and famous. I was able to get a near 180 degree panoramic. Henry Miller wrote, “Just to glimpse the black, mysterious river at Domme from the beautiful bluff is something to be grateful for all one's life.” The church is not particularly notable but had a fine collection of liturgical garments. Then we were on our way again.

We stopped briefly at La Roque Gageac to see this village built into the cliff side I had a gelato. Then we were on our way again to the spectacular Chateau Beynac. It is a photographic paradise, both for the external and internal views of the Chateau, but because of the views of the surrrounding countryside from several levels. At one point we could see three other neighboring chateaus in one view. For the story of Chateau Beynac, see this excellent wikipedia article.

By this time it was after 5:30 and we headed back to the hotel. That night we had our farewell steak dinner (a day in advance) at L'Bistro de la Octroi.

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