Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dordogne Valley aka Heavenly Valley


I have been traveling for a few weeks now and I have been over and through the French countryside, hill and dale, fortress and castles, rivers and tiny cobbled streets.

The Dordogne in the middle of France is now on my top 10 of most spectacular places on earth. Yes, that sounds like hyperbole, but it's the gosh darn truth, folks. Again, I am working on downloading my photos...your patience will pay off. I visited several tiny towns. Beynac, Castelnaud, Domme and Sarlat. They were a several giant steps back in time. The prehistoric museum in Beynac was impressive, yet all in French...the findings there are an anthropologist's gold mine. In Castelnaud I visited an ancient fortress, complete with trebuchet (spelling is atrocious, so sorry)**giant stone throwing weapons, used way before canons were invented. I also took a short boat ride along the Dordogne river, crossing under an old bridge. Domme is an old Bastide town high on a hill, barely looks like it left the 12th Century. On to Sarlat, another town steeped in history. My evening meal consisted of the region's delicacy--foie gras...fatted goose liver, on rustic bread toast. I figured if I was to have an authentic experience I better eat the food of the region, even if it included poultry innerds.

I left Brive and drove to another town in the Dordogne area...Rocomadour. This destination was full of Catholic mysticism. A mysterious black wood madonna and child enshrined in a darkly lit chapel. And, a brass bell hung from the ceiling. This bell supposedly rings whenever a sailor is saved out at sea because he calls on the madonna of Rocomadour. Whatever works, that's what I say.

Leaving Rocomadour, I picked up my daughter, Kellee, in Marseilles on May 31 and we headed for a lovely place in the hills above Nice. The proprietors were happy and beautiful people, who happened to know how to prepare food to die for. Kellee was brave (or foolish) enough to try the after dinner "digestive" ...homemade hooch, basically, made from herbs and stored on a high shelf with a piece of aluminum foil for a stopper. Needless to say, she felt it in her head all the next day. What fun!

One of our favorite experiences was when we drove up to a small town called Vence. We wondered the small streets on foot and came upon an art gallery with a woman sitting inside, painting an oil painting. Caroline (pronounced, Car o leen) stopped and had a lively conversation with us, in English. She had worked as a restorative artist in the Louvre for 20 years and now runs this little exquisite gallery. Oh, the tales she told! More later on Caroline.

I am in Aix en Provence right now and will be staying in Southern France until June 9th when I take the train from Marseilles to Barcelona. Kellee and I met a couple from Australia at the bed and breakfast we are staying in. They look to be about in their mid 60s, and they are on a 4 month trip all over the world. What travelers! They told us to find the little out of the way restaurants away from the city centers for the best food. Yes, sounds like wise advise.

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the beginning of your summer. I will post more soon. Love to all.


ben the travel junky said...

you know... not many people can say their mother is as awesome as you. i'm mad proud to be your son and look forward to joining you in future adventure!

Candice said...

Come on Ben! This place is awesome and very cool, especially as far as the historic value. Plus, the people just live a different lifestyle here. Kell and I got caught in a massive rain storm in Nice--that's right on the Mediterranean Coast. And, with all the water coming down around us, two men were pouring champagne under their awning and sharing some cheese with smiles on their faces. But, I warn you of the crazy drivers and traffic crazy, coming within inches of smashing into other cars and people. But, K says I'm a good driver. Yea, but it feels really good to leave the car and walk. Love you Tons, M