Vive la France!

Vive la France!

Welcome to my blog -- follow us as we travel around France.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dordogne - Days 1 & 2: Orientation, Les Eyzies, & Grotte du Rouffignac

Yesterday (Sunday, Oct. 10) was grey and it started to rain in the late afternoon.  We decided to just do an orientation tour, so drove up to Sarlat, which is about 10-12 km from our house.  We drove around the town, but didn't stop, then drove down to the Dordogne River to Domme.  Domme is a "Bastide" - a fortified town - a top a high hill overlooking the river.  We had lunch there, but it was raining, so other than looking in one shop, we moved on with the resolve to come back when the weather was nicer so we could enjoy the view.  We then drove to Castlenaud, which is another village above the river with a huge chateau that is now a museum specializing in medieval warfare.  Again, we didn't stop.  We drove further down the river to Beynac and Roque Gigeac - both, on the other side of the river, are villages that climb up the cliffs above the river.  Beynac has a chateau which was the rival of the one at Castlenaud.  I had recently read a book by an American woman who had bought a house in Castlenaud with her husband.  The book is "Castle in the Backyard" -- their back yard abutted the castle wall -- so it was fun seeing the castle.

It is so beautiful here.  Everything is green, with the golden stone buildings, it is enchanting, and to quote Rick Steves, many places look like movie sets.  We have enjoyed seeing the gardens, and huge fields of corn.  They also grow tabacco; though we haven't actually seen it growing, we have seen the drying sheds, which stand out because they are the few wooden buildings in the area.

We also went to the grocery store yesterday morning and bought a turkey thigh/leg, which I fixed for dinner last night.  In French turkey is "dinde" and I asked a woman what it was because I wasn't sure.  The meat doesn't seem to be as dark or as rich as our turkey dark meat.

This morning it was foggy and raining, so I was disappointed, but hopeful that it would clear up.  By the time we finished breakfast, the fog had lifted and we decided it would be a good day to go to the National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies and to the Grotte Du Rouffignac.  Of course, by the time we got there, it was almost noon and the museum closes at noon; however, the weather had cleared and we had some sunshine.  We decided to have lunch and go to the cave first. 

After lunch, we drove to Rouffignac, which is about 15 km from Les Eyzies through green fields and oak forests on a narrow road.  But, with no traffic, it wasn't a problem.  We got to the cave in time for the first tour after they reopened after lunch.  The neat thing about this cave is that there is a train that takes you through it, so Mom could go.  The narrative was all in French, and we went a long way into the cave without seeing anything prehistoric except rocks.  Finally, we stopped and the guide pointed out a place where bears had scratched the cave walls (bears would hiberate in the cave).  He also pointed out mammoths that had been etched into the rock by Cro-Magnon man.  Next we came to several rhinos that had been drawn onto the cave walls.  The guide spoke at length at both of these stops, but we didn't understand much of it, though I did get a word here & there.  Finally, the train stopped and we all got off (Mom didn't, though because she didn't have her walker and the ground was uneven).  The guide then showed us paintings up on the ceiling: horses, bulls, mammoths, bison.  It was a nice tour, but didn't really have the "WOW!" factor I was expecting.

Now we're sitting in a McDonalds listening to terrible music, but at least they have free Wi-Fi (or for the cost of a cup of coffee and Diet Coke free).  It's kind of cute -- here the drive-through is called "Mc-Drive."

Well, Mom is not enjoying this music and we need to head for the house.  Will post again in a couple of days.

No comments:

Post a Comment