You’ve no doubt enjoyed the peace and quiet of not having me pop up in your mail box everyday, well I hope you took advantage of it because it’s all over, I’m back!
We’ve spent the most glorious week, staying in a gite in the Dordogne region of France, with my sister and her husband. The gite was called Domaine de la Licorne, (licorne meaning unicorn), there are a lot in the Dordogne you know!
The gite was super – a little, sand-coloured, stone house with two lovely, double bedrooms and another little outhouse that was beautifully decorated with another double bed, at the bottom of the garden, (we decided only to use this if we had an argument!) I’m glad to report we didnt’ need it! Do check out the website here www.gites-licorne-perigord.fr The hosts, Mr and Mme Guerin, made us very welcome and were full of local information that we took full advantage of. The house itself was located deep in Perigord countryside, at night there was no light pollution which gave us the most stunning night skies full of stars. During the day, the loudest noise we heard, was a distant bark of a dog on a neighbouring farm. We left this morning feeling relaxed and very, very full! (more on that later!!)
Having parked Harry up for the week and settling into the house, we set about reading up on the local area, although The Hubster and I were here last September, it was an exciting prospect of being able to get around the area in a car!
First stop, Beynac, as you’ll remember we were on a campsite that had a glorious view of the castle and we had held off visiting until my family came to join us. What was refreshing was the fact that Charlie was able to visit too. We’ve found he’s been welcome everywhere, castles, caves, gardens and even restaurants, it’s be fabulous to have him with us.
Beynac castle is set high on a cliff top, it clings to the rock face – it defies science, how on earth does it stay there and how on earth did they build it in those days. It was quite a climb up through the village. We certainly made an excellent choice by choosing Beynac Castle as our first visit. It’s wonderful, it’s been beautifully restored and yet hasn’t been overdone. As one walks from room to room, one really does get a sense of how it must’ve been during Medieval times. The views over the countryside are absolutely breath-taking, with the Dordogne river flowing below and the castle of Castelnaud on the hill opposite. This area used to be the border between England and France!!! Hence all the castles, we needed to keep a look out on our neighbours!!!
All the villages around the area are built of the most beautiful, gentle, sandy-coloured stone, they all have little alleyways and ginnels that you could get lost in for days. It beggars belief how people still manage to live in these houses today, I can only begin to imagine how difficult it must be to go and do a weekly shop and lug all the bags up the narrow, very steep hills, which are closed off to cars, to get your purchases home. (Maybe they should get some donkeys in, there did seem to be a lot of them in the surrounding fields!) Every village we came across was so beautifully cared for, gardens just getting ready to spring into colour, and the houses in pristine condition which must be quite a difficult job given the age of them.
Being the beginning of March, we didn’t have glorious, sunny days, but the views were shrouded with a beautiful haze which unfortunately doesn’t enhance the photos but I do hope you’ll enjoy them and it will give you an idea of just how beautiful this region is.
On one day that was particularly fine, the boys decided to go off for a game of golf. My sister and I decided that as we have been eating rather a lot of fine food, we’d go for a walk. I decided to take Charlie’s pushchair just in case the walk was a little too much for him. We set off from the little cottage with the intention of raising our heart rates and using our leg muscles. Off we went, we thought we would go down the country lane and walk down past the farm and as far as the field with the donkey in it. All was going well, admiring all the geese in the fields, (this is the country of Foie Gras) taking the odd photo of a lovely old horse in a field and generally feeling pretty good. On turning the corner, we were met by two growling, snarling and barking dogs. They didn’t want us there, they didn’t make us feel very welcome – in fact we were pretty scared I can tell you! We had fortunately put Charlie in the pushchair and it was very evident that the two dogs could smell him but couldn’t work out where he was (thank goodness!) We passed the property and peace reigned once more, we visited the donkey in full knowledge that we would have to retrace our steps past the two guard dogs! Not something either of us was keen to do, but as the husbands were off on the golf course about 30 miles away we had no option! We could hardly sit on the side of the road and wait for 4 hours or more for them to return and save us. So with Charlie installed in the buggy we set off, arm in arm, back up the hill … and yes as soon as we rounded the corner, out they came, all guns blazing. Snarling and barking and getting closer and closer to us, one in particular had a rather nasty look in his eye. As I pushed the buggy, my sister was saying “ he’s behind us, he’s getting closer!!!” not the words I wanted to hear as I was pushing a heavy lump up the hill. I’m glad to say we got past the dogs in one peace, only to be confronted by 4 ponies blocking the road, now I must admit, I’m not too bad with dogs but I know nothing about horses, we walked by and damn if they didn’t start to look a little frisky and started following us too. What made me laugh was my sister’s and my determination to catch a quick photo. I’m glad to report we got the photo, got home safely and I can assure you we did raise our heartbeats and used our leg muscles but not quite in the way we had hoped to!!
More on the Dordogne to follow soon.