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Le Périgord

STROLLING AROUND

Le Périgord

STROLLING AROUND

THE PÉRIGORD... EVERYONE WHO HAS SPENT A FEW DAYS IN THE DORDOGNE SAYS ITS WONDERS.

It is the promise of a journey through History, from pre-human times to the Middle Ages. At the bend of a wooded path or a meandering river, a medieval castle, a thousand-year-old cave, and a farm with ancestral practices are revealed in turn.

The gastronomy is generous, as are the locals, proud of their traditions.

And what more ecological way to discover this region than the rhythm of walking, whether ours or that of the horses. Like in the good old days, they are our adventure companions to travel through the countryside and forests.

After a few days we swap them for more modern frames, electrically assisted bikes. We also let ourselves be carried by the current on our canoes-kayaks, and, on foot, we tread enchanting forest trails.

How sweet life is in Dordogne,
when you take the time to appreciate it!

WHISPERING IN THE EAR OF HORSES...AND SHEEP

The morning mist has risen over the green meadows surrounding Anne and Christophe’s horse farm. This is where our little tribe spent the night, in a furnished and comfortable tent. Yesterday, our hosts waited for us when we got off the train and took us here, to their haven of peace in Saint-Amand-de-Coly.

The children are eager to get to know the horses, with whom we will spend the next few days. They don’t miss a bit of the advice that Anne gives them. It must be said that she is talented, it seems that she and horses speak a common language! Once we’ve gotten to know each other, it’s time to go for a walk. And what a ride!

On the forest trails of the Vézère valley, the horses are very happy to find their sheep friends. While we all guide the herd together with Christophe, Anne tells us how the couple made the choice of eco-pastoralism. Always on the move, their sheep are great athletes. And since they naturally weed large wooded areas, they are the best eco-friendly people there are! When we stop by the river to have a picnic, the children are quick to jump into the water! On the way back, we visit the typical village of Saint-Amand-de-Coly, classified as one of the most beautiful in France.

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AN APPOINTMENT NOT TO BE MISSED

The next day, we have a meeting with our ancestors. To get there, the ride through forests and valleys is fantastic! The Lascaux II site is revealed at the end of the path, through the greenery. Like the discoverers of the original cave in their time, it is by the light of a torch that we will marvel at the prehistoric drawings. What splendor! The children will keep unforgettable memories. Moreover, as soon as they arrive at our lodge in the evening in Valojoulx, they draw out pencils and paper to immortalize their creations!

The horses will wait patiently for us at the lodge all following day. The means of transport of the day? Our feet first, then canoeing! The descent of the Vézère is full of surprises: the castle of Belcayre perched on its limestone rock, the pretty village of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, the impressive medieval town of La Roque-Saint-Christophe built right on the cliff, or again the troglodyte village of La Madeleine where we disembark for a short visit. Artisans try to introduce us to ancestral trades. Seeing myself wielding a hammer and an anvil, I tell myself that perhaps I have found my vocation!

CHANGE OF FRAME

Yesterday, we took the day to peacefully return to the Échappée Pastorale farm through the countryside and spend one last night there. And this morning we had to say goodbye to the horses, which was not an easy task, especially for the children! Christophe and Anne consoled them by telling them that we will always be welcome here. And we reminded them that the holidays are far from over!

We are dropped off in Tamniès, where we meet a couple of bakers committed to ecology and healthy eating. We enjoy listening to them as much as tasting their divinely flavored breads and pastries! This is where our electrically assisted bikes, our new traveling companions, await us. They carry us effortlessly into the Beune valley, where suddenly the long-forgotten castle of Commarque emerges from the undergrowth.

What an intriguing building, built on prehistoric troglodyte dwellings. The guide tells us about the different periods of the eventful life of the place, and, arriving at the top of the keep, we reveal the surprise to the children: they will be able to rappel down its 60 meters!

Proud to have taken on the challenge despite apprehension, they are ready to hit the road again! This evening, we sleep in Sarlat-la-Canéda, where our luggage is already waiting for us. On the way we stop to visit the Breuil cabins. This is what we call a village of “Bories”, very old and enigmatic little stone houses, located there on the land of a small family farm. Carine and Jean-Marc enthusiastically tell us how they restored them with the help of their children. Faithful to traditions, they also cultivate their vegetables and their vines, raise their animals and bake their bread in a wood oven.

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HA, SARLAT !

We instantly fell in love with Sarlat-la-Canéda, this incredibly charming city which seems to have changed so little since the Middle Ages. Our two terrors take pleasure in inventing stories of knights in its alleys, rushing down the stairs and looking for the smallest nooks and crannies to explore. For our part, it’s more the stalls that catch our eye, as much for the beauty of their facades as for their tempting gastronomic offerings! It seems that Sarlat is the city in the world with the highest density of historical monuments. That doesn’t surprise me, as we get a real eye-catcher on every street corner!

The next day is bike day. We leave Sarlat via a greenway which joins the waves of the Dordogne. The walk is very pleasant. We ride effortlessly in the shade of trees and cliffs, crossing grandiose landscapes while having fun noticing details from the time when it was a railway line. A first stop is necessary to unravel the mystery of the Giants’ pots, a pile of rocks polished by water which sets children’s imaginations in turmoil. There will be numerous breaks along the way: a coffee in the pretty village of Carsac, a swim in Aillac, a picnic in Calviac, an exhibition of photos by Robert Doisneau at Rouffillac station and a visit to the Château de Fénelon. to Sainte-Mondane to end the day. A canvas cabin under the trees awaits us at the ecological campsite of La Clairière, where we relax while waiting for dinner time, which we were promised will be 100% Périgord!

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OVER THE WATER

By bike, we watched the canoe-kayaks peacefully descend the Dordogne, spraying themselves with their paddles to cool off. Well it’s our turn NOW ! From the river, we feel very small under the cliffs that overlook us.

The buildings that dominate them are all the more impressive. This is the case for the castles of Montfort, Castelnaud, Fayrac and Beynac, or the fort of La Roque-Gageac where we cannot resist the temptation to stop for lunch, as the beauty of the village is so striking. At the end of the descent, visiting Beynac Castle is the best idea ever! We are immersed in the medieval period, to the delight of the little ones, and the view from up there is breathtaking.

ROCAMADOUR AND ITS WONDERS

Our last resort is located in the heart of the Causses du Quercy regional natural park, in the Lot. It is a rock landscape that reveals itself as we approach the perched city of Rocamadour. Our accommodation at Domaine Lagardelle calls for rest. What calm here! The dinner prepared by our hosts is a delight, based on products from nearby farms and homemade delicacies. We can no longer do a short circuit!

Up early, the four of us are impatient to climb to the top of Rocamadour, this incredible village, clinging to the top of a vertiginous cliff. But before that, we were told about a refreshing curiosity not far away, the Chasm of Cabouy. It is in this drowned cavern that the Ouysse river reappears, after having traveled more than 20 km underground. Clearly, this region is full of mysteries!

Nous enfourchons nos vélos pour atteindre enfin Rocamadour en longeant le cours de l’Alzou. Grimper tout là-haut relève de l’aventure, mais une fois arrivés sur les remparts du château, le panorama est à couper le souffle ! Tels des pèlerins du Moyen-Âge, nous allons à la rencontre de la fameuse Vierge Noire, gardienne de la chapelle Notre-Dame, un des huit édifices religieux taillés dans la roche. C’est aussi un lieu à ravir les gourmands, dont nous faisons partie ! Sur le chemin du retour, nous visitons une chèvrerie-fromagerie produisant le célèbre rocamadour. Un régal!

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A WALK INTO THE ENTRIES OF THE EARTH

Seeing their excitement this morning, the children understood that the best was saved for last. The Padirac chasm is a timeless place, where you can take a boat trip with a boatman, like in Venice, except that here we are more than 100 meters underground! A lush cavity, long galleries, a huge room and even an underground lake… We are amazed. I can’t wait to see the drawings that the children will make this evening!

Our electric mounts have been recovered, which marks the end of this unforgettable stay. It’s time to enjoy our last evening at the estate before taking the train back tomorrow. Delighted, the children never stop telling our hosts about all the incredible things they have seen since our arrival. We were warned, this wonderful region will stay with us for a long time!

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