Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dordogne Region of France

I cannot tell you how excited we were to have a "home" to call home for the five sweet nights.   It was grueling 15 hour drive, (supposed to be 12) from Lisbon to the Dordogne region of France about 4 hours south of Paris and directly east of Bordeaux.  When we arrived around 9:30 pm we were so excited to have a beautiful little French chateau, only downside is it was freezing!  We called the property managers and they were friendly but had no solution.  To make a long story short, the boiler had broken down and it would not be able to be repaired for several days.  On the good side there was wood and a fireplace in the kitchen and living room area and one space heater that we could put in the attic with the kids.  We can do luxurious camping.

The next day was the food market in town, it was rainy and cold and it meant the streets were nearly empty.  Which gave us a perfect view of the beautiful town.  Everything looked so Cinderella-esque, steep slate roofs, stacked stone walls, tall thing windows, and bronze geese.  The area is famous for it's fois gois, (fattened goose liver), duck meat, and everything walnut.  We picked up a variety of these items and took them home for a delicious lunch.  Not everyone enjoyed the goose paté, but the fresh strawberries were gone in no time, as well as the mild cheeses, and of course the baguette.

The area has been inhabited for a very, very, very long time.  We visited the world renown Lascaux caves, containing paintings estimated to be 17,300 years old!   (and yes I got my decimal in the right place)  The art went undetected for millennia until an 18 year old boy stumbled upon them in September of 1940.  Since then the moisture from people coming in and visiting the cave did more damage in a matter of a few years than happened in the thousands of years previously, so they made an exact replica, down to the centimeter, of the entire cave and it's drawings using the same pigment and techniques the Paleolithic people would have used.  Even knowing we are looking at a replica it is still impressive and awe inspiring!  No photography is allowed inside the caves so I snagged this picture off the internet to give you an idea of the size and scope of Lascaux.
Also in the area was a cliff dwelling occupied from around the time of Christ through the middle ages.  Below is the one entrance to the cave city, and Max is pulling on a rope where animals would have been tied.  The community had everything it needed, safely carved out on the edge of a cliff.  Blacksmith shop, butcher, weapons and ammunition, jail, even a church.

This is where a safe was carved and sealed
with a steal door.
Remnants of a stable area.

A diagram of a small section of what the community would have
looked like during the middle ages.  If it was the whole area the
diagram would have been 30 feet long!
The chapel.
They have reconstructed a portion to be as it would have during the middle ages.  Maggie and Tessa peak the house's windows.  Below, is the butcher area, you can see remnants of a rope on the ceiling where they would hang meat, and a cut out in the floor where they would let blood and other nasties collect.  Max loved the weaponry collection.  Exploring weapons both large and small were an energy boost for him and he shared fact upon fact with the rest of us.  

A hoist used to raise things from the river below.  (Above right)
the view across the valley, 
We used the little village of Beynac as a picnic spot.  The town is set going right up the cliff with a castle and an ancient church at the top.  A beautiful swan swam in the river as we broke our baguettes, sliced fresh cheese, and fought over succulent strawberries.  One thing about Europe is the striking uniqueness of each country.  I couldn't help but look around and think, "Wow!  Everything is SO French!"

Our van driving through the one exit and entrance to an old city.

Another day in the village of Sarlat-de-Canada, we strolled through the town, past the cathedral and a few little houses, quick stop at the boulangerie for raspberry tarts and other delectables and over to a big park where we ran and played.  Above, Tessa isn't so sure she wants to participate in whatever he Dad has planned.  We also enjoyed a night of exotic French cuisine which included roasted veggies, duck in blueberry sauce, and squid, cooked in it's own ink.

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