APRIL 30

Today was a travel day between Paris and Sarlat. We trained from Paris to Souillac; bussed from Souillac to the train station at Sarlat and then walked to the medieval city. 

After checking into our chambre [room] at the Hotel La CouLeubrine, we walked around the limited traffic streets and even though the weather was drizzly, we were awed by the picture perfect vistas at each turn. 
We finished off the day having an exceptional dinner at a restaurant.

MAY 1

Market day in Sarlat [pronounced Sar-la]. The day was bright and warm and full of life. The streets of the medieval town took on a festive flare with bright umbrellas under which locals sold equally colourful and tantalizing produce and products.

In the main square we bought some of the local specialties: goat cheese - soft light rounds; wild boar sausage - so many sausage options to choose from; strawberries - intense in flavour and luscious red and carrots - bright coloured, fresh and sweet.
Up one sideroad we purchased melt-in-your-mouth hazel nut and walnut macaroons from the lady and gentleman who made them. Up another sideroad we tasted and purchased three bottles of wine from a young man who grows grapes and produces local wine with his father. 
We resisted the impulse to eat it all on the spot (other than some sampling) and took them back to the hotel room so that they would be available for our Sunday canoe trip.
In the afternoon, after all the market umbrellas had been taken away and the streets swept, we took the Sarlat information sheet and Rick Steve's tour pages and went on a self guided tour of the buildings in historic Sarlat.
We had met a young couple (Stephen and Angela's age) upon our arrival in town. They left a note and then dropped by the hotel room to see if we would like to go to dinner with them. They are from the Seattle area and we had a lovely visit over dinner, said goodbye and wished each other bon voyage.

Phone calls from our room told us that we would be unable to canoe the river Sunday. The area has been experiencing some heavy rains and the river is to high and flowing to fast for the canoe companies to allow rental of canoes and kayaks. They suggest we call them Sunday.

MAY 2

The water on the Dordogne still too high and too fast for canoeing.

What a wonderful day of rest. We slept in and got away to a slow start. We nibbled on part of our Market Day purchases for brunch and then went down to the main square where we sat at an outdoor café and sipped on a milkshake. Here in Sarlat a milkshake is really a "milk" "shake" ... cold but not thick with ice cream.

We went to a Cyber Café and sent away some emails and wandered through the steep narrow roadways on the other side of town and bumped into a flea market. We mentally purchased the things we knew in reality we could not buy because of size and weight and were happy just to have pretended.

For dinner another restaurant and another fine meal. Dining in France is more to enjoy the flavours and presentations than an act of eating ... very civilized.

MAY 3

The Dordogne is reported to still be too high and too fast so we opted for Plan B.

Today's travel was not done in our customary style. Today we hired a taxi to show us the countryside which is impossible to experience without a car. Phillip is a large man with a large zest for doing what he does. Phillip, his wife and dog traded in their careers (Phillip was an ambulance driver) in Paris for the quieter and slower pace of life in the Dordogne River Valley. Phillip brags that he is the only English speaking Sarlat taxi driver and Phillip likes to talk. He shares with us his knowledge of the area, what it is like to be a taxi driver and many other topics. 
At times we had to push a little because it seemed that he just wanted to sit and talk and at 28 Euro an hour we wanted to do a little more. He took us on a circle tour from Sarlat to Beynac to Castelnaud, La Roque, Domme and back to Sarlat. Each place boasts a castle ... all of which can be toured. 
Phillip drove us up to the one in Beynac (didn't go in) and we walked down through the picturesque medieval streets wishing we were painters capable of capturing the changing scenes on canvas.

We also thought what a grand place to have the family all together for some vacation time. 

We rejoined Phillip at the river's edge where we could see first-hand the swollen swift flow of the river and the piled canoes and kayaks awaiting for a more seasonal waterflow.
Castelnaud was the only castle we actually toured on this day of viewing castles.
It has a mighty display of armoury from the Hundred Years' War from catapults to crossbows, daggers to what appeared to be a very early rendition of a Gattling-gun.

At the end of five hours we had seen some beautiful countryside, had enjoyed our long conversations with a local and were castled out. We made arrangements with Phillip to pick us up in the morning to take us to the train.

 

 

 

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