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MONPAZIER Monday 6 October 7:45 am 17C wispy clouds
LES EYZIES 6:15 pm Hotel Moulin de la Beune 260FF
What a great day we've had. It was 20C and overcast when we left Monpazier at 9:30. We rode *DOWN* to Cadouin on a shaded road - mostly oak, some chestnut. Many of the oak trees had ivy growing up the trunks. It was a real forest. How ironic that we finally had a cloudy day but we were in that shady area. As we rode down, the temperature dropped to 15C. It was very misty as well. We passed through a section of sunflower fields and a biplane, flying fairly low came over the field beside us. Laughing, we waved like mad and the pilot banked as he crossed the road above us and he and his passenger waved as well.
Cadouin is a beautiful town all yellow stone buildings instead of the white plaster with turquoise wooden shutters that we've been seeing. There was an old man wandering around the deserted town (because it's basically closed on Mondays) playing a squeeze box. There was a youth hostel there with bedding hanging out of the windows airing out. It's the first youth hostel we've seen.
The church that supposedly had the holy shroud is beautiful with frescoes on the ceiling above the altar and gorgeous stained glass. Outside the church, there was an explanation that in 1933, the shroud was examined and the name of an emir and Allah were found inscribed in the cloth that was 10th century. (Imagine how disappointed all those dignitaries - including the great Eleanor of Aquitaine- would have been to discover that the shroud they had trekked to see was not authentic!) We bought our cheese and fruit from a dark little grocery store. The slightly dishevelled lady, who emerged from a bead curtain, assured us that her cheese was very very good and her fruit was very very good. Somehow it was hard to believe her but we bought it anyway not having much choice in the matter what with most places closed on Mondays.
We had a few minutes of light rain and continued to ride into Tremolat. We decided not to go into Lalinde as the road was busy and we would just be turning around again anyway after only 6 km. We crossed the river at Tremolat. It was picture perfect with an old arched bridge in the distance giving off perfect reflections in the still green waters. Then UP out of Tremolat then DOWN then UP to Limeuil through more forest. We stopped at the Cingle de Limeuil (I looked up "cingle in my dictionary. It's not there but "cinglé" is and it means "crazy"). The vista was really incredible: checkerboard fields across the river, trees, village. We could see a perfect little road just on the other side of the river that was wonderfully hugging it - NO hills. But we'd have missed the view....
There was an amazing house built out from the rock at Limeuil. The back wall and part of the roof of the house was cliff face. We had lunch in a park at the confluence of the Vèzére & Dordogne rivers in Limeuil. We sat at a picnic table and watched the ducks and geese and other tourists whom we had just seen at the Cingle de Limeuil. As we were eating our lunch of _fantastic_ chevre and _fantastic_ trappe echourgnan (28FF for a big round of abbaye cheese) and _fantastic_ pears -if it wasn't so hilly, it would be almost worth it to backtrack to the lady's little epicerie and apologize for doubting her word -a little terrier dog was suddenly seated behind me looking up patiently. He moved to my other side and sat down again then curled up under the table and went to sleep.
After we'd finished lunch, T tried to feed the little dog our leftover bread but he was so well fed from begging from others that clearly he wasn't going to eat bread. He wanted meat! The ducks did want the bread though and just as I was going to snap a picture of T surrounded by ducks, another little dog came gambling up, frightening them all away. He did take the bread and wolfed it down. It started to rain a little bit so we headed on towards Les Eyzies on the sort of main route that wasn't terribly busy with cars. As we approached Les Eyzies, we crossed the Vèzére on the relatively busy (by then) road and below in the river, there was a man waist deep in water, fly fishing. He seemed oblivious to the turmoil above him as he cast his line into the green waters.
We passed an absolutely fantastic chateau in Campagne that was also a hotel. But we decided to head on into Les Eyzies. As we rode down into Les Eyzies, a deer bolted out of the woods and ran on the side of the road in front of us for about half a km. She was going 19 km/hr. Just as suddenly as she had bolted out of the woods, she dashed back in. By 3:30, we reached Les Eyzies. There were even more houses built right into the rock face. We found this hotel (not one of the many buildings built into rock) with no difficulty and because of the beauty of the surroundings and the nice room even though it's a double (small for us) bed with a good firm mattress, we decided to splurge. We went into town in search of the Font-de-Gaume cave because we knew we had to make reservations to get in as only 200 people are allowed in at one time (or is it per day?). We got there at 4:00 and were really lucky to be put in the last party that left at 4:30. The cave closes at 5:30 (no tickets sold after the 4:30 slot) and it is closed on Tuesdays.
As we waited at the mouth of the cave, we talked with a claustrophobic Florida man who came racing out of the cave mouth. He thought he would be able to overcome his fears but had to leave. He stood outside the cave waiting for his fellow gourmet wine tourers of France (by bus! - and he wasn't fat!) to finish seeing the cave. They were eating their way around France in 3 star restaurants for lunch and dinner. He was a fascinating man who unfortunately kept getting interrupted by a not so fascinating Dutch lady in our group waiting to go in the cave, who kept interrupting to talk about her garden, saying she didn't really care about food.
What an experience the cave was! The guide spoke in French only but I managed to pick out a little of the explanation. We were cautioned to touch nothing. Any bags we had were carried in front. We had to duck and squeeze through passage ways with stalactites and stalagmites to a wider hall that stretched up for ages showing those fountain like formations in the natural light from a long way above. There were about 15 of us. We were lined up and told to always stand in the formation we were given. The young German couple beside us quietly snickered; I'm sure we all recalled some battleaxe of a schoolmarm. Then with a tiny red pen light, we were shown the wonders of the animal paintings done by someone 14000 B.C. All thoughts of schoolmarms were cast away by the running bison and reindeer and horses. It was a moving and thrilling experience and our fellow cave mates were silent and appreciative, making the experience the best it could be. We stumbled out into the light and dazed, we rode slowly back the short distance to this beautiful hotel.
cave painting from the Font-de-Gaume
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 55 km
AV.SP: 14.8 km/hr
E MAX SP: 36 km/hr
8:10 pm Restaurant au Vieux Moulin (attached to our hotel)
The semalier decanted the wine (this place is swank!) T actually explained his shorts to the maitr d' saying, "Excusez moi, nous sommes en velo"
Restaurant au Vieux Moulin
|menu 140 FF
** amuse bouche -gigolette de volaile
(chicken drummette) with coriander and lots of vinegar
pain aux noix -walnut bread
E: vegetables with jambon cru(smoked raw ham)
T: terrine de volaile (roughly chopped chicken liver paté)
We switched the above entrées but both were good.
** confit de canard with haricots blancs
(duck in white beans -basically cassoulet)
** hot cabécou(small chèvre) on a toast
** tart aux pommes with caramel. lots of burnt sugar.
Chateau Champarel 1993 JBP Pécharmant 120FF
The asterixes indicate that those dishes were particularly good.
10:00pm THAT WAS GOOD!!! Too much food but really good. We can hear the river and T is already in bed and says it's the best bed since home. We're lying here drinking that prune swill (eau de Vie distilled from prunes -a specialty of the region). Bleah. It's like gasoline.
Tuesday 7 October 8:00am cool cloudy
I'm sitting at the table in our room looking out at a little river (the Beune, I guess) and a beautiful stone bridge and the foggy hills in the distance. There is sweet wood smoke in the air. I think maybe the fire has been lit in the reception hall of the hotel. There are song birds going nuts and other than the sound of the occasional car and the running river, it's quiet.
Now T is badgering me to stop so we can go for breakfast. OK okay!!
9:00 am late again! (My fault) but we are in the nice breakfast room having, no doubt, expensive juice, fancy confitures and listening to the Germans behind us chatting quietly and watching two American girls, who we saw briefly last night curled up reading by the fire, quietly eat their breakfast. (Indeed it was pricy at 50FF! each for breakfast but I kept my little jar of apricot jam and had enough for two more breakfasts.)
It's POURING! How ironic. This is about the physical area that G et al 10 years ago finally had non rainy weather.
9:45 At 9:25, the rain eased off and stopped. We went to get our bikes and they had been put outside just for the rain. There is a lady ironing in the room the bicycles were in and she has kindly put the soaked fleece/leather saddle covers in her industrial dryer (hoping they wouldn't shrink!) That's some kind of dryer! They are basically dry and seem better than before.
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