So I am sitting here at the Gare or train station at Lebourne. I am 1.5 hours from home. I have just spent 2 nights with a dear friend Tricia and her husband Berjen, at their “home away from home” in Beaumont de Perigord. It is fascinating being here with lots of people around speaking French, people watching…… but I can’t eavesdrop on any conversations, it’s a true reminder that I am in fact, in France!
Just had a very interesting encounter with a young woman who was sitting beside me at the station, she was talking on her phone. When she hung up she jumped up and down and was clearly excited and started talking to me, telling me her obviously great news and all I could do was smile and say “I am sorry, I don’t speak French”. She didn’t get put off by my non-responsive response and explained some more, so, not to disappoint I said “yaaaa! So cool!!! ” she said “oui” then hugged me! Then offered me a cookie and then Bounced off – quite bizarre, but I feel very honoured to have been part of it! So cute!
The Dordogne is a beautiful area. The afternoon I arrived I went for a walk around the village of Beaumont. I don’t think I will ever tire of these beautiful villages with buildings dating back hundreds of years. The narrow streets and cobblestones, the ornate shutters on every window, the solid wooden doors with iron work or carvings, massive door handles and locks or tiny doors for the smaller people of the time. A lot of the villages in this region are Bastide villages, they all have a covered in central place in the square where villagers meet to socialise, dates back to medieval times 13th and 14th century, it’s so lovely.
The next day Tricia took me for a tour around the area, oh WOW, such a beautiful part of the world. A lot hillier than where we are staying further north. Each village we went to was amazing and had its own special magic.
First was Cadouin. A huge Abbey right in the middle of town. How and why they built the churches and Abbeys this size for the amount of people around is staggering. Impressive door-way, as they often are, sure makes a statement. We went inside and felt the peace. The floor in parts was pushed up as if an earthquake, this building would have seen a thing or two in its 900 years life!!!!!
Next, Le Bugue, great little village on the river Vezere which comes off the Dordogne. There was a market just closing up in the square by the river when we arrived. Fresh fish, veg, cheese, meat, bread – oh boy! The French really know how to do their markets. You could go to a market every day of the week if you travelled just a few kilometres, there is always somewhere having a market – its great! Another really cute place. Tricia said each time we moved to the next one, “oh you will like the next one its beautiful” I was quietly thinking to myself that it doesn’t get any better than this!
Our next place, Les Eyzies, was something else, so different from anything I have seen so far, the terrain and rock formations were indescribable. This was an area of the Troglodyte, the people before people! How amazing is that. In March 1868, a geologist discovered the first five skeletons of Cro-Magnons, the earliest known examples of Homo sapiens. People would build houses into the rocks, and that was their homes. We walked along a small road as far as we could to see the rocks right up close. They are all different colours and completely over hanging the homes beneath, it’s a wonder they never fall down.
And then the jewel in the crown of our day, Beynac, with more of the quaint stone houses, shutters, iron railings, beautiful lamps, but this village is built as if a fortress, extending back and up a slope, up up up she goes to an awesome castle! We find the track and head up on foot. This would have been the main road up to the castle back in the day, narrow, winding and rough cobbles. Many houses on each side of the road, all so cute and very well maintained. Tricia said that these are mostly holiday rentals now days and being the off season would mostly be empty. We certainly felt that we had the place to ourselves! The view from up the top is outstanding. I can see 3 other chateaux, the beautiful Dordogne river winding past, green padlocks and the beautiful church belonging to the Castle. We look inside the castle, wow, you can just imagine the Knights coming in in their armour after battle. The kitchen table had slots at each end for them to put their swords safely into while having a meal, amazing!
Last village for the day, Belves. We have come here to see where Tricia and Berjen used to come for holidays. Another village built onto a hill, so stunning to see, impressive Abbey at one end overlooking and protecting, even if just spiritually, the whole village (see to photo) Signs saying XIc ,11th century throughout the village. I am in awe of the age and the fact that this was right here 100’s of years ago, it never ceases to amaze me! It’s been an incredible day, thank you Tricia!
What a trip, a great catch up with an old friend, as well as the stunning Dordogne! There was so much fun and laughter of old times and new, many bottles of wine and loads of cheese, olives and pizza – yes pizza! The sun came out to show the place off at its best. AND I didn’t miss the train, or even get on the wrong train! Arrrrr, I DO love France!