Our very good friends, Bev & John, invited us to join them while they unwind some business in France. As a reference, France is loosely the size of Texas. We have been here a week and have seen quite a lot. I did say “good friends”, right? I know, what great friends to have! Here is a run down of our tour so far:
Our friends have acquired a well-appointed apartment home in Caunes-Minervois. The three bedrooms, two baths is considered quite large in French terms.
This time of year the village is very quiet, many shops & restaurants keep irregular and spontaneous hours.
For me, this just adds to the charm, but it also means it’s a crapshoot when you’re interested in doing something. Tumbling onto the tourist Bureau = closed. The famous, big tourist-draw Abbey = closed…
Nearby hiking, however, is always “open”.
La Cité, Carcassonne
Very near is the hill town of Carcassonne. When we were very young – in 1985 – we fell in love with the medieval hilltop town. It felt so remote, so removed from the harried tourist scenes we’d seen in Nice & Paris, it was a great escape. We stayed inside the walls of La Cité’s castle. Today, everyone knows the castle at Carcassonne. Even in off-season it is a bustling destination. Nonetheless, we thrilled at a chance to see it again.
With the bonus of a car – yes, our friends came through again – we were able to head north, to the Dordogne region. We chose Sarlat as our home base, another medieval town. We could explore the depths of the region from here.
We quickly learn the area is home to many castles – castles which historically had countless years of embattlement. The French and English have decades of fighting for this territory (1337 to 1453). We climbed the castle in Beynac.. it was gorgeous.
The region is recognized for their gastronomy, especially the foie gras and truffles. Even the French flock here to delight in the regions specialities. Since I’m working toward a more humaneitarian diet, I had done a little research before indulging. Here’s one report from our travel Guru, Rick Steeves: Well-Fed Geese in France’s Dordogne. The food is… well, French. Let me put it this way, I often want a kick of tabasco on it. And that, my friends, would be a total faux pas. Luckily we’re traveling with John who can understand the menu much better than we can!
Our big excursion was a day on the Dordogne River. We rented canoes and paddled 16km (9 miles) taking-in the views on a bright fall day. The river is lined with steep cliffs, businesses and castles clutching on.
Off To a Great Start
We’ll be exploring caves which have evidence of early man, with prehistoric cave paintings. And, of course we must fit in a day of wine tasting. Then we’re off on our own. At that point, I’ll have to brush up on my ability to pantomime… my French stinks!