I bet I’m not alone, but when I was a kid I envisioned being an explorer. The notion of exploring unknown caves and ancient fossils fascinated me. When the Dordogne popped up as being along our travels, I just had to see one of the famed landmarks for ancient Homo sapiens. In this region of France, it was Cro-Magnon man, living between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Grotte du Pech Merle
For an hour we drove along a windy, hilly, road with natural beauty at every turn.
Not seeing another car, we wondered if we would be the only guests for these high demand tours. One of the caves has a limit of 75 people a day – period. And, it is first come first served. The tour we selected allowed up to 200 people a day, and we were able to reserve online. We were not the only guests! It was Grotte du Pech-Merle, discovered in 1922.
So, I’m a photo-heavy blogger, and Pech Merle did not allow any photography. So, I’ll try words: these caves were other-worldly. Grand pillars appeared to hold the cave ceiling. From the ceiling huge stalactites pierced downward, water sounds and darkness made me fantasize I’d been taken back centuries. The rule-breaker I am, managed to poach a couple shots. Otherwise, I settled on photos of the replicas they provided, and one from a tourism site.
Continuing our tour through the region we landed in Albi, birthplace of famed painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Best known for his posters for the Moulin-Rouge, his work captured the steamy and theatrical life of late 19th century Paris.
Next to the museum, bordering the Tarn River, is the monstrous Cathedral of Sainte-Cecile, or Albi Cathedral. It has 13th century roots, and 15th century Renaissance art. Cobalt and gold were the dominating colors, and the geometric patterns were like nothing I’ve seen in cathedrals before. As Rick Steeves described, the behemoth was to communicate to the masses, “this place oozes power – get on board, or get run over.”
Back to Caunes-Minervois
Beautiful dress Rose petal Roasting we feel the sun Full attack The wine takes up all the mouth Without aggressiveness Calling to drink more
This is just one English description of the wine we tasted – I put it in a “poem format.” These vineyards go as far back as Roman times, when they were introduced – along with the olive trees. Again, it was a little tricky to find operations open for business, but we were determined, and successful:
We are leaving the Gleason’s little chateau and heading on our own through the Provence region. Trains and buses, here we come!