The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Le Tour de Doug Part 2: Dordogne (or Aquitaine...or Périgord...)

This ancient region of France goes by many names: Périgord, Aquitaine, Dordogne. Which is correct? Apparently they all are, to an extent. “Périgord” was the ancient kingdom that thrived here. The river Dordogne runs through it, and today this “départment” (France’s equivalent of a state) is called Dordogne. And it is one of 5 départments that make up the greater region known as Aquitaine. And to clarify one additional point for those of you who might shop at L’Occitaine, “Occitan” is the dialect spoken in Aquitaine. But I digress...

The important thing here is that, whatever you call it, it is a beautiful part of the country that most tourists never see. It is one of the few “untouched” regions of Europe that retains its rugged, natural beauty and a pastoral way of life. The landscape is dotted with family farms, charming villages, and 1,001 ancient castles. It is the most famous source of foie gras and truffles (which was lost on me, as I like neither of them!), as well as nuts and wines and other delicacies of the earth. Finally, the area is also known as the “Cradle of Mankind” due to its wealth of prehistoric sites including the “Sistine chapel of prehistory”, Lascaux.

I stayed in the small town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, in the heart of Périgord Noir (Black Périgord—there is also Green Périgord, White Périgord, and Purple Périgord!):

These geese, on the Place aux Oies, mark the location of the ancient live foul marketplace:

Motoring about, my first stop was at Beynac, with its imposing medieval fortress perched high on a hill:

Continuing my drive through the valley, I first thought it was odd that a highway there was named after Josephine Baker...then I visited the Chateau des Milandes—and it turns out she lived there for much of her life! The interior is now a museum dedicated to her but truth be told I didn’t go in—just wandered the gardens and continued on my way:

Some other castles and views around the Dordogne...

My next stop was the town of Domme. This is what is known as a bastide, a fortified medieval town on a hill. In the case of Domme, it is not only charmingly well-preserved but also offers the best views of the Dordogne:

My last stop was a short distance away: Rocamadour. It’s in the neighboring départment of Lot. I only learned upon arriving that it is best visited in the morning—rather than at sunset—at least for taking photos, but it hopefully these will give you some idea: it is a nearly vertical city built into a cliff and has for centuries been a holy pilgrimage site:

Next up…we visit the city of Evian (yes, that Evian) and the Alps!! BUT BEFORE WE GO…A FEW PARTING SHOTS!

But do they know the way to San Jose?:

I don’t know what’s more exciting...the fact that they have an entire museum dedicated to nuts or the giant nuts next to the sign:

Me and a famous French icon:

“Fahrt” is always funny:

I found this display for an ice cream place moderately disturbing:

I also found this ad disturbing, in part because it was on the side of a tanker truck:

And finally, is it just me or is the name of this clothing store completely illegible?


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