The Cathedral of Sarlat

A peaceful moment away from the hustle and bustle of Sarlat's Saturday Market. We wandered in through a back door not even knowing we were entering a church. This one, not as grand as some we have visited in the past, was very pleasant.

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Location:Avenue du Général Leclerc,Sarlat-la-Canéda,France

Sarlat Market

We have mentioned how Market day is one our favorite experiences as we travel through France, the whole of Europe for that matter. I just ate my way through this particular market and, now,"I am the Walrus koo-koo-kachoo..."
The Saturday market in Sarlat is a lot larger than most that have experienced in other locations. A huge portion of this one is made up of crafts people selling handmade goods as well as the usual produce vendors.
Scarves, baskets, shirts, in addition to the food, of course, are just a few of the items we found ourselves parting with our money for. There are so many small trinkets, and what not, that it is sometimes hard to pass them by.

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Location:Avenue Thiers,Sarlat-la-Canéda,France

Sarlat, Beynac, La Roque Gageac, and Castelnaud

Bleak skies didn't stop us from getting out early this morning to try and capter Sarlat before it was over run by tourists. Damn tourist getting in the way. The grey skies didn't stop us from getting out, but sure limited the photo opportunities.

The road was calling our names after we finished breakfast, so we headed to some of the nearby sights to see what we could see. First stop, Beynac et Ceznac, a remarkably beautiful town on the river, with an equally remarkable castle on the hill immediately above clinging to the top of the cliff.

This, and every other place on today's visits, transport you to another time and place. The most striking thing is the difference in the stone here versus the old villages that we have visited in the north of France. While in the north the buildings are all grey and cold, here they are all a golden hue, giving the towns a much warmer glow.

Beynac sent us on our way, after a few hours, to the tiny town of La Roque Gageac that has been carved from the cliffs that rise steeply from the river. There is still evidence of the more ancient dwellings built into the face of the cliff high above the town.

La Roque is embraced by those cliffs and the river, making this petite jewel well worth the time to visit.

Castelnaud stands sentry over the river valley on what used to be the English side of the river during the Hundred Years War. The castle at Beynac was the French equivalent. Castelnaud is one of the most interesting castles that we have ever visited, because they have taken the time to collect a variety of middle ages weapons, several trebuchets among these. Though replicas, they lend a real authenticity to the surroundings. This castle, and Beynac, have been restored so well that you are able to experience the way it must have really been almost 500 years ago.

An interesting side note is the difference in the stature of the people then compared to now. For me especially, these trips back in time can be a bit challenging as the doors are almost all about chin level to me, and when we climb the spiral stairs in the towers it is easier for me to ascend them using hands and feet as if I were climbing a ladder rather than standing upright to walk the stairs.

All on all, a very successful day in the Dordogne River Valley of France.

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Location:Avenue du Général Leclerc,Sarlat-la-Canéda,France

Language barrier

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Location:Sarlat, France

Chinon to Bellac to Sarlat

We started today with a lovely breakfast at the Diderot Hotel with many jam choices that are made on the premises. I was hoping to see the friendly German couple there that we met last night, but they were not down yet. Our first day at the Diderot we met with one group of bikers from England and another from Switzerland. They were all in high spirits and fun to talk to. I was almost talked me into cross country biking.

We checked out about 8:00 and took off down the road. After about 2 hours, we decided to stop and have a snack. For no apparent reason we chose Bellac for this pause in the trip. What we found was a sweet quiet town with a lot of simple charm.

We knew that it would be another 2 hours before we reached our destination so we took a long stroll around the town, picked up a couple of pain au chocolat, and Fantas. And, then back in the Twingo we hopped.

We were very ready to leave the A20 highway and starting to doubt our GPS when we finally saw the signs leading us to Sarlat. We were blasted with close to 90 degree temps. when at last we rolled into the square in front of our hotel, and threw open the car doors.

We dropped off the bags, freshened up a bit, and went out to find lunch since it was now about 2:30. We were immediately in love with Sarlat. We started snapping photos like crazy tourists. Oh, yea we are crazy tourists. ;)


Sarlat features fois gras, so there are a lot of goose figures around. We are heading out again this evening.

Location:Sarlat, France

Long Drive Through the Country

Spent about five and a half hours drivin south today through the middle of nowhere. Needed to get gas so we stopped here.

Pulled up to the pump and after filling the little tank saw the following on the readout.

Yes, that says 57.30 Euro for 34.5 liters. Converted that means approximately 9 gallons for.....
Datadada... $75.80!!!
Remember that the next time you complain about 3 or 4 dollar a gallon gas.
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Location:Avenue du Général Leclerc,Sarlat-la-Canéda,France

On to the Dordogne River Valley

In a few hours we'll be getting up to rocket down the road toward the Dordogne. Well, rocket is probably overstating it as our little rental is decidedly meager in the horsepower area. Our stay in the Loire has been fabulous, and we have enjoyed the sights and meeting people from various parts of Europe at our bed and breakfast slash hotel here in Chinon.
In pondering what to say about the next stop in our voyage, I came across an article in The Guardian about the Dordogne that says it pretty well.

"The countryside - a patchwork of fields of maize and tobacco interspersed with walnut groves and oak woods - is hypnotically beautiful. Sightseeing is first rate, with a plethora of caves, fairy-tale châteaux, and medieval towns and villages that are so picturesque they could be stage sets for Les Misérables."

We'll let you know what our impressions are over the next five days.
Maybe, I can go back to sleep for a few hours now. Waking at 3:00 while on vacation seems counter intuitive.

Location:Rue Lavoisier,Chinon,France

Chinon Chateau

View from the ramparts of the chateau. My expectations upon visiting this chateau or fortress were not high. As often when you expect nothing you are rewarded with everything. The fortress was badly beaten down from past conflicts, but where ever possible video vignettes led you through the politics and conflicts of old. There was also a fairy garden and treehouse for kids to romp around. We enjoyed an apple tart in the little cafe on the grounds.

These are stone trebuchet balls.

Guard house privy

Guard hose tower
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Location:Chinon, France

Tours, Respite from the Chateau

Chateau are great, but... We decided on change of pace and set off to visit the city of Tours for a few hours. The city is mostly a modern busy city with little to recommend it to the casual visitor, but there is a small part, Les Vieux Tours, the old town, that is a maze of 15th and 16th century half timbered buildings.

Right now we are sitting at Place Plumerau the hub. The square is surrounded on all sides with restaurants like some food court at the local mall, only the ambiance is much nicer, folks riding their bikes, birds singing their songs, and people.... Well, people doing what they do at this hour, eating and drinking, wine, just like the food court, except for the wine of course, but with a lot better food.

Jodi pulled out her sketch pad and has pencil in hand as she renders her impression of some of the half-timbered buildings around the square. We'll see about posting that drawing eventually.

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Location:Place Plumereau,Tours,France

Chenonceau, Cheverny, and Chambord

The truth, there are so many chateau in the Loire Valley that you can't possibly take them all in. Chenonceau, Cheverny, and Chambord are three of the most notable.

Chenonceau, because of its beauty and unique design. We were there bright and early, as is our way, and beat the crush of the tour bus crowd. Chenoceau sits astride the River Cher like a swan. It's ivory facade reflecting in the river like a pearl.

We had the run of the place and were able to move about this magnificent chateau unimpeded. This made viewing the exquisite furniture and tapestries a joy. The tour of the gleaming kitchens was a marvel as we were blinded by the light dancing off the highly polished copper cookware.

Cheverny, still lived in, and beautifully maintained by the same family since its construction, is a real gem. Some of the walls are covered in ornate tapestries while others are hand painted wall panels. The rooms of this chateau are so well furnished in period pieces, because the castle has been in the family's hands all along, that you get an excellent picture of what life was like for the original family members.

And, Chambord, the immensity of which I am not sure can be effectively shared in word or photo, is quite the opposite. It had fallen into disrepair and there are very few furnishings in this cavernous building. That said, there is every reason to visit to see this monster and its central double spiral staircase that intertwines with one another. It is possible for one person to be going up the staircase and another going down and never see one another.

YouTube Video

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Location:Rue Lavoisier,Chinon,France

Wedding at Chateau Langeais

The bride is Anne de Bretagne who is 14 years old. The groom is King Charles VIII, 21 years old. The year is 1491. Below are wax life sized figures

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Location:Langeais, France

Amboise Chateau and Chateau Clos du Luce

Our meanderings returned us to Amboise where we spent the afternoon visiting the two chateau in town. Chateau Clos du Luce was where Leonardo de Vinci spent his last years. The chateau is now pretty much devoted to sharing his genius with the visitors. The chateau is beautiful and the grounds are captivating, but in my opinion, it was not worth the 12.50 Euro for each of us.
Our afternoon explorations left me a little underwhelmed, but that's okay. The morning more than made up for it as I detailed in the previous post.

But, Jodi is of a different opinion. She disagrees, and feels that 12.50 Euro was a real value. She was totally enthralled and shot many photos of da Vinci's models.

She particularly like the full size models that are spread around the grounds.
Afterward, we made a much needed pit-stop at Amorino's, a very upscale glacee' (ice cream filled brioche, ice cream, and gelatto) emporium, for a pick-me up.

YouTube Video

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Location:Amboise, France

Chateaux Azay-le-Rideau and Langeais

We deliberately skirted the city of Tours today as we made our way from Amboise to Chinon. Along the way we were able to take in two more of the most beautiful chateaux of this region, Chateaux Azay-le-Rideau and Langeais.

Chateaux Azay-le-Rideau
Chateaux Azay-le-Rideau sits on an island in the river Indre. This chateau is one of the loveliest and most visited chateau of the Loire Valley. Like many of the chateaux its beautifully reflected in the waters that surround it.

One of the reasons this castle is such a joy to visit is because it has been renovated several times of the years. As Jodi says, she feels giddy when we are fortunate enough to find ourselves among the first to visit that day. To have the castle so free of others gives us the opportunity to get great uncluttered photos.

The popularity of this chateau is due to this fact and that it furnished through out giving you a real taste of what life was like for nobility.


Just a few kilometers away is the town of Langeis and its castle. These two neighbors are very dissimilar in construction and the history that is depicted in each.

Langeais is dated back to as early as the 10th century. It was one of many castles built for military purposes unlike most of the chateau of the Loire, and was always in the thick of the fighting because of its strategic location.

A visit here is so enjoyable because of attention to detail that has gone into the restoration. Many of the rooms were staged to give accurate depictions of the time.
In particular, the video explaining the importance of the chateau historically was fascinating.

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Location:Azay and Langeais, Loire, France

Another video that I like about cycling in Amsterdam. A little Dutch rap to help it along.
This is a fascinating video from the Netherlands about their cycling infrastructure.
Dang.... Another one that makes me happy.

What defines Dutch Cycling? from BicycleDutch on Vimeo.

One of the reasons I like the Netherlands so much is exhibited in this video. Cyclists everywhere from 8 to 80 and only one person in lycra on a racing bike. They don't have much of a weight issue either it would appear. Click the lower right four corner box to go full screen.
One of these days we'll make it to Norway. Can't wait to experience this. Make sure that you make it full screen when you watch it.

Not That We Are Counting

But, if I'm not mistaken, my rough estimate says we'll be heading to the land of croissants and fois gras in 18 days 3 hours 58 seconds. That's just an estimate mind you.

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Recently, I did a video review of a great product called the X-Shot and posted it to YouTube, but neglected to add it to the blog for some unknown reason.  So here it is now.  This is so great for taking great photos and being able to get yourself in them, too.  It's small and light, and relatively inexpensive.  Can't think of a reason why everyone wouldn't want to have one of these along when on vacation.


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