One week left of this year’s trip. But this is an action-packed special of sporty wonderment. And we have made not One, but Four Videos for you to enjoy as we bike, canoe and eat our way around the Dordogne.
After the disasters of the last week it is good to be back on track enjoying this motorhoming malarkey and making the most of La Belle France. We have been having a very athletic week here in the Dordogne and I am happy to report without any major incidents. In fact our Canoe score now stands after a successful punt down the Dordogne at; Voyages 4 : Sinkings 2. So here are the week’s highlights.
Le Roque-Cageac 22/05/2015
Our first sports-based outing was to the neighbouring village of Le-Roque-Cageac, one of the jewels of the Dordogne and the starting point for Les Gabares, the flat bottomed boats that haul tourists up and down this splendid stretch of river.
And here is a picture of one parked up at Le Roque:
We stopped by the tourist office, picked up a map and explored this delightful spot. We also noted the restaurants, especially ones with a veranda and we promised ourselves an end-of-term lunch in one of them. You may if you are lucky spot one of the resident Eagle-Owls that make this their home. Very lucky as they are brilliantly camouflaged and only hunt at night. There is an Aire here but it is just a car-park and all a bit crammed in. Here are some pictures of our visit.
Once more we leapt upon the bikes for a 10 mile ride to the provincial city of Sarlat-la-Caneda. A town with a full compliment of battlements and a beautifully preserved medieval centre. We wondered around, had a beer, watched the world go by, bought some hugely expensive nougat, we are talking €9 for about two mouthfuls. It was bloody good though. Here are a couple of snaps of us in Sarlat:
Afterwards we cycled back and had a Barbie.
At this point we should point out that our van overlooks a house with a beautiful garden and extensive vegetable patch. Our ‘neighbour’ now supplies us everyday, free of charge, lettuce, spring onions and parsley from his garden. What a thoroughly nice bloke. A few pictures of our Barbie and our neighbours patch and his provided salad
Today was to be the day we got back in the water with the canoe. We had arranged with the local canoe types to pick us up from our end-point, the weather looked ticketyboo and the snacks were got. Unfortunately the canoe had taken more of a battering than we thought during our near-death experience last time out. Both internal bladders were split along the seams. So the day was left to gluing and video making. Firstly a picture of the canoe with its broken bladder and Tracy helping to fix the problems.
And the video of us cycling around the Dordogne is here:
Continuing along our energetic week we decided to cycle to the hill-top town of Domme. We have been in Domme’s shadow ever since we have arrived here. The towering bastide looks down on upon us from its lofty 1000ft perch and bikers scream their engines in a race to the top breaking the tranquillity of this idyll. Well today was our turn to ride to the top and back and the combination of German technology and British muscle were going to shame these leather wearing, japenese sourced grebos that wake us from our perpetual semi-slumbered state.
Here is the route we were going to take. Don’t forget this is a 1,000 ft (300m) climb in 2 miles, 3.2Km.
The first part is the toughest with a steep 25% gradient and then after the first hair-pin the climb becomes a far more tolerable 15%. Like a couple of Wiggo offsprings and with lungs busting and muscle burning we cranked pedal turn after pedal turn. We were not going to let the great unwashed on their whiney machines beat us. We powered on with only sheer grit and determination left in our armoury. The pain was shearing through our bodies as the end became in sight. But we not going to give up. And we didn’t.
We had a recuperating ice cream, me Chocolate chip, Tracy Lemon Sorbet and meandered around this glorious fortified village. We also took some snaps.
It was now time for us to descend. Back down the monster we had climbed an hour or two earlier. Would we make around the hairpin bend, this time at speed? Well obviously we did or I would not be writing this nonsense.
But you lucky people can watch the epic climb, our views of the town and beyond and hasty descent where we reached speeds of 40MPH here on this short movie we made here: Doin Domme
Dordogne Canoeing 27/05/2015
The day we had been waiting for. The day we got back in the water. Had we learned our lessons? Were we now grown up and sensible? Do we need a responsible adult? We don’t know. All we cared about was were the bloody puncture repairs going to hold. Gingerly we launched the canoe by the bridge at Cenac and held our breaths. Not because we were scared we wanted to see if there was an on-rush of air from out patched up dinghy. Happy to report that there wasn’t and we headed off Westwards towards our endpoint of Beynac. The journey is not as dramatic as the gorge of the L’Aveyron but in ways far prettier with fortified villages and chateaus at every turn.
We managed a full day without any mishaps and returned safely for a well-deserved meal in the local Thai. And it was superb, the best Thai we have ever had, anywhere. We also made a short film of our trip down the Dordogne. Watch it here: Dordogne Canoe
A sunbathing day today with not a lot happening. I put the engine on the canoe and went the ‘wrong-way’ up the Dordogne. I also got the camera out and made the ‘spinny’ inserts you see in the movie. Here is a picture of the rig.
While we were doing this we saw the first of our two snakes and here is a picture of the said viperine who had just scoffed a fish.
In the evening we had a rather up-market picnic for tea as can be seen in the picture
La Belle Etoile 29/05/2015
If you have been awake while reading this you would have noticed we ended up in a Thai restaurant the other evening. Sitting on the table next to us was a young French couple who luckily pour moi, had mastered the Queen’s English. We had a good time exchanging some tittle and rather more tattle with each other as the evening progressed. They told us they both worked at a restaurant called la Belle Etoile in nearby le Roque. As you do in these situations you make promises you know you will not keep.
However, the next day we checked ‘the beautiful star’ out on the internet as well asking our local chums and all were unanimous in praise for this unassuming gastro wonderment.
So on the Friday we rode into town and headed over for lunch. We get the usual ‘have you booked, Sir’. Err No we haven’t. But we were shown to a table, but unfortunately inside and not on the terrace with its wonderful views along the Dordogne. Well we hadn’t even got seated when our ‘friend’ Jerome from the Thai spotted us. Instantly the waiter was informed to move us to the best table in the house with prime views over the river. You can imagine the look on the gathered toffs when a couple of helmet wearing, rucksack carrying cyclists are shown to the table they all craved. The table you cannot book, the table only to be used by visiting celebrities or politicians with their secretaries. Table No 1. The playing fields of Eaton cut no mustard here. Oh no, get yourself down to the Thai if you want to be connected in these parts.
The food was a masterclass in the subtlety of elegant French cooking. We both agreed it was the best meal of our lives and that includes The Fat Duck and all those other over-priced pretentious Michelin gaffs in London and elsewhere.
A couple of pictures:
Well that’s it for now.
Love to all