Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Day Out in the Dordogne

        Wednesday morning we drove to Sarlat, the largest town in the eastern part of the Dordogne, to go to the twice-weekly outdoor market. The market is quite substantial, stretching all over the center of the town and also encompassing the daily indoor market. We walked throughout the center of town, picking up a number of food items from various market stall vendors. When we were in the middle of doing our marketing, a thunderstorm hit, and we took shelter for awhile in a large church. Because of the crowds at the market and the weather, it wasn't conducive to taking photos of the town, and we planned to come back later in the week to see the town when it's quieter. Once again we had visited a place we had stayed at 30 years ago, but very little seemed familiar.

        After we left Sarlat we came back to our gite to drop off what we had bought at the market, then headed off to have lunch in the nearby town of St. Cyprien, where we had gone early in the week for their market. When we were at the market there, I had noticed a fishmonger with a restaurant attached which, not surprisingly, served almost exclusively seafood, and we decided to go back to the town to have lunch at that restaurant. The restaurant, Le Cro Marin, was quite charming, small, and simple. And the seafood dishes we had were superb. Ann had a plate of oysters, followed by assorted seafood with aoili (a type of garlic mayonnaise). I had their house-made soupe de poissons (fish soup), followed by grilled whole bar, a type of spiny ocean fish. I had had bar in France in the past, but it had been quite awhile since I eaten it; the bar at Le Cro Marin was incredibly delicious. With the meal I ordered a bottle of a white Bergerac wine from a producer I knew nothing about, and it turned out to be outstanding. Bergerac wines, both white and red, use the same grape varieties as the nearby Bordeaux appellation wines: principally Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for the reds, and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for the whites. The wine we had was a blend of the two principal white grapes plus Muscadelle.

          After lunch we decided to take a walk to the upper part of the village of St. Cyprien. When we had gone to the market in the village earlier in the week we had only seen the lower part, and even then the buildings were mostly obscured by the market stalls. This time we headed up to the top of the village, and walked through narrow streets and viewed several beautiful old buildings.

           We then took a short drive on a back road out of Saint Cyprien to the village of Campagne. On the day we arrived in the Dordogne we had passed through Campagne, and spied a lovely chateau there. We discovered that the chateau is located in a park that is open to the public, and we parked nearby and walked into the park and strolled all around the grounds. The chateau is right in the middle of the park, so you can walk around it and get views from all sides. Below are some photos we took of the chateau from different angles.

          After leaving Campagne we headed back towards our gite, making a couple of stops at tiny villages on the way. The first stop was St. Victor de Cosse, which we took a brief drive through. We then took a turn off the main road up to Cazenac, which is the other half of the village of Beynac et Cazenac where we were staying. Cazenac didn't have much more than an old church, a couple of small farms, a few houses, and great views. We then returned the back way to Beynac and our gite, where we again had dinner on the terrace overlooking the Dordogne. With dinner we decided to have a foreign wine; the red Madiran from Chateau Viella from early in our trip. After a brief rain shower passed it was a beautiful clear evening, and we sat outside until it got dark and the birds stopped singing. The only thing that marred the evening was an annoying drone that buzzed overhead several times early on, sounding like a giant mosquito.
House in Cazenac

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