Category Archives: France 2018

Sarlat-la-Caneda

Sarlat-la-Caneda, a medieval town is southwestern France, is cute, cute, cute. Exploring the narrow streets that meander between golden stone buildings is like stepping back into 14th century France.

Our two-story apartment is in an 17th century building and has an outside stairway to get from first level to the second.

Every window in our apartment opens to a beautiful view.

When the sun sets the city offers beautiful new scenes.

Sarlat is a paradise for lovers of foie gras, one of the three main products of the area along with truffles and Perigord walnuts. Foie gras is made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been forced fed corn. A statue of geese figures prominently in the middle of the Place des Oies, Square of the Geese and Sarlat holds a geese fair every year on the third Sunday of February.

I think this is cruel and won’t eat foie gras which makes it a bit challenging to order a meal because foie gras dominates most of the menus here. Duck, in all its many preparations, also figures heavily in the local cuisine. A positive outcome of this dining challenge is that we have improved our ability to translate menus and have eaten some great meals.

 

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Sarlat Market, Gardens and Walnut Oil

Wednesday is one of two market days in Sarlat, and we went to the market with a mission-find the best bread, cheese, vegetables and fruit to make dinner at home.

It was fun to look at all the beautiful products.

Our favorite encounter was with the cheese vendor who told us cheese made by his grandparents tasted like new love. Who could resist that?

The friendly baker selling walnut bread made buying his bread fun.

Carrots, green beans, olives, melon and apples completed our dinner shopping. Our fruit vendor asked if we wanted to eat our melon today or tomorrow and chose the best melon accordingly.

After a quick trip home to stow our purchases, we drove about fifteen miles east of Sarlat to visit the lovely Eyrignanc et ses Jardins, billed as the most beautiful gardens in the Perigord region of France.

The same family has owned these gardens for 500 years.

It was another hot day in Sarlat, and the loveliest part of the visit may have been relaxing in comfortable chairs on a cool and shady hill.

On the way back to Sarlat, we visited Moulin de la Tour, a 16th century mill producing natural walnut oil in their ancestral way. The ancient mill is powered solely by the L’Enea river.

A charming couple own and operate the mill along with their daughter and son-in-law. The husband, who gave the tour, spoke only French, but prior to the tour his wife gave us an information sheet in English, and I could translate a little bit of the tour for Paul.

They purchase walnuts shelled by hand and then grind and process them.

In spite of the wife’s limited English and my limited French, we had a delightful conversation about walnut oil, family, Florida and hurricanes.

After a lovely day in the Perigord countryside, we returned to our apartment and made our market dinner. Phillipe, our host, had to come over and show us how to turn on the gas oven so I could roast the vegetables. And then we couldn’t turn off the oven because the knob was broken. With a little phone guidance from Phillipe, Paul figured out a hack to turn off the oven and all was good.

A lovely walnut tartlette was the perfect finishing touch to our market dinner.

 

 

 

Chateau de Beynac

We spent our final day in Sarlat at the impressive Chateau de Beynac, a 12th century castle about ten miles southwest of Sarlat. Exploring the amazingly well-preserved 900 year-old building and grounds was one of our favorite Sarlat experiences.

Originally designed to be a fortress, the castle sits against rock cliffs looking out over the Dordogne river and provides amazing views of the beautiful surrounding countryside.

The audio guide information about the castle and life in the 12th century was so compelling that I listened to all the supplemental segments before returning the guide.

Like many of the places we have visited on this trip, there were surprisingly few people around. It was great to tour the inside of the castle and have it almost to ourselves. The kitchen was added during a renovation in the 13th century.

After our visit to the castle, we hiked a little trail that led down the hill away from the castle.

On a whim, we decided to drive through the nearby town of Beynac on our way home. I am so happy we did not miss seeing this charming town with its narrow streets  and hilltop-hugging buildings.

We like to buy a piece of artwork from our trips but we hadn’t seen anything we wanted on this trip-until today. While on a little before-dinner walk we passed a gallery and found a water color of Sarlat that we loved. The only downside was that we found the gallery at the beginning of our walk, so the picture went on our walk with us.

As we left our apartment for dinner I noticed the rising moon and a beautiful blue sky.

Our last dinner in Sarlat at Le Presidial was one of the best of our trip. I had salmon in sorrel sauce with perfectly prepared vegetables.

The beautiful and delicious profiteroles were a perfect ending to our delightful stay in Serlat.

 

 

 

Lac du Bourget

Last stop before going home-visiting our dear friend Aurelie and her adorable family in the Savoie region in southeastern France. Aurelie was a Rotary Youth Exchange student when I coordinated the program for our Rotary club in Bemidji, MN and we enjoy chances to connect with each other. She lives in Chambery, an Alpine city surrounded by beautiful mountains. Her home overlooks beautiful  Lac du Bourget, the largest natural lake  in France.

We were disappointed that Jeremy, Aurelie’s husband, was away, but we had a wonderful time touring the area with her two daughters. We drove to a ski area atop the highest peak on the other side of the lake.

The area attracts outdoor enthusiasts year round.  It is a popular spot for boaters in the summer and skiers in the winter.

We enjoyed watching the para gliders taking off over the valley and saw a young woman going on her first glide with an instructor.

We ended our lovely day with a delightful dinner at Beaurivage, one of Chambery’s oldest gastronmique (gourmet) restaurants.

Paul put together a little video of our last few days in France.