The hills are alive with the sounds of puffing

Before I get on with today, I’m going to have a little moan. Firstly about the directions received for finding this place.

The address for the gite was a road. The road is quite long, divides into two roads and has many houses in it. Why don’t they have numbers? Or names? Anything that would give one a clue as to where to go. This is not the first time that this has happened and it tends to ruin the start of the stay. Of course, any hassle is quickly dissipated but the hassle could so easily have not existed had the address been a bit more obvious.

The other moan is about the claim that these places actually have WiFi access to the Internet. This is, broadly speaking, true but when it actually comes to connecting and doing anything useful (like write a blog post) it’s about as true as the whole giants surviving the flood thing. (They were doomed along with the unicorns and thinking for oneself.)

Take this place for instance. There is a WiFi antennae thing on top of the fridge and all the lights are flashing as they should but when I connect to it all I get is a message saying it’s not connected to the Internet. I’ve tried everything that an ex-IT guy can do but to no avail. Fortunately I can use my Android phone as a hotspot (the 4G signal is unusually excellent) but I shouldn’t have to. We rent places on the basis that they have WiFi not just the promise.

Anyway, as I said, I’m just having a little moan. Now on to the marvellous day we just had.

My night, though interrupted by the rare bucket frog which seems to live somewhere just beyond the swimming pool, was restful and I woke to a coffee and a sit outside reading waiting for Mirinda to join me. Eventually her holiday version of the bell rang out so I made her a tea. After a number of repeat cups of tea, we hit the road.

Our first stop this morning was the town of Saint Cyprien and the Sunday market. (Actually it was the only thing we did this morning.) What an amazing market it is. The town is presently in the grip of some sort of summer festival so the place is festooned with all manner of decorative flowers creating sky avenues of colour and joy.

The approach to the market

Knowing from old that parking at these sort of places is next to impossible, we drove into a back street and, imitating the French drivers around us, parked in a ditch, completely illegally, knowing we’d be okay. We then left the car and walked up to the market.

What an amazing place the town of Saint Cyprien is on market Sunday. Saint Cyprien/Cyprian himself was the bishop of Carthage and a notable Early Christian writer and saint who lived probably from 200 to 258. He may or may not have written stuff about giants. I really couldn’t say, however, his namesake town is fantastic.

The main part of the old town seems to be glued to the side of the hills, bits of building jutting out and threatening to fall on other jutting out bits. And everything clinging together courtesy of bright pretend blooms attached to long wires down the main street.

Very crowded Sunday market

We managed to make our very slow way along the narrow street with stalls either side selling everything from hunks of spit roasted pork to cheese, from olives to artisan beer. It was all there and there were plenty of people to buy, chat and generally enjoy the whole experience.

(It’s odd how people seem to prefer the whole market thing. I mean, this was originally how it all worked; the farmers would bring their produce to town and the people would buy or swap goods. Then people started preferring using a shop where the farmer delivered his goods and the people would buy, thereby creating the middleman. Then, of course the people decided that they much preferred removing anything even close to the farm from the whole thing and decided to shop in huge, out of town, soulless supermarkets. Meanwhile, the same people would bemoan the loss of the shops, the markets and the joys of shopping. Humans are strange. They only need to see what joy comes from the Sunday market at Saint Cyprien to realise that that’s where the fundamental happiness in life can be found.)

We managed to buy enough food to feed us for the rest of week (goats cheese, various saucisson, olives, a great hunk of pork) then walked to the end of the almost endless market, wandering, slowly, back to the car. It was then back to the gite for a well earned rest.

The pork, by the way, was fantastic.

After a long and extended rest up, we headed out for our second part of the day. The weather has been disgustingly hot (over 30 the last few days) so we decided to only do things up high in order to take advantage of the breezes. Our first stop was at a lookout, looking out over the big bend in the Dordogne River close to where we’re staying.

The views were quite extraordinary but they were dwarfed by the views we discovered later on in the day when we finally breached the ‘mountain’ that is Limeuil!

As we once more prepared to leave yet another car park, we stopped to admire what appeared to be an abandoned hotel and restaurant. Mirinda suggested that we could buy it and start up a holiday business directly opposite the panoramic view we’d just seen. I said no and we continued on our way.

We’d have to get the squatter out first

Having visited the lookout at Tremolat, we decided to follow the sign and visit the one at Limeuil as well – sort of sister sites. Except there isn’t one. There are signs, but no site. So we decided to keep going to Limeuil and have a drink.

We parked, along with the hundreds of other people out for a lovely day on the river, and started walking down to the bar when we spotted that the glass blower was open. This is very lucky because he only ever opens when he feels like it, not being a regular hours kinda guy. Of course we went in.

We didn’t see him blowing anything but we did see a lot of lovely glass including a beautiful little glass lemon, which we bought, obviously.

Satisfied, we headed down to the bar.

Sat on the edge of the Dordogne, soaking up the shade and breeze from the river was all just too perfect. So much so that it was interrupted by a French couple at the next table smoking at us. Obviously they can smoke if they really must but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to do it at the same time. After she’d finished her’s he then lit his which means I had a foul stench for twice as long as strictly necessary.

The French certainly do like their smoking. They see it as so much of a right that they do it whenever they can. It’s almost as if someone has decided that should they stop smoking the right will be taken away. I haven’t seen a lot of kids smoking so maybe the habit will (literally) die out with the present generation.

But enough puffing about puffing and onto the puffing up the hill we did next.

Limeuil is built, mostly, on a very steep incline overlooking the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere Rivers. While being a rather annoying aspect of hill living, the hill affords splendid views once the peak is achieved. At the top, in fact, there is a garden, which was where we were headed.

The woman on the seat has given up

And it took a while but eventually we reached the peak and were rewarded, not with a view, but with ice cream. Locally made ice cream. Ice cream of extraordinary flavours. And being the sort of guy I am, I had to try the green tomato, lemon and basil flavour. OMG! Perfect for a hot day or what! If ever I see it again (unlikely) I’m going to have to have it.

After the amazing ice cream, we entered the Panoramic Garden.

The garden was created by a Dr Linare who, while a native of the Perigord, had worked for many years for the Sultan of Morocco. Obviously making a lot of money in this position, when he retired and returned to Limeuil, he spotted on the steep hill an old chateau. Climbing up he then spotted the For Sale sign. He bought it, did the house up and started creating the marvellous garden we visited today.

When Dr Linare died, however, no-one thought to keep up the work and the chateau fell into ruin and the garden was reclaimed by nature. Step up the Au fil du Temps, the association that was asked to fix it back up. After a lot of work they have achieved something quite wonderful…though the chateau is no longer there.

There are many ‘rooms’ in the Doctor’s garden including a quirky mirrored Hall of Herbs. I liked it so much, I shot a short video…

It was lemon grass.

The whole garden lends a certain air of management to the amazing views around it. From the very top, the view down to the rivers, the bridges and the fields of agriculture were simply incredible. Well worth the walk and the price of admission. And the amazing ice cream. (Seriously: green tomato, lemon and basil…remember it!)

Vezere on the left, Dordogne on the right, the market directly below

We had noticed that a market was going on in the town below (see photo above) but were in no hurry to reach it. Mirinda had read great things about a restaurant not far from the garden and on the slope leading down so we asked for a table and were seated inside a big old wisteria on a terrace.

The food was excellent (and reasonably priced). I had a warmed goats cheese salad followed by fricasseed rabbit while Mirinda had terrine followed by fricasseed pork. We drank a bottle of local Rose. And, of course, I took a photo of my rabbit for Monali.

The sauce is mustard

I had to finish with a creme brulee (of course) which, sadly, I could only give a 8/10. You can see my report on the Creme Brulee page of the blog.

And finally it was time to walk back down the hill. And you’d think that would be easier wouldn’t you? And you’d be wrong. The steepness of the ascent created quite the incline going down so the going was slow and measured. Still, eventually we reached the bottom and had a stroll around the Night Market enjoying the mad music and overall atmosphere of strange food, miserable families and kids playing football.

I was so taken with a group of English tourists that I just had to video them ‘doing the Madison.’ For those that don’t know, the Madison was a popular dance in the 1950’s which some people seem to think is still popular. Mirinda thought they were line dancing.

One of the things about having a gite with our own private pool is that when you get back from a very hot and sweaty day, climbing mountains and enjoying rich food, you can just strip off and jump in. The day just washes away as you swim around to the accompaniment of cicadas and the bucket frog.

A final view of the twin bridges…from ground level

Tomorrow we are planning to visit another abbey.

This entry was posted in Dordogne 2018, Gary's Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The hills are alive with the sounds of puffing

  1. mum says:

    That was great to much to say about all so just say very interesting and loved the girls dancing at the end. love mum xxx

  2. mum says:

    I agree with you about cousin Dawn that was very easy. xx


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