We had a couple of starts to today. The first one was pretty unsuccessful.
Mirinda’s iPhone had warned us that it would rain with thunder and lightning. While I wouldn’t generally believe what Mirinda’s little friend predicts, we only had to put our heads outside to realise it had managed to forecast correctly.
During one lull in the weather, we headed off for a chateau, thinking that if the rain returned, at least we’d be inside. We hadn’t gone very far when the rain started pouring down in Biblical proportions. We thought it wise to return to the cottage.
When next we ventured out, the weather had, more or less, blown away. We decided to drive to Domme, a bastide town not far from where we’re staying. It was a very good idea.
Domme has existed since about 1281 and doesn’t appear to have changed very much. It was built high up on a very steep hill. We were a bit concerned when we spotted rather ancient Model T Ford in the car park, thinking it may have arrived brand new and just never moved again after the effort. However, it was happily driven away (in the rain) while we settled under the umbrellas of a very handy bar.
The big attraction of Domme, however, is not the car park but the cliff edge at the northern end of town. The views from here are simply breath taking.
It’s impossible to capture the spectacular panorama, though many people tried. Suffice to say that it stretched across 180 degrees and was super clear. A little later, we watched the rain fall across the valley, looking so palpable, you felt you could reach out and touch it. It reminded me of the view from the cafe at Ravello. Extraordinary.
It was this amazing view that cost the town dearly back in 1588. The builders of the town figured the precipitous cliff edge was far too difficult to climb and so they didn’t bother putting up a defensive wall. This was like a red rag to a bull for a hardy group of Protestants who not only scaled it but also took the town by surprise and ended up staying for four years.
In that time, they destroyed some of the buildings, including the Catholic church. I can only assume that they then put up some structure for Protestant worship and carried on from there. The town is pretty big by Medieval standards so I have to wonder, as Bob pointed out, what happened to all the inhabitants? Even if they were taken by surprise by a dawn raid, they must have eventually woken up. Perhaps they were not bothered with labels and just carried on as before only in their nice, new church.
(As a side note, destroying the church seems a bit weird given both Catholics and Protestants pray to the same gods. Surely it would have made a lot more sense to just change the name on the front of the church and put a big ‘P’ on the door…possibly in orange…or is it green? I’m never entirely sure.)
After the four years, the Catholics took control back and, I guess, destroyed the church and built yet another one. I can only assume the locals shrugged their shoulders, made a small ‘whatever’ grunt and went back to making liqueurs and foie gras.
While the view from the northern end of town is clearly the thing that strikes most tourists as amazing, the whole town is incredibly pretty. It’s won France’s prettiest town award many times over the years and it’s not hard to see why.
It’s also full of tourist shops for the obvious reason that it seems to be always full of tourists. This doesn’t detract for the town’s beauty though. In fact, most of the shops were more up market than the usual tat sold in pretty villages.
We had a jolly good wander around because the Petit Train had decided to call it a night before we could board it. We also vowed to return so we could actually take the Petit Train around the streets. We also want to go to the museum (or I do) and the really expensive restaurant. Mirinda also wants to visit a few of the shops that were inconveniently shutting as we wandered around.
As it was we had a lovely meal overlooking the view at the panorama terrace restaurant…I don’t know if that’s what it’s called but it does describe it rather well. We sat and watched the rain gradually drench the valley below us. We were never in any danger given we had chosen the only table which the electric, sliding roof covered.
This couldn’t be said for the table of Americans sitting behind me. When the rain started spitting in them (there was never more than about ten rain drops) they started kicking up a fuss with much squealing…well, except for one of the men who, quite correctly, observed it was hardly what you’d call rain and would be over before it started. This didn’t stop the rest of them from causing a lot of kerfuffle and frantic table moving. I think the waiters thought it a rather jolly jape.
Back at the cottage, Bob and I were totally looking forward to watching the Costa Rica v Greece World Cup game but, while we appear to have about 15,000 TV channels on our Freeview box, not one of them is showing the football. Must be the only place in the world where it’s not being shown…or seen. So we decided to go to bed instead. Needless to say, Mirinda had already gone.