Whenever I think of Cyrano de Bergerac, I always think of Steve Martin in the updated, American version where he says 20 nose insults at the beginning. I guess I should read the original (though translated into English) novel. Still, now whenever I think of Cyrano, I shall think of Bergerac, the town with not one but two statues of the man made famous by Edmond Rostand. Both of them have big noses.
Today was a Bergerac day. Bergerac is the closest big town to where we’re staying. And Saturday is market day in Bergerac so where better to go?
Linda guided us (almost) seamlessly into the one way system which defeated her and left us driving around aimlessly looking for and eventually finding, a parking space.
Actually, Linda has a bit of a problem with the Dordogne. Every time we head towards Bergerac she sees roads that don’t exist and gets quite annoyed when we don’t take them. Her voice gets more insistent the closer we get and when we fail to turn she interrupts herself in order to recalculate the route.
Still, Linda aside, we parked up and headed into the square where the Tourist Information is situated and collected a map and the relevant market information from the helpful French girl on the counter. She asked if we wanted her to speak English and after Mirinda said yes did so with some fluency even though Mirinda continued speaking to her in French.
Which reminds me, Mirinda bought a hat today from a hat lady and carried out the entire transaction in French. As she was about to leave, hat on head, the lady said her French was “a marvel!” That’s my wife!
So, we found the market but not before finding a Dixieland band, playing up a storm across the road. Mirinda was so taken by their vim and verve that she purchased a CD from one of the guys wandering the crowd. We played it in the car going back to the pigeonnaire and it’s jolly good fun.
After wandering around the cathedral, admiring the strange tomatoes and other less recognisable vegetables, we settled into a little patisserie for breakfast where Mirinda admired a small dog wearing a hat.
The map we had been given at the TIC was a handy little self guided tour of the city so we took advantage of it and went a-wandering. Mirinda always fancies herself as a bit of a tour guide so she did the guiding while I did the touring.
Of course, by the time we reached anything to visit, it was closed because France closes between 12 and 2pm. So we walked our way around all the sights without entering anything. Eventually we made our way back to the square where the Museum of Tobacco is located to have lunch at the Restaurant of the Enchanted Mushroom.
The museum was closed but the restaurant was deliciously open. We enjoyed a wonderful meal in wonderful surroundings.
During our self guided tour, we spotted the spot from whence the boats leave for river tours. Naturally we had to be there for that! The next tour was at 2pm and we duly turned up about 15 minutes before launch time.
There is nothing quite like the French attitude to time. When they say 2pm, it could actually mean anything. It’s rather like the cafes that are supposed to open but are not. We eventually left at about 2:15. The tour lasts an hour and the next tour was at 3. This meant there was a huge crowd waiting for the next tour when we returned from ours. The boat only holds 50 and it looked like there was at least 10,000 waiting.
Anyway, we were happy, given there was only about 20 of us. We all sat comfortably and the Carpe Diem floated effortlessly out onto the Dordogne. Actually this was the first time we’d seen the Dordogne so it was a bit of a treat.
The Carpe Diem took us a little way up and then a longer way down, the river. Our guide spoke almost the entire way (in French, of course) giving us special bits of English every now and then. We had a folder with an English translation of her tour so we weren’t really lost although it was quite difficult to follow where we actually were on the river at the same time as the folder.
Not that it mattered. We love a good river boat tour, regardless. And this one didn’t disappoint. We saw lots of black kites swooping and turning high in the sky, looking for prey (they eat all the dead fish that would otherwise clog up the waterways…apparently).
The river is lovely and quite wide just beyond Bergerac. The sides are lined with trees and wildlife. It’s just gorgeous.
Here is our guide caught mid-sentence.
We still had some way to go before reaching the dock when a tiny voice behind us suddenly declared she needed to go wee-wee. This started a frantic attempt by her father to get her to think about something else – raisins. In fact, the biggest raisin in the world.
Her mother, clearly the more pragmatic, suggested she hold on “…like a big girl…”
As the Carpe Diem hit the dock, so father and little girl leapt forth and raced towards a toilet while the rest of us were ushered back into our seats while the salty old captain retied the boat to the moorings.
Actually, the salty old captain had the best job in the world and one I’d like to aspire to. He didn’t have to communicate with anyone, could wear, basically anything to work, didn’t shave and just drove the boat up and down the river with an occasional ring of his ship’s bell. Where can I get a job like that?
On the way back to the car, we stopped off for some delicious ice cream and a bit of a relaxing read in the shade. It was then into the church of St Jacques where a rather noble Joan of Arc posed obligingly for me.
It was then just a question of Linda getting us back…which she did. Another beautiful day in the South of France.