The route was to La Roque St Christopher thence St Leon sur Vezere. Again a relatively early start with a brisk climb at the beginning, which of course meant a great descent on the return.
The route for the day
On the road to La Roque St Christopher
The prehistoric site La Roque St Christopher
A fascinating education on cave dwelling in which for more than 20000 years humans and their ancestors carved villages out of the cliff face using the natural caves with modifications. It was primarily for security rather than to market penthouse dwellings!
One of the more fascinating pieces of history which caught my eye was the reign of Charles 111, King of West Francia from 879 to 929. He managed to father 6 daughters by his first marriage, a son by his second marriage and several “bastards” . He was affectionately called Charles the Simple, although obviously able to do more than simple arithmetic! Actually the French word was more literally translated as “straightforward”.
Britain will, in the near future, have its very own Charles the Simple.
The longest staircase carved out of a single piece of rock in all of Europe
The Romanesque church in St Leon sur Vezere
The interior of the church – which has parts of the original frescoes on the dome
Note that at the stop over for lunch I obviously had too much Pate de Fois and had a mild degree of post prandial brain fog, so that I became disorientated and backtracked a few times .
The aim of the day was to cycle to and through the villages of Domme and Sarlat, which I did again on a beautiful sunny day and again with the mercury reaching 34 degrees.
Domme means dome – the village is indeed perched on a mountain
A typical street really in any French village perched on a hill.
Next the village of Sarlat-la-Canéda and I have well and truely ventured into a delightful medieval yellow limestone town, slowly smothering in the soot and fumes of tourist buses and motorised holiday vans and all I can say if September is the shoulder of the tourist season, I would hate to be here during the peak.
The lunch time Pate de Fois that I convinced contributed to brain fog
Finally on the return lap I thought I would cycle part of the Piste Cyclable – an old disused railway line, which starts in Sarlat and traverses about 30 km and is very reminiscent of the various cycle paths in SA.
However the start of the cycle path in Sarlat is not well sign posted! I went into the local bike shop on the Main Street and for all the good it did me asking for the “cycle path “ – I may have just as well asked for the local brothel!
As is my custom, early to bed and early to rise…. absolutely necessary as the midday sun all this week will drive the temperature into the low 30s. Riding leisurely through cool hills and walnut plantations.
Adelaide has “The Reisling Trail”, the Dordogne has the “Nut Route”
The countryside in France has a unique bouquet of sweetish new mown grass with an occasional tinge of manure finishing on the nose.
The beginning of the elevation looks daunting but notice it darts at about 300 and is then downhill
Today was not without incident as I broke the shaft of the rear derailleur, no mean feat in a brand new bike.
For the unitiated, the black dangling thing should be attached to the rear axle
A “Romanesque” church
The gardens of the Castle la Treyne – now a hotel
The monastery of the town of Souillac
The Dordogne river
now follows a few pictures of La Roque-Gageac arguably “the prettiest village in France” nestled between the Dordogne river and the cliffs , indeed with houses built into them.
The small blip in the sky is a hot air balloon
Fried Pate de Fois and mushrooms , swimming to the point of drowning
The day dawns bright and sunny with a typical crispness that belies the coming heat ! It’s breakfast and I am the only cock crowing in the hen house – 3 Canadian women I guess in their late 60s are about to set out on much the same tour whilst about 6 Austrian woman who appear to also start a cycle adventure are all set up with brand new ebikes and cycle clothes that suggest they have travelled to Gourdon via Milan.
I am fascinated by the lack of obesity in the French population, given their enjoyment of food and wine! Then the penny dropped – the vast majority still smoke.
However we passed several fields of literally thousands of ducks. I think ducks are to France what lambs are to New Zealand. Around the bend in the country road was a huge factory that manufactured Pate de Fois and every other known way to butcher, press, grind or extrude duck meat into edible offerings. I suspect from the almost snow like appearance of the fields, that a duck down Doona factory would supplement their income…nor to mention fertiliser.
So the point of this preamble is that the factory, much like a wine cellar in the Adelaide Hills was open for tastings, so in I went, to be confronted by a customer who was one of the most obese humans I have even seen and who was adding to his gigantic shopping bag all manner of things “ducky” which cost him at the Check-out out about Euro 100.
This was a delightful ride, which the notes suggested was the shortest of the week but made up by it being the most hilly! It was dead easy! A pleasant cycle less taxing than the ride to Norton Summit and certainly not as arduous as the freeway path . It’s all downhill literally from tomorrow.
The Dordogne seems to specialise food wise in duck and walnuts.
“Canard de Duo” with Chips! The “two” refers to a ducks drumstick and half a breast.
A few pictures of several quaint villages on this first day which turned out to be cloudy with occasional warm spitting rain – a pleasant relief