||You'd need a pretty good map to find Les
Bournizeaux. It is near Bergerac,
about an 1½ hour drive east of Bordeaux. We are staying in a
delightful converted stone barn (which was having an addition constructed
at the time we visited) that belongs to Sarah's sister and brother-in-law.
Sarah's parents are here on holiday too, so we got to see 'Gran and
Grandpa'. Janie and Simon, family friends from England, also visited
for a few days.
I love all the houses in this area. Our North American disposable culture seems to build
wood and shingle houses that are replaced after 50 to 100 years when they
age or the design falls out
of fashion. Some of the stone houses we've seen in this area date from the
1200's. I am not the only one who likes this area - the Dordogne is
in demand as vacation property for the English. I looked in one of
the real estate office windows and it is easy to tell what sells: listings
highlight the age and number of stone buildings on the property. We could get a
16th century chateau that needs renovating on about 150
acres of land for about $1million Cdn. I'll have to buy my lottery ticket
when we get home!
We settled into the house for two weeks, and spent our time painting
the high ceilings and new addition, exploring the local area, going to the local markets, and
playing croquet, boule, reading.... and eating. The food in France is terrific. Bread is always a hit with the kids and
I, so we had baguettes for lunch and breakfast on almost every day. We had
lots of delicious local cheeses, and it was strawberry and
cherry season. This is also an area
known for duck, so we had paté and confit de canard. I think we've had a
year's worth of cholesterol during our two week visit.
There are some truly spectacular castles and cliff side or cliff top
towns on the Dordogne river,
particularly in the Beynac and La Roque Gageac area. We
visited Castelnaud which dates from the 1200's and saw some trébuchet's
(sort of a catapult) which spurred Mark and Chloe to make their own out of
wood and elastics.
We also visited Les Eyzies-de-Tayac and went to
paintings and Museum of pre-history. The paintings were done between 14,000 and 20,000 years
ago. This is about the same period as the aboriginal cave paintings we saw in
National Park. While the Kakadu paintings were more 'stick figures',
the paintings in Grotte de Font de Gaume were works of art. The artists
had mixed colours to get shading, etched some of the features of the
drawings, and used the natural bumps on the cave wall to accentuate parts
of the drawing. Our guide said that they had used 'spray painting' for
some parts of the drawings, as indicated by hollowed out bones that had
been used to blow colour at the wall. The result was almost three
dimensional drawings of animals. The purpose of the caves is not clear -
they did not live in the caves, and all the drawings are of animals (no
landscapes, stars/ moon, etc.) Some people have speculated that the caves
had some religious or ritualistic purpose.
We've remembered enough of our high
school and university French to be dangerous. We managed very successfully to buy tickets for our
TGV train tip
to Paris over the internet. However, when we got on the train,
we found out that we had bought a wrong fare and needed to pay some extra.
We knew why we were being charged extra, but could not successfully
explain why we thought we were right. Anyway, the TGV is wonderful - we
had not been that fast in a train since the shinkansen in Japan.