May 30, Domme - Bergerac

Our route to Bergerac followed the fertile floodplain of the Dordogne. climbing occasionally into the hills before returning to the floodplain. On a hill or bluff in the distance, the conical slate-roof towers of an old château or the crenelated walls of an old castle would loom, sometimes with roofs and walls in ruin, sometimes looking strong and enduring. We explored the village of Limeuil, another "Plus Beaux Village" perched precariously on the steep hills above the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere Rivers where a multi-arched stone viaduct spanned each of the rivers. We could spend an entire summer just bicycling from Plus Beaux Village to bastide to château, to monastery, to Village de Charme and not explore them all. The sun played hide and seek among the thunderheads that would build, dissipate, and build again. We decided to avoid tourist oriented restaurants and have lunch at a village that was neither a Plus Beaux nor a Charm. We stopped at Tremulat, thinking to have lunch. On the way into town we spotted an Emaux Atelier (Enamel Art Studio) and went in. The artist Jean-Victor Dubois, worked in an impressionist style, his images the result of successively painting and firing enamel pigments on to a copper blank. We have always liked impressionist landscapes, and his work while not innovative was beautiful. It captured much of our feeling about rural France so we purchased a small piece from him. We chatted for a while and I asked him to recommend a restaurant, good but not too expensive. He recommended three and we chose le Restaurant de l'Abdatiale Chez Julien in the village of Paunat about 6 km away. It was a tiny village, we saw no stores, no post office, just the imposing abbey church of Saint-Martia. A little further on we found a cluster of immaculate homes but still no sign of a restaurant and returned to the church which we assumed marked the village of Paunat.  We parked, walked up and down the streets to no avail, we walked behind the church along a stream and stumbled upon the the old rectory now housing the restaurant. Had we known we could have entered through an arched tower that served both as foyer to the church and entry to the garden park in front of the restaurant. Despite the lack of signs they had a cosmopolitan clientele for lunch, British, American, French, and Canadian. The lunch was excellent. Like Jean-Victor's work, it was not innovative, but was extremely well executed. For me green olives and fresh baguette, followed by Escargots baked in garlic and parsley butter, followed by Guinea Fowl in Foie Gras sauce with steamed fava beans, red cabbage, and yam baked with sage then whipped, followed by raspberry shortcake; for Sheila, olives and bread, baked chèvre on sautéed onion on toast, followed by grilled lamb au jus with the same vegetable side, followed by gateau chocolat with a light vanilla sauce. The service was prompt, attentive, polite, and friendly but not ostentatious, in a word, impeccable. The thunder heads that had been building all day finally let loose with a torrential downpour but abated by the time we left. We found a pitch at a pleasant campground in Bergerac and settled in. There is nothing quite as soothing as the sound of gentle rain on the roof. During dinner we could hear the patter of rain and felt rather warm, cozy, and at ease inside the van. The gentle patter increased to a drumming and by dinner’s-end was the cacophonous roar of another torrential downpour. Lighting flashed, thunder clapped, water streamed off our awning and along the roadway, people scurried by with umbrellas or coats pulled over their heads, hopping over roads turned to streams. We waited, expecting the downpour to abate before doing the evening dishes but it increased, water now flowed across the surface of our pitch, we were soon standing in a broad stream, the road beside us somewhere beneath the surface, the awning began to bow under the weight of the water and threatened to collapse. There was nothing for it, I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, and stepped ankle deep into the stream that was now our pitch, I adjusted the awning to make sure that it drained, retrieved  the porta-potti from the back to make sure we did not have to leave Brunhilda's shelter again, climbed back in and dried my feet, feeling infinitely grateful that we were not tenting. Our camping guide had noted our campsite in Bergerac as having difficult terrain when wet. We now understood what they meant.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.

May 30, Domme - Bergerac

Our route to Bergerac followed the fertile floodplain of the Dordogne. climbing occasion- ally into the hills before returning to the flood- plain. On a hill or bluff in the distance, the conical slate- roof towers of an old château or the crenelated walls of an old castle would loom, sometimes with roofs and walls in ruin, some- times looking strong and enduring. We explored the village of Limeuil, another "Plus Beaux Village" perched precariously on the steep hills above the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere Rivers where a multi- arched stone viaduct spanned each of the rivers. We could spend an entire summer just bicycling from Plus Beaux Village to bastide to château, to monastery, to Village de Charme and not explore them all. The sun played hide and seek among the thun- derheads that would build, dissipate, and build again. We decided to avoid tourist oriented restaurants and have lunch at a village that was neither a Plus Beaux nor a Charm. We stopped at Tremulat, thinking to have lunch. On the way into town we spotted an Emaux Atelier (Enamel Art Studio) and went in. The artist Jean-Victor Dubois, worked in an impressionist style, his images the result of success- ively painting and firing enamel pig- ments on to a cop- per blank. We have always liked impressionist land- scapes, and his work while not innovative was beautiful. It captured much of our feeling about rural France so we purchased a small piece from him. We chatted for a while and I asked him to recommend a restaurant, good but not too expensive. He recommended three and we chose le Restaurant de l'Abdatiale Chez Julien in the village of Paunat about 6 km away. It was a tiny village, we saw no stores, no post office, just the imposing abbey church of Saint- Martia. A little further on we found a cluster of immaculate homes but still no sign of a res- taurant and returned to the church which we assumed marked the village of Paunat.  We parked, walked up and down the streets to no avail, we walked behind the church along a stream and stumbled upon the the old rectory now housing the restaurant. Had we known we could have entered through an arched tower that served both as foyer to the church and entry to the garden park in front of the restaurant. Despite the lack of signs they had a cosmopol- itan clientele for lunch, British, American, French, and Canadian. The lunch was excel- lent. Like Jean-Victor's work, it was not innovative, but was extremely well executed. For me green olives and fresh baguette, fol- lowed by Escargots baked in garlic and parsley butter, followed by Guinea Fowl in Foie Gras sauce with steamed fava beans, red cabbage, and yam baked with sage then whipped, fol- lowed by raspberry shortcake; for Sheila, olives and bread, baked chèvre on sautéed onion on toast, followed by grilled lamb au jus with the same vegetable side, followed by gat- eau chocolat with a light vanilla sauce. The service was prompt, attentive, polite, and friendly but not ostentatious, in a word, impec- cable. The thunder heads that had been build- ing all day finally let loose with a torrential downpour but abated by the time we left. We found a pitch at a pleasant campground in Bergerac and settled in. There is nothing quite as soothing as the sound of gentle rain on the roof. During dinner we could hear the patter of rain and felt rather warm, cozy, and at ease inside the van. The gentle patter increased to a drumming and by dinner’s-end was the caco- phonous roar of another torrential downpour. Lighting flashed, thunder clapped, water streamed off our awning and along the road- way, people scurried by with umbrellas or coats pulled over their heads, hopping over roads turned to streams. We waited, expecting the downpour to abate before doing the even- ing dishes but it increased, water now flowed across the surface of our pitch, we were soon standing in a broad stream, the road beside us somewhere beneath the surface, the awning began to bow under the weight of the water and threatened to collapse. There was nothing for it, I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, and stepped ankle deep into the stream that was now our pitch, I adjusted the awning to make sure that it drained, retrieved  the porta-potti from the back to make sure we did not have to leave Brunhilda's shelter again, climbed back in and dried my feet, feeling infinitely grateful that we were not tenting. Our camping guide had noted our campsite in Bergerac as having difficult terrain when wet. We now understood what they meant.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Route Map Route Map Slideshow Slideshow
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.