May 29, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat, the most famous town in the region, one of the most visited in France, immaculately restored renaissance and medieval architecture, pedestrian exclusive streets, and a favourite location for filming medieval and renaissance movies, I was expecting hordes of tourists, tacky commercialism, overpriced restaurants, and a theme park atmosphere. Still, we could not leave the area without at least seeing it. About 10 minutes from camp we drove under the graceful stone arches of a railway bridge and into the quiet, elegant residential outskirts of the town. A single street through the centre connected  with a ring road allowing vehicular traffic, the rest of the town was closed to traffic. We found parking in a pleasant, plane tree shaded lot and headed into town. The streets were surprisingly quiet at first, but as we approached the medieval town centre we were surprised by streets crowded with locals, tourists, domestic farm animals, and market stalls, we had stumbled upon an agricultural fair. Pens of domestic animals from cows and large draft horses, to swine and goats, to geese and chickens joined the market stalls lining the street. Vintage hand-operated presses squeezed out walnut oil, children and adults clustered around the patient and docile animals. Local foods and artisan products were being made or on display and for sale from open stands in the streets and from stalls in the formal covered market in the old church. Change the clothes on the people, spread some dung in the streets and this may well have been what it looked like on a busy market day in medieval times. It was a very pleasant surprise From Sarlat, one-lane roads led through through fields lush with spring growth and past old stone farmhouses and outbuildings that had provided shelter for generations of farm families. We tunnelled through dark dense forest, the ground barren except for early spring herbs and ferns, the overhanging branches interlaced and woven so tightly as to eclipse the sun and sky, emerging into open fields or small patches of logging with tree trunks piled like cord wood along the road. Small villages appeared, perhaps old and frozen in time, perhaps relatively modern with shops, repair depots, garden centres, and advertising along the street, but always centred by an old stone church.  We climbed a limestone ridge to a high wooden observation tower. The vineyards on the ridge had just been granted an appellation of origin by the  Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité (INAO). The view from the tower while pretty, was less spectacular than the tower itself but the drive had been lovely, if longer and more tortuous than necessary because of a early wrong choice at a 5-way intersection.
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 29, Sarlat-la-Canéda

Sarlat, the most famous town in the region, one of the most visited in France, immaculately restored renaissance and medieval architec- ture, pedestrian exclusive streets, and a favourite location for filming medieval and renaissance movies, I was expecting hordes of tourists, tacky commercialism, overpriced res- taurants, and a theme park atmosphere. Still, we could not leave the area without at least seeing it. About 10 minutes from camp we drove under the graceful stone arches of a railway bridge and into the quiet, elegant residential outskirts of the town. A single street through the centre connected  with a ring road allowing vehicular traffic, the rest of the town was closed to traffic. We found parking in a pleas- ant, plane tree shaded lot and headed into town. The streets were surprisingly quiet at first, but as we approached the medieval town centre we were surprised by streets crowded with locals, tourists, domestic farm animals, and market stalls, we had stumbled upon an agricultural fair. Pens of domestic animals from cows and large draft horses, to swine and goats, to geese and chickens joined the market stalls lining the street. Vintage hand-operated presses squeezed out walnut oil, children and adults clustered around the patient and docile animals. Local foods and artisan products were being made or on display and for sale from open stands in the streets and from stalls in the formal covered market in the old church. Change the clothes on the people, spread some dung in the streets and this may well have been what it looked like on a busy market day in medieval times. It was a very pleasant surprise From Sarlat, one-lane roads led through through fields lush with spring growth and past old stone farmhouses and outbuildings that had provided shelter for generations of farm families. We tunnelled through dark dense forest, the ground barren except for early spring herbs and ferns, the overhanging branches interlaced and woven so tightly as to eclipse the sun and sky, emerging into open fields or small patches of logging with tree trunks piled like cord wood along the road. Small villages appeared, perhaps old and frozen in time, perhaps relatively modern with shops, repair depots, garden centres, and advertising along the street, but always centred by an old stone church.  We climbed a limestone ridge to a high wooden observa- tion tower. The vineyards on the ridge had just been gran- ted an appellation of origin by the  Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité (INAO). The view from the tower while pretty, was less spectacular than the tower itself but the drive had been lovely, if longer and more tortuous than necessary because of a early wrong choice at a 5-way intersection.
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.