Tuesday, June 25, 2013

France Part 3: Beynac and Michelin Dining

I'm still on the first day, people.

After our lovely garden lunch in Venac, we drove a few miles down the road to Beynac which boasts the magnificent Chateau de Beynac, a castle built in the 12th century.  That's the 1100's for the historically challenged.  1100's.  The sound you hear is my mind exploding.

That is really, really old.  We paid the entrance fee and were turned loose to amuse ourselves amid the castle and grounds.  Half the time, there was no one else around us.  I didn't take a ton of photos because I saw a poster with a camera that had a line drawn through it.  I'm assuming that meant no photographs, but no one spoke English so I couldn't verify that.  I did try to ask.  I met them halfway on it and only sneaked my camera out of my shoulder bag a few times, planning to blame communication issues if challenged.

The inside of the castle was amazing.  Room after room with fireplaces, tapestries, weapons, paintings, and medieval bathrooms.  I am still thinking about the bathrooms.  See the small archway in the photo below?  That is a wall just like we have in our bathrooms today with a toilet tucked behind it for privacy.  Well, not a toilet...a rock ledge to sit on with a hole in it long since boarded up, but still!  Some things haven't changed much in a thousand years.

We wound our way up higher and higher to the very top of the castle where the view was breathtaking.

This shot is looking back down at the chapel which is also on the property.

The castle was purchased in the 1960's by some guy who actually lives in part of the castle while overseeing its restoration.  It has also been used in several movies.

After a busy day of sight-seeing, Cody and I headed back to home base Tremolat, the tiny town that happens to have a Michelin starred restaurant!  Le Vieux Logis is a hotel/restaurant that brings in the bigwigs and even has a helipad for those special visits from high-ranking officials, royalty, celebrities, heiresses, and the like.  (We saw no one famous that we know of, but the staff did bring a silver dog dish to the poodle belonging to a couple at a table near us.)

the hotel

We sat outside, under a canopy of trees.  There were many courses, each accompanied by wine.  Everything was delicious and beautifully presented.  The course that knocked my socks off, however, was the cheese course.  They brought out two huge platters filled with every cheese imaginable, and we could sample whatever we wanted.  I think most people politely choose 3, maybe 4 cheeses tops, but I am an American.  A non-celebrity American who adores cheese and has little restraint.  I thought I was doing good to stop at 7.

Another part of the meal I found unique (and tasty) was the walnut oil they brought to the table between courses.  The Dordogne is known for walnut production.  In fact, just a half mile from where we were dining is a gorgeous field of walnut trees.

We used a dropper to place walnut oil on soft bread.  I think they called it a digestive aid.  All I know is, it tasted so good I bought a bottle of walnut oil the next day.

The meal lasted a little over 3 hours, which I later discovered is fairly typical in France.  Cody and I have a history of celebrating our anniversary with a special dinner out, and I must say this was the most special yet.

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