Wednesday, June 26, 2013

France Part 4: Canoeing and Domme

On day 2 in France we started with a canoe trip on the Dordogne River between Cenac and Beynac.  (I promise all the French towns don't rhyme...)  It took a while to negotiate the rental with the non-English speaking rental agent.  Just think of all the details one has to iron out, and really be sure of, before heading off into the unknown in a canoe.  Would they really be in Beynac to pick us up at the end of the ride?  (Seems probable.)  How would we know where to stop?  (3 Ponts and a left.  That is seriously all the instructions we had.  Pont means bridge.)  Did we need a waterproof container? (Yes.)  How long will this take?  (Maybe 3 hours.)  This was all communicated with hand signals, broken French, and hopeful smiles.

Happily it all went smoothly.  The river was moving faster than usual, so we finished the route in just under 2 hours.  We counted bridges and immediately saw the place on shore where we needed to stop.  And hallelujah, a guy was there to drive us back to Cenac in a van.

Canoeing was so much fun.  It was relaxing and revealed a different view of some of the places we had visited the day before.  We saw the Marqueyssac Gardens way up on a bluff.  In the photo below is Castelnaud which we had seen across the valley from the gardens but not visited.

And look!  Here's Chateau de Beynac, site of unauthorized photos and fabulous Medieval toilets.

After canoeing it was time for lunch.  We found a Ferme Auberge called Le Maraval.  Eating at a Ferme Auberge is a must when visiting this area.  A large percentage of the meal is produced on site and the rest is secured locally.  It's almost like sitting down in the dining room of a farmhouse where the guy who has grown the food and cooked the meal is your host.  We visited 2 of this type of restaurant, and both times the owner wanted to talk with us so badly.  The people who run these places seem to be out-going and friendly.  They enjoy talking to the patrons, and the meal is very relational.  At both meals we were definitely hampered by language barriers, but darn if these guys did not give up.  They showed us books, pictures, ingredients from the kitchen, maps, and when all else failed they just spoke long paragraphs in French whether we understood it or not.  And we kinda did the same.  At Le Maraval the family dog (who I swear was 50 years old, blind, and lame) laid down at my feet under the table and slept for a while.  (And thankfully did not die.)

We ate foie gras stuffed duck breasts at Le Maraval.  Foie gras ("fat liver") is another specialty of the area.  It was served at almost every meal.  It's controversial because it is made by force-feeding geese to make their livers become huge.  The practice is outlawed in America.  However, the French happily force-feed their geese as they have for centuries, and we happily ate it.

Le Maraval geese spotted after our meal

After lunch we drove to the picturesque city of Domme.  It's a lovely place with shop-lined streets that lead to an impressive overlook at the end of town.

And of course it has a church.  Every little town has a huge church built long ago (usually around the 12th century it seemed.)  We went in dozens of beautiful churches always with a sense of awe regarding their age and size.

We stopped at a grocery store on the way back to Tremolat and picked up a few snacks and items for dinner and had a quiet evening at home.  It was a beautiful day.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Lovely photos and canoeing looks just wonderful!