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    • Day 49

      Down to the Dordogne

      October 8, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

      Clockmakers might try to tell us that all days are the same length. Of course that is demonstrably incorrect. Today was a day that was obviously much longer than the preceeding days.

      We always knew that it was going to be a long drive from Rochefort to Salart la Caneda. Of course we had the advantage of a very sophisticated GPS navigation system in our oversized Peugeot 3008 to assist us every cm of the way. When we entered the destination details into the unit, it thought for some time and then presented us with a range of options to choose from.

      There was a "FAST" option that promised we could get there in about 3 hours. That would have been utilising the network of high speed toll roads. It would also have been extremely boring, but the real reason I rejected that option is that it would have cost almost 40 Euro (about $70 AUD) in toll fees.

      There were also a range of other options, including "SHORT", "ECOLOGICAL" (whatever that means) and "COMPROMISE". After due consideration I decided that it is always good to be able to reach a compromise, so selected that option. We were finally on our way.

      The skies opened up as we left Rochefort and almost immediately we began following a very complex set of navigational directions. It quickly became evident that selecting the compromise option put us onto the most complicated set of back roads and cattle tracks that would be possible. Not to mention the inevitable roundabouts at about every 200 metre interval. It was going to be a slow and tedious drive, but at least the scenery was glorious.

      We could certainly see why the Dordogne is such a popular region for travellers and also for expatriate English couples to settle. The rolling green hills, tiny villages and vineyards tempted us to stop every few minutes to take pictures. We would have taken more pictures, but I was starting to worry that, at the pace we were travelling, it was going to take us about 3 days just to reach the destination.

      The route did take us through the town of Pons. It proved to be something of a ghost town with most of the crumbling buildings looking like they had been abandoned decades ago. The only shops that were still open were the Tabac (tobacco shop and bar) and the boulangerie (every French person needs fresh baguettes twice a day). There was one other type of business that appeared to be still operating - the ladies hairdresser. In France these places are strangely named "Institute of Beauty", leading me to wonder whether the hairdresser in Pons could rightfully be called "The Pons Institute". Sometimes my mind works in weird ways.

      We were glad to be back on the move again, albeit at a glacial pace. The tiny roads twisted and turned manically, and every time we met an oncoming vehicle, I had to almost leave the road and drive along the side ditch. On each such occasion, Maggie would scream loudly, indicating her complete lack of confidence in my driving skill.

      An even more stressful event occured when we found ourselves driving through the tiny town of Aubeterre. We entered the place without undue difficulty, but soon discovered that the roads in the middle of the town were fashioned like a lobster pot. You could drive into them, but there was no way out. I circled around the tiny central square, giving great entertainment to the coffee drinking locals who obviously welcomed such an amusing diversion.

      The only obvious way out of the trap was through what looked like someone' s front door. Although the GPS told me to drive through the doorway, every natural instinct told me that it would be a one way end to the day's driving. I circled the bemused spectators a couple more times, weighing up my options.

      I eventually stopped in the middle of the road and sent Maggie to ask for directions. She came back a few minutes later with the advice that I had been dreading. The only way out was through the doorway and out via the living room. Apparently they assured her that the path does "eventually widen a bit".

      What ensued next was a terrifying series of low speed turns, interspersed with forward movements of about 5 cm at a time. Maggie stood in front of the car and tried to issue coherent instructions. I sat behind the wheel, almost soiling my pants. Why did Alamo think they were doing us a favour by giving us such a HUGE car, instead of the compact one we had booked ? I think I now know the reason - no one else would ever want such a liabilty.

      Somehow we eventually managed to get through the orifice, and I hope the damage will not be spotted when the car is returned. The road did eventually widen a little, but our progress was so slow that, a couple of hours later, we decided to abandon the COMPROMISE option and select the fastest route possible. It was a wise decision.

      Soon we were hurtling along at 140 kph and finally feeling like we were getting somewhere. We did get somewhere - the next pay station. I fed a handful of Euro into the machine, but by that time I did not care. I just wanted to get there.

      We eventually arrived at Sarlat at about 4.30 pm. It had been a very long day. I would estimate that at least 14 hours had passed since we left Rochefort at 9.30 am that morning.

      Our final challenge was to find a spot to park our (huge) car and then find the apartment we had booked for the next four nights. The owner had not returned the messages or calls we had made during the day, but fortunately he had emailed directions as to how to open the door.

      To our relief we did find the address and gained access to the building. Not so welcome was the two flights of steep, narrow stairs we had to carry (ie drag) our luggage up to the apartment on the second floor. Fortunately the unit itself was magic - spacious, clean and almost new. The views from the windows were wonderful. As for me, I was just relieved that we had arrived safely and that I did not have to drive anywhere the next day.

      Another most welcome development that had taken place during the day was that the wet weather had passed by and been replaced by beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine. The further south we travelled, the warmer it became. I almost thought that I would have to retrieve the pair of shorts that I had packed away somewhere deep in my lugagge.
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    • Day 50

      Sarlat la Caneda

      October 9, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      It is a powerful feeling to be walking alleyways and staircases that have been trodden for hundreds of years. Since time immemorial (or maybe even longer) Sarlat la Caneda has been a centre of worship and trade. Much of the old city that you see today was constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries. It has also been a part of the French Camino pilgrim trail to Santiago, so it has been well visited by pilgrims on the way of St James.

      When we chose to spend four nights in this city we did not appreciate just how magical the place would be. Our first challenge on arrival was to find a place to park our rental car. There was no way that I wanted to accidentally get stuck with it in one of those tiny winding alleyways. That was a terror that I never wanted to experience again.

      To our relief we did find a public car park only a couple of hours walk from our apartment. Getting our luggage from the car park, through the city and up the 40 steps to the apartment was quite a physical challenge. Whoever said that holidays were meant to be easy ? I think that, by the time we get back to Melbourne, we will need another holiday, just to recover from this one.

      On our first full day in the city we decided to leave the car exactly where we had parked it and do our exploring on foot. It is always surprising that a place that looked so confusing on arrival, quickly starts to feel familiar. It did not take long for us to note a few significant landmarks and then to begin to build a mental map of our new surroundings.

      After a day of walking exploration, we retreated back to the apartment with a pizza and tartiflette purchased from the shop across the road. It was a lovely end to a glorious day in Sarlat.

      Tomorrow we plan to explore a little further afield, that is if our car is still there when we wake up in the morning.
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    • Day 5

      Sarlat Market and Truffle Festival

      January 15, 2022 in France ⋅ ☀️ 36 °F

      It's high truffle season in Dorgogne, so we set off today to check out the Sarlat Saturday market and annual truffle festival. Charlotte hates the taste, but Aaron and I tried cream of truffle soup, truffle risotto, truffle deviled eggs, and for dessert, a chocolate truffle macaron! Sounds crazy, but I really liked it!Read more

    • Day 52

      An Indian Summer in Sarlat

      October 11, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      I have to admit that we both believed that the balmy days of summer had passed by for another year. Over the past couple of weeks we could feel the increasing chill in the air and the skies were almost invariably overcast. It was certainly a far cry from those initial couple of hot and cloudless weeks we had spent in Provence at the start of this trip.

      You can imagine our surprise when we awoke to find that the clouds had all disappeared and the sun had regained some of its former sting. We had no ambitious plans for the day, since this will be our last "day of leisure" before the pace of things increases as the day of our return to Australia draws close.

      After a somewhat slow breakfast, we wandered back to the centre of the old town. Now that we have learned our way about we have discovered that there was a much quicker route than the one we had first followed. The place really was quickly beginning to feel quite familiar. We eve found ourselves referring to our rented apartment as "home". That was how we felt.

      By the middle of the day the temperature had risen to around 25C and the sun actually felt hot on our skin. I guess we were experiencing something of an "Indian summer" in France. At one stage while we were walking in a narrow alleyway, we heard an earsplitting noise overhead. It really took us a moment to figure out what was happening. It was a very low altitude flyover by some mighty fast fighter jets. I have no idea what type of plane they were, but the sound was quite terrifying. This is a spectacle that we never experience in Australia, I suppose because the few planes we possess are all situated somewhere in the north of the country. In France, the locals do not bat an eye when this happens.

      In the afternoon we decided to follow a quiet walking path up the hill to gain a panoramic view of the town. It went quite well until we realised that we had ended up in someone's private yard. Fortunately they did not send the dogs after us and we were able to safely retrace our steps.

      Tonight will be our final night in Salart as tomorrow we begin the long journey back home. By tomorrow evening we will be back in familiar territory in Tours as we return the rental car. On the following day we will continue our way to Paris by train.
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    • Day 45

      "Weltreise" nach Sarlat-La-Canéda 😱

      September 28, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

      Kennt ihr so Tage, wo von Anfang alles schief geht? Es fing damit an, dass ich mir einen Kaffee ☕ kochen wollte und die 3 Zündungen des Gaskochers nicht mehr aufhörten zu zünden. Das Geklackere machte einen echt nervös 🥴.

      Es half leider auch nicht, am Paneel die Stromzufuhr abzustellen. Bei Dauerbeschallung durch die Zünder versuchte ich eine Lösung für dieses Problem zu googeln. Der erste Lösungsvorschlag funktionierte natürlich nicht und eine Einzelsicherung für die Zünder konnte ich im Handbuch auch nicht finden.

      Ich entschied mich also dafür die Hauptsicherung abzuschalten. Gepasst hat es da, dass es in diesem Moment richtig schüttete 🌧 und ich dafür natürlich nach draußen gehen musste.

      Das schreckliche Geräusch war endlich gebannt, aber natürlich funktionierte jetzt im Womo absolut überhaupt nichts mehr (auch der Kühlschrank nicht, der ja eigentlich über Gas läuft).

      Also erstmal tief durchatmen und laut Ommmm sagen 😇. Auf der weiteren Suche nach einer Fehlerbehebung stieß ich auf die Empfehlung die Regler für das Gas zu entfernen und die Knöpfe für die Zündung mit WD40 einzusprühen. Glück gehabt, das hatten wir an Bord 🍀😁.

      Nachdem ich das als zuständige Bord-Ingenieurin erledigt hatte, wollte ich erstmal den Regenschauer abwarten bis ich nach draußen gehe um die Hauptsicherung wieder anzustellen.

      Thomas meinte aber im Brustton der Überzeugung, dass es heute den ganzen Tag regnet und so ging ich gleich nach draußen und wurde natürlich pitschnass.

      Ich war überglücklich (und auch ein wenig stolz auf mich), dass die Zündung wieder einwandfrei funktionierte.

      Nebenbei erwähnt: Keine 2 Minuten später hörte es schlagartig auf zu regnen 😅.

      Danach machten wir uns auf den Weg in das nur 30 km entfernte Sarlat-La-Canéda und das sollte eine halbe Weltreise werden.

      Es fing schon damit an, dass ein Camper die Entsorgungsstation beanspruchte und in einer Seelenruhe dabei war, das Dach seines Wohnwagens zu reinigen 😡.

      Geduld fehlte uns heute und so fuhren wir weiter. Wir verließen den Campingplatz in die falsche Richtung und das Navi berechnete die Route neu. Statt über eine komfortable Landstraße bahnte sich unser Weg nun über eine kurvenreiches und mega schmales Landsträßchen, wo wir nur in Zeitlupe vorwärts kamen.

      Da wo wir gestern noch bei der Radtour durch ein spektakulärers Felsentor gefahren sind, mussten wir heute mit dem Womo durch 🙈.

      Aber es kam noch viel schlimmer. In dieser von Gott verlassenen Gegend gab es auf dem Landsträßchen eine Baustelle, wo wir an einem aufgebockten LKW 🚚 vorbei mussten. Links nur Gebüsch und ein morastiger Fahrbahnrand, in dem wir garantiert stecken geblieben wären. Die Kunst war also einen Teil der Reifen auf dem Asphalt zu halten und auf der anderen Seite nicht am Baufahrzeug hängen zu bleiben.

      Ein hilfsbereiter Bauarbeiter lotste mich cm für cm an seinem Fahrzeug vorbei und signalisierte mir dabei mit den Fingern, dass ich nur wenige Millimeter Platz habe 😱. Letztendlich ist alles gutgegangen und ich freute mich schon auf die nächste Kreuzung, wo ich ein bessere Straße erhoffte.

      Aber weit gefehlt. Auf einem ebenso schmalen Sträßchen ging es 21 km weiter bis zur nächsten Kreuzung 🤪.

      Zu dem Tag hat es ja dann super gepasst, dass wir in Sarlat-La-Canéda auf einem richtig miesen Stellplatz landeten 🤮. Er lag direkt an der Durchgangsstraße und entsprechend laut war es.

      Schön war aber dann unser Bummel durch die sehenswerte Altstadt und unsere gemütliche Mittagseinkehr in der Auberge Le Mirandol.

      Zurück auf dem Stellplatz entschieden wir uns nach einer Stunde spontan, die bereits bezahlte Stellplatzgebühr von 10 € in den Wind zu schießen und weiter nach Roque-Gageac zu fahren. Dort stehen wir nun zufrieden auf dem ruhig gelegenen Stellplatz und lauschen dem Prasseln des Regens auf dem Dach ☔.

      Puh, was für ein Tag 🤪!
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    • Day 13

      Brantôme and Sarlat

      October 13, 2022 in France ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

      Oct 12 and 13…
      Yesterday (Wednesday) was a travel day to Brantôme. We left our beautiful “home” in La Charité and traveled back to Bourges to pick up our car. We were told at Hertz that gas was a serious issue, and all stations were closed in Bourges. But, with a full tank, we felt confident that we would be fine. Whenever we saw a gas station (not often) we filled up. It cost us $20 for 1/4 tank! Too exhausted to eat dinner, we stopped at Aldi’s in Brantôme and bought a baguette and puréed vegetable soup! Doesn’t sound like me, huh? I just needed to get to bed and feel better.

      We’re so happy to have taken a detour to Brantôme which is a little piece of heaven. Brantôme is in the Dordogne region of France and the area that I wanted to visit. We were only there for 1 night. Brantôme is called the “Venice of the Périgord” and is fittingly classified as one the the most beautiful villages of France. It sits on an island surrounded by the Dronne River. There’s an 11th century bell tower with caves beneath it. The bell tower, built in the 11th century, is believed to be the oldest in France. Circling the banks of the river are pretty gardens, ancient stone bridges and centuries’ old houses. The Brantôme Abbey was built by Charlemagne in 769 where the Benedictine monks lived in troglodyte caves…so cool! Imagine…the 8th century! The cobbled streets are filled with cute restaurants and shops. We left in the afternoon for Sarlat-en-Canéda, which is deeper in the Dordogne area.

      We passed through Eyzies-de-Tayac where in 1869 prehistoric humans called Cro-Magnons were discovered in ancient cave dwellings, and and we passed by many rock formations and more troglodyte caves at La Grotte du Grand Roc.

      Our very modern apartment in Sarlat is in contrast with the centuries old medieval buildings. It’s fantastic though! We each have a master bedroom en suite. We wandered for something to eat but were too exhausted to take the time. We are feasting on cheese, crackers, apples, and cookies and crashing early.

      I’m doing a little better today. We’re going to try to give ourselves more time in the evening to relax and heal. We’ll be here until next Tuesday while we explore the many little villages.
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    • Day 15

      Sarlat, La Roque Gageac, and Domme

      October 15, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

      Sarlat really comes alive on Saturdays with its market up and down all the streets in the old town. We spent most of the morning browsing, and Elizabeth found some real treasures.

      This afternoon we drove to another nearby tiny village called La Roque (The Rock) Gageac which has also won the “Most Beautiful Village” award. The village is literally sculpted out of the rock between the river and the cliffs. There’s one small street that runs parallel to the river and then a few levels of homes stacked above. People live here (pop 450), and no cars are allowed on the few cliff roads, not even to deliver large items or furniture. It’s believed to inhabited since prehistoric times! You can see where the troglodyte fort was located. There is evidence of cave dwellings dating to 12 century. The fancy castle was built by a rich Englishman in the 18th century.

      We took an hour cruise on a gabarre, a flat-bottomed boat like they used long ago on the Dordogne River to carry barrels of wine. These actual boats were used by Johnny Depp in the movie “Chocolat”! It was relaxing on such a beautiful sunny day and gave us great photos of the village.

      We decided to visit one more “Most Beautiful Village” today and what a treat it was for us! Domme with a population of 925 dates to the 12 century and is a bastide village way up on a hilltop cliff. A bastide, I learned, was a walled city with the square in the middle and a grid of streets built during the Hundred Years Wars to protect its inhabitants. Parts of the original walls and gates are still there. Walking the promenade along the ramparts for an incredible panorama of the Dordogne Valley below was spectacular. There is actually a cave system under the town square, and it’s believed that the templars were imprisoned and killed here. We also enjoyed our usual village tour on the “petit train” and the best ice cream cone! There were lots of cute shops, and I bought a pair of earrings at an art gallery. I could have stayed here a lot longer. May once again be my favorite place!
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    • Day 6

      Von Lyon nach Sarlat

      May 15, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

      Die Fahrt ging durch wunderschöne Landschaften, zuletzt auf leicht abenteuerlichen Wegen. Leider war es heiß und der schöne Bungalow völlig überhitzt. Dazu kam nachts ein heftiges Gewitter und um das Seelenheil des Hundes war es geschehen. Jetzt hängt er müde in den Seilen und wir mit.Read more

    • Day 10

      Der Weg ist das Ziel die 2.

      August 12, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      Leider mussten wir heute morgen die Insel verlassen und haben uns auf den Weg nach Sarlst la Caneda gemacht. Auch diesmal sindxwir nur Landstraße gefahren . Dabei sind wir durchs Perigord blanc, weiter durchs Perigord noir an der Dordogne und vielen Burgen vorbei gekommen. Auf einmal wurde die Landschaft sehr felsige und wir sind durch das Tal der Urzeit Menschen gefahren Cro Magnon!
      In Sarlat wurden wir von den Eindrücken dieser hübschen kleinen Stadt und den Menschenmassen schier erschlagen.
      Parkplatzsuche v
      Einchecken im Hotel v
      Rein in den Trubel,v
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    • Day 8

      Dag 11

      August 13 in France ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      Gisteren zijn we met het ov naar de plaats Sarlat geweest. Het is hier normaal dat de bus niet rechtstreeks gaat, maar via de toeristische route. Hierdoor hebben we uiteindelijk toch nog de hele omgeving van Beynac gezien haha! En dat voor 8 euro 😂. Eenmaal in Sarlat hebben we over een veelste drukke markt gestruind en hele leuke & lekkere dingen gekocht, geproefd en gezien. Het is een hele mooie en oude stad, maar wel mega druk met toeristen en lokale bevolking. Maar ondanks dat wel echt een aanrader hoor!
      Op de terug weg vielen we bijna inslaap haha, dus om een beetje wakker te worden hebben we in het dopje Beynac een lekkere Paulaner gedronken en bij een ander tentje wat gegeten. Eenmaal op de camping hebben we maar een verfrissende duik genomen in het zwembad, want het was 33 graden😅☀️. Na het avond eten zijn Rens en ik begonnen met het inpakken van de spullen, want vandaag begint de terugreis met als eerste stop de Moezel 🍷🍺!
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Sarlat-la-Canéda, Sarlat-la-Caneda

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