Greetings dear readers and friends. Well, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, thank you for hanging in there with me. Needless to say, 2020 has thrown us a lot of curve balls, and I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like to this year.
I did want to share a very high point of the year, which was my trip to the Dordogne region at the start of July. Wow, just wow… I had heard so many great things about this area, but was really blown away by the beauty I found everywhere. Coming from the other side of the south of France (Provence, of course!), the scenery and landscapes were completely different.
This is the land of hilltop castles (over a 1000 of them they say), sunflower fields, and the slow wanderings of the Dordogne River. It was, in a word… stunning.
I stayed in the beautifully restored medival town of Sarlat-la-Caneda, which is the cultural hot spot and foodie capital of the region. The whole area is known as Périgord, and the swath of land which includes Sarlat is called the Périgord Noir (black) due to the dark foilage of the oak trees scattered around this corner of the Dordogne.
As a decisive battleground during the Hundred Years War, the “noir” also has a double meaning – referencing that dark period of war during the Middle Ages. One of the many interesting facts I learned on the “night tour” I took with the Sarlat tourist office.
Sarat and the Dordogne are both gourmet destinations, and I was fortunate to hit upon market day in the town’s picturesque Place de la Liberté square. Surrounded by the blond-stone buildings for which the historic center is famous, I couldn’t imagine a nicer setting to sample some of the region’s specialties. We were getting quite near the end of strawberry season at the time, but les fraises from Périgord are well-known throughout France. Walnuts and walnut liqueurs are also a town favorite, with a distillerie right off the main square. Although it’s surely not everyone’s favorite, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Périgord is also a big producer of foie gras.
Although I didn’t go the foie gras route, I did gain about 5 lbs on my trip enjoying as many gourmet meals as they’d let me eat. I had an absolutely fantastic steak with Rocamadour cheese sauce, accompanied by sarladaise potatoes – which merit a whole week of trips to the gym in and of themselves. They are sinfully delicious, cooked in duck fat and roasted to a soft and crunchy pile of heaven. I finished off the whole affair with walnut ice cream topped with whipped cream and walnut liqueur.
It’s pretty easy to see where those 5 lbs came from, n’est-ce pas?
Other highlights of my trip included visits to two “Most Beautiful Villages of France” (les plus beaux villages de France) – a national designation awarded to villages meeting a selection of critiera, including attractiveness, livability, and historical importance.
Well, the villages of Domme and La Roque Gageac certainly did not disappoint. If I wasn’t already head-over-heals in love with Provence, I’d pack up a van and head westward to one of these “most beautiful” destinations.
It was a short, sightseeing (and eating!) action-packed trip and my only regret was not being able to stay longer. Looking forward… in future years… to adding the Dordogne to the top of our family vacation list.
Here are a few websites if you’d like to learn more about this captivating region:
Wishing you all the best from the south of France, hope you and your family are safe and well.