Showing posts with label LaRoque-Gageac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LaRoque-Gageac. Show all posts

27 August 2012

France: Late Summer in the Lot

Autumn seems to be sneaking in early this year, with splashes of scarlet and saffron already tinting the maple trees along the river and the bay. Warm days and cool nights bring out the beauty in Wisconsin's sugar maples. Last week, visitors from San Francisco, on their way back home after spending time back east told me New England's colors were already showing.

I love the colors of fall, and recently augmented my cool-weather wardrobe with sweaters the color of paprika and pumpkin. No more business suits for me after Sept. 28

Meanwhile I wanted to share some late summer scenes from The Lot Valley in France. Late summer, with its hints of glories to come, is as lovely as fall.

 Entering our little village west of Cahors.

Display of bulk spices at the Cahors market.


Grapes at the market in Cahors.

A field near Flottes, Pradines, on a lazy Sunday in September.

Driving into Albas, west of Cahors, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

La Roque-Gageac, up in the Dordogne, which was still green and warm.

 Roof tiles in the afternoon sun, Caillac.

The neighbor's dog visited often, and stayed on our last afternoon, consoling me.

13 January 2009

France: A Visit to La-Roque-Gageac

We are snuggled under down throws here in Northern Wisconsin tonight, waiting for The Big Chill of 2009, due later this week. They say it could reach a frigid 35 below.

We have mittens, gloves, scarves, Yak Trax, Cuddle Duds, Stormy Kroners, woolen balaclavas, leg warmers, long johns and flannel pajamas to keep us warm and safe no matter where we are and what we are doing. The larder is full, and I'll bake chicken tomorrow and try my hand at cabbage-and-sausage soup later this week. I still have some Calvados left. We are ready so Mother Nature, bring it on!

Would that we lived in a micro climate. La-Roque-Gageac, nestled under a cliff in the Dordogne, is such a place, by our experience about 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding area. While autumn was slowly coloring most of the Lot Valley, at the end of September to the north the Dordogne remained as green as mid-summer. Our trip up there, which involved a dizzying zig-zag drive past goose farms and through small crossroads, was like a trip into the recent past.

Because of the terrain, our 30-mile trip down and then up the mountain took more than an hour. It was after 2 p.m. by the time we finally found La-Roque-Gageac, after taking a wrong turn that sent us hurtling through corn fields toward a foie gras farm behind the cliffs. With help from the Garmin (is that woman inside dictatorial or what?), we crawled down a narrow back road and finally found ourselves there, under the cliffs at last, growing cranky in our search for a parking place.


La-Roque-Gageac was just as I imagined it would be, if a bit more tourist-y than I had hoped. We ordered cassis and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cones and wandered the main street, a line of cafes and hotels and gift shops highlighting the pat├ęs and walnuts and confits of the Dordogne.


We found a place to sit and watch the excursion boat traffic on the river, shedding our jackets as we warmed ourselves in the sun. The boats are gabares, the traditional flat-bottomed boats of the Dordogne. We were tempted to take an excursion, but the trips seemed a bit long, and we'd only put enough euros in the meter for a 90-minute visit.

Inhabited since pre-historic times, La-Roque-Gageac lies under troglodytic forts, which you can visit (although we did not). About 50 years ago, portions of the cliff face fell, killing some village residents. Today, there are exotic gardens tucked away under the cliff, behind the face La-Roque shows visitors, and these intrigued me. Stairways climb up behind buildings to lovely secret places. This is after all, one of the "most beautiful villages" in France.

Too soon and we were on our way back into the green hills and the mountainsides, heading south this time forward into autumn. It seemed odd to drive north to experience a nearly-Mediterranean climate when to the south the days were crisp with the scent of woodsmoke in the air.

But there is always a surreal quality to our too-short time in France.

And always it is tinged with bittersweet.