The Dordogne


 

As we found accommodation prices were pretty steep in Bordeaux, we broadened the search a bit, and found this place in Sainte-Foy-La-Grand.  An airbnb, with a converted garage set up really well, our own space with what has become a luxury, being able to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without getting dressed. Nice kitchen and lounge area has meant we’ve been able to cook for ourselves, saving some euro, but also eating some veggies, where the vegetable is actually the main ingredient.    We had stocked up in Biarritz market, so had a long lusted-after gutz session on stirfried veg took place.

sainte foy la grande

As luck would have it, our digs are directly next door to what is described as the largest wine store in the region, also stocking local cheeses, chocolates, truffles (100 euro for 100g – maybe even more expensive than the worlds-most-expensive-ham Steven purchased with a devil may care attitude, in Bayonne.)

www.cave-laregnere.com

The region we are in is called The Dordogne, part of the Aquitaine region, and is home to…well..,..wine.  Wine and plenty of it.  Vines are everywhere, along with the odd chateau.  But more importantly to us, villages.  Small, quaint villages, where there is no industrial outskirts, simply – villages.  A Church, a boulangerie, a charcuterie and some houses hugging the road.  Ones that you see the Tour De France riding through.    We are thoroughly loving this countryside and again, find ourselves surprised by the inaccuracy of preconceived ideas of what a place is like.

 

Today was market day here in Sainte-Foy-la-Grand.    Our host had advised us that some of the roads were blocked off, but we were on foot, so no matter.  The local harvest and cookery was on show, and of course, we couldn’t help ourselves.  We bought tapanades, some cooked potatoes and mushrooms and toulouse sausage for dinner, a dozen oysters which came with a shucking lesson for Steve.  (Happy to report, oysters shucked without injury).  The Boulangerie chimed in with a still warm baguette (well, of course!), a croissant – had to try one in the home of them, a brioche crème, and a brownie (pronounced bwonnie).  Apples for a healthy purchase as well.

 

The produce was wonderful, but looking past that, the architecture, of half timbered buildings, was gorgeous.  A glass cabinet in the square held community books, where folk were swapping their pre-read novels over, and a large gathering were assembled outside said boulangerie, drinking coffee.  We came across a shop where an elderly gent, his cat, and various assembled cronies sat, surrounded by old newspapers and posters, war propaganda (noticed that France was victorious over Germany in much of it), smoking.  A ticking time bomb if ever there was one, but at least he was out of the house.

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We then headed for the Unesco listed Saint Emilion village, which was so lovely.  Of course wine was the focus, and the shops, offering tastings, were a cross between churches and art galleries, devoted to wine and its consumption.  We do not remotely know anything like enough about wine to intelligently discuss it with these folk, so satisfied ourselves with the bottles we had purchased from our next door wine shop.  Steve later went in and replenished his supplies, liking his bottle so much.

 

If you are into wine, and I know a few who are, you may consider this region for your next holiday…

We’re on the move again tomorrow, to a town(?) actually I’m not sure if it is a town/village/whatever called Thil.

Talk to you soon x

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

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