Our destination is Rocamadour, about 90 minutes drive north of Montauban along the A20 until we get to a tertiary road that winds its way through the mountains of the Département de Lot. At this place we are very close to the Dordogne.
But first, we stop at CAHORS in the Lot River valley. Most of the city is situated on a big fat spoon of land that is formed by a large loop in the Lot River. Cahors is a destination in itself with much to see. It is a centre for winemaking that began with the Romans. This is Malbec grape country. We only visit a Cave to do some tasting and to pick up some wine for our lunch and dinners at the apartment in Moissac. We are expecting guests: Danny and Rozan and their children.
Cahor wines are, of course, splendid and inexpensive (when you buy them in France). Turns out that we made some good choices: Danny "Sommelier" enjoyed them with us at the end of the day.
As soon as we exit the highway, we begin to look for a nice place for our picnic lunch: three inviting tables appear in a purpose-built place for people just like us.
They are all unoccupied. We dine in the shade of yet another crumbling church that speaks out to me:
"I was built by the Templars and now I too have been abandoned."
This most idyllic spot was marred by only one recurring theme in France: dog shite. While I was chewing on the last piece of my baguette, feeling cozy all over with the paté de canard oozing through my teeth, I was near cross-eyed, trying to maintain eye contact with some stupid fly buzzing around my face. But I got him. I stomped him dead on the grass with my right foot.
Joanne almost choked on her wine when I screamed out; then she laughed herself silly when she saw what I was yelling about. My foot was only millimetres from stomping on a pile of dog doo doo.
The thing is, the French don't do poop 'n scoop. The seasoned tourist here knows how to keep his/her head down. And by the way, one can always find little roadside rest stops with or without picnic tables. If tables are there, then nowadays, there will almost always be garbage containers. But almost NEVER toilets or "outhouses" of any kind. So, you go behind a tree: maybe a beautiful plane tree planted by Napoleon. Do you know what you will ALWAYS find behind that tree? A littering of whitish tissues. Keep your head down!
Anyway, I digress. They don't take the f...ing dog behind the plane tree and wipe its bum. They let it shit beside their feet while they eat at the picnic table so they can better enjoy their paté.
We take all this with a grain of salt now. We finish up and drive on down the road.
We think we see Russell Crowe with his little ass so we take his picture as we drive by.
We do not stop for an autograph in the event that he might take us paparazzi and lash out at us.
All of a sudden we round yet another bend in a road that is becoming narrower with each twist and turn, and we both exclaim, "Wow, look at that!" Rocamadour does not exactly fit the category, village perché. It is more like a cliff-hanging village. It is literally built into the side of a cliff.
I find a place to stop so we can get out and stare at this spectacle.
Disney's Fantasyland crosses my mind.
We drive down into the valley to explore the village. We lock up the car in a large gravel parking lot. Signs warn drivers not to park here during heavy rainstorms because the river (dry stream bed right now) floods and vehicles will be drowned.
At the edge of the Car Park is a big toy train with tiny wooden seats loaded with tourists who look like they'd rather be back in the big plush coach seats they just left. The little shuttle takes people up into the town for 8 euros each. This is the only way up. We decide that, no, we are not going to do this. It really is too much like Disneyland and Joey's day at the fun park. Instead, we drive up around the edge of town, through numerous hairpin turns in 1st gear, squeezing by the parked tourist coaches from D, NL, F, I, P, and numerous other European countries.
We came, we saw, and we left.
No blood was spilt.
No fees were paid.
Maybe it really wasn't Russell Crowe after all.
We're back in time for dinner after a great excursion.
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