Wednesday: After lunch we said adieu to the chateau and to our wonderful friend Zulu and headed into Bordeaux . 

Friday: Went in search of chicken livers while the kids slept. Finally found them in Colyraq. Meagan and Dawson slept late, and when we got home, we had planned to go to La Bastide for lunch, but Meagan wasn’t feeling well, so I made pate for the weekend while the kids shut themselves up in the dark, airless TV room, with the doors and windows shut, covered in blankets and watched TV. They hibernated all afternoon, then we had foie gras (which was delicious) except for Dawson, who didn’t feel good. 

Saturday: First really wasted day since we have been here. The kids said they didn’t want to go to the Medieval Festival at Bonaguil, so we just hung around Le Pecile, then went to the Bastide for lunch. I had Pizza La Grand-mere, with tomato sauce, smoked duck, ham, foie gras, fig jam, and cheese—delicious, but I could only eat half. In fact, Jerry was the only one who ate his whole meal. Meagan and Dawson spent the day in the TV room. I was at the pool for an hour or two, and Jerry was so bored he re-mowed places he had done only a couple of days ago. Very boring day. 

Sunday: Had a good time at Bernard’s seventieth birthday party. It was a very hot, sunny afternoon, and they had had the main dinner party last night. This was a catered pique nique. We didn’t know too many people there but a few we did and met lots more. There was endless food and wine. We took the pate they like so well, lavender cookies, wine and a bright red Basque beret. 

Monday: The day of OUR picnic. At ten in the morning, we expected fourteen. By eleven, the number was up to 26 and we were madly making ice. It was a perfect day, albeit quite hot. There was a breeze on the upper deck overlooking the pool, which some of the guests enjoyed after we ate. We had plenty of food and wine, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. A good ending to our stay in Lot-et-Garonne. 

Tuesday: Our last day at Le Pecile. Meagan wanted to get some wine for gifts, so we went to Buzet and she found what she was looking for. Came home through Claremont Dessous. Cleaned, tidied and packed.

 Thursday: Cloudy this morning, but the sun came out shortly after noon. We went to the Musee de Foie Gras in Frechpec and were surprised at how interesting it was. Very professional with a guidebook and video in English and a tasting and shopping time afterwards. The Egyptians “invented” foie gras when they discovered that migrating ducks and geese from Northern Europe had fattened their livers up in preparation for the journey. When they reached the land of the Pyramids, they were killed for that very liver. As the obsession continued, “factories” developed which force fed the birds and confined them in very small spaces. Today in southwest France and in Alsace farms have reverted to the much older practice of feeding through a funnel twice a day and letting them roam “en plein aire.” They claim that their throats are not sensitive as ours are, since they must swallow small stones and gravel to grind the food in their gizzards. We enjoyed the film, which concluded with a section on preparing the product and set our mouths watering. Then we tasted four or five different preparations and shopped. I got a real fresh liver which I will sauté tomorrow.

Drove on to the Grotte de Lascaux/Lascaux II: The grotto was discovered in 1940 by four teenagers in search of their dog, which had fallen into a deep cavern near Montignac. The cave was found to be decorated with marvelously preserved animal paintings, executed by Cro-Magnon people some 17,000 years ago. They are among the finest examples of prehistoric art in existence. Lascaux was opened to the public in 1948 and over the next fifteen years, the humidity created by more than a million visitors caused algae and then an opaque layer of calcite to form over the paintings. The authorities decided to close the cave and build a replica. Opened in 1983, some 200 meters from the original cave, Lascaux II was the result of ten years’ painstaking work by twenty artists and sculptors using the same methods and materials as the original cave painters. The almost perfect facsimile comprises ninety percent of the Lascaux paintings concentrated in the Hall of Bulls and the Axial (or Painted) Gallery, a distance of less than 100 meters. The reproduction is breathtaking.  In the Hall of Bulls five huge aurochs—one 5.5 meters long with an astonishingly expressive head and face—dominate the ceiling, while the Axial Gallery is covered with more cattle surrounded by deer, bison and horses rendered in distinctive Lascaux style with pot-bellies and narrow heads. Some are shaded or spotted with different colored pigments, others, like the bulls, drawn in black outline. You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the incredible skill employed by the prehistoric artists, who would have painted these animals from memory by the ligt of flickering oil lamps, not to appreciate their sense of perspective and movement, the sheer energy they manage to convey. This was unbelievable. I had seen pictures, but the size of the paintings is immense. Imagine---17,000 years ago.

Auroch, ancestor of domestic bulls, which we will see represented in the caves of Lascaux, plus a French horn of sorts for Peter

The cathedral itself is the final destination for thousands of Christian pilgrims who walk the "Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago)" pilgrimage across Galicia, in order to reach this impressive city and visit the tomb of the saint himself. This massive cathedral in the heart of Santiago’s old district has become the unofficial symbol of the capital and its two slender towers dominate the cityscape from all directions. The original church that once occupied this spot had small and humble beginnings, but today the giant edifice that is Santiago cathedral attracts visitors and pilgrims from all over the world. We bought the extra entrance ticket, which admitted us to all of the treasures, including the very interesting museum and also audio guides in English. No photographs were permitted inside the museum itself, but we spent a lot of time there and in the church.

Canon Gonzalo de Lerma, whose tomb in alabaster houses his recumbent statue. The famous "Papamoscas" is a grotesque-looking doll which opens and closes when the clock strikes the hour.

​In the Chapel of the Conception of Ste. Anne there is a lavish altarpiece in the Flemish Gothic style dedicated to St Joaquin and St Anne, the parents of the Virgin Mary. This is the work of Gil de Siloe, who put the finishing touches to the main section in 1492; it depicts the Tree of Jesse around the embrace of Joaquin and Anne. The stained glass made beautiful patterns on the work.

​The dome of the crossing which is about fifty meters high rises up above the intersection of the Great Nave and the Transversal Nave. It has a double body of lights and an amazing pierced stellar vault, which permits the entry of light from above. Cherub with skull. Sixteenth century colored altarpiece.

The Door of the Sarmental, which was built in the purest Gothic style and finished around 1235, is on the South facade. It is the most classical and elegant of the Cathedral Doors because of its perfect proportions and the beauty of its sculpture-work. The central figure of the tympanum is Christ, Majesty, Master with the Book of Wisdom in his hand, surrounded by the four evangelists and their symbols. Below in the lintel, you can see the twelve apostles holding the gospel in their hands. The circular Rose Window that opens above the Door of the Sarmental and which lights up the South Transept is a grand circle of six meters in diameter which frames a harmonious picture of traceries and a central circle. It contains the last remaining stained-glass window (finished around 1240) from the original 13th century French factory. 

The main entrance to the Cloister. In the Chapel of St Henry is a picture of Christ sitting in pain, before being crucified.

We had seen the modern basilica atop the Eagle’s nest of Penne d’Agenais on our way home from Trentels last Tuesday, and I really wanted to see it close up. This ancient fortified village was constructed by Richard Lionheart and has now become a city of artisans, all of whom were at lunch for the obligatory 12-2 closing. We parked in the village square and climbed up to the basilica, where a service for schoolchildren was being held, chaperoned by Carol’s friend Pippa, whom we had met at St. Medard. The building was consecrated in 1949 and reminds me of Sacre Coeur in Paris. The twelve strong pillars rise upwards and the round domes offer peace and quiet and serenity. According to the brochure: “The square shape, a terrestrial symbol, leads to the circular shape of the dome symbolizing the heavens, and we move on from the visible world to the invisible…The garland-shaped ochre paintings in the chancel represent the litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary—Morning Star, Tower of Ivory, Ark of the Covenant” Very elegant and moving.

Laroque-Timbaut: from a12th century market hall set in the middle of old houses and the vestiges of a chateau, we began a descent to the valley of St-Germain, where a small lake supplied water to a fountain which, according to legend, cured the army of Rolande of a contagious disease. We didn’t make it very far down, as the way was muddy and slippery and the “walking” footgear was in the missing suitcase.In Hautefage-la-Tour we saw a renaissance hexagonal, flanked by a circular turret with a staircase. 

​France~Aquitaine   Part 4

Our first night market in Praysass was very enjoyable. Taking the advice of several friends, we arrived about 6:45 and secured a long table under the arcade (as it was sprinkling again). We set up our place settings and walked about. Everybody had something different. We started with a long loaf of ham-stuffed bread that was delicious. Jerry later got another stuffed with mushrooms and cheese and Dawson also got a second. Meagan got “moules frites,” not fried mussels as we had thought, but steamed mussels with fries. Dawson had “gambes frites,” or shrimp with fries; I had a duck brochette (with cubes of meat and juicy liver), and Jerry had a steak. There were crepes, fruit, tomatoes, churros (sans chocolate) and wine also.


 Wednesday: Rained most of the day. We went into Agen and toured the museum. We also went to the fish market and got four dozen oysters, which Dawson and Jerry shucked, and then we all enjoyed. 

Tuesday, July 2: Lots of work today. The cat was very angry at Jerry--I don't think he had been fed since we left. Went to Aguillon where the market seemed much bigger than that of the usual Tuesday. Jerry and Dawson mowed and worked outside. The kids were finally able to enjoy the pool.

In the Neolithic period, between 5000 and 2000 years before Christ, funerary monuments were constructed here in the Bergerac. There are two types of monuments: dolmens, made ​​from several huge boulders, forming a large room that could accommodate several bodies, and menhirs, consisting of a single stone planted in the ground. We found Dolmen White in Nojals-and-Clotte. This is one of the most beautiful dolmens of Périgord. The room consists of boulders erected and covered with slabs of stone.
Came back to “home”. Picked up a few things at the gite, then Jerry and I set off to get Zulu. He was very happy to see us and climbed right up into the car. We stopped to clean out the gite, then came home and did (lots of) laundry. Alex and his friends had not done sheets or towels, so there were four loads to do. Fortunately, the day was sunny and things dried well. Cooked some chicken and went to bed.

Found a model for a new deer stand for Jerry.

Sunday: Cloudy and overcast skies turned to bright warm sun. Off about 8:15 for La Roque Gageac, another one of France’s prettiest villages, where we bought tickets for a boat ride, then had breakfast at a café. On the cliff above the village are guard-posts, ramparts and other remnants of a troglodyte fort. At one time belonging to the bishops of Sarlat, who built themselves a chateau within the ramparts, the fort provided the villagers with a virtually impregnable refuge from the Vikings’ ninth century invasions right up until the early 1800’s when it was largely dismantled; only the Protestant armies were able to take it by force. The cruise was about an hour, with audio guides in English.

Got to the Elevage des Granges in Tursac to see the feeding of the geese, but we had missed the last demonstrations, so went back to find our hotel in Thonac. It is a “Logis” very nice. We had two pretty rooms in a stone building with a courtyard facing an old church. The rooms were small but clean (with the exception that they needed a good bleach on the shower tiles) facing an old church whose bells rang promptly at 7 pm and again at 7 am. Decided on dinner at the hotel and it was good that we arrived at 7, as it soon filled up. (Also there was a wedding reception that started across the street and finished upstairs). Went for a walk around the town, but it was raining and the town seems to be one square block, owned by the owners of our hotel.

Went to an excellent restaurant for mariscos (shellfish) and had a good, if not abundant meal. Jerry was the only one to get a full plate; he had grouper. We ordered an appetizer of grilled octopus and clams (6) to share and everyone loved the octopus. Dawson got two orders of grilled shrimp, Meagan got clams on the half shell (6), and I got two scallops fixed two different ways. We had a nice white Albarido as an accompaniment, then began our tour.

Wednesday: (620 km) Got a good start after an excellent breakfast at the hotel. Drove on autostradas for about four and a half hours into Santiago de Compostella. It was a pretty drive with Scotch Broom in bloom (ours blooms in April and May and it’s almost July here) all along the roads. The land is very flat and there were snow-covered mountains visible in the distance. This is as different from southwest France as it could be. Red soil and huge corporate farms. No vegetable gardens, no family farms, few animals, few small towns. Just miles and miles of grain interspersed with industrial development.

We had a bit of trouble driving to our hotel, the Hospederia San Martin Pinario Monastery  (, not because we couldn’t find it, but because it is right next to the cathedral and the streets are tiny, narrow, and one-way. Finally parked in a big underground lot. It is a beautiful hotel in what is now the seat of the Major Seminary of Santiago’s Archdiocese; the Compostelan Theological Institute and the School of Social Work. Construction began in the last third of the 16th century and ended two centuries later. The monastery is, together with the Cathedral, the most valuable site in Galician Baroque, and the second largest in Spain, after El Escorial (Madrid). Santiago de Compostela itself is the jewel in Galicia's historic, cultural and medieval crown. It contains a large medieval district and is rightly regarded as one of the world's great cities. 

Came out and it was warm and sunny in the central square. People were passagiating and eating ice cream. We walked around enjoying the evening, then drove back to the hotel. Meagan and Dawson went out to get something to eat. I did the Journal, and Jerry read.

Saint Iago with fish; Saint Iago with staff

The Chapels of San Juan Batista and Santiago were built in the 16th Century (1524 to 1534) and are now the Cathedral's most important museum. Visitors can admire the most important religious and cultural treasures in the Cathedral with paintings from the 15th to the 18th centuries, and sculpture and silverwork from the 12th Century to the 20th Century. In the picture you can see the marvelous flagellated Christ tied to a pillar. This is one of the Cathedral's most important sculptures. It is pre-1528 and was made in the Renaissance style by Diego de Siloe.

Tuesday: Woke up early to a pretty day. Lots of clouds, but peeks of sunshine. Drove into Agen to get the car, which turned out to be a Volvo station wagon, so we had plenty of room. Jerry took it and the rest of us met him in the Clio at the free parking lot by the river (after a bit of a drive around the city).
I made a mistake when I planned this trip. We really don’t like super highways, so I had set our route to go through Roncesvalles, just over the border into Spain at the pass crossing the Pyrenees. When we got to the crossing, all the clouds disappeared. It was a beautiful drive, but very winding, and both kids had stomach problems. By the time we got to the top of the mountain and the town, it was evident that we will be taking straight roads from here on (except for the way down the mountain to Burgos, which was the only road available). Roncesvalles is a small village and municipality in Navarre, northern Spain situated on the Urrobi River some 900 meters high in the Pyrenees, about 8 kilometres from the French frontier. It is famous in history and legend for the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland in 778, during the battle of Roncevaux Pass, when Charlemagne's rear guard was destroyed by Basque tribes. Since the Middle Ages, the collegiate church here (which was closed) has been a favorite resting place for Catholic pilgrims along the Way of St. James, since it is the first place to have a rest after crossing the French Pyrenees. Every year thousands of pilgrims begin their way to Santiago de Compostela at Roncesvalles.
We had lunch at an inn. There was a “Pilgrim’s Menu”, but we didn’t have pilgrims’ passports. On the way, I had said I really wanted trout and ham, and that’s exactly what I got, with garlic soup to start and flan for dessert (no cheese course in Spain). Jerry had veal stew and both Meagan and Dawson had veal cutlet. They also all had different soups to start. Because of the time, we decided to bypass Pamplona and head straight (after the descent) to Burgos.

Sunday: Did a few loads of wash to get the house ready for Alex while Jerry took the van into Bordeaux to pick him and his friends up at the airport. We made two moving trips to the gite, then Meagan and I stayed at Prayssas to wait. I was sad to say goodbye to Zulu, who wanted to come in the car with us. As soon as we were settled, we went into the Foire Bio at Bazens, which was really nice, with lots of stands of ecologically pure  merchandise, from soaps to hemp and jute clothing to wine and produce. We had some kebabs of lamb and saw some of our friends. The weather was its usual changeable self, with clouds and sprinkles. Came back and had dinner, then played Scrabble and cards till bedtime. It’s rather tight here, but comfortable. 

Monday, June 24: Had a good night’s sleep and woke up to—clouds. It only sprinkled a little today and we had flashes of sunshine. Drove to Cahors and followed the path of the secret gardens. Some of them were so secret we never did find them. Walked around inside of the cathedral and the cloisters. We noticed more evidence that this church is on the pilgrim road. There are brass scallop shells imbedded in the sidewalks all over town, there were scallop shells in the cloister, and even a carved pilgrim on one of the columns(no indication of what scared him though). The city looks different when it’s not market day. The Mairie is deorated for spring with umbrellas (how appropriate!!). We noticed that the dog owners here aren’t very good about curbing their dogs, in spite of reminders to do so. We got some info from the Tourist Office to read while we had lunch in the same restaurant where we ate with Sarah. Meagan had a bad reaction to the chicken and green beans and didn’t feel well for the rest of the afternoon. Walked out on the bridge and this time we did find the devil carved on the tower. 

Thursday: Today, for the first time since we’ve been here, the cat came running out to see Jerry, then cried and cried when she saw it was him and not her friend. We decided to stay here as Dawson cannot see without his contacts. Suitcases arrived about 12:30. Jerry has been mowing all morning. Went to Shirley and Jerrold’s for an absolutely wonderful evening. Their friends Jennie and David have been staying for a while, and Jean Jacques and Bernard arrived at the same time as we did. Jean Jacques had a huge bottle of wine in his arms.  Meagan and Dawson got to see their beautiful house with the two fireplaces keeping things warm and cozy (it’s hard to believe it’s the end of June). We had drinks and hors d’oeuvres  the a long and enjoyable dinner. I think the kids enjoyed the meal: lovely melon and some chicken pate I had brought; chicken and sausages grilled by David with accompaniments; then a couple of huge cheese boards Shirley had assembled especially for Dawson. She had roasted the first apricots of the season (M&D had never had apricots) and had made a beautiful gateau for dessert. There was a beautiful, almost full moon—maybe it will be nice tomorrow. We got home to a dopey Zulu and a good night’s sleep. 

Friday, the longest day of the year: Wrong about the weather. Another rainy day. Jerry made us a glorious breakfast of his famous bacon, tomato, cheese and scrambled eggs. We did some laundry then went into Aiguillon for the market. The cheese lady wasn’t there—a big disappointment as I really wanted to get some of the mascarpone/Gorgonzola we had had last night at Nathan’s. But we picked up some goodies and Dawson took home some of the tortellini from the cooked food stand. Jerry and the kids went to meet with Alex at the gite. We came home and had lunch, a roasted chicken, courgettes and a salad with warm cheese, which the kids didn’t care for. Planning to go to the Music Fest in Agen, we searched for and found the bathroom supply store for the broken shower door hinge, but they said they couldn’t do anything without the model number. It was obviously broken when we arrived, and someone had tried to fix it with epoxy, so I guess we will leave it for Warners’ arrival. Went to Lagnauc to check on the Clio. It has bad shocks, which may have caused the bucking, but it is not dangerous, so we will leave it for their arrival in July. We also told him about replacing the tires on the Espace. We drove it home, decided not to go back to Agen. It turned out to be a good decision, as it poured the entire rest of the evening. 

Saturday: Cloudy and overcast this morning when I was awakened at 7:15 by the doorbell and Zulu’s barking. It was a funny little man in a green army coat on a motorcycle speaking very rapid French. I figured out that he was telling me a pack of dogs and some fox hunters were quickly approaching and I should make sure our dog was inside. So I quickly took him out and for a short (albeit necessary) walk, then brought him back inside. Sure enough, in a few minutes I saw beagles and orange-clad hunters in the field. They passed through and heard a bit of shooting. 
The sun came out about noon and we went to Hanford’s for a lovely lunch at their newly restored stone home near Puymiron. Maggie and David were there, and we all ate very well, including two desserts after the cheese board. Came home, then went into Prayssas for a music festival, but it was only starting and we were too tired to stay till after midnight, so we came home and packed up our stuff. No more updates till we return home a week from Monday

Drove through Massoules, a tiny agricultural village to Frespech, a fortified village on a crest, which has preserved some of its walls, old gates and ancient houses with turrests and meneaux (cross-shaped mullions) The apse of a romanesque church of the 11th century is covered with lauzes (slate shingles). We found the very interesting Taulejada Restaurant I had read about, but I doesn’t open till July 1.Descended in the valley of the Tancanne before reclimbing to Massels with a Romanesque church toward Blaymont. Passed by Beauville, dominating the valley of the Petite-Seoune, and seeming to blend into the promontory on which it is perched. Stopped in Saint-Maurin to try and see the model of the ancient abbey on display in the clock tower but it was closed, as was the church. Stopped at the big Intermarche for a few things and got home in time to grill some duck breasts, which we had with a cherry-wine sauce, peas and wild mushrooms in cream and potatoes cooked in duck fat.  Sad story. When Jerry went out to close up the chicken, it was gone. The poor cat was frantic, crying and meowing for his only friend.

Tuesday: The kids’ flight was altered due to weather in Atlanta. They arrived about 4 pm in Bordeaux without their luggage, which was still in Atlanta. It will be sent to Le Pecile. It was absolutely teeming with rain all day, so their introduction to France was not great.
Wednesday, June 19 (Jerry’s 69th birthday): It was overcast but not raining, so we decided to do a “Bastide Trail” with sites we have not seen before. Stopped in Prayssas to mail an envelope to Fiona and pick up some bread.

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Thursday: The kids left early for their 7:30 flight. Meagan left the gift she had for Caleb, but we didn’t find out till we were in Paris. We got a taxi instead of the bus back for our flight to Paris. Instead of the hotel restaurant, we opted to walk into Roissy, a very typical small town, different from anything I have seen anywhere near a major airport. We chose a small restaurant full of families with small to middle children and had a truly wonderful “last night in France” dinner with a main of sweetbreads in a morel sauce in a vol au vent. We walked back with a few detours, slept well  and flew home with no problems. Ellen and Bill were there to meet us and we came home to greet Richie in the driveway, still working to repair our Sandy-damaged home.

The famous Grosse Cloche belltower is all that remains of the Saint-Eloi gateway. It was part of the Town Hall where aldermen met in medieval times. The huge bell, a symbol of freedom, is tolled these days only to announce major public events.
The kids were hot and tired, so we got the bus back to the hotel and had an OK meal in the dining room there. It was a buffet, so Dawson seemed pleased, but later said he wished he had ordered the plate of the day. Jerry picked up the Warner clan at the airport late in the evening, then returned to the hotel.

We had two rooms at an Ibis Hotel near the airport, so we unloaded the big car there and took the bus into town. I’m so glad we decided to do this. Bordeaux is a beautiful, art-filled city with lots to see. We followed the first half of a walking tour then went back to the hotel because the kids were hot and tired. Got a map from the tourist office, located in a beautiful neo-classical building completed around 1820, then found the Eglise Notre-Dame which was built by the Dominicans and is characteristic of architecture dating from the Counter-Reformation. The very elaborate façade opens onto a large nave. The year the arches were completed, 1707, is engraved on the keystone. Ten rather dark paintings by Brother Andre decorate the chapels. The organ case is topped with statues of David and Ste-Cecile.
 Passed under the Porte Dijeaux, built between 1748 and 1753, and one of the city’s monumental gateways. Outside the Musee des Beaux-Arts was an imposing statue of Goya, and across the way was the Cathedral and pilgrim stop on the Compostella Road. A listed UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998, the Cathedral is a very good example of the Southern Gothic style. The belltower is separate from the cathedral. 

On to Chateau de Fenelon, overlooking the Dordogne, rearing powerfully behind three walled enclosures and offering the most beautiful views of the valley. It retains all of its defensive system and its extensive slate roof. The oldest remains date back to the 13th century, but a first castle already existed in the year 1000. This ancient fortress was a Cathar haunt in the 12th and 13th centuries, and played a strategic role during the Hundred Years War when it was besieged repeatedly. In 1360, by the Treaty of Brétigny , the castle became subservient to the crown of England. In 1375, the French took it back.  Transformed into an elegant Gothic residence in the15th century, it was again a fortress during the religious wars of the 16th century. Recent major changes took place in the 17th century when a charming a vaulted gallery supporting an impressive terrace was added. In the French Revolution, the castle served as a silk farm. In 1966, after a supersonic aircraft flew over it, one of the towers of the southern wall collapses. The castle is still inhabited and offers important collections of furniture, objets d'art and antique weapons, reflecting the stately life from the Middle Ages to the Napoleonic era. A first chamber opens to the east by a gatehouse (châtelet). To the west, a second gatehouse, completely opposite the first, leads to the second chamber. The open space between the two walls offered no shelter for any attackers who were able to cross the first wall.  Both Châtelets, topped with battlements, have a gatehouse and a place for cannons. To the south, a third enclosure protected the back of the castle. The castle itself has several circular towers and roofs covered with slate. Entrance is to the north-east by a drawbridge. Initially, the drawbridge was protected by an embankment which was replaced in the 17th century by a double staircase. Beyond, a courtyard opens to a tower, the chapel of the 18th century. Here is a well, 90 meters deep, whose construction dates back to the Merovingian period (in the 5th to 8th centuries), which provided water to the castle until the 1950s.

Went back to the hotel for a bit, then left to go back to the cathedral for a 7:30 mass. The chanting was absolutely wonderful with a tremendous male voice and a choir somewhere in the upper reaches of the ceiling. This was a regular service (and the Gospel reading was the same one we had had at the Ecumenical service in France), followed by communion and then the swinging of the Botafumeiro with its wafting incense. Very inspiring. When mass was over we walked around for a bit and got ice cream cones, then came back about 9:45 and agreed to meet for breakfast at 8.

The Chapel of the Purification, in the centre of the ambulatory better known as the Chapel of the Constables, is the most lavish part of the Cathedral and was built between 1482 and 1496. Interesting features inside the chapel include its body of lights, the group of eight-sided windows, with Flemish stained-glass panes and its pierced double stellar vault. 

​Carved Nativity. Odd men bearing gifts.

​In the Main Sacristy particularly noteworthy are the painted dome and the painted plaster three-dimensional human Della Robbia.

​Dead bishop and Dance of the Hairy Men

We had a little problem getting to our hotel, Rey Arturo (, as it was on the other side of a big highway and we couldn’t figure out how to turn around and get across. When we did, it was fine. Very ordinary, but clean and close to the main town. Burgos is a city of about 175,000 people located in the heart of the Burgos Province, in Castilla y León, Spain. It is on the plateau of Castile and its average altitude is 856m. Burgos is best known for its Cathedral , that forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage, and for being a town of the French Route in the Way of St. James. We drove in to town and parked not far from the cathedral. Burgos Cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Gothic art style and truly deserves the title of Heritage of Humanity (1984). But the Cathedral is not just a monument. It is first and foremost a living church, a place of worship and prayer which throughout its long history has found a place for the artistic movements of each period to add dignity and solemnity to the religious ceremonies, the praise of God and the Christian life that go on inside it. The construction of the Cathedral was begun in 1221 by King Ferdinand the Saint and Bishop Don Mauricio and it was finally consecrated in 1260. It was later enlarged and made even more beautiful with a grand cloister and numerous chapels. I took a great many pictures during the hour and a half we spent inside, but could never have captured how magnificent it is. 

Then the kids picked St.-Cirq-Lapopie to visit. This was very like a story-book town or like Devin James’s Christmas village. It stands high above the Lot perched like a sentinel on an outcrop of rock. Indeed, that is exactly what it once was: from early times, this was the site of a fortress which stood guard over the valley and kept close watch on all of the traffic passing up and down the river. The panorama was great and all the hundreds of tourists enjoyed looking at it. On the way home we saw a real Power Struggle. Also a tiny, tiny fawn without a mother. I really wanted to bring it back to Alex’s apple farm, but risked a divorce by so doing, so it remains to die in the wild.

Monday: Tried again at the foie gras farm, but no demo available till 9:30, so we went on to Les Eyzies and had breakfast and shopped at the market. Bought foie gras and some truffles. Stopped at Cadouin, where we saw the abbey described in our visit with Sarah, the non to the semi-ruined abbey of St.-Avit-Senieur staring across at Beaumont from another rocky knoll. It grew up around the burial place of a fifth century hermit, Avitus, who was born at Lanquais and later served in the Visigoth army until taken prisoner in 507 by the Frankish King Clovis, a recent convert to Christianity. He converted and was instructed in a vision to return to Perigord, where he lived as a hermit until his death in 570.Tales of his miracles led to pilgrims and then a simple chapel grew into a monastery, then the present church. Like St-Front, it’s another huge building, over 50 meters long and 20 wide, heavily fortified and plain save for the remnants of 15th century geometric patterns painted on the walls and ceiling.

Lunch in La Roque, pizza and salad and Jerry had cassoulet. Tried an aperitif of Vin de Truffes—not good. Visited the Terre d’Escargot where we learned about snail farming and met a very excitable Bearnese Mountain Dog. 

Thursday: (440 km)   Had a nice breakfast in the monastery dining room (refractory, I guess), then took off for the coast, the scenic way. Stopped for lunch at a truck stop-type place and had very good seafood. Dawson and I had octopus and shrimp, Meagan had giant prawns, and Jerry had a lot of fish soup and octopus, Galician style, which is sautéed in butter on top of thinly sliced potatoes and sprinkled with paprika. Drove on along the coast to our hotel, Hotel Rural Cuartamenteru, for the night in the town of Poo, just outside of Llanes. The rooms were nice and clean, but they didn’t have the twin-bedded room I had requested, so Meagan and Dawson had to share a queen bed. It was too cold to swim, so we went into town and walked around a bit, then stopped for tapas at a restaurant overlooking the sea.

Reliquary holder for St. James' staff, us, and the ceiling

Gail South

Stopped at St. Amande de Coly In the late afternoon, a superb fortified Romanesque church. Despite its size and bristling military architecture, the 12th century abbey-church manages to combine great delicacy and spirituality. It is supposedly built over the burial place of the 6th century St Amand, who gave up soldiering to become a hermit. Despite a promising start, however, the abbey never really prospered and had largely been abandoned by the late 1400’s. In 1575 a Protestant garrison withstood a heavy siege here for six days, after which the buildings continued to crumble until 1868 when it was restored. With is purity of line and simple decoration, the church is at it most evocative in the low sun of late afternoon or early evening. Its defenses, added in the 14th century, left nothing to chance; it is encircled by ramparts, its walls are four meters thick, and a passage once skirted the eves, with numerous positions for archers to rain down arrows, and blind stairways to mislead attackers. Bought some walnut cookies and some mushrooms in a local shop.  Got back to the hotel about 5:30 and  retired for the night.

Friday: (548 km) As we were leaving, the host talked with us for a while and noted that fifteen years ago, this territory was all dairy farms, now replaced with “rural turismo”. This seemed like a long day, although most of it was on autovias along the coast, between high mountains and the ocean. They really have ruined northern Spain with heavy industrialization everywhere and all of the old towns replaced with look-alike, characterless four- or five-storey apartment buildings. The day was bright and the sky was blue where you could glimpse it through the smog. The roads are wide and very well engineered, but we missed the history and personality of the old winding mountain routes.
Decided to go to La Bastide for pizza, but it was closed for a private party. So we drove to Le Temps de Vie and had a marvelous, marvelous meal, although we didn’t get home till about 10:30. We ordered from the various Menus des Jours. The owner kept bringing out more appetizers: smoked salmon, cheese and tomato pizzas, two kinds of pate with crostini, and melon wrapped in Prosciutto. Then we had our ordered appetizers, then mains, then cheese, then dessert. Too much food. I’d like to go back, but for lunch (as we did with my ladies’ group). The funniest thing was when Dawson, who had ordered shrimp with polenta for his main, said, “I haven’t really liked the French cheese so far, but this [the polenta] is really good.”

Saturday: First, it was raining, then started the day with a bit of a kerfuffle. We were at Pecile at 7:30 to take Alex and his friend to Bordeaux to catch his flight from whence we planned to begin our two days in the Perigord. As we started to transfer our stuff from the Clio into the big car, Alex told us in no uncertain terms that his mother didn’t want us driving it ant that Jerry should leave us here and take them to the airport and then return for us. So we lost three hours and then had a very uncomfortable two plus hour drive in the tiny Clio.
In Tursac we saw La Maison Forte de Reignac: First a prehistoric cave dwelling, this cliff and rock shelter is now a vertical labyrinth and a testament to the history of mankind. This unique site is the only one of its kind still intact today. This castle-in-a-cliff might easily have leapt out of the pages of Jules Verne, we can imagine Phileas Fogg making it his impregnable hideout. Now it is the only monument in France of this “Chateau falaise” type totally intact and preserved in exceptional condition, with period furnishings throughout. It is the strangest castle in Perigord, the most secret, the most extraordinary and also the most mysterious. Vastly larger than one would imagine from the outside, the façade hides great rooms above ground and below. Visiting each room of this breathtaking site, from the prehistoric gallery to the richly-furnished Countess’ bedchamber, will feel like a dream. But the dungeon and the exhibition dedicated to the most dastardly torture instruments in history, from the stake to the guillotine, not forgetting the chastity belts or the nail studded chairs, are truly the stuff of nightmares.