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Goose Farm to Ferme Fleurie near Domme June 6

semi-overcast 23 °C

A pack, a simple breakfast, a farewell to french companions, a bill (facture) happily paid, and back to Sarlat to explore some backstreets without the anglo-hordes. 'twas lovely and slow. The weather forecast was for rain, "storm" we were told, and the clouds on the horizon looked like they were complying with the forecast. We decided we weren't really prepared for heavy sustained rain and possible chill on a canoe so we thought maybe tomorrow.



A small purchase by Karen at a brocante place bought additional good fortune. The owner chatted, (they do respond well knowing we are aussies) and we learned Agen is a place to avoid but Auch in his humble opinion was worth a visit.

We decided to check in early at our lodgings tonight, the Auberge de la Ferme Fleurie, which is a quaint place with a beautiful garden. Our host had a nice amount of English so it was easy.

We thought we would go to La Roque-Cageac instead where houses and structures blend in close to the cliffs on the Dordogne. We couldn't drive all the way in or through as a roof had been destroyed by a rock fall. Fortunately no-one was hurt but safety first! We were able to walk through most of the town and it was memorable and worth a visit.

Hankering for some water we decided to take an hour's cruise on a Gaberre, a flat bottomed boat not unlike those used a few centuries ago plying goods and people up and down the dordogne. This was again well worth the effort. We decided an aperitif was in order; whisky and coke for the girls, ricard for John and a sweet-bitter herbal known as Suze (gentiane) for Les.


By the way, the French have this habit of placing a red diagonal stripe across the sign of the town as you drive out. As if to cross it off, done that, swipe!

We were looking forward to dinner at a small town nearby, Les Arques. The restaurant known as La Récréation comes with much good praise from various sources. We shall brave the unknown to us. And we did in an unexpected way. We charged Missy to find us the shortest route. She did. She wound us through backroads and lanes of one car width and what looked like to be haunts of sanglier (wild boar). Somehow Hansel and Gretel came to mind and the way the witch seduced them into her lair. We pretended to be unafraid. When hope seemed like it was on a holiday we found the side of the lanes freshly mown. Trick or hope? We then saw several buildings. Hope. We arrived, no sign of the restaurant at all. We parked. No sign of people. We listened. Some laughter from next to the car. We saw the sign of the restaurant, uncoloured etched on marble. The chef and kitchen staff drinking; gates closed. We walked through the town. No lights on. One older couple one on a walking stick ambled by. We averted their gaze. We found several statues made by a Russian sculptor. Interesting. Walked back, one sign of life, a TV was on in a nearby house, at least the light was, no sound. A car drove by. She looked normal. An accidental glance back to the restaurant revealed people walking in and sound of activity. No screams. We thought we would check it out. Phew. Happy friendly pleased to see us people. The fact you are reading this tells all went well. Wrong. It went exceedingly well. What a great night.




Our primary waitress was the wife of the chef. She spoke excellent English and was happy to give us time. she later explained that she had heard of our wayward journey many times after she listened to us talk of the GPS.

Our meal was excellent and even better value for money. A beautiful violet cocktail for the girls and champagne for the boys flagged open the meal.

We chose a set menu of 35E. It was easy as there were no other options, but within each course a choice of six. Value for money plus!!! We all had asparagus soup as white asparagus is in season. Karen started with foie gras. Les with red mullet which sounds much better in French as "filets de rogets". There seemed to be a smokey flavour to mine, was it the mullet or cooking? Then Karen had a saddle of wild rabbit, cooked slowly at 65 °C, moist as. Les chose breast of quail with foie gras in a french style reduced jus aux raison. A small interlude with a soft chevre followed by a parfait avec noix and chocolat for Les. Coffee to cap it off and then an easy trip home.




One of my goals was to taste the "black wine of Cahors". We selected a 2002 Cuvee Dame Honneur du Chateau Lagrezet. We were advised the "black wine" is in fact a malbec, lots of tannin, fruit and very dark colour. and it was. Yum too. One can get similar tasting wines elsewhere but the colour is extremely dark.

Another replete and complete ending to the day.

Posted by lesnkaren 08:25 Archived in France Comments (0)

Goose Farm June 5 - second night

semi-overcast 20 °C

Bon matin. Simple breakfast: cafe, homemade jam, coffee, jus de pomme, bread, a chat with Patrice about a hot SW France summer and that rugby is the game of the south, not soccer (football). Into Sarlat for the town and the market. Wisely the girls agreed to go their separate ways and we were to meet up at 11:30 to arrange a booking at the Information Centre. One of the staff spoke English well and helped us to book Monday's stay over and a restaurant in a small town, La Recreation at Les Arques. This place comes with a good reputation and has much to live up to.

Lunch was a quick non-descript affair in the tourist town of Sarlat. The town itself is magnificent as they say! Much to do and one day is not enough. Sideways, stairways, tiny doorways, stone paths, and so on. The market was busy but not like Hong Kong. The buildings, chapel, roofs etc etc gave a sense of the town centuries past. That night a festival is to be held but we will not attend. There was a fella dressed up in a wolf outfit on those ankle stilts and his outfit was so convincing many young kids were scared! Really apprehensive.

This trendy looking youngish thing serving delicious cheese samples looked at our orangina and said "what, orangina, you could have cafe or cognac?!" John and I sheepishly backed away, located a bin and made a blood oath to never demean ourselves like that again.

We went on to Domme. What a delightful town. Settled on a hilltop over looking the winding Dordogne and the countryside, it is beautiful. I managed to take a punt and purchase a Cahors wine from a seller who had less English than my French. I also found the local liqueur hypocras but did not think it worth buying. Too much of a cinnamon taste for me but glad to track it down nonetheless. Cross our fingers!! It was becoming quite hot and humid by then (30 °C) and an ice-cream was had. Later a cold beer. We think Missy didn't cope with our driving as she spontaneously took on a voice of a youngin' before returning to her normal voice.

From one side of the town at a look-out a hammered dulcimer was being played. Very moving, had to buy his CD.

Lots of shots in and from Domme:







Back home to the goose farm was delayed by a decision to check out the canoe hire place and get some details. We think we will tomorrow. Trouble is we have to let the river carry us downstream at a steady pace. The river is high but without rapids or hazards.

Time for a snooze. I lay in the shade, listened to the dulcimer cd, noticed fractal patterns wherever I went: (spot them below)


We sauntered to dinner this time with 5 other frenchies. Fortunately the younger couple spoke some English. She likes celtic music and Bretagne. They had a cute 2 year old boy.

Conversation was slow but after the second course and John's engaging manner ably backed up by Ingrid, Karen and me in that order, much chat, although fragmented occurred. They confimred rugby is the game of the South West and I sat next to a fit looking chap who was passionate about France. Laughter and good food. (Potage soup, 3 vegies; rillette of goose; goose breast in small strips accompanied by the most ever delectable saladaise pomme de terre all finished with a delicious clafoutis). You don't get this home-cooked regional fresh foods in most restaurants. Not fancy; just fresh ingredients, local, well cooked and ever so yum. Two hours later our older hosts were looking a little ragged so the night ended pleasantly although prematurely.

Us youngin's carried on for a while discussing a number of things over whisky and cigar. Topics included politically good ideas badly implemented until all of a sudden the eyelids refused to remain open.

Posted by lesnkaren 02:36 Archived in France Comments (0)

Sempes to the Goose Farm June 4

sunny 24 °C

French toilet paper gets the thumbs up! After 4 locations and several samplings it is consistent.

Today, the plan is to sample the local Sainte Maure de Touraine market (where the international cheese festival will be held but they refused to open it one day early for us; we didn't want to go anyway!) and then find the Goose farm at Les Vesiers and wander a little in between. Also to try and eat a little less. We did eat less at breakfast, good start. Her homemade jams were different and delicious. Elderberry, white melon, red melon, and quince. Local bread and croissant and coffee in a bowl. Les thought we had run out of coffee but he forgot to depress the release button on the jug. It was a quiet breakfast as the other residents for the night all spoke French and didn't seem to speak English. Worse, maybe they did, but we were too uninteresting for them.

Les drove this time, wanted practice with some more traffic and small French lane ways; they call them roads in rural France. We got there. There was a cute stereotypic older french man in a small french car, an old citroen and a black beret parked next to us. Off to the market. Music piped through loudspeakers, as we bought goat's cheese, baguette, strawberries, jambon blanc, radishes (all for lunch) and a couple of outfits for Karen and Ingrid later we headed off toward Les Vesiers for the Goose Farm. We decided to go the back ways rather than the major freeways and that was a treat. Good roads, not busy, and we leaped from town to town with some lovely scenery to accompany us.

A toilet break was the intention in Le Blanc but all we got was a break. The girls checked out the toilet and wisely retreated. A LOUD siren went off very near to us and we learned it indicated some accident had occurred. Off we went and on the way encountered a couple of red squirrels attempting to cross the road. Then just out of Bellac we stopped in a recently mowed field to lunch.

We decided to continue, spent some time on the motorway confirming that 'back way' France is so much easier and prettier and worth the longer time. Missy took us on a longish way to Carlux then Prat du Calux then eventually the Goose Farm.

We met the owner's son Patrice who was sweaty from a hot day of mowing grass. We settled into ok accommodation and decided to use our time with a flying visit to the famed Sarlat before dinner. The town is large, beautiful and in places very much for tourism.



A cool drink at John's bar from his previous visit then an unanticipated conflict with Missy. John wanted to go a remembered route from previous visits back to the farm, Les got confused on the roundabout, Missy without judgement assertively maintained she knew the way back. She did but the laneway was narrow, the rock walls perilous if you are a new Citroen and the slope uncovered some limits to the auto transmission. Nonetheless we bravely complied, enjoyed the sights and coped with the speeding locals on the narrow lanes and returned in time enough to not be late for our hosts. Dinner was at 8pm.

We met Illy and Jeanine and our little French conversed with their little English. After a simple soup, the attempts at conversation grew and we all had adjusted a little to our mutual broken language. It was quite fun as the ears attuned enough to understand each other a little more. After our hosts learning that we were psychologiques Jeanine made a cute crack about the fact that our kind always take notes. The neck sausages of meat topped with sliced cornichon were yummy unknowingly setting the tone for the main to follow. The gosling breast and embedded garlic poached then sauted with salt was so so so you'll be jealous kids delicious. It went with a cauliflower bake well and we finished with coffee after a fruit salad.

Nearly two hours later after con-ver-sat-ion which covered economie, ecologie, us, them, no time for them to take vacance and more, we retired to the war room to plan the next couple of days. My 15 yr old Laproaugh with Ingrid's Welsh whiskey provided the entertainment we wanted. John and I stayed up a little longer to witness the northern hemisphere starscape and locate the 'big dipper', saw some satellites passing over and wondered about other constellations.

At midnight, bed beckoned.

Posted by lesnkaren 02:17 Archived in France Comments (1)

Aulnay to Sempes June 3

Unfortunately I woke at 6:41am. It was fortunate in the sense I could take a final walk not long after the sun rose still low in the sky and take in the vista and the fields.

Another gorgeous breakfast with panacotta and rhubarb from Jean-Pascal's garden, crepes and the rest. We bid farewell and John drew the short straw to drive. Out of Aulnay went ok, eventually onto the national road but nothing like Paris. I was trusty assistant navigator checking the directions from our TomTom. We have decided to call her Missy. She is not perfect but she is bloody good.

We soon learned to be afraid, very afraid of things which don't move. Toll stations do not move for anyone. So when your ticket blows away and the machine repeatedly rejects your credit card then later eats it and there is traffic behind you learn to be very afraid. Eventually someone had to exit the car. A VC to Mr Welsh who bravely found a pleasant bemused young French chap in a booth who gestured to enter his lane. When the traffic eased we reversed and he processed our need and smiled sympathetically and knowingly. Four meters ahead was a toilet stop. Adrenalin!

First destination as we headed south was Villandry. The peckish had got to us so Karen quickly found a place offering simple fare but done well. We shared an assiette de charcuterie, 1 galette and cidre. Nice quality.

The Jardins de Chateau de Villandry are so neat and formal but so pretty too. They gave great ideas for a smaller garden. The chateau was built in the 16th century against some remains of a 12th century castle. Moat and fish and several gardens were pleasing to the eye.


We underestimated how fast time passes and decided to stay at the nearby St Maure de Touraine where we miss a bi-annual cheese festival by one day. One day! Ce n'est pas juste!! Ah well, we settled for the market in the morning to follow. Our friend at the local information centre lead us to a farmhouse hotel, Fermes des Bertheiers. When we finally arrived after not listening to instructions carefully enough we were enthusiastically greeted by a friendly old dog hanging out for a petting. We were very pleased with the clean and simple lodgings and the helpful and humorous Mme V who offered us a cool drink before showing us the room. The setting is so pretty. Can't tell how old the farmhouse is but it has an endearing quality.


Mme V confirmed the opinion of Ms Information about a pleasant local place to eat that night and we later agreed that the route she chose for us to get there was scenic and preferable to the main roads. Once again Missy did well. We ate too much. Nonetheless the fare was simple, seemed local including the wine and we enjoyed it.

Karen's choice

We are both tired after two late nights so it is early to bed in preparation for a local market tomorrow and a journey to our destination in the Dordogne; Sarlat and the goose farm.

Posted by lesnkaren 07:16 Comments (2)

Aulnay June 2

After this night of culinary eloquence we woke to the smell of a home cooked breakfast, how do these guys do it? Jean-Pascal had cooked soft crumbly muffins and a carroway seed cake prior to breakfast. We had obligatory croissant and pain du chocolat. Then Gilberte ironed my shirt for me and Jean-Pascal drove in with with a fresh baguette or two from the village, all this at 8:53. We had wisely suggested breakfast for 9am-ish.

They had some pleasing Provencal crockery for jam and more:

A brief walk along a track nearby took us past fields of wheat and what we think might be canola ready to be harvested soon.

After breakfast John and I decided more driving practice would be wise. I got to drive down to Aulnay then Maule. Later, again, I got to drive beyond Maule to a very pretty town in which buildings have to be made of stone in a certain style to preserve the heritage. There, is a chocolate 'factory'. Some of their pieces are works of art and we of course tasted one chocolate of cherry and kirsch and one with flakes of salt and pepper subtly mixed within. Our French friends confirmed last night that the French word for "mmmm" when tasting yummy food is "mmmm". Back home.

chocolate ornament

also chocolate

and these too

us enjoying something chocolatey

We nearly dozed in the summer sun which finally arrived around 1pm. Here we felt the pace of past months and the pace of Paris subside and we were talking and thinking slowly. We decided we did not need lunch until Jean-Pascal had the gall to offer some bread and cheese. What choice did we have? I tell you what though. We don't think we will get anything else like this in France. This couple have set the benchmark for B&B service.

Another trip into town to buy flowers for our hosts tonight. We get to meet Charlette and Jean-Michel with whom Karen stayed and Odile and Jean-Luc with whom David stayed. It is a pity we can't see more of them but both couples had been overseas until a week ago. It will be great to see them a well as difficult.

Jean-Pascal and Gilberte offered to drive in front of us to Vernouillet, the home of Charlette, and we were grateful for the final stages through the windy streets of Vernouillet. Guess we don't trust the TomTom yet.

The night was wonderful. The Bourgeois-Vignon's have three children, Anna, Xavier and Jean-Charles. When Karen was there the first time 10 years ago a bond was formed with the 12 year old Jean Charles making Anzac biscuits and more. Karen walked back into the house like she had never left. The Bourgeois-Vignon's are so welcoming. Soon the Joly's arrived and the catch up chat fest began. Charlotte Joly, our young student we hosted all those years ago is now training in Oncology.

I connected with Xavier and he offered me an unexpected gift of a celtic band. Look forward to sharing it when I am home.

We are not sure but we might have talked the Joly's into spending several weeks on vacation soon and to spend a chunk of it in Australia. Here's hoping. We bid a fond farewell and drove away our hearts brighter. Jean-Charles offered to lead us back to Aulnay. Squibbishly and gratefully I accepted 'cause it was dark.

After a couple of stories we have learned to beware of the sanglier (wild boar).

Xavier, Jean Luc, Jean Charles, Les
then Odile, Karen and Charlette. David stayed with Jean Luc and Odile. Their kids were not here tonight :-(

We popped into Alain and Caroline to wish Alain a happy birthday, stayed a little and at 1 am bid another fond farewell.

Posted by lesnkaren 06:55 Comments (0)

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