Dwight Peck's personal website

Kristin's visit: Southwest of France 2008

A ten-day respite from All That -- Kristin's visiting and we're in Sarlat for four or five days and trying not to miss any of the medieval castles still open for viewing in late November.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Garden-hopping along the Dordogne

Les Jardins suspendus de Marqueyssac

We're early -- we're on short hours after the middle of November, so we need to display a little of our well-known patience for an hour or so, until the young lady opens up the gates promptly at 14h00.

We've come to the 18th century Château de Marqueyssac to see the gardens, but we're occupying our leisure moments till it opens by schmoozing with some sheep further down the hill.

Gazing at the Château de Beynac just across the way is worth at least another quarter of an hour.

And there's the incomparable International Herald Tribune. That's another château just over Kristin's shoulder.

That's the Château de Fayrac, built by the English during the Hundred Years' War to keep an eye on the Château de Beynac just across the river. That's probably the Château de Milandes just behind it in the distance -- castles thick upon the ground!

Another look at Beynac with a little fall foliage thrown into the scene.

And with a lot of fall foliage thrown into the scene. The arrival of more tourists may herald the ringing of the opening bell.

We've got 150,000 "boxwoods" here, many over a hundred years old, and all of them "hand-pruned" twice a year.

We're paralyzed with admiration for these round green things, and Kristin has to remind us to keep up with the party or be left behind.

After major restorations, the gardens were opened to the public in 1997 and now boast of being "the most visited garden in Périgord". I find that if you squint a bit as you look at these round rolly green things and sway slightly, you become nauseous.

The château on its esplanade -- only a few rooms are open, from the main door on this side across the hall one floor up to the terrasse out the back, with a tea-room and ice cream concession in the summer.

The esplanade out the front of it

We're striking off on the 6 kilometres of paths through the estate.

Still a bit nauseous though. And half-expecting the Red Queen to loom out and block our way.

A lookout along the bastion wall, overlooking the Dordogne

The bastion, looking south towards the river. The Château de Castelnaud is on the ridge in the distance, but too misty to see very clearly.

We're off on the Promenade des falaises, or 'cliff walk'.

La Roque-Gageac, built into the cliffs along the riverside

Extremely falaisey falaises as we're strolling out the long ridge northeastwards

Plenty of things to play on as we make our way along (with baby goats flitting amongst the trees)

The Belvedere de la Dordogne, 130m above the river

A glance back along the ridge -- the château and boxwoods are down behind the far end of it, Castelnaud in the distance.

And by this time we're almost overhanging La Roque-Gageac.

The back of the little château, with the tea room on the terrasse

Pheasants. Or peacocks. Or something.

"Where shall we go next?"

Next -- Château de Fenelon

1. Sarlat
2. Roque-Gageac, Beynac
3. Castelnaud
4. Gardens of Marqueyssac
5. Castle of Fenelon
6. Carcassonne
7. Castle of Peyrepertuse
8. Carcassonne by night
9. Meyrueis, Tarn

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 18 December 2008, revised 1 January 2014.

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SW France, November 2008