Dwight Peck's personal website

Kristin's visit: Southwest of France 2009

Maddening months at work, trying to migrate a very large Web site to a different technology, and no end in sight. It's time to take a break and, as luck would have it, Kristin's coming for a visit We'll go to France for a while.

Périgueux, and goodbye to Bourdeilles

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.

Downtown Périgueux, county seat of the Dordogne region in Aquitaine, not too far south of Bourdeilles, evidently fallen on hard times. That happens to inner cities sometimes.

No, a mistake, we were just in the wrong part of town. This is the church of St Etienne de la Cité, apparently built in the 11th century and serving as the local cathedral until 1577, during the Religious Wars, when the Protestants trashed it and were using it as a military stable and cavalry school, so the cathedralship was transferred to St Front. Protestants can be like that.

I love the European tourist trains -- all identical, except for the paint jobs and the sounds of the little bells they ring off to get the pedestrians scurrying out of the way. This one is rather a chaste white Dotto Train F87. This driver's got plenty of time for a little nap.

Now, arguably St Front should have been the cathedral from the beginning, this big orientalish, St.-Marks-in-Venice-ish, pile of stuff, dating apparently from 1120, though there's debate about that. The wet disarray Kristin is approaching on the way to the saint's front door is a public street market being dismantled about noon, bits of vegetables on the pavement being washed away.

St Front has got a cathedral feel to it. Who was St Front, by the way? Lost in the mists of time, evidently. St "Fronto" (a fairly improbable name (St Forehead?)) was supposedly a follower of Christ himself, the original one, who then (after X-Day) followed St Peter to Rome and was subsequently sent north to convert the Gaulish tribes. Apparently, he became the first Bishop of Périgueux, but at that early date he must have consecrated himself or got his girlfriend to do it for him.

There has never been a St Dwight, except for the founder of all Dwights, Timothy Dwight of the Hartford Wits and Yale University, one of the creators of the "Great Awakening" evangelical plague that tried to "re-church" America in the 18th century, known as "Pope Dwight" to many. The good man even harangued the students at Yale against the "infidel philosophy" of Hume and Hobbes. There are 54,000 prénom Dwights in the USA today (and none elsewhere, except for myself and perhaps a few other ex-pats), and probably nearly all of them are down-at-the-heels old-time New England gentry or African-Americans named after General Eisenhower.

There was, however, if not a St Dwight, a St Dwynwen, a Welsh saint remembered for her opinion that “Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness.” We can all agree with that, even though it's untrue.

The suburbs of Périgueux, as in many cities everywhere, are hell to drive through, but once you hit the old city, everything mellows out and it turns out to have been worth it.

An extensive pedestrian zone in the old town, without being too precious in most parts of it. There are lots of Roman remains in Périgueux, including an amphitheatre, and some very good-looking museums, but we were on the afternoon express tour and couldn't linger.

A Vendre: For sale -- a fixer-upper.

So . . . what about lunch? -- I thought you'd never ask.

The hurdy-gurdy man, across the way from the crêperie, where we got started on crêpes with jam and omelettes and couldn't stop.

Meet Julie, from Florida.

Some fashionable boutique ladies just hanging out. The lady in pink is in fact hanging out of her shirt as well. Kristin's shopping just along the street and I'm free to wander about and take surreptitious photos of the boutique scene.

The "Tea for Tous" salon de thé has got a genius making up its advertising slogans.

Fine Dotto F87, and a very nice Périgueux, recommended for an afternoon's walkabout.

Now we're back in charming Bourdeilles and pulling out tomorrow at the crack of noon.

Goodbye to the "12th century bridge", and to the nice people at Les Griffons.

And hello to Collonges-la-Rouge -- that's the red one. We're on our way to St Céré for some more dedicated sightseeing and a very full agenda, apparently, but we've just got time to find out why Collonges is called "la Rouge". 11 June 2009

There is a common theme running through the village, as it descends down the hillside from the D38 road, and we're quickly catching on.

The whole town is red, for some reason. And it works -- Collonges-le-vert would be emetic, but this sandstone look really works well, when you're in the right mood for it.

A touch of green. I take back what I said about green.

Groups and groups of tourists contemplating lunch -- including a group of Japanese dignitaries in semi-formal dress.

A red-tinted tympanum, I'd say. But "a 12th century tympanum carved in white stone (contrasting with the red stone of the rest of the village)" -- Wiki.

Kristin lurking about in St Pierre, an interesting 11th and 12th century church that was fortified during the Wars of Religion

Kristin Emergent

Collonges-la-Rouge is attested as present from the 8th century, but the fabulous buildings surrounding the market squares date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The village is not only one of the 152 "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" with population below 2,000, it's said to be where the association was founded in 1982. (The present population is only about 400. Probably not counting the waiters.)

Set the brake!

Y'all come on in!

For a small village, Collonges is brimful with 15th and 16th century town châteaux.

And the whole town is spikey with little towers.

And, too, it's very very red. Even the trees. That must get on their nerves after a while.

All that said, we'll travel on to St Céré now. In fact, we were traveling on to about 40 different potential destinations scrawled down on the back of the guidebook, but all were closed, full up, too dear, lacked Wifi, or were otherwise unsuitable until we fetched up in St Céré, where we were very happy, and contented.

1. Salers
2. Conques
3. Château d'Anjony
4. Bourdeilles
5. Brantôme & Castles
6. Oradour-sur-Glane
7. Périgueux
8. St Céré, Montal
9. Rocamadour
10. Château de Castelnau
11. Beaulieu
12. Puy-de-Dôme

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 5 August 2009, 18 August 2013.

South France, December 2014

SW France, June 2009

SW France, November 2008