Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sun Shines

Town hopping, photography and so happy to see the sun! The clouds in France remind me of Montana, big, puffy, full of personality and unpredictability. We linger over coffee in the old town of Sarlat while watching locals carrying baguettes and tourists buying foie gras. We meander through the old cobbled alleys taking pictures of the overlapping angles of slate roofs and muted pastel colors of the ancient walls. Today is the annual farm day and there are animals of all sizes in hay covered small fenced areas-black pygmy Vietnamese pigs, geese that are the only things fatter here than in the US, and a special display of the most unusual looking chickens we have ever seen. Pekin chickens from China that look like small spotted fluff balls and others with tiny heads and vivid plumage which Ray says would make great fly tying material. Intermixed among the cages are rabbits with enormously long ears!

Sarlat is immaculate, safe and well kept with not a spot of graffiti or trash. Buenos Aires, take heed! There is such charm in the chipped concrete and peeling paint, which at home would look like dilapidated homes.  Why is that we wonder?  There is such beauty in the moss covered cement walls that line the narrow streets, moss that grows so fast, you can see a layer of new mold each rainy day. We see men in front of houses, performing the endless job of scraping and scrubbing.  

We head back to Beynac today to see it in full sunshine and not surprisingly, it is bustling with tourists. We climb up to the castle high up on the hill and follow the red poppied path around for a spectacular view of the town, Castelnaud castle across the river, and the neatly carved but oddly shaped farm fields below in varied shades of green.  Spring is here and we can see faint uniform parallel lines in the soil as plants emerge. The Dordogne winds so placidly today, a far cry from the whitecaps of yesterday! 

We then make our way back to La Roque but the main road through own so dense with people and cars, even now off season, that we move on.  How different it is from the tranquillity of last night.  Next is the hill town of Domme.  It has It's own fortress but unlike Beynac, this main walkway heading up is full of souvenir shops, food trucks and a carnival ball toss booth.  It is market day and we recognize the olive vendor from yesterday's market in Sarlat.  There is no question that foie  gras is big business in this area with brochures that indicate ducks and  geese are raised very humanely and much more naturally than industrial farms in America.

We end the day back at our now favorite restaurant, L'Adresse for a final duck meal. Simone is remarkable, singly waiting on 32 guests at 14 tables, pouring drinks, serving food, cutting bread, setting and clearing tables, filling and emptying the glassware dishwasher, and taking payment, in addition to bringing food and taking dishes to the kitchen which is downstairs via a narrow circular staircase; she is wearing boots with heels!  Her ability to multitask is incredible and I can visualize her as an efficient executive assistant in Silicon Valley. I ask her if he is alone every day and she responds yes, and that at night she sleeps well.  We will remember Simone as we move on.


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