Excerpts from Chocolat:
“Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, whose people believed in Tranquilité – Tranquility. If you lived in this village, you understood what was expected of you.
You knew your place in the scheme of things. And if you happened to forget, someone would help remind you.
In this village, if you saw something you weren’t supposed to see, you learned to look the other way.
If perchance your hopes had been disappointed, you learned never to ask for more.”
Laurie’s third home is at Prat in Salviac, a little community at Lot, from the largest region of France – Midi-Pyrénées. His dad, Bob (and Tish) are staying here for good, and so is Laurie when he finally retires when he’s old, lol! (his house is a cuter version of Bob’s and Tish’s house btw hehe) So, we include this trip on our summer holiday so I can also visit Bob and Tish, and experience the countryside of France.
From UK, Laurie and I flew to Bergerac on a separate day. I was supposed to fly to Toulouse because I thought Lot is closer there, but it’s a 2-hour drive more. So Laurie picked me up at a very small airport at Bergerac and drove up to Lot. An hour drive to Prat is simply pleasurable!
Picturesque landscapes, striking mountain ranges, cliff-side villages, medieval towns with rich artistic heritage, castle-like dwellings with similar limestone walls, lavender and sunflower fields, meadows with sheep and goats, are among those assets of this region that one will truly fall in love with!
No wonder this is a popular hinterland for summer in Europe! I said this because on my flight from London to Bergerac, I was the only Asian or non-European hehe. We also spotted a lot of camper vans and cars with plate outside France.
From the airport, we stopped by this little town, where there seems to be a festival. But it was quiet, perhaps there were only few people, and it was still too early then. We sat down a quaint restaurant and ordered my very first of my too many glass of rosé from this trip! Haha!
Oh on our way we also saw a medieval castle that is now a private dwelling now called, Chateau de Bannes, I don’t remember it but thanks to my phone’s camera that all the photos I took from these places are marked on my map, wonders of technology! :P
It was already dark when we reached Prat in Salviac. Tish prepared barbecue dinner while we all listen to Bob’s Italian opera haha!
The next day, we are all set to go for outdoor lunch at Nabirat (?), and meet their friends who are all originally from Belgium (Yan and Ritt) who also settled there for good. I was excited when Tish told me this is the most authentic French lunch I could ever get.
Indeed, it was! Meals were served to us in a surprise way per course, meaning, you don’t know what the old lady will serve you hehe. From the starters, to the soup up to the mains, it’s mostly DUCK haha! But it was really really good! Traditional gastronomy at its best! Too bad I was too shy to take photos :P
After the sumptuous authentic lunch, we went to see Domme and Marqueyssac Gardens via Le Roque-Gargeac.
It’s a small walled village with cobblestones roads with medieval historical architecture everywhere. There was a flea market when we got there so it was flocked by tourists like us, good thing it was closing time (afternoon) so it wasn’t that crowded. We just walked around even there is a “amusement-park-like-tram”going around the small village hehe. Then we went to see the viewing place over the valley of Dordogne and see the Dordogne River as well.
On our way to Marqueyssac Gardens, we passed through this cliff-side village along Dordogne River. We saw lots of people canoeing, so we thought of doing this on the next day as suggested by Tish. We didn’t need to stop by this village but it is that beautiful, that we did stop-by for a while! We saw forts, castles, and churches at the cliff aside from hotels and restaurants, and perhaps private houses too.
It was very timely that when we reached the overhanging garden of Marquessac Gardens at Vézac, it was few hours from sunset. Though the sun set really late that time because it was summer, so we stayed here quite really long until the time that they put all those candles along the pathway. They only light the candles every Thursday evening.
Marquessac Gardens is the most visited garden in Perigord. It is a National Historical Monument with hundreds of hand-pruned round boxwoods that are hundreds years old already. There are walkways like labyrinth going to cascades and cliffs over viewing the Dordogne River and the Perigord. At every stop, there are performers giving entertainment to the walkers – jazz band, opera actors, and classical mini-orchestra.
And like I said, on the next day, we went out early for canoeing along Dordogne River! I thought it will be easy and quick, but it was the longest 2 hours of my life! Kidding! Haha! Tish nailed it smoothly along the gentle river, but Laurie and I struggled almost the whole time lol! My fault hehe. Good thing, Bob is slower than us, so it wasn’t that too embarrassing for Tish :P
The best part of this “sporty” activity is the castle-hopping you’ll see as you canoe down the other side of the river. I think we saw around 4 castles right at the cliff!
On our remaining days, we just spent going to the river and drive around other parts of this region. We didn’t manage to go to Toulouse to see the city already, as we found “tranquility” by staying on the countryside alone. We took the train going to Toulouse on our last day as our flights are coming from there, Laurie’s going back to Dubai, and mine’s continuing my holiday, revisiting Amsterdam and Stockholm :)
Paris is one of the cities I’ve visited during my 2010’s Euro trip, and Paris will always be one of my favorite cities. However, after this trip at south of France, people should start thinking of going to France outside Paris, it really is two different world I must say! It’s more idyllic and more pleasantly old-fashioned.
Life in this village is very simple like any other countryside I suppose. People have simple hopes and simple dreams. People mind their own business, but people care and will surely be there in time of need. No doubt, Bob and Tish (and Laurie) chose to settle for good here, I wouldn’t mind too, but maybe when I get older hehe.
It was a good visit for me because I got my self-realization whilst Laurie and I spent our time together there. There were things that I wasn’t supposed to realize but I chose to learn to look the other way. There were hopes that had been disappointed, but I learned never to ask for more. I learned not to make matters worse because life indeed is just simple, it goes on, and so must I :)