Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2915 - Lascaux II, St. Amand de Coly , and dinner out

We gave ourselves a sleep-in morning as we had decided we would have brunch, skip lunch so we'd have room for our dinner at La Gabarre restaurant this evening.

After lunch we head off to Montignac to buy our tickets to Lascaux II, the reproduction of the original Lascaux. It's a grey rainy afternoon and we've decided this will be a good activity for just such a day.

We are surprised that there is a line and a half-hour wait to even buy tickets. They take 2000 people per day, 40 people at a time on 40 minute guided tours of 4 rooms - two introductory and 2 exact replica galleries where they claim one can see 90% of the drawings in the cave. When we get to the front, we learn there are no other English tours today and the next available French tour is at 4:20.

the ticket line

That works for us, as we know we must leave by 5 pm to get home in time to get ready for dinner. Lesson learned: don't wait till the afternoon to buy your Lascaux tickets if you must see the cave on the same day. And if you want an English tour, you may need to go a day or two ahead to get the tickets. We are surprised by how many people are wanting to go to this cave given that its a replica.

Us waiting in the ticket line
We now have a couple of hours till our tour starts, so we decide to drive to St. Amand-de-Coly, one of the Most Beautiful villages which has a fortified church. We park at the edge of town and walk in. There's no mistaking where the church is.
St. Amand-de-Coly

This town is well sign-posted in both English and French and teaches us much about the life of an abbey in the middle ages. This abbey developed on the site where a 6th century hermit named St. Amand lived. By 1048, there was already written evidence of an abbey on the site. The height of its influence was in the 13th and 14th centuries. The abbey suffered, as did every town, as a result of the 100 Years War and the Wars of Religion. But it was rebuilt in the 18th century.

Two sorts of religious folk lived in an abbey. Monks who led a solitary life close to the earth and withdrew from society. And canons (chanoines), men of letters who managed the lands, investments, and wealth of the abbatial community. They interacted with the larger society, working with parishioners to be sure crops are planted, taxes paid, and fining those who got out of line, They were merchants, procuring materials needed by the abbey. And some of them lived away from the abbey to manage territories under the control of the abbey. They depended on their parishioners to provide them the foods and materials they needed to live.

Church fortifications: Because abbeys were wealthy, they were good prey during the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion. Since the abbey didn't have a fortified hill-top position, it needed a building that could protect the religious and the parishioners in time of need.   Notice the curtain wall surrounding the church and the dry moat surrounding it. Arrow slits and supports for wooden "hourds" (wooden shelters attached when needed on the outside of the church from which defenders could shoot arrows or drop things on attackers.

Church interior:

Romanesque house
Lynn, Dave, Janis, Clark, Judy in front of a Romanesque house.
The street level when built was about 4 feet lower

Around town
Having a source of water was critical to the success of a fortified town.
Since there is no river or stream nearby, a system of wells is necessary.

Church in background is softened by the blossoms on this tree

A village house getting its mortar repointed

Stone steps seem brighter with the tree blossoms

I love this blue. It brightens the stone and adds a spot of bright color to make you smile.-

We have no photos of Lascaux II since you can't take photos inside. Our French guide spoke really fast and with children and echoes, I didn't catch everything. Our conclusion for this visit is.

  1. It's worth it to see the images even though they're copies
  2. 40 people on a tour is too many to be able to appreciate the experience
  3. The way tickets are purchased is much harder than it should be
  4. The first two rooms are info anyway and wouldn't have to be so dark
  5. Some sort of English audio made available for non-French speakers on French tours would be helpful
  6. You need to accept that this is a bit of a Disneyland type environment and just suck it up
We're home by 6 and have time to freshen up for our dinner out in honor of Clark and Janis' birthdays. La Gabarre has been recommended to us by Jeri and Paul and it doesn't disappoint. Located 35 minutes from here about 15 minutes from Sarlat, it sits right on the Dordogne River in St. Julien-de-Lampon. Unfortunately the weather isn't conducive to sitting out on their riverside terrace, so we are ushered into a downstairs room of only 4 tables. Upstairs has been reserved for a large dinner party of about 15. 

Walking from car park to the restaurant. The Dordogne is brown from the rain we've had the past few days.

This restaurant cooks menus based on what's available and in season with a 3-course option (appetizer, main course, dessert) at 27,50 or 36,50 Euros. 

We make our choices with the excellent English translation of our waiter (whom we suspect is also the owner). We notice that 3 of the 4 tables here are English speaking and the 4th is a French couple eating here for the first time.  Photos of our main courses 
Beef cheeks, grilled, with polenta

lamb with potato pie

troute with risotto

and desserts below. Drooling optional.
Chocolate filled pastry with home made ice cream (the little ball upper left)

a made to order brioche-type confection with home made ice cream

strawberries and cream on a crunchy cookie
This all sounds better in French, but it is all totally delicious to eat.
That's all folks!

No comments:

Post a Comment