Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015 - A Rainy Day in Paradise

We got rain last night and this morning skies are grey and threatening. Raincoats in the car, we head off to the St. Cyprien market after breakfast. We're later this week and finding parking is a problem. In spite of the rain, the market is crowded. We join a few cars parked on the grass of the parking lot behind the market.

There are some stalls missing this week, including the wine merchant. Whether that's normal or on account of the dreary weather, or because this Sunday is no longer Easter break for the schools and families taking vacation, we don't know. And one should always bring a camera to market because this week there's a group of people drumming LOUDLY on home-made metal barrel drums. There's not much variation in their riffs and no melody to discern. The few stalls near these drummers complain that they can't transact business, but the drummers pay no mind. Should have had a photo.

Besides our usual fruits and vegetables, we purchase some walnut oil to use for salad dressings, some new cheeses, and paella for lunch. Our cheeseman (who speaks superb English) tells us not to order by weight (grams) but by how much money we want to spend, then he'll know how big a slice to cut. Not sure if he was kidding or not, but we have such a terrible sense of how much 200 grams is, that it's easier to have the vendor show us an amount and say "plus" (more) or "moins" (less).

We need an ATM (most vendors at market only accept cash and don't give receipts) and there are 4 banks in St. Cyprien, so we're hopeful. After finding one bank whose ATM isn't functioning, Dave follows someone to the top of the market and joins a line of people waiting to use it.

Cash and groceries in hand, we head home, still dry, for lunch.

After lunch we start Michelin tour number 1 for the Sarlat region. Rain is on and off and sometimes we get out to look, sometimes we just drive by.
"Our" road - the D703 - the local highway that takes us along the Dordogne, past castles, churches and lovely towns.

Even in this grey weather, the scenery is soothing to the eyes. This area hasn't got a flat spot in it. You're either going up hill or down only to go up again. There are also no straight roads. Clark is chauffeur today and after driving these narrow curvy roads, he's ready for the Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Houses, like this one in Salignac, have to adapt to the ups and downs of the terrain. Streets with this slope or greater are common in this region.

There are rocky outcroppings of limestone cliffs and steep valleys covered in woods, green pastures or newly plowed rust-brown fields.
View from ramparts of Carlux

Countryside from Carlux

And every few kilometres there is a small village of the pale limestone houses crowded up against the road. Though not on the tour, many are, in their own right,  picturesque collections of old farm buildings, shops and houses.

Carlux wisteria

One goal was to visit a working walnut mill which was actually quite a bit off the beaten path. We found it, but it's closed on Sundays as well as Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Oh, well, there were many spots on this tour left unexplored waiting for a sunny day. Hopefully we'll be back this way, but if not, it will be because there are so many other corners of this region to explore.

We did however stop at a few places.

The church at Carsac (mostly before the rain started)

FĂ©nelon Castle (although we didn't pay to get in to visit, deeming it too wet to explore in the rain)

Carlux castle (not raining, interior under construction)

Salignac-Eyvigues castle (not raining, also under construction)

Salignac If you look carefully at this roof, you'll see that it has new lauze tiles on it that have yet to be trimmed even. 
On the drive home we pass many fields of solid yellow. We suspect mustard plants in flower which we confirm once we get home. One bright splash of sunshine in a grey, dreary day. Update: 4/24 - we talked to a French woman yesterday who told us that the plants were "colza" known to us as rape seed which is the plant we make canola oil from.

Tonight is laundry and leftovers. Tomorrow we drive to Toulouse to pick up Judy. House is clean, sheets are changed. We're ready for company.

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