Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 Les Gabarres Caminade, La Roque-Gageac and Marqueyssac Chateau

La Roque-Gageac as seen from Chateau Marqueyssac.
Clark risked life and limb to run across the road to take
this photo for me.  Thanks, Clark.

We got a really late start today due to the interrupted sleep caused by watching the NCAA final game from 3:30 am to 5:30 am. Everyone was a bit sleep deprived on Tuesday.  So we've decided to take an easy day, starting with a boat ride and exploration of the small town of La Roque-Gageac.

Pronounced "la roke gahge ock", this city has been inhabited since pre-historic times. It was a port city along the Dordogne in the 18th and 19th centuries, till modern transportation made the river less important. It also was an important strategic stronghold during unsettled times.

We arrived just shortly before 11, just in time to get tickets for the 11 am tour of the Gabarre Norbert. This boat provides an hour tour down the river as far as the Castelnaud bridge. Headsets with an English narrative are provided, so we missed nothing in translation from the French guide at the front of the boat.

The narrative was from the viewpoint of a 19th century boatman born and raised in La Roque-Gageac which provided a portrait of the life of a boatman on the river.  He explained all the buildings as we moved down the river and talked about the life of a boatman on a gabarre.

Gabarres are flat bottomed sailboats used in previous centuries to move goods like wine up and down the river. 

Today they are powered and take tourists along parts of the Dordogne.

Some views we saw on the river:

Town church

More photos from the boat:
The town set against the cliff.

A cave dwelling above houses into the cliff. This was one way townspeople stayed safe from marauding pillagers and the conflicts of war.

This is a 19th century chateau built to look old. But it's big and impressive.

One of the feeder springs for the Dordogne.

An eddy with the ruins of a toll bridge.

Eglise St. Julien in the ghost town by the same name, which was created when the bridge was torn down and not replaced. St. Julien is the patron saint of boatmen.

On our return, we had our usual French picnic lunch in the park next to the Gabarre piers. Meat, cheese, perhaps a bit of mustard on a chunk of French bread with fruit, mustard potato chips, and water. 

We spent the early afternoon walking around the town of La Roque-Gageac. We walked along the quayside to the end of town then up some steep paths to the upper town. 
Every where you look is a beautiful view.

A large manor house - this town attracted lots of wealthy merchants because of its favorable tax  status afforded it by the king

how can you resist another photo?

The way back to the main road. Lots of steps, rarely a walking path.

Janis is walking the upper path. There is only one house between it and the cliff side and most of  the houses are actually built partly into the cliff.

Evie must have been off exploring on her own when we took this photo. 

How big is your rosemary bush?

Walkways and alleyways


After checking out this compact little town, we decided we had time to check out Chateau Marqueyssac on our way home. The stunning part of this chateau is its gardens, but we also think its location is also pretty fantastic. It's across the river from Castelnaud and up on the limestone cliffs. Its gardens reach all the way to La Roque-Gageac more than a km away. Visitors can walk along 3 different paths - one along the cliff-side belvedere, one along the boxwood hedges of the middle and a long broad alley through oaks for more than 6 km of walking paths.

The creator of these gardens studied Italian gardens and chose to make fantastic boxwood hedges. I was less impressed with these than with the views and pleasant woodsy walk along the belvedere overlooking the river. The views were fantastic.  And you've seen some of them in other places in this blog - Castelnaud and La Roc-Gageac, for example. You had to work for them somewhat however because there were lots of steep ups and downs.  The alley however is a flat walk, but rather uninteresting in my opinion.

We bought a season pass because we know some of our friends want to see these. Also, there's a covered patio with a view to the west and supposedly a wonderful place to watch the sun set. 

Here are some garden photos to give you an idea of the boxwood hedges and the views: 
boxwood hedges

The patio where you can look out at  Beynac and supposedly see great sunsets.

boxwood hedges

Along the belvedere trail

View from the belvedere trail

Home in a hurry to make shepherd's pie from our leftover Easter lamb. But first some aperos on the terrace. After dinner relaxing catches Evie eyeing up the wine bottle collection that is growing by about 3 bottles a day.  Clark is cataloging our impressions of each one along with price, label information and hopefully the food we ate with it. However, tomorrow we have a wine tour planned, so Clark will have lots of work when we're done.

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