Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - Collonges-la-Rouge, Turenne and Martel

An update on the walnut trees. They're leafing out more and more and beginning to change from rust to green. Noticing the shade under the groves now. Makes you want to have a good book and a chaise lounge to sit under the trees and read.

The walnut grove at the end of our "driveway"

By now, we're well aware that Thursday is Ascension and a French national holiday. It's another long weekend and places will be mobbed with  again. We've seen the tents set up in Sarlat and we see them again here in Collonges-la-Rouge where we're starting our day. There's no parking in the town, but there is a very convenient lot at the top of the town, so we start there.

It would seem they will have carnival rides here this weekend as part of their celebration. Posters announce music events in the tents.
This tent was being erected with help from this tractor.
It takes up all the space between the market square and the church (which isn't a lot of space)

Carnival ride being set up next to the church.

Collonges is rouge (red) because it is built of red sandstone.  It's quite a contrast to the warm yellows of the Dordogne.


Maison Benges

But the town is quite charming and on the must-see list for French tourists as well. We see lots of French folks meandering the streets along with us.
On the way down into Collonges

Narrow streets and alleys are truly red with buildings and cobbled streets made from the same red limestone. It's difficult to get photos of places like the church and market because they are so close together.
The church with high towers - it was defensive at one point in the middle ages

The church

The tympanum over the church entrance is interesting because it's in white limestone, in contrast to all the red

One of the carvings in the tympanum

The town seems to be getting ready for the weekend and tourism season to start, but we are just a bit early. We see lots of trucks (little vans really, big trucks wouldn't fit in this town) emptying their backs into shops with deliveries of tourist items and foodstuffs. Of course the trucks are in the way of our scenic photos. oh, well.
The types of vans that were delivering goods to stores and restaurants.
Larger trucks could not get down the street

There's a museum but it's not open today. Same for many of the shops and restaurants. But you can tell this town makes its money on tourism.  We follow a tour of this compact town that we got from the tourist office. (but still with its ups and downs since it cascades down a moderately steep hillside)
This town is very touristy with lots of  B&Bs, restaurants and tourist stores

Along the way, we see a construction site where they are replacing lauze roof tiles. These are those stone roofs you see so often in the Perigord. They weigh about a 1100 pounds per square meter so require steeply pitched roofs with enormously large and complicated beams to support the weight. Thick walls also help displace the weight. Lauze roofs have no mortar holding them but are supported by the way the flat stones are wedged into each other.  Here's a photo of the tiles taken off the roof in the replacement process.
Lauze tiles removed from a roof that is getting a new roof.
These roofs only last 500 or so years. (but cost a bomb when they need to be replaced)
Notice how thin these stones are. They are all dry-fitted together with no mortar, then chipped to create the proper
roof slope

After lunching at a picnic table at the top of the town, we make our way to Turenne, a hilltop town with a ruined castle on the top.

It's quiet as it's lunchtime, giving this town a sleepy look. We park at the bottom of the town and head in.
Turenne's castle is now a ruin

Another uphill town, Dave walks to the castle entrance for the views and I meet him at the church, passing some pretty views along the way. The roses are in full bloom now and I can't stop taking photos of windows and doorways framed by climbing roses.
Flags of Turenne decorate the houses going up this street.
Looking up the street to the castle from the bottom
Notice the step to the left behind me - how steep it is at the lower side and at ground level at the upper side 
View from the entrance to the castle

The blocks here are mixed in color from the yellow limestone to the red limestone

I can't stop taking photos of the roses

More roses and doors

View of town from above

The church

Martel's coat of arms is 3 hammers and legend has it that it has something to do with Charles Martel of the who's favorite weapon was a hammer.  But it's not true. sigh.

More roses, a renaissance house and a portal

Nevertheless, this town has maintained an old center within its former ramparts

Martel's market square still has its old grain measures (in the right bay of the market portals)
A view down the market. The turreted house was shops on the ground floor and living above.
This town was also very wealthy and the fine houses show off their wealth.
The owner of this fine house put the door knocker high on the gate so it could be reached from horseback.
(No kidding, that's what the town tourist guide said)

We stopped at a brasserie (bar) for a drink and this was our view.

The church tower in Martel is external to the church and creates the entry portal
Notice the defensive build of the tower. It was built into the city walls
Inside the church

The church inside is all painted giving us a glimpse of how churches everywhere probably looked in medieval times

Finished in Martel by 5, we decide to try to eat at L'Esplanade in Domme tonight. This restaurant has been on Dave's to-do list, so tonight seems a perfect opportunity to do it. We are hopeful that the small crowds of this week means we can get in without a reservation.

 All goes well, we arrive at Domme around 6:15, get rock-star parking in the upper lot nearest the church and make a reservation for 7:15 when the restaurant opens. We kill an hour with a glass of wine at the Belvedere Brasserie overlooking the Dordogne.  I ask the waiter if the small numbers of tourists is par for the course in mid-May and he assures me it is and explains the the many May holidays bring out the French tourists. We've already had May 1 (Labor Day), May 8 (Victory in Europe Day) and now May 14 (Ascension).  And of course we've had 4 weeks of rotating school holidays.
Sitting at the Belvedere across the square from the Esplanade, also overlooking the Dordogne

The Belvedere from the belvedere park

The trees on the belvedere are all leafed out now

How the trees on the belvedere park looked on April 2.  Quite a transformation

L'Esplanade is a restaurant we learned about in A Chateau in my Backyard. It has a perfect setting with its terrace overlooking the Dordogne and we have a table with a perfect view. We decide to have a splurge meal here and linger over dinner from 7:15 till almost 10. It's a place worth lingering over.

This terrace of the Esplanade Restaurant overlooks the Dordogne

Our table. We began our meal with Kir (cassis and white wine)

Amuse-guele (little one bite appetizers are artfully prepared and delicious

My dinner was duck

Dessert: raspberry sorbet and a confection of raspberry, white chocolate, cream, and dark chocolate

Sunset on the Dordogne
The Dordogne between our wine glasses

Sunset over the Dordogne from our table

The entrance to L'Esplanade on our way home.

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