Friday, May 22, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - Sarlat market and Beynac

If it's Wednesday, it's usually Sarlat market. Today is no exception. We need food and Karen, Dennis and Nancy need to see Sarlat.  But as usual, there are things in Sarlat we haven't seen before.

It's interesting to see how the market changes with the seasons. This time, we see flowers and plants offered for sale. There are still the usual regional offerings of foie gras and walnut products as well as the sausages, olives and tapinades. The market is quite crowded and this time quite a few people are actually shopping for fruits and vegetables - more locals among the tourist crowds.

French city mailman
After wandering a few streets and checking out the church again, we visit the Gisson Manor house at Goose Market Square. It's an interesting building, still lived in, with rooms on 3 floors plus some curiosity rooms on the ground level. The Gisson family were minor nobility and were consuls for the town government.

These rooms apparently became the fad in the 17th century with wealthy people collecting all sorts of strange and unusual natural things - shrunken heads, narwhal tusks, unusual tools and instruments, bones of exotic animals and fishes. These were status symbols even if they weren't always what they were claimed to be by those selling these curiosities. They would be displayed in cases and on shelves in rooms set aside as small museums, to be shown off to friends and visitors demonstrating "scientific" knowledge and wealth.
Curiosity room: narwhal tusks sold as unicorn horns

Curiosity room

All the rooms in this house are furnished, although not all in the same period as this is a house owned by the same family over hundreds of years.

On the first floor we see an small salon and men's smoking room.
Smoking room

Followed by the 18th century kitchen and dining rooms (la Salle d'Honneur)

bread cupboard (top) and plate drainer (bottom) in kitchen


dining room

pisé floor - these pyramidal stones were pounded into a sand base until even
The dining room opens onto a terrace one level above the street. Our English guidebook tells us the Gisson family complained that the town church blocked too much light from their house and were in favor of the post-Revolutionary plan to tear it down.  Obviously, that plan was never carried out.

An 18th century stone staircase leads up through the center of the building (actually contained in its own tower). On the second floor we see an office and the master's chamber (chambre des maîtres), the husband's bedroom. On the other side of the building, we see the wife's' boudoir and bedroom (le grand salon) And a maid's room up in the attic.

Home for lunch and then the troops head off for Beynac castle. As usual, there's something new in Beynac - horses going up the steep street toward the castle. Karen, Nancy and Dennis were walking down to meet Dave at the bottom. At the first lookout, Karen reports there was a tremendous racket. 3 horses and riders were making their way up the path and one of the horses slipped and fell. Karen says the horse was panicked at not having good footing.
view from the castle outer walls

the castle in the sun - not so forbidding with the sun on it

horse on the right was the one who fell
why would anyone in modern times ride a horse up this steep path?

The result for us was that Karen, Dennis and Nancy eased around the horses and ended up walking down to the wrong end of town and it took a few minutes to connect up in the right place.

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