22 August 2008

Perigord Pensees

After Rouxou it was off to Sarlat & Perigueux on "Les Bus du Lot" but not from St. Denis as was the plan. The bus I needed in order to connect at Souillac quit running some 3 weeks before. One of those tiny little footnotes in the schedule designated this and got completely overlooked. So my friends drove me to Souillac where I continued on alone. Just one last kir together.

Sarlat la Caneda, as the offical name reads--Ville d'Art et d'Histoire--situated north of the Dordogne, province of Perigord, is only about 32 km. from Souillac. In a country renowned for it's pates, Perigord is the primer center in France for Frois Gras Oie & Canard. Add to that, Truffles, confits & Margrets and it makes a committed gourmands heart go pitter-pat.

The Gare is 2 km. outside Sarlat and my hotel was another 2-3 km. beyond that, back at the junction of the road from Souillac. Had I known, I could have jumped off the bus as we passed it and saved myself the walk along open highway with no consideration for pedestrians. But for it's far from town location, Hotel la Charmille lived up to it's name. Quaint old structure with comfortable budget lodging.

A heart-shaped town with a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, Sarlat (Black Perigord) dates from Medieval and Renaissance times when it was a busy market town. A treasure trough of elegant burghers' houses, the central area is confined and calls out to be explored on foot. It's chock-a-block full of tourists, but still pleasant to wander around.

On to Perigueux, Capitale du Perigord, situated on the right bank of Rive Isle. It should be named "Perideux" as it is really two cities in one--La Cite Gallo-Roman on the site of Vesunna Temple and the Medieval-Renaissance quartier. It is in the latter Classical city one finds the Cathedral of St. Front, a major pilgramage site.

The "ancient church" is actually two distinct buildings, the most recent being the Carolingian (11th C.). It was renovated by Paul ABADIE (think Sacre Coeur/Paris) during the 19th C. Set on the side of a hill allowed for a large network of crypts and half buried chapels to develop under it's bays.

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