[MAD] Mary Ann & Don

France Days 5 & 6: More Sarlat

Posted by madkingblog on January 17, 2010

We didn’t take a lot of pictures on Thursday, but wow, it was such a cool day. We slept in a bit, probably too long since the hosts had to come knock on our door – we had told them we wanted breakfast so I think that had had it ready for awhile.   While we were eating we saw a group of four (two couples) heading out and didn’t think much of it.  We had also seen another woman staying there the night before.

Later that day, we had a reservation for a tour of the Grotto de Font de Gaume!  A prehistoric cave with drawings, settled by stone age people during the last ice age, about 25,000BC. It’s hard to even comprehend how old these paintings are, most only survived because calcite formed over them preserving them. This is one of the few sites that still has the original drawings. Most sites are now replicas because allowing too many tourists in with body heat and breath deteriorated the originals.  At Font de Gaume there is a team of scientists working to preserve the artwork and the number of people allowed in per day is limited. No pictures were allowed of course but it was wonderful and I can’t believe how insightful it was to see and how much I learned. For some reason, and this is probably just personal, but the most fascinating thing I learned was that the animals were never drawn fighting, but always affectionate (one drawing I remember well was a dear licking another dear’s forehead) or running together, but never any type of violence. When our guide made this point while I was looking at these drawings it gave me a very peaceful feeling and in an instant struck me with many thoughts that completely transformed what had been a stereotype in my mind of the burly brute caveman often portrayed in movies or what have you.  With just this small piece of information and the original evidence in front of me, I instead saw an early human trying to understand the world around them and focusing on the greater things in life… affection, connection, cooperation for a common goal… and expressing themselves through art. Even more, they were skilled artists, the drawings are sophisticated with perspective and shading that give 3 dimensionality and the illusion of movement with torch light. These drawings are from a people so much more complex and aspiring than our modern day portrayal, or the perception of the majority, gives them credit for. These drawings are from a time SO long past that it felt like a true privilege and fortune just to be viewing them, especially the real thing. If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, I highly recommend it!

Another cool thing about the tour, was that when we first arrived we realized the entire group (only 8 of us total) were from our B&B, hahaha, the same people we had seen the night before and that morning. We all went our separate ways afterward, and Don and I spend a little bit of time driving and walking around this itty bitty town next to the caves and even tried to make it up to the building in the picture below that was built into the rock wall, but we just couldn’t figure out how to access it, haha, it was strange.

Anyway, we finally made it back to the B&B and decided to go sit in the common area and have some wine we had picked up back in Carcassonne (a Rose made from Shiraz!). Our B&B mates started returning and we drew a crowd in the common area filled boisterous fun conversation full of recommendations and pouring over tour maps and guides! It was loud and awesome.  Two of the couples stayed the longest, opening some wine they had picked up and getting to know us, and we all decided to go to dinner together.  They had a recommendation for a place called Le Petit Manoir.

We had an “apertif” which is basically a liquid appetizer of your favorite alcohol (gotta love Europe!) and this is the first time I’ve ever had a Violet Royal which is a variation on the Kir Royal and as the name suggest, it’s purple.  Don and I continued our adventures in French dining by again ordering without knowing what we would end up with, and once again we were both pleasantly surprised with a delicious dish.

The best thing about  dinner was the company.  We all had a great time sharing our appreciation of the actual “thrones” in the bathroom, commiserated over lack of ability to read the menu, and had an all around great and funny conversation. Russell, Tania, Darell, and Kathy, we had SO MUCH FUN, you guys rock.

Friday we slept late (after all, what are vacations for) and decided to spend a day of leisure around the city. We didn’t want to feel that we missed out on just experiencing this midieval city itself… this captivating step back in time… this is when we got the most pictures of Sarlat.  We took tons, but these are the highlights.

This night, our last night in Sarlat, we had dinner at the Le Quatre Saisons, or in English “The Four Seasons”, and this was definitely an adventure in French dining to remember! This is an expensive pretentious place that gets creative with the food.  For instance, my pork filet came out only partly cooked on wire and a bird’s nest looking contraption which they set on fire with a mini torch to finish cooking at the table.  We had some kind of sauce that came in what looked like test tubes and a straw for drinking. LOL. Oh ya, and the appetizer was served on a wooden plank with holes for long sticks holding foie gras wrapped in cotton candy.  I can’t even remember all the weird stuff they served and I’m sure it all sounds strange but every bit of it tasted phenomenal! We didn’t get any pictures, only a video that I might upload later.

We hit up the Saturday market  before leaving the next day, grabbing some cheese, bread, and marinated olives for the 5 hour drive to the castle we were staying in for a night.  This turned into the eeriest yet funniest experience! So the next blog to come… CRAZY CREEPY CASTLE NIGHT!

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One Response to “France Days 5 & 6: More Sarlat”

  1. Michelle said

    Haha, I love the idea of ordering randomly and having no idea what you’re going to end up with! Can’t wait for creepy crazy castle night!!!

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