LA BLANQUETTE GÎTES & GLAMPING

Self-catering holiday rentals in the Dordogne Valley. Gîtes and glamping nestled in 12 acres of woodland only 5km away from Sarlat-La-Canéda

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March Madness! 2015

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Spring is on it’s way! As we are now in March, we are offering a special discount to anyone who makes a booking for any of the Gîtes or Glamping accommodation at La Blanquette.

If you make a booking before the end of March 2015 for a stay anytime this year or next, then we are pleased to offer a 10% discount on your basic rental rate.

To qualify for your discount, please enter the code MADMARCH15 when prompted on our online booking form.

We look forward to seeing you here!

Photoworkshops – Digital Photography Courses in France

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Nik recently spent two days on a photography workshop with Ian and Fenella Jackson of Photoworkshops, Aquitaine.

Nik spent her time learning about various aspects of photography to enhance the marketing of La Blanquette on one of their ‘Photography and Photoshop Day Courses for Gîte, Chambre d’Hôte and Hotel Owners

Areas covered by the workshop included a good mix of how to get the most of your camera equipment by learning new technical skills and gaining a deeper understanding of aspects such as exposure, lighting, colour balance, depth of field and perspective as well as learning how to enhance the images following capture.

Each day included visits to local markets and pretty medieval towns nearby in order to put into practice what has been learnt, and also studio time focussing on other useful skills for chambre d’hôte and hotel owners such as food photography.

The workshops are run in Ian and Fenella’s home in the beautiful South West France, (40km from Bergerac, 16km from Eymet – about 1 3/4 hours drive from La Blanquette) and they are wonderful and welcoming hosts.

Photoworkshops run different types and lengths of courses depending on what the student wants to achieve, including a Tour de France workshop, as it routes past their doorstep this year!

For more information visit their website and Facebook page :

photoworkshops.co.uk

Le Tour – La Route 2014!

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The route has been announced but still lacks details of the exact roads and towns it passes through.

The great news is – on Friday the 25th July and Saturday 26th July Le Tour revisits the Dordogne department for the first time since 2006! And there will be two stages, a stage 19 finish in Bergerac, and a stage 20 time-trial from Bergerac to Perigueux! This TT (where you will be able to see every competitor ‘contre la montre’ racing against the clock) will most likely determine the eventual winner of the Maillot Jaune and will be an exciting penultimate day of the Tour.

Although stage 19 doesn’t pass the doorstep of La Blanquette the route does pass through Bergerac, which is only just over an hour’s drive away, or three hours relatively flat cycle along the Dordogne!

We are busy working out how we can get to sample the atmosphere at either or both of these stages. Most hotels near the route were booked out last year. Will we cycle or will we drive or get the train? Where will British corner be?! Decisions, decisions!

The exact routes for the two stages will be announced a month or two before the Tour, so we will keep you posted.

Links to Le Tour website : Stage 19 and Stage 20

Taxi – A LA CARTE

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Anyone who has visited the Dordogne will know that it is very difficult to obtain a taxi in the evenings. Generally, taxi services here work during daytime hours unless booked well in advance!

Having been here a few years now we were beginning to think we’d always have to assign a designated driver every time we wanted to go out for dinner in Sarlat or further afield.

Fortunately we have discovered Christoph and his ‘A La Carte’ taxi service! Christoph is available 24/7, speaks many languages including English (perfectly), is extremely friendly and courteous and he now knows us at La Blanquette very well!

He has a large Land Rover Discovery, fully equipped, which seats 6 people plus himself and is shortly (as we write) to take delivery of an eco-friendly Tesla vehicle for smaller parties.

So, if you are in need of transport around the Dordogne area during your stay at La Blanquette (so you can enjoy the fabulous wines here!) or require transport to/from your airport or train station, do not hesitate to contact him.

TAXI “A LA CARTE”

Christoph Kusters

Les Cèdres
24220 St Vincent de Cosse

 t: 05 53 31 80 57
m: 06 08 70 61 67

e: taxialacarte@gmail.com

Christoph’s website can be found here : TAXI “A LA CARTE”

Market Days in the Dordogne

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When visiting the region a trip to a local market is not to be missed. Many regional products are available such as great cheeses and great wines which we can recommend, as well as the more typical Périgordine fare like truffles, walnuts and foie-gras. The markets are bigger in the Summer months but they can get particularly busy with tourists during July and August.

Markets can be found in the area on the following days :

  • Monday : Beynac (Jun-Sep), Les Eyzies (Apr-Oct), Montignac (Jul-Aug), Périgueux
  • Tuesday : Cénac, Le Bugue, Salignac (Apr-Sep), Périgueux
  • Wednesday : Sarlat, Bergerac, Cadouin, Montignac, Périgueux, Siorac, Hautefort, Ste. Nathalene (Jul-Aug)
  • Thursday : Domme, Lalinde, Meyrals (Summer), St Julien de Lampon, Terrasson, Périgueux
  • Friday : Le Buisson, La Roque Gageac (May-Sep), Périgueuex
  • Saturday : Sarlat, Belves, Bergerac, Le Bugue, Montignac, Périguex, Gourdon
  • Sunday : Calviac (Jun-Aug), Carsac (Jun-Sep), Daglan, Marquay (Jul-Aug), Rouffignac, St-Cyprien, St-Genies

Gouffre de Padirac

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No, we didn’t know what a ‘gouffre’ was either! However, we were conscious that as residents of Perigord we had not visited any of the amazing caves that can be found in the region. As some friends were visiting late in the season we decided to visit Padirac, as through the Summer the majority of our guests had recommended it as their favourite of the abundant cave sites here.

We headed off to the ‘chasm’ of Padirac which is about an hour’s scenic drive. We were lucky to go late in the season as many of our guests experienced very long queues in the high season.

As can be seen in the picture above, you can take the lift or the stairs deep into the chasm, and then it’s a short underground wander to the next stage which is a boat trip through the underground river! The crystal clear cold waters take you to another section where you then take a guided walk through the amazing caverns further along the river, where the rooftops are covered with spectacular stalactites, and on the floor stalagmites and pools are formed by millions of years of erosion.

There are some steep sections on the short guided walk which some older visitors found tricky. After the walk you return to the boat and are taken back to your starting point.

Outside there are several restaurants and refreshment areas to refuel if you decide to take the stairs back up to the surface instead of the lift!

More details can be found on the Gouffre de Padirac website.

Martel and ‘Le Truffadou’

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The picturesque town of Martel is about 45 minutes drive away in the Lot department. It’s an extremely pretty town and has much to offer within it’s compact cobbled centre – restaurants, some pretty bars, shops and boutiques.

One of it’s main attractions however is the ‘Truffadou’ – or the Haut-Quercy Tourist Train!

The station is a short walk from the centre of Martel and tickets are purchased in it’s new “hall voyageurs” where you can also purchase refreshments (however not beer or wine!).

During the years between the two wars the line was used to transport truffles coming from Martel’s market, one of the most important in France. The name of “Truffadou” derives from this time.

The vintage steam train takes you on a there-and-back journey of just under 20km total, stopping at the cliffside viewpoint of Briance, overlooking the Dordogne from between two hill tunnels! There is a small shop organised by the railway at this stop, selling refreshments and small gifts. (However not beer or wine!) It was an extremely hot day when we visited so were glad of a cool drink. On the return journey, the steam and smoke was quite stifling travelling through the tunnels.

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Although interesting, we felt the trip was one for those who have a real interest in railways and steam travel in particular, however the views over the Dordogne at Briance were breathtaking.

On returning to Martel, we continued to cool down with a couple of ‘pressions’ at a lovely bar with a terrace on the corner of a pretty cobbled street. Even if you don’t take a trip on the train the town of Martel is a fabulous place to enjoy a few hours walking around and maybe a leisurely lunch.

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More information on the “Truffadou” can be found on the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut Quercy website.

Bergerac Wine Tours

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A little late in the season, but we managed to get ourselves on to one of the last tours of the year, and we were really pleased we were able to do so!

Bergerac Wine Tours pick you up and drop you off at a pre-arranged meeting point and then take you on an informative tour of some of the vineyards and chateaux in the Bergerac region, just over an hour away from La Blanquette. Our host for the day was Alex who is great fun and a really friendly character, and we were joined by two other wine-tourists who happened to be from the West Country back in the UK also!

Our first stop was Chateau Lestevenie, where we had a very informative introduction to grape cultivation from Humphrey the owner and ‘vigneron’! (Humphrey happened to come from Somerset in the West Country also!) We then tried some of their great wines and purchased several bottles including their amazing (and prestigious) Saussignac, a limited edition sweet wine made from the Semillon grape.

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For something slightly different we then visited a local chocolatier, ‘Rody Chocolaterie’ to try some of his interesting con-choc-tions! After satisfying our cravings with tasting (and buying!) we then travelled to the hills above Eymet, with stunning views, where Alex and the team provided us with an amazing alfresco lunch (and more wine!)

Afterwards we went to a large Co-Op facility where local, smaller vignerons bring their grapes for wine production. After a more formal guided tasting a few more cases were purchased, including a fabulous sparkling rosé.

Needless to say, everyone was very chatty on the return journey!

We can thoroughly recommend this day out – Christelle, Alex and Jessica are fantastic hosts.

More information can be found at the following websites :

BERGERAC WINE TOURS (also on Twitter : @BergyWineTours)

CHATEAU LESTIVINIE

 

Jardins d’Eau

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Located in Saint Rome, just outside Carsac, in the direction of Gourdon (it’s well signposted) are the pretty Water Gardens.

The gardens slope down towards the Dordogne and we visited on a very hot day, fortunately the gardens are quite compact so not too much walking down and up hill was involved in the heat!

The gardens consist of many beautifully linked pools and ponds, some artificially created but all containing some amazing specimens of flora and fauna. The colours on show were breathtaking, and photographs do not do them justice!

Dogs are admitted on leads, and the whippets were particularly interested in the frogs and tadpoles that were abundant in the water!

There is a small gift shop where thankfully cold drinks were available. A short walk outside you can access the Dordogne itself so the hounds were able to have a dip and cool off too! The gardens didn’t take a great amount of time to visit so can be paired with an excursion elsewhere.

More details can be found on the Jardins d’Eau website.

Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac

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All the signposts to the gardens from Sarlat take you via the pretty hilltop town of Salignac, however on the return journey we found it is a lot closer to La Blanquette through the local village of Sainte Nathalene!

The gardens occupy a hillside South West of Salignac, with a walking route around the outside of the Manoir’s gardens as well as a ‘curated’ pamphlet route through the beautiful gardens adjacent to the Manoir itself. We took the dogs, and this time did the walking route inside the main grounds and plan to do the longer route on our next visit. Dogs are admitted on leads inside the main gardens.

The curated route takes you through the various themed gardens of the 17th Century Manoir, including some fantastic topiary, a kitchen garden and our favourite, the flower garden of beautiful and colourfully striking wild sown blooms.

The Manoir itself is also a beautifully presented building with a tiny chapel and other annexes/outbuildings. Very few of the buildings can be viewed inside though as the owners still occupy the property. One of the refreshing things we noted was that the owner, Patrick Sermadiras De Pouzols De Lile, actually includes his mobile phone number in the garden’s literature if you have any questions or suggestions!

There is a gift shop and also a very nice restaurant with a terrace that looks out over one section of the gardens.

More details (and some better photos!) can be found on the Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac website.

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