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

Tag: Lot

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.

Rocamadour

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About an hour’s leisurely drive from La Blanquette stands the imposing cliff-face village of Rocamadour. The buildings of Rocamadour rise in tiers up the side of a steep gorge running between rocky walls raching over 400 feet in height. Flights of steps ascend from the lower levels to the churches, a group of massive buildings half-way up the cliff, the most notable of which is Notre Dame with its sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This time of year we found the the village basking in the low level sun, the majority of the buildings positioned on the south facing side of the cliff. Then on exploring the lower part of the village we found houses that appeared to be almost in constant shade, shadowed by the other side of the gorge even at midday. This gave the lower village an eerie feel as we then climbed back up to the warm sunlit centre with its churches and monuments. The steps zigzag up between the different levels of Rocamadour, also taking you through tunnels past the ‘chapelles’ and on to the more open ‘chemin’ which again zigzags its way up to the prominent clifftop château which was built to protect and preserve the sacred treasures of Rocamadour below it.

There are plenty of small boutiques, cafes and restaurants to enjoy when visiting. Our recommendation is to park at l’Hospitalet (which is also home to the Grotte des Merveilles) and enjoy the panoramic view of Rocamadour from one of the restaurants or the viewpoint there, then to follow the ‘Voie Santé’ down the hill and into the village to explore further, returning either by ascending to the Château and walking back to l’Hospitalet or along the Voie Santé once more.

From La Blanquette there is a beautiful circular road route to reach Rocamadour via Payrac, through the Ouysse valley; then return via Lacave (with its Grotte and another clifftop château) and then along the Dordogne back through Souillac.

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