Friday, December 21, 2018

Our Charming Village in France

Although I’ve mentioned that the village Issigeac that we’re staying in is well known for its huge Sunday market, it has so much more to offer than just that.  The house we are staying in is a three story stone house, medieval style on the outside with the standard working French shutters, of course, on door and windows.  It is open plan living/kitchen on the ground floor with a wood burning stove, beautiful stone walls, tiled floor  and high beamed ceiling.  On the next level, there is a huge master bedroom, a charming office/single bedroom and a bathroom with bath/shower combo, a sink and toilet in same room.  (Often in France, the toilet is in a separate room). The top story has another full bathroom and a large bedroom with slanted ceiling and a sitting area.  The house is charming and cozy, the kind where you instantly feel at home.  The girls and I are so comfortable in our French home that we venture out reluctantly!!!!  Even the pigeons that we hear softly cooing on the roof each morning add to the ambiance!  Our residence is located in the village but has some privacy the way the front entrance is facing a private lane. Outside there are two nice gardens and also a separate courtyard with outbuildings, beautiful trees and plants, certainly a lot more than you’d expect for a house in town!!!!

  The town is circular in shape and dates back to the 13th century.  Our house is on Rue Sauveterre... (See #6 on the map)

The Tourist Office has a imposing residence in The Palace of Bishops, a 1660 castle built on the site of an old abbey.  The beautiful Gothic style church is listed as a historic monument.

The village has a river that meanders its way around the outskirts along with several parks and loads of parking areas.  While walking through the picturesque streets, I was fascinated that you actually walk under houses that have a second story but no ground floor.  Wonder if the home owner’s own the street level too (as market stalls set up in those sheltered spaces)?

The girls and I meander through the village's network of lanes and streets, never tiring of admiring the incredible design and individuality of each house, not to mention the history that oozes from each one and the stories they all secretly hold within their walls!


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Chateau de Duras on a Sunny Afternoon

The girls and I took another scenic drive to the village of Duras, just over half an hour away from our Issigeac on narrow country roads.  The majestic Chateau de Duras rests regally in front of the town of Duras, an impressive sight with beautiful countryside flowing down from the castle as far as the eye can see......  Jess, Blue and I felt like royalty ourselves today when we were the only ones touring this impressive relic of French back to the 12th century, it boasts owners such as the uncle of Pope Clement V, the Duke of Aquitaine, the King of England and the King of France......It took us a couple of hours to wander around the extensive interior that had several stories, including banquet halls, kitchens, sleeping chambers, a "Room of Secrets", and even a "Ghost's Room"!!!!!  What authentic castle wouldn't have at least one resident Spirit of the Past?!!!  And we got our exercise for the day climbing the very narrow circular stone staircase (that seemed to go on forever) till finally we reached the top of the tower and a stunning rooftop view of the whole area bathed in sunshine on this glorious day.


Montflanquin and The Crab Claw Tree!

Less than a half hour drive from Issigeac is the bastide town of Montflanquin.  We were thrilled at the picturesque drive heading up on a straight road towards the town as it sits on top of a hill with the church at the highest point.  There was a huge empty parking lot near the church so the girls and I parked there and walked around the town.  Montflanquin was built in the 1200’s as a fortified town with a wall around it.  The surrounding wall no longer exists.  As a bastide town, it was designed with a central square with streets leading off in a grid pattern.  The girls and I walked around the deserted town square, admiring the beautiful houses and windows decorated for Christmas . A market is held in the square every Thursday.

On a side street leading into the square we passed a curious sea shack, La Cabane du Pécheur (The Fisherman's Cabin) with a tree next to it decorated in crab claws.  How random is this????  and no, this is not near the sea!!!!  We have no idea what the meaning of this is and unfortunately, the tourist office was closed as were all the shops so we will have to investigate further on a future trip!!!!!  Definitely need to know the story of this oddity!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Our First Morning: The Market

The girls and I were so exhausted after all our long trip from USA to France but after arriving, we made a quick trip to the Intermarché to pick up a few necessities (water, milk, teabags, bread, butter, etc.), knowing that the shops might be closed the next day Sunday, and possibly Monday too (which they were!).  We were starving coz we hadn't had time during our layovers to grab a bite at the airports like we thought we would, so we just had a quick dinner and headed to bed.  Our beds were super comfy and we all slept great.  Thought I'd be bothered by one of the cats in the house sleeping on his cushion at the bottom of the bed but I was too tired to care!!!  I had to wake the girls up in the morning so we wouldn't miss the Sunday market in Issigeac......luckily it was only two lanes away!  Gotta love being in the village and everything right on our doorstep!!!!!

I had been to the Issigeac market before in the summer where it was HUGE spreading through the square and side streets of the village.  Although it is considerably scaled back in winter, they still had a lot more than I expected.  The first stall we came to had chickens roasting on a rotisserie and the smell got our tummies rumbling!  There were a variety of dried sausages, home made jams, honey, huge variety of cheeses, fresh truffles, clothes stalls and other trinkets to name a few.  Quite the turnout for a disappointingly drizzly day!  I bought a fresh baquette (a daily requirement for the French!), and a few pastries for breakfast.  A farmer was selling a selection of paté off his own farm so I bought a duck one to try for the cheap price of €3.60.  I also got a piece of fresh goat's cheese and then went to look at wine from one of the many wine stalls.  A friendly Frenchman was handing out generous samples of each wine to try in real wine glasses, and a new glass for each sample.  I picked a bottle of wine that I liked (I'd be liking them all if he kept handing me glasses of wine!!!).  We had a quick look through the clothes stalls and Jess saw designer leggings that she liked and they were only €6 so we bought a pair along with some lacy hair scrunchies.  By then, Blue was feeling a bit sick, still exhausted from the long trip, so we stopped at another rotisserie stall and bought a coquette au jus which was smaller and cheaper than the chickens (poulet)).......thinking it might be a young chicken but in France, it could be anything!

         Seamus staking his claim.....                    Blue & Jess, two sleepyheads, 
                                                                                   going to the market


                                                   Amazing selection of fresh flowers for winter.....

Me, at the market stalls in the church square......

                          Thinking I did pretty good with my market purchases!!!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chasing Rainbows!

As 2018 nears to an end, I desperately needed a place to clear my mind, recharge my weary bones and boost my low spirit by celebrating the end of a pretty crappy year, so I got the rusty brain wheels spinning and came up with a plan to return to the Land of a Thousand Chateaux in the Dordogne region of France.  I can't believe it has been over three and a half years since the girls and I were last here!!!!  How did I let my dream of France slip out of my grasp????  Jess, now a seasoned teenager at 16, and Blue, 12, will join the teen club next year! Time to reintroduce them to this fairytale land.......

This trip puts a new spin on things as, instead of renting a country villa, we are housesitting in the historical village of Issigeac.  Our home for two glorious weeks is an amazing three story stone house actually smack-in-the-middle of this renowned town with the best market in the whole region, not only because of the huge amount of stalls and best variety of fresh-off-the-farm produce, but also because of the quaint and charming Issigeac with its cobblestone streets and medieval style houses dating back to Roman times.

We arrived here after a long trip travelling from Philadelphia to Dublin to London to Bergerac.  Bergerac is a small airport, off the beaten track, and definitely a harder place to get to as it is a forgotten destination, especially in winter.  But, even having to stand outside in the drizzly rain waiting in line for passport control could not dampen our excitement at being back in France, looking forward to the amazing food, the friendly people, and the unspoiled countryside and villages.  Yes, we are ready to step back in time and immerse ourselves in the joie de vivre we find here in this special place!

Imagine having a bathroom wall like this!!!

Our landlord exhausted from listening to the three of us!!!

This evening’s sunset welcoming sunset.....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Beaumont Du Perigord - Our Local Town

Beaumont du Perigord is our nearest town, about five minutes drive from where we are staying.  It is one of the dozens of “bastides” in the area.   A bastide means it was built as a fortified walled town, probably in the 1200’s, to protect its inhabitants. It is very picturesque and quite small.  As with all the villages and towns we have discovered, the church (catholic, of course) is the focal point, a magnificent building, inside and out.  In the evening from our house, we can hear the church bells ringing insistently through the countryside.

There is a central market square where the weekly market is held every Tuesday.  There are stalls with fresh produce, fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, handcrafted jewelry, summery clothes and floppy straw hats, baskets, fresh honey and other items right off the local farms.

Here at this market, I have sourced my fruit & veg man who has tables of vibrant colorful produce tempting me to buy more than I actually need, especially as his prices are ridiculously cheap.  I am trying to buy small amounts and go shopping every day or two so I can buy a fresh baquette or two each day, cheese, pate, and other local specialties to try out.  Monday is a closed day in the town (and Sunday) and shops are closed for a long lunch hour from 12:30 to 3pm.

The streets are pretty and clean, the pale stone buildings gleam in the sunshine and flowers and vines add vibrancy to the quiet streets.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sunday Market In Medieval Issigeac!

The girls and I were delighted when our landlady informed us that there was a Sunday market in the nearby village of Issigeac.  What a great way to launch our first full day in France!!!!  We got up to a hot sunny morning, got dressed and headed off to one of the best and biggest markets in the area.  We were lucky to source a parking space right away and headed down the streets of this medieval village filled with stalls and people in the picturesque streets with a beautiful old church as a centerpiece.  There were so many different stalls from huge varieties of fresh fruit & veg, meats, pastries, hot food (even one selling Chinese food!), wine, clothes, shoes, jewelry, crafts, souvenirs, etc. Lots of interesting stuff!!!  I went to take a picture of a stall with ladies handbags and the man from the stall jumped out from behind a table so fast he nearly knocked me down to shout “no, no!!!!”(…..must be knockoffs of designer goods!!!) We stocked up on fruit and vegetables, bought some pastries to try, some chicken lo mein, and a chicken & veg pie!  A French street musician’s songs drifted through the market, adding the perfect atmosphere to this wonderful part of French culture myself, Jess and Blue immersed ourselves in with pure joy!

The beautiful church reigning over the action!

The Market Music!

Who knew there were so many different olives?

This is only a small portion of the huge market that took up many streets!

Blue and Jess in Issigeac heading for Sunday Market