Vezac to Rocamadour
We had been convinced to have breakfast supplied by our lovely hosts this morning and it would have been rude not to since we are getting the complete French experience. At 9am we went downstairs to find the table full of fresh fruit, bread and of course croissants. Richard has made some homemade jams which were melon, rubarb and green tomatoes which we spread on our fresh baguette. A pot of hot water with tea and a hot chocolate was brought out which we had requested last night. Claudie had the breakfast ready for us this morning and I think Richard got a sleep in. They both really are wonderful hosts and Claudie potters around making sure everyone is well taken care of, she spoke some English so we wernt able to speak to her much but you could tell she was trying. Once we had eaten everything from grapefruit, pineapple, grapes and of course bread we packed up our things. We were unsure of how to pay them and thought it could possibly be through Airbnb but it was in fact cash. So for a total of €63 ($103 NZD or $51.50 each) we had an exquisite dinner, breakfast and tried some local wine, absolutely well worth the money and very affordable compared to the meals we had brought in Paris. Claudie kissed us on the cheek and Richard and the large German Shepard they owned showed us out. Richard joked about choosing to carry a much lighter bag this time leaving the heavy one to younger fitter looking Lewis. We took some photos before we left and promised to send our parents his way sometime.
The Marqueyssac Gardens were a short 5 minute drive away and it was a chilly morning with fog sitting on the valley. It cost us €18 ($29 NZD) to enter the gardens which span for 20 hectares and surprisingly they only have to trim them twice a year. Peacocks greeted us as we entered and Lew was amazed to see that they climbed steps after partially chasing them up it haha (I don't think we will ever get the child out of this man). We always get given a map but chose to just get lost and follow signs we can't read. I did know that there was a beautiful view of the entire Dordogne region right at the end of the walk so we made our way towards that. It really was beautiful with the fog and smoke coming out of chimneys of brick houses perched on the edge of the Dordogne River. You could see canoes and boats called gabares which used to be for transporting goods and now used for tourist river cruises floating down the river. The gardens were full of immaculately trimmed boxwood shrubs framing the garden and creating designs within the borders. As we walked further down the small river side town of La Roque-Gageac comes into view which is where we were also wanting to stop off at. There was a platform 200m above the river that provided a good base to get some photos. Lew is unfortunately very concerned about flying his drone even in such a deserted area but in this case it was a good thing as a helicopter sped through the valley below us. An influx of people also came onto the platform and we left to check out the rest of the gardens. At one stage we came across this very cool net walkway above the ground spanning for 110m. It was surprisingly hard to walk on especially when Lewis the elephant began walking in it as well! It threw us from side to side and was quite entertaining. I tried to do the waist straps up on my backpack and I swear Lew made the netting move so I went face first into the net with my hands caught lower down. We were pleased to get out of it as it was rather taxing! (only Shannen was pleased, i could have gone forever). We continued walking back down towards the chateau and restaurant whist reminiscing about being back in Indonesia and how different it is. We figured we had seen most of what the garden could offer and walked back to the car stopping by the toilets. One suggestion for France is if you pay entry to a chateau or garden make sure you use the bathroom before you leave so you don't have to pay for it further down the track!
We drove the 30 minutes to the next town La Roque-Gageac. And parked up finding the cost of the tour on the gabares not too expensive at €9.50pp ($15.50 NZD) and decided we would take the 2pm one leaving in 20 minutes. It took us slightly up the left so we had a good view looking back on the village. We were the only ones using the provided English audiobook and everyone else had an actual French guide with a microphone. Lew and I moved to the other side of the boat to get some better photos and the guide must have said something funny as everyone laughed, thats when I realised the boat had tipped more to one side! It then continued down the river giving us a view of the Castelnaud and the Marqueyssac Gardens. There are 5 dams that divide the river providing electricity for the area, other wise France mainly runs of nuclear power plants with 75% of power produced by them. The boat ride took an hour and once we got back we walked around the town and I convinced Lew he was going to fly his drone. We walked away from town and found a small access point to the side of the river where we could go down and Lew could see the drone back over the city. Everything went fine as I figured it would and we hopped back in the car to head to the next township called Domme.
The route down was very steep and past the sanctuaries which to us seemed like large creepy crevasses in the rock that we were going to have to walk past later in the dark! It took us about 20 minutes, most of which I ran since it was easier than walking such steep slopes. The town seemed pretty deserted at 7pm at night and there was only about 3-4 restaurant open. We ended up walking the entire main street and decided upon a place that had no one in it but had a bit more of a varied menu. By this stage we were so hungry we would have eaten just about anything! I ordered a pizza which came with fresh anchovies which I love and Lew was just horrified by. He got a steak special with chips and salad adding up to a total of €24 ($39 NZD) which wasn't as bad as what we had been paying in Paris.
We had to use out phone lights to walk back up parts of the path and the statues of christ at each corner kept lighting up when we got close. Very creepy! We called it a night and hoped to plan some more accomodation before bed since it is now OCTOBER!!
Once again we drove into a small picturesque township with tiny roads and a stone entranceway that a caravan was backing out of clearly unable to get through (note to anyone driving these regions, bigger is not always better!). The city's are very good at leading you to their paid parking despite it probably being fine to park for free in most places on the street. Perhaps it's their biggest revenue in the summer! Walking down the stone street we stopped off at a silver shop and admired their bracelets. We then tried a couple of wine shops to see if they had the type of wine that Richard served us last night but I was told that was from a region more south in France. The lady spoke good English and I was able to explain we wanted something sweet and not too dry. She let us taste three different wines from the region. The first looked and tasted a bit like syrup which I liked but decided it was too sweet for Lews liking and dad would probably have had a fit knowing how much sugar was in it and that we no longer have a dentist close by! The second was too dry but the last one was a combination of both and we liked that. It cost us €7.50 ($12 NZD) which was a bit more expensive than the bottle from Amboise but Lew did say we needed to try the wine out from each region. We continued walking the street and we felt very relaxed walking amongst the people out with their dogs but it could have just been from the wine tasting. We admired the view over the valley and the old cars out for a Sunday drive. Most of the shops were closed on a Sunday so it was an unfortunate day to visit since I can imagine it teeming with people and markets on any other day. It was still an hours drive to our final stop of the day Rocamadour so we thought we should get a move on since it was 4.30pm already. For some reason google maps took us on the strangest route there and it was like a deserted road that would normally have been gravel in NZ. We barely saw any cars and once again they are like back farm roads with no farms to be seen.
Turning a corner Rocamadour suddenly came into view with its buildings literally hanging off the shear cliff faces. We actually turned back around so we could pull over and get some drone shots before entering the city. An absolute must see for sure! It was difficult finding the hotel since you can't seem to drive up from the bottom on the city. We had to go around and up the back way which worked better anyways since that was where our hotel Le-Relais-Amadourien was. We had left it to late to book an Airbnb and it was crazy expensive for the one left. The town does only have just over 600 people so perhaps it wasn't just us leaving it to late but the fact that not many of those people would have an Airbnb! The hotel certainly wasn't as great as what we have had recently and I was slightly disappointed it didn't have a fridge since our milk, cheese and everything will be out of the fridge for two days now. At least last night we could put the ice block in the freezer at Richards. We freshened up and discovered a way in which we could walk into town.