I need to send a big thank you to my friends Natalee and Royce. Thanks to their fantastic generosity, I enjoyed the perfect recovery from my Tour de Mont Blanc adventure. There’s nothing like a few nights in a 16th-century chateau to shake off the aches and pains of the trail.
When I finished the TMB, I spent a day getting organized and then made the trip from Chamonix to Dordogne. The east-west trip from is, as I was warned, not a high traffic route. Faced with only bad options for making trip, I nixed the four connection, 28-hour train ride with a detour through Paris and opted instead for the simpler option of bussing to Geneva, hopping a late flight to Bordeaux, and then catching the 6:00am bus to Sarlat the next morning.
Royce picked me up when I reached Sarlat and took me to the chateau. It was an impressive and fascinating building. The chateau played a major role in the 100 Years’ War between France and England and oozed history from every stone. While the upper sections of the chateau were completed in 16th century, some of the lower sections dated as far back as the 1000’s. The tour of the chateau took nearly an hour and could have gone longer.
Once I was settled, I had the chance to meet Natelee’s family, who had been kind enough to let me stay with them for a few days. Then I got busy slowing down. I took a much need nap and joined the family for a wonderful dinner and some late night dominoes.
The next morning, we took a trip to the market in Domme, a walled city on a hill. I realized as we drove through the rolling hills occasionally punctuated by meandering rivers, steep limestone cliffs and ancient caves that, like the chateau itself, the surrounding era is a playground of historical import. From the caves of Lascaux and other cro-magnon sights to a seemingly unending supply of medieval chateaux, this area (that had never really been on my radar) had more than enough to keep a curious traveler busy for a long time.
Following a lazy lunch in Domme, Royce and I decided we needed some exercise. This came in the form of a quick kayak trip down the Dordogne. The short, 12 km trip gave us a great view of four major castles and several small French towns.
The rest of my time in Sarlat was a whirlwind of relaxation, duck, lamb, veal, foie gras, escargot, (delicious) breakfast tacos, Provence rosés, amazing reds, dominoes, and interesting conversations with good people. It was a wonderful experience that I won’t soon forget.
Thanks again, Natalee and Royce. Can’t wait to see you two again. I’m crossing my fingers for New Zealand.