08.07.2008 - 13.07.2008
Slightly misleading picture. We passed Pomerol and went to St Emilion (Bordeaux region), purely because it’s renowned to be the prettiest wine village/region in the area.
It did not disappoint! On arrival we had a walk around the town and it’s stunning. All old sand stone and medieval. When you approach the area the 1st thing you notice is that every inch of ground is occupied by vines. Miles and miles of them, as far as you can see. We even saw a roundabout that had vines in the middle.
(Kirst at St emilion – Vines as far as the eye can see – hmmmm)
Such a pretty town, all cobbled and steep with more wine shops than you can throw a grape at – one wine shop per eight people who live there. But first, lunch was in order, so we found a restaurant with a lovely terrace and feasted. I had the local traditional dish – confit du canard, which has always been a favourite. K had Margaret du canard. Poor ducks.
We worked off lunch with a further exploration of the town which is no easy feat , given the steepness of all the streets.
Every time you round a corner you are greeted with a new scene that takes your breath away.
We had a poke around a few wine shops and it’s a different world. Wine here is less than half the price of wine back home in the UK. I saw one of my favourites – Chateau Les Ormes De Pez, 1998, for £40 – I’d have to pay over £100 at home. It was a drool fest! – every shop had a selection of wines that you can only dream about. A lot of Pomerol and St Emilion of course, and plenty of superb vintages of Petrus. Shame a Petrus is not in our current budget, even at half price. P.s. 2004 was clearly a bad year for St Emilion. Always when we saw a 2004 it was 1/3rd the price of the years either side. There is a chance I got that year wrong so don’t go and bin your 2004!
Once we were acclimatised we settled on a pitch at a campsite that cost 30 Euros a day – far too much, but it was well located. We stayed there for three nights. A lovely place though.
They were cheeky beggars - they charged 50 Cents just to freeze a blue block for you, and the wi-fi was pricey. Still, nice area so we lumped it.
Like I said, shockingly cheap wine. We bought St Emilion 1998 Grand Cru from the campsite shop for £10 a go. Drank it like cola. What a treat. Was kind of surreal walking round seeing EVERYONE drinking Grand Cru and Grand Cru Classe St Emilions with their crap camping dinners.
(these little ducklings – “cheep cheeps” as K called them, came up with their mother and walked right across our pic nic blanket – was far too cute so I fed them mackeroons. They’d take my whole finger at the same time, and my toes, and peck at my legs – got through all our spare food : - ) )
After a day or so we set off on a day trip to the Dune du Piya – on the coast opposite the Cap Feret. It’s the largest sand dune in Europe. A real sight to behold. You can see right out to see to the Cap Feret, and when you turn around, all you can see is forest.
(Easy way up)
(My parents friends, Liz and Alistair live over there...)
(The fun way down)
On the way back we popped into a garage to get the tracking sorted on the car. It was way out and pulling to the right, exasperated by the fact we are driving on the right side of the road – so the camber was pulling even more. You couldn’t take your hands off the wheel for more than a second or you’d be in trouble. So we got it sorted – though we did get bored waiting the 45 minutes it took….
We moved on today to Beynac – 2 and a half hours further down the Dordogne. There are two opposing castles here, either side of the river, and lots of other sights to see, not to mention canoeing the Dordogne – which we are doing on Sunday – 5 hours down the river – lovely!
(Saw this on the way – tractor that straddles the vines. Not sure why, but it looked cool)
After nosing around we’ve got a pitch on a super basic site. No facilities really, just pitched up by the river. We did go and have a look at the more comprehensive campsites nearby but just got that feeling again that you end up being isolated.
(Our new view – that’s the Dordogne)
So! – Tomorrow – sightseeing, Sunday – canoeing, Monday, well, it’s Bastille day so we are off to Sarlat to watch the fireworks!
Update – Sunday.
All set-up in Benyac we popped across the river to see Chateau Castelnaud. It sits on one side of the Dordogne, opposite another chateau - Chateau Beynac. They two families feuded for centuries apparently. French hey!
It was a great castle to visit. It was loaded with rebuild trebuchets, mangonels, cannons, all that kind of stuff, which I love (lots of wasted years on computer games attackign castles).
We picked a good day too - no English there so we got our won touur guide to ourselves. She explained all the technicalities of seige warfare and defense - most of which I know anyhow but a few new ones were in there to be learnt.
(Yo! chuck us a rock)
(Whoever lived here had commanding views)
With that kind of view, you get the chance to play with things like.....
Loads of windy stairs, and best of all, you could go to the top and out on the ramparts. Something you dont' often get a chance to do.
(This one is clearly for the drinking man)
A great visit all in all, and we could not resist....
Today we went on a canoo trip down the Dordogne. We had multiple choices of departure pionts (they van you up to the start with your boat) - we of course chose the 22 kilometre one, assuming the shorter ones were gay.
I'm typing this with a sore neck and back. Kirstin has sore hips and neck. It was really pretty, and some of the sections were fast / rapid, but we had a headwind some of the time and by half way were were knackered!
(This is, I promise, a Confit de Canard Pizza! - I had to try it. Still not convinced duck and cheese go together)
An exhausting but very scenic trip! - I'd have more pics but I took mainly video to make a small montage which I'll post next time I find wifi.
Back to the tent shortly to have another BBQ. We bought a rack and we make our own under a tree :-)
Bastile day tomorrow. We considered rushing the 4 hours down to Carcassonne to catch the mega foreworks but by all accounts it gets madly busy and you need to be there by noon so we'll stay here and catch the local ones.