Showing posts with label DORDOGNE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DORDOGNE. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Three Rivers. Three Reds. Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.

Three Rivers. Three Reds
Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.
The arena in Arles
Vines need water and no surprise then that so many of the world's best known vineyards are planted on the banks of rivers. You’re all familiar with the spectacular pictures from the Douro and the Rhine, both World Heritage sites. Two of the rivers below, the Rhône and the Dordogne, will be well known to you. I suspect that not may be the case with the Piava.

The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France where it splits into two near Arles - its delta encloses much of the Camargue - before entering the sea. It is 812 kilometres long.
Monbazillac, one of the sweet wine areas on the Dordogne.
The Dordogne is a river in south-central and south-west France. The river and its watershed was designated Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2012. It flows generally west about 500 kilometres through the Limousin and Périgord regions before flowing into the Gironde, its common estuary with the Garonne in Bordeaux. It flows through many vineyards, including those of Bergerac and Bordeaux, and there is much to see in terms of history (e.g. Castelnaud) and prehistory (Lascaux for example) in the area.
The Piave is the baby of these three. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. There is a cow's milk cheese with the same name and the river is known too for the Battle of the Piave (1918), the decisive battle of World War I on the Italian Front.
The Rhone
Pierre Amadieu Côtes du Rhone (AOC) Grande Réserve 2011, 14%, €16.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licences

This well balanced wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a violet colour, the legs slow to clear. Blackberry and plum more than red berries feature on a somewhat muted nose, hints of clove too. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy, tannins are silky, acidity not too obvious, but it is well balanced overall, a powerful palate but not short on finesse and with a very pleasing finish.

The grapes are grown different soils, clay and limestone for the Grenache, pebbles and gravel for the Syrah. The fruit used is a “very careful selection”. Harvesting is manual and the wine is matured for six months in oak barrels. A good result! Very Highly Recommended.

The Dordogne
Feely La Source Vin de France 2011, 13%, €23.50 Mary Pawle Wines

Saussignac, like neighbouring Monbazillac, is perhaps best known as an area that produces sweet wines. And it is here that Sean and Carlo Feely produce organic wines that are not sweet! Their vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Hand-crafted from old vines, this wine is aged gently for 18 months in French oak barrels. It is handpicked, basket pressed, with indigenous yeasts; it is unfined and unfiltered.

Colour is a deep purple. Plum is prominent in the aromas. Quite a depth of flavour (including plum), nice bit of spice too, concentrated and well balanced and the finish is good too. This 2011 blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet and is Highly Recommended.

The Feely suggests an Irish (Wine-Geese) connection to this Bergerac vineyard and there is. Read about it here. By the way, if you are in the area, why not visit Chateau Feely; it is just 75 minutes from Bordeaux and 15 from Bergerac. If you can't make it to Saussignac, maybe you'd like a little share in the vineyard? Details here.

The Piave
Conte Loredan Gasparini Malbec Colli Trevigiani (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

Colour here is a fairly intense violet and red fruits feature in the aromas. Rich flavours on the palate plus a good input of spice, excellent acidity too. Tannins are fine. Very smooth and approachable and then a good long finish. Very good indeed and Highly Recommended.

While this particular wine is labelled IGT, the winery has been cultivating Malbec for the past fifty years as part of their DOC Venegazzu. They say it is ideal as an aperitif (I can vouch for that!), with fried food and red meat.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Bergerac's wine museum (with large shop in front)

According to, quite a few Irish merchants stock wines from Bergerac but none stock Pecharmant, the best red from the area. Just finished off the last of my 2010 holiday purchases the other day, hence the reason for the search.

Of course, I could have kept it – they age well – but I was tempted by “drink it now for the pleasure of its fruit” on the label. Really a pity that it is not available here as it gives many highly rated and more expensive Bordeaux a run.

Iron in the soil of this sub region of Bergerac gives the AOC wines (they make only rich red ones) minerality and grip.

Château de Tiregand Pecharmant 2007, 13%. The blend: Merlot 54%, Cabernet Sauvignon 23%, Cabernet Franc 18% and Malbec 5%.

Colour is dark red with elegant aromas of dark fruit. Doesn’t quite match the grip of the Peyretaille (below) but, in the mouth, it is a beautiful rounded ensemble. The 12 months on oak has played a part. No wonder, in earlier centuries, the boys of Bordeaux didn’t want these wines reaching these islands via their port.

Chateau Peyretaille Pecharmant 2007, 12.5%. The blend: Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 40%, Cot 10% and Cabernet Sauvignon 10%.

A typically rich red; moreish, with a long length; very impressive and not surprised that it won a Silver Medal at the Grands Vins de France 2009.

Colour is a healthy looking black cherry red and the lovely fruity nose is very inviting. In the mouth, the red and black fruit are again prominent and a pleasure. There is a grippy texture in this excellent well balanced bottle.

Looks like I’ll have to make another trip to Bergerac!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DAY 28/29 End of the Line

See full story of 4 weeks in the Dordogne at
DAY 28/29
The intention was to have a good night’s sleep before an early start Friday to the 500 miles plus journey from Sarlat to Roscoff. But that was knocked on the head, both by that late eau-de-vie plus the lightning from a neighbouring storm that floodlit the garden area around and about midnight. Still, we made the ferry with plenty of time to spare. (You'll find autoroute tips on my other site 

While the loading can be a bit of a lottery, we were one of the first to get on board. We were hungry so headed for the self-service restaurant, the Angele. Two steaks with potatoes (chips or gratin) and all the vegetables you wanted, plus two desserts and 50cl of Rhone valley wine came to €29.00. They didn’t last long.

Enjoyed a pint after that in the bar. Kronenberg 1664 was the choice and a pint and a glass came to €6.20. The journey home, started at 9.30 French time on Friday, arrived 10.00am Irish time Saturday, was smooth and uneventful and the sun was out at Ringaskiddy as we berthed!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

DAY 27

DAY 27WEEK 4, DAY 27

WEEK 4, DAY 27
Montfort, Le Roque Gageac
The day started delightfully when we saw a couple of deer crossing the gardens.
The rain had yet to appear as we arrived at the viewing point above Montfort to have a look at the big bend on the Dordogne. And there were a few drops as we drove off towards La Roque Gageac.
The threat from above was still evident as we arrived at the riverside village, looking much sadder than a few short weeks back when we took a sunny trip on the boat. Now the gabarres are temporarily out of business because of the rise in the river which has flooded the embarkation points.
The village itself is also blocked off and most shops closed and, as it’s not due to roadworks, one can only assume that the danger may be from the rocks above. We do take a stroll around but the rain arrives as we leave to head back to the gite.
Time then to say goodbye to our gite owners, Milos, his wife Rosemary and their son George, before heading out to Sarlat for one last meal at the Mirandol. We stick with the traditional this evening.
Starters are Foie Gras with toast and relishes followed by the Duck confit cassoulet. After the goats cheese and salad we both go for Crème Brule. Our wine this evening is our favourite Pecharmant, the R du Roi and, courtesy of the house, we finish off with a local speciality, a classy Prune Eau de Vie!

River rises and puts Roque Gageac boats out of business...
Found this pair on lawn this morning...

DAY 26

During a break in the rain, we made our final visit of this trip to the Sarlat Market this morning. It was all rather subdued and as we don't plan to eat in anymore we weren’t really on the lookout for purchases, though I did help myself to a cheese cutter and serving tool which set me back all of five euro.
Subdued was also the operative word as we walked through the medieval centre this evening on the way to Auberge de Mirandol. The Mirandol though was quite busy with ground and second floors full.
We have praised the value available in the set menus in restaurants in Sarlat but once you go a la carte the prices creep into Irish territory.  Take this evening’s bill for example: Three courses for me and two for the advisor, along with a half bottle of a very satisfactory Julian Savignec Bergerac sec (Sauvignon and Semillon), came to €62.00.
My starter was a Hot Goats Cheese Salad, that is a couple of rounds of the local cabecou on toasted bread with loads of lettuce and other greens. I enjoyed my mains of a fillet of Hake with a lemon butter sauce and the local potatoes and veg and finished off with a favourite dessert: Iles Flottante.
The rain really put a damper on the eating business this evening and as we headed back towards the car we saw many of the restaurants with their chairs up on tables, having surrendered to the inevitable and hoping for better things tomorrow. Aren’t we all?

Pictures from the cave, inc entrance tunnell on right

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Casino Supermarches

With the rain pouring down in the morning, I did a wine review and noticed a few deficiencies. Rectified that to some degree with a visit to the local Casino (Supermarket!) on the way back from visit to Chateau de Castelnaud. Reinforced the Bandol and Pecharmant Red. Also bought a bottle of Vin de Pays du Perigord (Vin de Domme 2008 - Merlot and Cabernet Franc).
With the weather dodgy, we decided to stay in this evening and that Vin de Pays went well with the excellent Navarin d’Agneau (€8.34) that we bought in the traiteur. Surprisingly, the Vin de Pays was the most expensive bought today.
Starters were crevettes in pastry, also from the traiteur. Desserts were inviting strawberries followed by a pastry with the name of Religieuses, though I think the same may be referred to as a Nun’s Fart. We bought the pair of Religieuses in the supermarket but for quality in pastry you are guaranteed much better in the specialist shops. 

Photo shows young knight being dressed for battle at Castelnaud today

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Corkman on Tour

Keep up to date with my Dordogne days at

DAY 25 Castelnaud

The petrol lady was right: "Bad, demain." Still, we managed a visit to nearby Castelnaud, details later, if I can get the internet again...

DAY 24

The sunshine helped today which started with a walk into Sarlat to our traiteurs but disappointingly, and you often find this in France, they were closed on Mondays. Should have known better. Still all was not lost. Called to a corner shop Epicerie on the way back as we knew they also do prepared dishes and here we picked up some Pork in a Madeira sauce.
Returning from an afternoon visit to Chateau  Hautefort (above), we called to the Carrefour supermarket in town and bought some other bits and pieces. Now, with a bottle of excellent Buzet just opened, we are all set for a fine easy going meal in the sun. Must make the best of it. A petrol-lady, close to Hautefort, when I remarked in basic French that today was fine, told me: “Ajourdoui oui. Bad Demain!”

WEEK 4, DAY 23

WEEK 4, DAY 23
Very dull morning here in Sarlat, livened up by a solitary peal of thunder and a short shower and more pleasingly by the purchase of some Bandol Rose from the local Casino where we’d gone to dump the bottles of the previous week and stock up on essentials such as bread and milk. The Bandol cost €6.50. Was on the lookout for a red and white from the area but no joy here.
In the lazy afternoon, walked through a different part of Sarlat, including the public park, and came back through the town centre, checking the restaurants for this evening. The weather is dull and there are few people out and about even though the temperatures feel as if they are in the low 20s.
Despite checking out a few “new” venues, we ended up at our “old” favourite Auberge de Mirandol. And what a meal we had for €18.00 each. Their suggested wine was a Percharmant, a 2004 R du Roi for €16.00. It was absolutely excellent and perhaps our favourite wine of the three weeks so far.
We started the meal with Foie Gras mis-cuit with three different relishes, including a Monbazillac jelly. Second starter for me was the Marinated Salmon (with Salad) while the other one was a well presented half Melon with a fair dash of that Monbazillac wine in the centre.
We agreed on the main course, not very substantial but gorgeous: Breast of Duck in a  truffle sauce with Sarlandais potatoes and haricot vert. Then followed he usual cheese course though this time it was cabecou (with salad) rather than Rocamadour.
There was an extra in the dessert line-up and I went for it. It was the melt in the mouth French classic Isles Flottantes. We also had Crème Brule and that too was excellent. A big crowd in to the Mirandol on this unpromising Sunday night and that is a good sign of an excellent restaurant where the food and the service is always top class, always friendly, despite the odd language mix-up.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SATURDAY JUNE 5th 33 degrees

With the weather so warm, we had decided to stick with the barbecue and take a couple of steaks out of the freezer in the garage. Bought a few bits of fruit and veg to make up the meal – no need to buy wine, though I was tempted by some Rosette moelluex from the Bergerac AOC area.
The wine eventually used with the steak was a Bandol rouge 2002, a smashing wine, made mainly from the Mourvedre grape. Cost €7.00.
Wasn’t all that keen on heading to the market but should have known better as there is always something different. And, this morning,  that something different was provided by a ten foot dancing bear who came to the market on his bike, advertising a day long Fete.
Surprised then to see the actor get off the bike and stroll around among the market customers. Everyone was keen to take a break and have a look. The stallholders were just as keen as anyone else and even stopped serving while the “bear” slowly made his way through the centre.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Picture: Limeuil, today's lunch venue

After visiting the World Heritage site of the Cloitre de Cadouin, we weren’t too far from Limeuil so we headed there for lunch, to the bar brasserie A L’Ancre de Salut (05 53 63 39 29) that we had visited earlier. They were very busy but we got a table where I enjoyed a Galette Complet (more or less a sturdy crepe with fried egg, ham and cheese). A fine plateful for €8.50. A 25 cl jug of Bergerac Rose, a delightful drink on the hot day, cost €3.50.
Then walked over the two nearby bridges, one over the Dordogne and one, its last, over the Vezere. This is the meeting of the waters and two now flow as the Dordogne. Under the trees, close to the restaurant, there are quite a few tables and here small groups were enjoying a do it yourself meal or just a rest from the hot sun.
Drove up then to the nearby Cave of the Vins de Perigord producers only to find it closed. This was a very warm day so we drove back to the gite and a welcome dip in the pool.
But not before a needed call to the neighbouring Casino Supermarket. Here we picked up a pack of lamb chops (about 7) for €7.15, some freshly made ratatouille from the deli counter, also some prawns (with Provencal sauce), fresh strawberries and a pair of millefeuillie, all for tonight’s barbecued meal.
Enjoyed the meal and also the wine: a Montagne Saint-Emilion, a Grand Vin de Bordeaux, which cost us €6.99. This is apparently a wine from a Bordeaux satellite but if I’m on the last spaceship out of here, I’ll be happy to stock it up with this one.

·         A tip. Some French restaurants, particularly in tourist areas, are spread across a road. You will usually find that the tables across the road from the main building are for drinks only.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Following this morning’s visit in the hot sun to Chateau de Beynac, 450 feet up, we walked down the narrow streets to the Dordogne River and enjoyed a lunch at one of the riverside cafes where a Steak Haché and chips cost €8.50. The Ti’Malo Brasserie has quite a magnificent location and service is brisk enough. It is the usual type of menu for these places:  pizzas, omelettes and massive salads. Back to the gite and a dip in the pool.
Late, in the afternoon, strolled back to the old quarter of Sarlat where we enjoyed a drink (Stella Artois, 3 euro for 25cl) at one of the square side cafes, Le Festivalt. Here, on the shady side of the street, we enjoyed watching the world go by before heading to the gite again and a dinner based around Stuffed Tomatoes and Black Pudding and a bottle of red Premier Cotes de Blaye.
Oh, by the way, I did get herself a drink, a 25cl bottle of alcohol free Stella for €3.50. The waiter here has a trick. When opening a bottle of beer, he lifts it over his shoulder with the bottler opener and, in a one handed motion, using the shoulder as leverage, he flicks off the cap. Show off!


This morning saw us visit the medieval quarter of Sarlat for our 3rd Wednesday market in a row. People ask us if we get fed up of the markets. The answer is no. For always there is some variation. This morning, for instance, there were two new musical acts.
We did get a few bits and pieces in the stalls but our big call today was to the traiteur called Charcuterie de Campange, SAS Vaux, 24200 Sarlat. I’m surprised at the amount of Irish people  who visit France who do not even know of the value of the traiteur.
Here, you can get many French classic dishes and other lesser known classy ones for a very good price. That means your dinner is sorted. Heat in the oven or microwave as required and voila you get a terrific meal.
We spent just over 15 euro there this morning. Top purchase, at €4.99, was Jambon with sauce medere (ham with Madeira sauce); Sarlat potatoes; tomatoes farci (stuffed tomatoes) and Boudin Noir with onions which cost €1.37.
Having returned from Terrasson, we had that ham along with the potatoes and it turned out to be excellent, going down well with a bottle of Fronton. Dessert was a few very tasty macaroons (at €1.50 each) which came from an artisan producer in the market.
Just to give you a comparison, the meal costs were as follows: Melon starter 2.60, mains 9.89, dessert 4.50, wine c 2.00. Total for two: €18.99.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


WEEK 3, DAY 18
Bergerac Museums
There was always going to be a trip to the Maison de Vins in Bergerac and we took the opportunity today, a dull day with temperatures at 22 degrees, fine for a 70 km drive. Our Sat-Nav took us right to the door but the parking was full, though there was ample within walking distance.
The facility though was closed from 12.30 to 14.00, so we lunched in a nearby outdoor (and indoor) restaurant:  Le Croq Magnon, Pl Pelissiere, 24100 Bergerac. Here we had a massive omelette with potatoes for €10.00.
The house of Bergerac wines is in an old religious building, the Cloitre des Recollets and, if you enter from the back, you will be in the old courtyard. A long panel tells the story of wine through the ages in French and English and then you go downstairs.
Here you may take in a video, again in English or French, on the season in a vineyard. Then you must do your sniffing test. All the parfums are in little glasses. Check how good your nose is. Mine was dire.
The next stop is the shop. There was no real buzz here, maybe because the visit was free. I think most of the tourists who make their way here really want a bit of help with their purchasing. There is a huge stock, all of the AOCs, and many of the producers represented. It is a bit much to take in unless you have some guidance, even a leaflet.
There was also a tasting facility but that didn’t seem to be operating. It was however, very well laid out with the bottles numbered and priced around a centre stand.  Already pretty well off in some of the AOCs, I concentrated today on Montravel and wnet to choose a few bottles.
The assistant was very helpful at this point and even offered to change one of my larger notes for me, which is pretty unusual in France.
Later, on way back to gite, called to supermarket where I added to collection with a bottle Cotes de Duras, a lively little white that didn't last very long, polished off that evening with some Julienne (white fish).

DAY 17 at the Mirandole

Auberge de Mirandole
7 rye des Consuls
24200 Sarlat
05 53 29 53 89

Moved up the menu rankings in Mirandole this evening when choosing to pick from the €18.00 euro set menu; essentially, you get an extra course, making it five in all.
Started off with a pan-fried Foie Gras de Canard, served with a peach sauce that instantly upped the menu price to €20.00. Quite nice but we both felt we’d choose the semi-cooked version in future.  Second course was the Escargots with a mushroom sauce for me and Marinated Salmon with a salad for her, both very satisfactory.
The main reason for going back to the Renaissance building was to have another go off the Coq au Vin. My wife knew it was a great dish while I wanted to see if it was better than that served in the Lys D'Or. The cock in the latter establishment (admittedly the house version) had been introduced to the wine sauce just before hitting the plate but it was a different story in Mirandole where he had been plainly swimming in the red wine for quite a while.  Thumbs up for Mirandole on this one.
Then came the usual cheese course, Rocamadour goats served with a salad whereas the one in Lys D’Or was served plain. Finished off with an apple slice, real apple in cold custard. Overall not bad at all for twenty euro.
Wine for the evening was a Chateau Belingard Bergerac rouge, costing €12.50 a bottle, quite a nice dry red. Service was as usual excellent and friendly, even though we had not met this particular waitress before.

Monday, May 31, 2010


WEEK 3, DAY 16
Rainy Day Sarlat
J Grolier Foie Gras
24260 Le Bugue
05 53 07 22 64

If all the restaurants in the centre of Sarlat are serving up Foie Gras, then all the shops seem to be selling it. But are they? You need to read the labels carefully, otherwise you could well be presenting Aunt Mary with a Terrine du Canard.
We had an idea of what we wanted by the time we called to Groliere Foie Gras on rue de la Liberté and met a helpful person who had once visited Ballina and had happy memories of eating salmon there. She pointed us in the direction of a special offer that meant we left the store having bought three jars of the real thing for the price of two.

DAY 17

Auberge de Mirandole
7 rye des Consuls
24200 Sarlat
05 53 29 53 89

Moved up the menu rankings in Mirandole this evening when choosing to pick from the €18.00 euro set menu; essentially, you get an extra course, making it five in all.
Started off with a pan-fried Foie Gras de Canard, served with a peach sauce that instantly upped the menu price to €20.00. Quite nice but we both felt we’d choose the semi-cooked version in future.  Second course was the Escargots with a mushroom sauce for me and Marinated Salmon with a salad for her, both very satisfactory.
The main reason for going back to the Renaissance building was to have another go off the Coq au Vin. My wife knew it was a great dish while I wanted to see if it was better than that served in the Lys D'Or. The cock in the latter establishment (admittedly the house version) had been introduced to the wine sauce just before hitting the plate but it was a different story in Mirandole where he had been plainly swimming in the red wine for quite a while.  Thumbs up for Mirandole on this one.
Then came the usual cheese course, Rocamadour goats served with a salad whereas the one in Lys D’Or was served plain. Finished off with an apple slice, real apple in cold custard. Overall not bad at all for twenty euro.
Wine for the evening was a Chateau Belingard Bergerac rouge, costing €12.50 a bottle, quite a nice dry red. Service was as usual excellent and friendly, even though we had not met this particular waitress before.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

DAY 15

This morning’s early mission was to get some bread. No problem. Strolled down to the nearby butchers who have a Depot de Pain. Back in less than ten minutes with a baguette that cost 78 cents.
Later in the day, we returned here to get a “plat cuisine” for the evening and, from a fair choice of readymade meals, we turned down stuffed cabbage in favour of a carton of freshly prepared paella which contained enough for two and cost us €6.36.
Golden Beef, 10 Av. Aristide Briand, 24200 Sarlat
It took a long time to work our way through the huge market that takes over most of Sarlat’s streets on a Saturday morning. After the beef excesses of the previous night, we decided on some fish from our “regular” stall: Pavillion de la Marée. Selection didn’t include Julienne but we did buy some panga, despite the fact that neither of us knew what it was and not one of our books had a translation!
Pavillion de la Marée, Martine Fredieu, rue Henri Rebiere, ZI la Serve, 24110 St Astter
Picked up a few other bits and pieces and also ticked off another one of our wines with a 7 euro purchase of a 2002 Bandol rouge.
With the food safely in the gite, it was time to head out for the bastide town of Montpazier, another of France’s most beautiful villages. Sat down under the brollies in one of the square’s restaurants for a cup of coffee (€3.00 for double espresso). Back then to the gite for that paella and Bergerac Sec but first a bottle or two of Hoegaarden! (The bottles are small!).
see more at 

DAY 14

After an afternoon visit to La Roque St Christophe (model above), a sheer rock face, some five terraces high, which has been inhabited since prehistoric times, our evening visit was to a much more modern establishment, for dinner.
We had been recommended Le Bar Code, just outside Sarlat on the Josephine Baker Road. Newly opened on this site, it had brought with it, from its former Sarlat centre site, a reputation for Meat on the Rock, rather appropriate given the day that was in it.
At present, it opens for lunch every day but for dinner only on Fridays and Saturdays. Our first courses were Charcuterie (€6.00) for me and Salad with Gizzards (€4.00) for herself. Both were substantial and it took us a while to polish them off.
They were big but nothing prepared us for the size of the main course. Both of us had chosen Beef on the Rock. The hot rocks were served smoking, the beef sizzling, all accompanied by a salad and chips and a couple of dips. All you had to do then was “cook” the beef to your taste: rare, medium or well done!
The size of the piece of meat was astonishing. In each case it was at least three times the size of the normal fillet steak served in Cork! All for 15 euro.
A good while later, we were asked, with no real expectation of an affirmative answer, if we wanted dessert. We just said we'd stick with the wine and finish it off, a very enjoyable Bergerac rouge which cost us €10.00 for the bottle.
Full? You could say that. Tel: 05 53 28 56 14. C.C. Pre de Cordy (face au lycee) 24200 Sarlat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today made the trip down to the Cahors Vineyards. Started by visiting a couple of sleepy villages. In the bastide town of Montcabrier, pigeons cooed while children babbled contentedly in the school. More sounds of contentment in Duravel where the local café was doing quite a lunch-time trade.
Then onto the River Lot and the quayside of Puy-L’Eveque, once a river port. Fine views here of the river and the old town and vineyards in the near distance. Views kept getting better. High up in Belaye, we had stunning views of both the Lot and Cahors Valley.
And even that was outdone when we called to nearby Albas which overlooks the Lot frmm a cliff. A few kilometres outside the two we got a magnificent view as the river formed a huge shape in the valley below.
Then passed through the ancient Cathar fiefdom of Luzech and its imposing 12th century keep before getting down to business in the little village of Parnac. Here the Cave Cooperative du Vignoble de Cahors (you see Les Cotes d’Olt on the signs) have a massive cave with a fine shop.
After a few tastings we settled on a Château Les Bouysses 2002 (€7.40 a bottle) and a Cotes D’OIt Malbec 2005 (€4.00), some rewards for a hard slog in the car. As was an excellent dinner of Poulet Basque from the local traiteur, something of a welcome change from the local cuisine to which, let me hasten to add, we’ll return.