Great discoveries

The old city of Carcassonne is a fort with a massive enclosed moat, chateau and chapel. We first watched a film that detailed the history of the city going back some 2,500 years and then walked the ramparts, enjoying the views from this once impenetrable structure. What also remains within the city walls are narrow cobblestoned lanes, just wide enough for a small car and now, a plethora of tourist shops that sell everything from linen to medieval figurines to jewellery and nougat.

We left Carcassonne and made another discovery: I could plug my iPhone into the car and we could listen to our own music as we drove through the French countryside. We bopped along to the tunes of the Hollies, Roy Orbison, George Benson and Michael Jackson.

At every turn it seemed, terracotta roofed villages sprung up before us, with a castle or a church steeple the outstanding feature. Friends recommended we visit Rocamadour so we detoured and found ourselves on very out of the way and windy roads, wondering if it was all going to be worth it. Well, Rocamadour took our breath away; this sacred city literally hangs onto the edge of an impressive cliff some 150 metres high.

We drove up, keen to explore, but couldn't find parking so reluctantly drove on and instead came across a small township that overlooks Rocamadour. Here we found a café and drank in the views, as well as good coffee, while we surveyed the Alzou valley.

On to our final stop for the day, through quaint Montignac to even quainter Thonac. There we had to stop a local couple and ask for directions to our hotel. They didn't speak English but we understood enough French to get us through. We have been very fortunate - everyone we have met has been friendly and willing to help. I guess it helps that we at least try to communicate with them in their own language.

Jim describes the Hotel du Parc at Thonac as the French version of Faulty Towers. The rooms were like a dormitory and when we crossed to the restaurant for dinner, we identified each of the characters: Basil, Manuel(la) and Sybil! Turns out dinner was a home cooked four course set menu, not that we really understood what it was going to be. But it was delicious and 'Basil' even threw in an extra jug of red wine. Two elderly ladies at another table cussed over Jim (in French) as he had a niggling cough. And behind us was a table of Germans, but we did not 'mention the war' ... as in Faulty Towers. All good fun.

The following morning we headed, in the rain, back to Montignac and toured the famous Lascaux Cave II. This cave is a replica of the real cave that was closed in 1963 due to the effect humans were having on the amazing 40,000 year old cave drawings. The drawings are enormous; bulls, cows, horses, etc. and in a multitude of colours and the detail is incredible.


  1. Never mention the war!!! You had me giggling at the "scene" you described. :-) This blog is wonderful, as if we are there enjoying all the highlights, thank you :-)

  2. Glad you're enjoying it - I'm loving writing it!


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