FRANCE – LOT – A TRUE FRENCH VACATION


The regions of the LOT and the DORDOGNE are truly the heart of France, with the delicacies such as truffles and goose pate world famous, although somewhat controversial in the case of pate de foie gras. Summer 2009 europe 084

The small medieval villages in the area are a delight.

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The two white doves happily hidden in plain view on the down spout.

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The sign reads Rudof von Laban, who was a Hungarian dancer, died in 1958 and was a descendant of French nobility from this area, a cruisader De La Banne, and of Hungarian nobility. His mother was from England. He changed dance significantly and had a dance school in Berlin in 1929. He later studied architecture in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was said to be friendly with the Hitler regime; he left Paris for England in 1937 (Wikipedia).
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This is a museum and gallery of modern art, located at a small-ish medieval castle. The inside art could not be photographed as no flash was allowed, but I tried a time exposure for the modern Pieta that moved me.

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This is about the oldest church in this area, and a very simple one, stemming from the middle ages. The inside still has its original paintings–a historical treasure.

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The Market in Gourdon. I bought various sausages made with wild boar and beef, and goat cheese, and other delicacies. I could not bring too much, as we were leaving in a few days. Officially I couldn’t bring any of it to Canada, although I have been known to bring illegal foods, when I could not resist. From the super market in Gourdon I brought duck confit–all prepared, smoked, and vacuum packed duck legs–that is allowed according to customs, and a jar of processed pate de foie gras. It all was delicious.

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The type of goat that delivers the milk for the cheeses, a baby, displayed on a platform by a cheese stand. I wondered whether that goat was there to eat, but then decided the baby goat was there to attract a lot of customers for buying cheese because it so cute and friendly.

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That’s what the French do best: relax, enjoy life on a patio with a drink or a coffee and a bite to eat.

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Half of the town is changed into market twice a week: always shop for fresh local food and never buy frozen, is the credo of the locals. The 50 mile diet has been a fact of life here for many centuries.

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Detail of a row of brick, medieval houses.

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Gourdon has a prehistoric past as well, although we did not see those sites this time around. The town is located on a small hill. As most medieval villages, it has a ring road around it and the town lies within its boundaries. It has had a significant role in resistance of the English in its 100 year war with France that started in 1337 and ended in 1453. The river is the Bleou on the south border.

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Catch anything?

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An old, old bridge. With all the clay deposits in the area from the rivers, the most common building material is brick.

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On every hill a castle….

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The type geese of which the pate de foie gras is made out on a stroll. It clarifies the term goose stepping, all in perfect step with each other. The practice of producing foie gras by feeding the geese through inserting a funnel in their beak and letting a certain amount of grains slide into their stomach originated at least as early as 400 B.C. During King Louis XVI (16th) in 1779 a chef, Jean-Joseph Clause, made the pate from fat goose livers famous. (http://www.homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/patedefoiegras).

There are people that find the practice cruel. Others say it does not hurt the goose and they are not “stuffed” full of food, as some believe, but are only fed a sure amount and regularly which they might not do if just offered the food. They do develop a somewhat enlarged liver. I am not sure if that is more cruel than eating lamb or baby calves. I have given up that practice after I ate lamb tenderloin that was only five centimetres long, as I think raising babies and eating them is pretty decadent.

At least the geese get to grow up and live a lifespan that is quite decent and all of their edible parts are being used for other delicious stews and pates. When I was in Sarlat in the Dordogne on an earlier trip I tasted pate de foie gras spiked with small bits of truffle with a few toasted bits of toast: it truly is delicious, smooth and rich and one only needs a small amount to get the idea of the delicacy. According to French law, the pate needs to contain 80% of liver, otherwise is is called, mousse with 55% of liver.

It is possible to order foie gras in Vancouver: in Restaurant Chambar in Gastown for $18. They also have the best Belgian beer.

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A Chestnut grove. The surface of the soil is covered with gravel, so the nuts don’t rot if they have to lie around for a bit before being gathered.

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On the way to Chateau de Fenelon. The buildings belong to the castle and house important employees, and likely are the business agricultural centre for the castle–the farm part. It’s practical a village on its own.

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Pretty farm.

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A four hundred year old cypress planted within the outer castle walls.

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View from the Chateau de Fenelon.

Next time I will post photos of the castle itself.

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About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
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One Response to FRANCE – LOT – A TRUE FRENCH VACATION

  1. Malou says:

    Beautiful post which brought back a lot of lovely memories, Johanna. We were in the Dordogne (Perigord) last year and were really impressed by how lovely that part of France is. Many beautiful castles and amazing parterre gardens. 😉

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