Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wandering in France

We've traveled more than 2,500kms since leaving Antwerpen, wandering the Correze and Puy de Dome departments of France.

We have explored Thiers, the top of Puy de Dome; the mountain villages Le Mont-Dore, La Bourboule, the absolutely stunning Collonges la Rouge and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne ending that trip at Brive la Gaillarde in 35 degree celsius heat.

It was in that last town I discovered a shop called 'Otago Rugby, supposedly marketing rugby products from my home region back in New Zealand but instead selling a mix of the real and surreal. I bought a few postcards that combined the idea of Otago rugby with Maori rugby, Pacific Rugby and then very oddly – Akaroa rugby. It was both a delight and a confusion.

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne was stunning. A small village that has followed the original medieval town plan, grouping its buildings around the church – a beautiful church that carried a whisper of Istanbul's Haghia Sophia in its ancient interior.

There were banana plants and beautiful palms there, fig trees and hibiscus too, in this place that didn't seem over-burdened by tourists. In fact, I'm surprised about how few visitors there are.

Collongnes-la-Rouge is breath-taking, although perhaps my opinion is coloured by the pottery and art found there. You find this small and exquisite village made entirely of red stone out in the middle of rolling hill country on the route to Compostella. You can wander downhill, in and out of small shops and even in the heat of yesterday, I couldn't resist the lure of the paved streets and the mix of medieval, gothic and renaissance architecture. I wanted to return with my camera and so we did the following day, calling in at Meyssac afterwards for a really enjoyable impromptu photography shoot with a potter there.

The other villages ...
La Bourboule whispered to me of New Zealand. It's a village surrounded by mountains but then you notice the Belle Epoque architecture and there's the French all around you. And Mont-Dore was once used by the Romans for the treatment of pulmonary consumption, brochitis, asthma, as well as nervous and rheumatic paralysis. The climate there is quite severe, or so they say but on the day we were there, we were searching for shade from the sun.

But the biggest smile of each day comes from the sign we pass on our return to this village ...
The sign reads: Plateau de Millevaches and translates as Plateau of the Thousand Cows and that's how it is, here in Correze Department, France.


Peter said...

Amazing shots Di, with Puy de Dome being a part of my childhood memories.

Somehow you always manage to find the hidden treasures I loved when I was on vacation as a child ;-)

Mark J said...

Hiya Di.
I so love the south of France. It's so funny you should mention Otago Rugby after my last post - connections are a funny thing :)

I look forward to chatting when you are home and settled. Take care

Di Mackey said...

Hi Guys, I'm glad I'm reminding you of times past, Peter. I had never heard of this part of France and apart from the hayfever, it's been pure delight out here.

I have to catch up on blog posts when I get back, Mark. Had to smile when I realised there was a link though. Looking forward to catching up when I'm home.
You take care too xo

PEACE said...

Looks and sounds lovely. My questions for you are these, What's the best meal you have had and what was the restaurant and are the guys as gorgeous and those in Italy? I could sit in those squares for hours on end--sigh.

Love your pictures, makes me almost want to change my this fall.

distracted by shiny objects said...

ooooh, it's all lovely, Di. I'm sweating green here in CinCity. Enjoy, enjoy!!

Di Mackey said...

Hi Peace, I had to think about your question a few seconds before remembering a trip that a Belgian friend took me on.

The best meal I've ever eaten was at a place called Gilain Hostellerie in Dinant-Liroux, you can read of the place here:

The meal was a multi-course gourmet meal ... so exotic, so stunning and described here:

The men?
Hmmm, I'll have to time out on that one. At the moment, my head as been turned by Flemish men. Italy, I get distracted by the beauty of the architecture and all that stuff ;)

Lovely to find you here.