Back in September 2017 while James and I were doing our month in Sanur, Bali we met the lovely Brigitte from Brive in France.
We have non existent French but Brigitte has some English and we made it work and we enjoyed her company.
So when she once again invited us to come stay while we were in Paris we looked at our dates and decided to hire a little car and go country.
James did a great job of driving FiFi Fiat ( thanks for the name Christine Lavers).
We made a couple of food and liquid stops before succumbing to a flat tyre.
Being such a little car the spare was one of those small temp tyres and we had to drive at a reduced speed.
We finally made it to Brigitte’s home in the picture postcard town of Brive-la- Gaillarde.
What a lovely town and Brigitte’s home is a glorious traditional stone house on three levels with a wonderful eclectic mix of art, artifacts,and personal touches that makes her home both welcoming and fascinating.
Hugs and kisses greet us as do lily her little dog and Camina another dog she is looking after for a society that takes care of dogs for people who are unable to for a period of time. Perhaps they are in hospital or in Gaol.
We shared a lovely meal and her daughter Lea came for dessert and before we knew it we were ready for a shower and bed.
The next morning after breakfast on the terrace patio where we ate all our meals as the weather was just perfect for this, Eric took James to see about our flat tyre and they organised a replacement tyre to be fitted the next day.
Once they returned we all hopped into Eric’s car for a day tripping around the Dordogne countryside.
What a fabulous day with our friends we had.
The countryside is outstandingly beautiful and with the sun shining made everything glorious.
We started with a visit to Lascaux where a cave system filled with prehistoric paintings was discovered in 1940 by a young local boy walking with his dog. Returning a few days later with three friends they found the cave entrance led them into the most incredibly preserved prehistoric wall art and by 1948 this incredible find was open for public viewing.
Unfortunately the reality of doing this started a decline in the paintings quality and it was regretfully closed to public completely in 1963.
An incredible undertaking began to complete a totally authentic like experience with the opening of the Lascaux centre and recently only a few years ago a new and even more spectacular centre opened giving people a very much realistic experience of what this find looks like.
From here we whizzed around to Sarlat-la-Caneda.
One of those gobsmacking medieval towns that have you wandering around in awe at the architecture and the skill of the craftsmanship from so many centuries ago.
We love these places and as we wander around we also exclaim “well we’re not in Woy Woy now”.
The temperature was very warm so we sat at a very nice outdoor covered area for a drink from the bar/cafe before it was time to take the trip back to Brigitte’s home. We bade a fond farewell to our new friend Eric and he sped off to his evening shift at work leaving us all in awe as to how he would cope after driving us all around and walking in the heat.
Brigitte is one of those cooks who makes everything tasty and quickly prepared a large potato omelette (cooked in goose fat) to share along with the sweetest small vine roasted tomatoes and a simple salad of leaves, walnuts, pine nuts and sharp cheese shavings with a tasty vinaigrette. We opened the Moët and Chandon we had bought to share and a after dinner coffee we talked Brigitte into walking into the town centre to watch the end of the World Cup semi final which saw France make it into the Grand Final. There was much rejoicing in the town. Horns beeping, flag waving, cheering and singing and our walk home saw us all happy and ready for bed.
For our last full day Brigitte had us once again whizzing around the countryside in her little car with the roof down and with The Beatles playing we sang along and again marvelled at the countryside before we arrived at the hilltop town of Turenne.
Again we enjoyed winding through the streets and taking in the surrounding views.
But wait there’s more! From here we to Collonges La Rouge. All the little town is built in the same red brick and so carefully preserved and pristine that it’s no wonder this is a popular tourist spot. There were a lot more people here than our last stop where we seemed to be almost the only visitors amongst the locals. Still it didn’t detract from its overall attractiveness and we had a look at a few of the stores here as well.
Next we were back at Brigitte’s where she had a meal of duck and green beans on the table with a bottle of rose’ before you could blink.
By now we were realising you have to say no more at Brigitte’s restaurant or we would never fit in the little fiat for our drive back to Paris.
Brigitte and James picked up the new tyre so we were all good to leave the next day ( sadly).
And off we went again for an afternoon at Rocamadour.
Just when you think you’ve seen everything you come around the corner and see this place.
We are developing bulging eye tourist syndrome. Honestly we couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
Brigitte drove us to the other side of the gully so we could get the best pictures before driving back up to the top where we took the inclinator down to next level where we walked through the church. This stop is part of a pilgrimage walk so very sacred.
On the next level down was the town which had lost some of its charm by the over tourism and abundance of shops.
The crowds do detract somewhat but you still know you’ve seen somewhere extraordinarily special.
On the way home we stopped for some dinner ingredients as Brigitte had invited her best friend Hyam and her partner Yannick along with Brigitte’s son Adrienne and his girlfriend Sophie and her daughter Lea to come for drinks and a nibble type of dinner with James cooking the tasty thin sausages on the bbq.
I couldn’t believe that Brigitte took it all in her stride. We got home at 8pm the time everybody was expected. Luckily they were all fashionably late so we had a bit of time to get a few things together and Brigitte to make her famous “soup de champagne “ OMG. Yummo. Mix one cup each of sugar, lemon juice and Cointreau with lots of ice cubes then pour in champagne. ITS A WINNER.
We had a lovely lovely evening with almost everyone there speaking a little English.
We felt very welcomed and included. The weather has been divine and sitting outside with no flies is heavenly.
After Bisous bisous when everyone left we climbed the staircase for shower and bed and fell asleep feeling very happy.
Our last morning was spent breakfasting again on the terrace and then walking through Brive -la-Gaillarde, Brigitte’s home town with its historic centre and displays of windmills and umbrellas to celebrate summer.
We went to a little food market where some goodies for lunch were purchased and then back home for lunch of figs stuffed with foie gras, salad with slices of duck and nuts and I think the right term for our other dish is duck/ goose rilletts.
Finished off with goat cheese from Rocamadour and of course for Brigitte and I a glass of rose’
What a fabulous way to end our true living with a local experience.
Our goodbyes were heartfelt and with sadness that our time together had come to an end.
Our drive back was thankfully uneventful, no punctures and we dropped the car back at Orly airport and took the bus home rather than returning it the next morning.
Our few days away were just what we needed. A breath of country air and a smiling friend to share some laughs with.