Yes, dear readers, Our Adaptable Adventure is coming to an end… Saint-Amand-de-Coly was the last village in the Dordogne that we visited.
What has Wikipedia got to tell about this village?
Saint-Amand-de-Coly features a Romanesquefortified church. Despite its bristling military architecture, the 12th-century church combines great delicacy and spirituality, with purity of line and simple decoration most evocative in the low sun of late afternoon or early evening. Its defences include walls that are 4m thick, a ditch runs all the way around, and a passage once skirted the eaves, with numerous positions for archers. Blind stairways are designed to mislead attackers.
According to a touristic website it is possible to visit the interior of the church, but when we came there, it was closed. And since it was our last day in the Dordogne, we couldn’t come back. Anyway, I thought that the exterior looked very impressive.
Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère belongs to “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” or in English, The Most Beautiful Villages of France. This association promotes the most picturesque villages of France. According to Wikipedia there are some criteria:
the population of the village must not exceed 2,000 inhabitants, there must be at least 2 protected areas (picturesque or legendary sites, or sites of scientific, artistic or historic interest), and the decision to candidate must be taken by the town council.
Does Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère deserve this title? We were very curious about this and decided to have a look. And we have to admit that it was indeed very charming. There is a beautiful Romanesque church from the 12th century, a castle from the 13th century and the river Vézère that flows through the village. But it is also very crowded. To avoid the crowds it is better to come early in the morning. Which unfortunately we didn’t.
The Saint-Pierre church is a little gem from the 12th century, which has been very well preserved. Once you enter the building, you feel like you have entered the Middle Ages. Most tourists seem to ignore this place in favor of the many prehistoric caves that you find in this area. We did the opposite. Even now, when I look at the pictures, I am so grateful that we discovered this church.
Since 1983 “des Granges” rears geese and prepares various products. On their website, they explain how they work:
The goslings are bought when they are 1 day old from the hatchery of Braulen at Calviac (5km from Sarlat). They are reared free range on 7 hectares of pathways and meadows until the age of 4 months. Their food is made up of cereals and grass. The fist two months of their lives requires a lot of attention as they don’t like the cold, the rain or extreme heat. (…) The fattening process lasts an average of 25 days, during which they are fed only corn. The corn must be of a very high quality and that’s why we grow and dry the corn on our farm. The calorific value of corn is important, it is the only foodstuff which permits the progressive fattening of the goose to the point of obtaining the famous foie gras. The geese are force-fed 4 times per day. From the 17th day of force-feeding, the geese are checked for the size of their liver and to determine the exact date of their slaughter. We force-feed from September to June.
Afterwards the geese are slaughtered on the farm and their meat is prepared according to traditional recipes. You can buy various products like foie gras, confit and cassoulet. We chose a confit of goose legs.
The shop is situated on one side of the road and the farm on the other. It’s right in the center of Tursac, you can’t miss it. You can visit both the farm and the shop during the whole year. And if you wish, you can even see how the geese are force-fed. You find more information on their website.
You must have noticed that The Viking and I are foodies. When we were at Montignac, we were not only there to do some sightseeing, but we also wanted to buy something nice to eat. Like foie gras for example…
There are people who are opposed to foie gras because of the force-feeding. I have to admit that I am against animal cruelty and I don’t approve of the industrial way of force-feeding ducks (or geese for that matter). But things are handled differently on a duck farm in the Dordogne.
In the center of Montignac we had discovered a beautiful small shop that sold all kinds of products related to duck. Prices were very reasonable and the choice was huge. Unfortunately, it was closed. We did have the possibility however of visiting the farm itself and we decided to have a look. So, we drove to Fanlac:
At the outskirts of this small village is the duck farm called La Ferme du Foie Gras Catinal au Bois Bareirou. There is a small shop, a camping place and the farm itself. We first had a look at the shop, where we were welcomed by a very friendly lady. We tasted some foie gras, which was simply divine and melted in our mouth. The Viking and I were in foodie heaven! We also had the opportunity of tasting some dried duck sausages, one of their newest products. Simply super delicious! There are so many products to choose from; every part of the duck is used. There is the classic foie gras, but also the confit, the mousse, the paté, the magret and so on. We finally bought some foie gras.
Afterwards we visited the farm. Twice a day you can see how the ducks are force-fed. This is done manually by the way. It takes about 16 weeks before a duck reaches adulthood and is ready to be slaughtered. At the farm they also grow the corn which is used to feed the animals. When the weather is fine, most of the ducks are outside, where they have a lot of space. Otherwise they stay in very big stables, together with geese, goats and cows.
This was an interesting experience. What I liked about it was the relaxed attitude that people in the Dordogne have towards foie gras. This kind of food seems to be part of their way of life and even in a pub you can find a good quality of foie gras.
All the food that you can buy in the shop is prepared at the farm itself. You receive a lot of information on how to handle and to prepare the products that you have bought. If you want to know how we prepared the foie gras, you have to be a bit more patient!
After our very short visit to Rennes-le-Château, it took us a very long time to get back to Les Eyzies. We had gone east for The Viking’s escapade and now we had to go back west, about 300 kilometers on local roads in very heavy rain. We were back around 1am.
As you can imagine, we didn’t get up very early the day afterwards. Since we were still tired and it was rainy, we decided to make only one excursion. I wanted to have a closer look at Montignac, a village we had passed a couple of times on earlier excursions.
There are several villages with the name Montignac in France, so make sure to choose the right one when programming your GPS. The complete name is actually Montignac – Lascaux. Indeed, the prehistoric caves of Lascaux are just a couple of kilometers away from here.
Montignac is a pretty small town, which is split in two by the river Vézère. Both parts of the commune are linked via a bridge that dates from the 18th century. There is also a medieval castle which was partly destroyed in the 19th century; only one of the towers is left. If you are interested in castles and prehistoric caves, Montignac is actually a good starting point.
After having seen the scarecrows, we took a walk in the village itself. It’s quite small, with about 550 inhabitants.
There is a beautiful church from the 12th century, but unfortunately it was closed. There are also a castle and caves in the neighborhood. But the village is very pretty: narrow cobbled streets, old stone houses, a charming market place, the obligatory café and restaurant and … art galleries. In the Dordogne, Meyrals is known as the village of artists.
Later that evening, The Viking’s cousin took us to a local café and we all had a splendid dinner together, foie gras and confit de canard (yum!). Afterwards, we made an excursion together; our first stop was Meyrals:
The village is known for a special event, that has taken place since 1999: “le festival des épouvantails” or the Scarecrow Festival. You can see it every summer and of course I took pictures of it! I didn’t know one could be so creative with a scarecrow.
Photographing the backroads of Europe, exploring beauty and enjoying life at our own pace