Tuesday, April 1, 2008

France: Dordogne Region March 2008

This was my first trip to France sine I was 15 and spent a couple of days doing tourist activities in Paris. I decided on this trip, were I to ever become an ex-patriot, this is where I am going! 

Les Gites Fleuris

We flew into Paris (CDG) and rented a Prius for the 5ish hour drive to Hautefort (technically St. Agnan). Had we to do over again, we would have flown into Bordeaux – more expensive, but less driving. 

I had the privilege of staying at Les Gites Fleuris for a week in the Petite Rose Cottage and fell in love with both Hautefort (“oat4”) and the south of France in general. The cottage is adorable with a small kitchen, huge fireplace and country French decor (but of course). There is also a DVD player, TV, and Wi-Fi for those of you who must have canned entertainment, and a washer and dryer for those that like to pack light. The outdoors has an above-ground pool, hot tub, horses, and hectares of fields to roam. The owners are amazing with helping to plan your stay and know all of the little chateaus, vineyards, shops, restaurants, and markets to visit, but you may find them so much fun that you won’t want to leave the grounds!

Finding Les Gites is no small task – I highly recommend getting a local cell phone if you are not from the EU as getting lost is easy even with a GPS and back-up map. I had not spoken French since the 4th grade, but luckily some hand signals are universal and a lovely couple who owned a Peugot shop brought us there our first night when we were lost at 10pm. Without exception, everyone in the area is that helpful and friendly.

Make sure to pick us a few 4 Euro bottles of wine, a loaf of bread, and an assortment of cheeses at any of the local markets to enjoy on a picnic or by the fire. Incidentally, make sure you push the logs as far back as possible into the fireplace – we accidentally smoked ourselves out (sorry again, Larry).

We have been pining away for our little cottage since we got back and are already planning our next trip. Forget Paris. Get to Hautefort. Stay at Les Gites Fleuris!

Les Foie Gras d'Erillac

I have stopped rating good meals, but whenever my life flashes before my eyes, this restaurant will be in those memories for the warm, French country cooking and hospitality. Dinner starts with a local (ie cannot find it in America for any amount of money) of your choice - I highly recommend the hazelnut. The vegetarian salad is a must to spit if you want to have a main course.  We came here 3 times in the week we were in town and I never tired of the various preparations of duck and foie gras. I am also a sucker for a good story, and the husband wife duo of this restaurant met while they were working in the French Pavilion in Epcot. We were hoping to get the chef to prepare something with truffles from one o the markets, but there too late in the year to ind one. If you happen to be in town at the right

Chateau de Hautefort

If you have seen the movie "Ever After," this castle will look familiar. It has been restored since a raging fire nearly destroyed it after major repairs had been underway in the 60s.  It is an incredibly contemplative experience walking through the halls adorned with 17th century paraphernalia and on the historic garden grounds. The is a part of on of the towers that has remained since the fire that lends a different perspective to what it must have really been like to live in crumbling estate.  I am not usually a gift-shop girl, but there was something really special about this place so I picked up a small model replica to commemorate the trip.


Quite a hike to make it up the the village castle, but well worth the view. It should also be familiar as it has been featured in several films. It is amazing to imagine the chateau catapulting their weaponry at the English stronghold across the river during the 100-years war!


We went here for the Saturday morning market, wine, and the amazing views along the Dordogne river. We also had a phenomenal pizza for lunch at one to the local eateries. 

The mother of all markets! We picked up one of the best wines of our lives for 3.5 euro as well as varieties of homemade cheeses, breads, and soaps. 

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