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Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: The upper Dordogne, Day 3, 4 and 5 – Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne to Loubressac

January 8, 2017 · 15 comments

October 12th: Rest day in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne

October 13th: Beaulieu to Carennac – 10.5 miles

October 14th: Carennac to Loubressac – 9.5 miles

Route of walk by Charles Hawes through the Dordogne

 

This  self-guided walk was booked through Keith Starr of Dordogne Experience. Day 3 was designated a rest day, but we didn’t really feel the need for a rest so we followed a circular walk that Keith had provided maps and directions for – though in the opposite direction. Don’t ask. I did, however, take a rest from taking pictures (meaning one less day to write up). It was a good walk taking us up the opposite side of the Dordogne valley.

For every day’s walk we had been supplied with  extracts of the 1:25000 maps with our route highlighted, together with a detailed turn by turn description of the route; our bags were being transferred between hotels.

Beaulieu to Carennac

It was pouring down when we left the Hotel Le Beaulieu. And it rained all day. Proper, committed, rain. I really didn’t fancy getting my camera soaked, so this day will have to go mostly unrecorded, here.

I remember two especially nice things about the day, though. Firstly, my brand new Berghaus Ben Alder 3-in-1 jacket  (on sale on the Go Outdoors website at the time of posting) kept me dry and was comfy to walk in; the hood sat just right on my head (which is not always the case with hoods). Here’s a pic of me wearing it when it wasn’t raining.

Charles Hawes wearing Berghaus Ben Alder jacket, photographed by Charles Hawes

Looking good

Secondly, I remember Bob and I stopping to shelter in a barn for a bite to eat and I found a fig tree at its entrance that was laden with the ripest and most delicious fruit. As far as I recall, it was mostly a day spent in woodlands so I don’t think we (or you) missed out on any very special views.

We arrived mid-afternoon at The Hotel Fenelon  – a slightly peculiar looking place…….

View of the Hotel Fenelon, Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

…..and it seemed deserted and a little cold. Sadly, our bags had not arrived before us –  we both really wanted to get change out of our walking gear.  I was also a bit disappointed with our rooms, too – they were very plain bordering on dowdy.

Room in the Hotel Fenelon, Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Do you see what I mean?

On the plus side, the heating was working and my room had a bath and in both the internet was on and whizzy. I graciously offered Bob a bath, but he was happy to shower. By the time that I had luxuriated in the bath for long enough for my limbs to get quite wrinkly, some kind soul (Bob) had deposited my bag outside the room.

We had plenty of time before dinner for an explore of this small  but pretty village but  it was still raining so we retreated to a small bar/restaurant  for a few beers and some crib. Chef was taking obvious pleasure in preparing the most enormous steaks – clearly the speciality of the house. They looked so good and the atmosphere in the bar was warm and friendly that we seriously contemplated foregoing our dinner at the hotel in favour of staying put. We decided that doing so would have been a bit rude, but the large and mostly empty dining room at the hotel did lack atmosphere.

Thankfully, the food was excellent and our host took obvious pride in explaining how he had prepared his special Foie Gras (two of them).

Meal at the Hotel Fenelon, Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

One of them with pistachios

I forget what the main course or pudding was, but once again we were blessed with an excellent cheese-board that was left on our table.

Cheese Board in the Hotel Fenelon, Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

All delicious

In the morning we were the only people in the chequer-board floored breakfast room. It was a self-serve affair and I noted that I made use of the toaster and that there was a super home-made plum jam and  a rather tired -looking fruit bowl

Breakfast room in the Hotel Fenelon, Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Carennac to Loubressac

The weather had much improved, so having deposited our bags in reception, we had a little explore of Carennac.

The village sits above the quiet Dordogne river. Some of the trees on its banks were supporting the bright red leaves of a parthenocissus.

River Dordogne from Carennac, photographed by Charles Hawes

The main street crosses a stream running into the river.

Carennac, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

This was clearly a mill-stream and on either side stand pretty buildings that would have housed mills.

Carennac, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

The highlight for me, though, tucked away up a narrow side-street, was the lovely  C12th Romanesque church of Saint Pierre. Its doorway was beautiful.

Eglise Saint Pierre, Carennac, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Similar to, though less elaborate than that at Beaulieu

And the interior, too, was as pleasing as its outside.

Eglise Saint Pierre, Carennac, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Eglise Saint Pierre, Carennac, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

Eglise Saint Pierre, Carennac, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Spiritually uplifted (well, I was) we retraced our steps though the village, passed the hotel and after a few back lanes turned right onto the D3 out of the village.

Road out of Carennac , France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bob, striding forth

Keith’s notes pointed out a washing well at the side of the road, where village women used to communally wash their clothes. But this stone bridge was not (we discovered shortly) it.

Stone bridge outside Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bit of a mystery, this

After yesterdays rain, the warm sun began to fill the air with mist…..

Parthenocissus by roadside near Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

….giving me the opportunity to make the most of the light.

Parthenocissus and Teasel by roadside near Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Parthenocissus and Teasel

The quiet road climbed gently…

Road out of Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

… until we did pass the laundry, somewhat surprised at how far out the village it was situated.

Washing place outside Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Somewhat appalled by the hanging baskets

We were walking again though walnut country. And I had the perfect conditions for some contre jour pictures.

Walnut orchard outside Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

Road out of Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

Contre jour image of trees by road near Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

We emerged at the top of the hill into bright sunlight, the low cloud and mist still occupying the valley below.

View from above Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

A little loft in an outbuilding by the side of the road was our first sight of the collecting and storing of the walnuts.

Outbuilding with walnuts above Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Hardly an industrial scale collection

We were on a plateau now, with fields all around planted up with young walnut trees.

Newly planted walnut orchard near Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

I wonder what the EU subsidies are foo Walnuts?

We passed though a sleepy village called Broche and then turned off the road and after a few turns where we needed to closely examine Keith’s notes, took a track heading due south for a couple of miles, enjoying the clear skies and the warmth on our faces.

Plateau above Carennac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

The (also silent) village of Bouyrissac….

Walking through Bouyrissac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

If it doesn’t have a cafe it’s not worth mentioning

…. had little to detain us, but shortly after passing through we reached the Gouffre de Padirac.

Sign for Gouffre de Padirac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

In brief, this is a deep natural chasm formed by the collapse of its limestone “roof”  – probably nearly 2,000 years ago.

Gouffre de Padirac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

It looked a bit shabby, too

At the bottom is a cave system and an underground river – there are boats that you can go on. Incroyable.

Keith’s notes had flagged up this tourist hot spot and had suggested that we book in advance. But we hadn’t booked and at this time of year there was only a dribble of visitors so we clearly didn’t need to. On such a lovely day neither of us felt like going underground, so we had lunch, Bob opting for a huge salad and me a more modest crepe.

Lunch at Gouffre de Padirac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Please note the absence of booze on our table

From the Gouffre to Loubressac was less than 4 miles and for most of this we were on the GR652 footpath.

Footpath signs near Gouffre de padirac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

So many signs. but we have Keith’s notes!

If you have been following my blog you will have noticed that sheep feature quite heavily in most of my posts , so I was very pleased we came across this small flock.

Sheep near the GR652 , Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

We, like sheep (the best ones are always the oldest). But what breed?

This was easy walking on a wide track.

The GR652 near Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not far from the Gouffre, on the side of the path was the Croix Helene.

Croix Helene on the GR652 near Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Keith tells us that Helene Bombezy was murdered here in the C19th by a boy from her village. In fact in 1844 according to the inscription.

Croix Helene on the GR652 near Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

But why is she described as a Martyr?

The path took us though some woodlands that had a substantial stock fence to about 4 feet.

Croix Helene on the GR652 near Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

No, I can’t see the fence here, either

Inside the fence the ground was very churned up and very muddy. I thought of farmed boar and sure enough we caught a glimpse of some stampeding away. We came across another similar enclosure a bit further on.

At the outskirts of Loubressac  were some more domesticated cousins.

Pigs outside Loubressac, France, photographed from the GR652 by Charles Hawes

Piggy Wiggies – almost as good as sheep

These, however, were entirely indifferent to our presence.

Pigs outside Loubressac, France, photographed from the GR652 by Charles Hawes

Best not to dwell on this

The sign at the edge of the village staked its claim to being another of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.

Sign for Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

We  agreed that we would have a wander around after checking into our hotel.

Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

The Hotel de Castelnau was undoubtedly the poshest, most contemporary hotel we had stayed in so far.  We liked it a lot.  Our rooms were upstairs…

Room in Relais de Castelnau, Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Apologies for the unmade bed – I took this the next morning

….with a fabulous view from the balconies of the valley…

View from the balcony of the Relais de Castelnau, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Lazy of me not to straighten up the frame, sorry

…. and quite a nice view of the village.

View to Loubressac from the balcony of the Relais de Castelnau, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Having showered (powerful and with  a seat!) and changed we did have a wander around and declared it to be very attractive, though perhaps feeling a little sterile.

Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

This dodgy pic was taken on the iphone

There was no bar of cafe to lure us for a pre-dinner drink, but it did have a little supermarket, which, amazingly, was open. And, better still, it had some decent beer. We were made up for our early evening.

Balcony of the Relais de Castelnau, Dordogne, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Beer – and crisps. Almost as good as ice-cream.

I can’t remember where a snooze fitted into the programme but I think it did. In any event this last pic before dinner was taken from the balcony and is of the village by moonlight.

View to Loubressac from Relais de Castlenau, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not that it looks like it; my bad (do people still say this?)

The dining room was a glass fronted affair and would have had a fab view but it was dark. Once again I failed to make a decent record of our meal, so two pics will have to suffice.

Meal at the Relais de Castelnau, Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Scallops with a truffle-flavoured risotto. Yum.

 

Meal at the Relais de Castelnau, Loubressac, France, photographed by Charles Hawes

Smoked salmon and duck with salad leaves. Yum, yum.

Why I took no picture of the cheese is as much a surprise to me as it is to you. We retired to the balconies to enjoy that fabulous view. I don’t know why it was but somehow it seemed particularly affecting. Maybe it was something in the air?

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia January 8, 2017 at 9:44 am

Delicious all round and some great shots – sun and shadows helped no doubt.

Reply

Charles January 8, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Thanks Julia. Its always the light!

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John January 8, 2017 at 10:22 am

Very nice. Great photos, especially the Poltergeist ones (tho we take the “Great” for granted these days). See what you mean about that first hotel room! I’ve seen better railway carriages in car parks 🙂

But I wonder if Bob’s backside is the most photographed non-professional body part in the world. It features in 10% of this collection of pics!

Reply

Charles January 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Thanks John. Yes, not the nicest of rooms. But it had what was needed. Bobs backside is a source of endless fascination for me.

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Neil January 8, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Looks like some lovely walking. But you’re excelling yourself on some of those photos !!! ?

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Charles January 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Strange. On the writing up of the week the countryside seemed quite “tame” . But it picked up. Thnaks for the photo comments.

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Neil January 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm

That was entered as a smiley 🙂 Not a question mark !!!

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Paul Steer January 8, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Very beautiful pictures – love the interior of the church and the coloured light against the wall. I thought John might identify the breed of sheep, I’m a bit disappointed !

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Oh, haha!John January 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

Oh, haha! But then again, narrow long head rather than fatter, short one, and very pronounced fleece line at the top of the legs, so there’s a fair chance of them being Lacaune. My other guess would be Charollais (and I recognise that it’s a popular breed in that area) but they tend not to have such a prominent top-of-the-leg fleece line. Now be a nice chap and toddle over to ask the farmer. 😉

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Charles January 9, 2017 at 10:55 am

Thanks John. Will have two more varieties to offer in the next post. And a cat. And some pigs.

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Charles January 9, 2017 at 10:54 am

Thanks Paul. Churches offer so much. Is John really a sheep expert or is he researching on google? Either way I bet he will rise to the challenge.

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John January 9, 2017 at 11:53 am

Neither! Now work that out 🙂

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Valerie Lapthorne January 9, 2017 at 4:07 pm

This may be useful:-

Helen (22 years old) was a waitress in his father’s inn.
October 30, 1844, she was assaulted, raped and killed with a stone on her head by François Clarety, 36, a weaver. He was tried in court at Cahors in 1845, sentenced to death and executed the same year at St Cere.
He told the court that he wanted revenge because she had accused him of swindling at the inn.

Cyrille from Autoire – France

Also martyr in this sense means battered as in femme martyr- battered wife.

Reply

Valerie Lapthorne January 9, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Sorry, missed my feminine E off martyr

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Charles January 9, 2017 at 6:47 pm

This is really great, thanks Valerie.

Reply

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