We started from the mouth of the river with the magnificent vineyards in the east, all the way along to the volcanoes and skiing area in the west, at the source. The following paragraphs show what fantastic and varied experiences ensued over the week and what a great time we all had, not forgetting all the new friends that we made during the adventure. This trip had been postponed many times due to Covid, and when it finally took place, it was certainly a holiday to cherish forever.
TUESDAY 5 JULY DAY 1 by Neil & Carole Lucas
We drove down from Caen the previous day to reach our first hotel to join the group at St Junien, near Limoges. We planned a gentler day on the way to the vineyard hotel Chateau Pey la Tour, just east of Bordeaux.
We took a small detour to visit the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, the scene of a horrific massacre in June 1944, which occurred less than one week after D-Day during the Second World War. We walked around the village which has been preserved as a memorial. The photographic image above shows the horrific devastation. It made us think about the current situation in Ukraine.
We stopped for lunch at Brantôme and enjoyed a leisurely break, before carrying on through beautiful scenery criss-crossing the Dronne river. We arrived at the chateau hotel mid-afternoon in good time for drinks, followed by dinner in their magnificent outside area and enjoyed a spectacular meal and local wine from the famous vineyard.
WEDNESDAY 6 JULY DAY 2 by Tina and Fred Herzog
Inspired by the cat basking in the morning sun on the Lucas‘ 105 tonneau, we decided to take a relaxing day at our Hotel in Salleboeuf. We saw our fellow travellers heading for wine tasting in St. Emilion, and set out for a cosy walk to the vineyards and forests close by.
As we watched farm workers removing stones from their vineyards, suddenly an olive-dressed gent jumped from the bushes, brandishing a butterfly-net. He introduced himself, explaining he was after dragon-flies and butterflies and asking whether we had seen some. Quite relieved we let him go!
Zig-zagging some mountain-bike trails in the forest, we observed quite a number of people combing the undergrowth – successfully picking mushrooms.
Enough encounters for us – time for a coffee and a nap on the lounge chairs overlooking the beautiful landscape. What a relaxing day!
THURSDAY 7 JULY DAY 3 by Roger & Maggie Adams
We left "The Secrets" hotel at Salleboeuf, near to Saint Emilion, at 8:30 after breakfast, in preparation for a long, hot drive to Beaulieu sur Dordogne. We drove through hectares of vines looking like soldiers at attention, dressed in green in rows and rows and rows. How all the grapes are picked during just two weeks in September is quite amazing.
About halfway to Bergerac the vines disappeared to be replaced by fruit trees, maize and sunflowers.
At Issigeac we turned a corner and spotted the Talbot 105 belonging to Fred and Tina, which was strategically parked in the shade by a café, and a very pleasant coffee was enjoyed.
We travelled intermittently alongside the Dordogne. The scenery changed from fields to the shadiness of the forest which was much cooler! We passed a number of Bastides and Chateaux on the way, such as Castelnaud la Chapelle.
At lunchtime we entered the defensive town of Domme through a very old walled arch, but the centre ville was 'complet' and a gendarme shooed us away to another car park a long walk away. Having failed to find a suitable restaurant for lunch, we decided to have a selection of fruit purchased from a road side stall, which was very enjoyable.
We then proceeded along the Route de la Noix, which ran alongside thousands of walnut trees and then made our way up and down, around the bends and through the pretty villages to our hotel where the first thing I did was to down a very cool beer.
What an enjoyable day. Great!!
FRIDAY 8 JULY DAY by Emile van Thoor
We were hosted by Hotel Restaurant de Charme le Beaulieu in Beaulieu sur Dordogne. This nice village is a jewel of Romanesque Art with the remarkable abbatial church and its sculpted tympanums. Unfortunately we had to leave David Thomson solving his main-switch-problem happily assisted by ‘Professor Benzini.‘
We started in the opposite direction along the west bank to the Vallée de la Dordogne and took the D940 to Argentat sur Dordogne. This river, formed by the confluence of the Dore and the Dogne, hides Coulobre, the legendary dragon. (The Nessy of the Dordogne.)
At its riverside, Argentat has typical fishermen houses and is famous for its Barrage d’Argentat and the Castle of Gibanel.
Through Marcillac-la Croisille and Saint Hillaire Foissac we drove to Lamazière-basse. But…, after some crossings in the rural area, we lost Maud and Onno. Phoning was not an option as there was no mobile coverage. We decided to continue but, before doing this, we drove back to take a picture needed for orientation. And then, after 30 minutes, they came from behind. We were happy, also lucky, that there was a very nice restaurant, Le Repère in Lamazière on the crossing, where we enjoyed a very good lunch.
Through Neutic, Ligniac and Roche le Peyroux to Bort-les-Orgues, Bagnols, La Tour d’Auvergne to Mont Dore, where we discovered a nice, cosy terrace, well known for its delightful blond and amber Beer. Definitely, we had enough to discuss, especially the perfect organisation, the tour, the beautiful vehicles and the nice companions.
SATURDAY 9 JULY by Ursula & Horst Schueler
Hiking day to Puy de Sancy and the Sources of Dordogne.
After 1500 miles on tiny French roads, our faithful Talbot BG110 brought us to Mont Dore, 3600 feet, one of the various thermal baths in the Massif Central. On the last 1500 feet up to the Sources of Dordogne driving was not possible, not even for our sturdy Talbot!
We started as a group of five: Carole, Tina, Ursula, Fred and Horst, a ‘European equipe’ composed of UK, D and AU. A backpack and enough water were important. We climbed up to the sources of the Dor and Dogne that create Dordogne.
The alpine Flora was amazing, also the deep blue of the sky. The view from the top of Puy de Sancy with its 5670 feet was breathtaking! It is the highest mountain of the Massif Central.
Our way back was on the west side of Puy de Sancy, passing the ‘Col de l‘Enfer’, which was luckily not as dangerous as the name suggested…!
We saw a lot of work done in order to preserve the paths and to prevent erosion. Our path led over the ridge back down to the ski station of Mont Dore. We had a great day - wonderful and epic driving over small country roads - with marvellous views over the volcanos, with clear and fresh air and a lot of good exercise for our legs.
SUNDAY 10 JULY DAY 6 by Neil & Carole Lucas
Many of us spent the day doing one of the panoramic drives around the volcanoes of the Auvergne, including visiting the Puy de Dome and the partially reconstructed Roman Temple. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at La Bourboule.
In the evening we all met for drinks on the terrace where a toast was made to absent friends, Tom Whatton and Rowland Grindell, followed by our farewell dinner.
Huge thanks go to David Thomson for organizing the most fantastic tour. As you can see it accommodated everyone’s aspirations of what should be enjoyed on a holiday of this type and in this area of France.
THANK YOU, DAVID.
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