Friday, October 24, 2014

La Roque-Gageac - one of the most beautiful villages in France

Wherever you go in France, despite small or big town, you always find the tourist office. There you will be able to get many useful informations about the tours, hotels, restaurants, museums, transportation, tickets to some events...After one day of exploring my favourite historic Sarlat on my own, I needed to get out to La Roque-Gageac - one of the most beautiful villages in France.

It turned out very simple, the lady in the tourist office nicely booked for me a taxi-van for a round trip to the village, I shared the van with a couple from UK, so the fare was only 20 Euros per person and I had almost 4 hours at La Roque-Gageac : from noon to 4:00 PM. Perfect!

                I found this old stone house, deep inside a huge bamboo garden in Roque-Gageac. 

La Roque-Gageac not far from Sarlat, only 8km, 15'-20' by car. Before I got out from the car, the taxi driver didn't forget to remind me "You should go uphill along the road behind the village, it's beautiful up there!" I followed his advise and it was truly spectacular view!

                    The view from the park near to the car park and the piers.    

Located in a stunning position on the north bank of the Dordogne river, backed by a steep hill and cliffs, La Roque-Gageac is truly picturesque village. I couldn't describe my feelings when I saw it, still in the taxi : a kind of excitement, joy or surprise? I was greatly overwhelmed with the beauty of this scenery:  a nice long street along the river and on another side - all the golden stone houses with typical red roofs. It was a peaceful sunny afternoon with a fresh breeze from the river. Beautiful!

                I spent most time to climd up the hill behind the village, no time for the boat cruise. 

The old golden houses line the river Dordogne and spread up the hill behind, some houses here quite modest but some - grandiose. One of these big houses was near to the road when I just entered into the village - Châteaux de La Malartrie, newly built in 19th century, in Renaissance style, a nice hotel to stay.

                The view from the park with Château de La Malartrie in background. 

               The old stone houses along the main road, with a nice view down to the river Dordogne. 

                     I would try to walk along this road to the end...but it was impossible.  

                  Mid September, early October could be the best time to visit this village.

While I was wandering around the village uphill, I found this beautiful villa, located on the mid-hill. I was sitting in front of this gorgeous house, looked down to the Dordogne river to enjoy the amazing panorama.

                     One of the beautiful villas in this old village with a great view...

                 to the river Dordogne downhill...

                   or a wonderful panorama with the famous Château de Castelnaud in background.

From the main road I found the staircase leading uphill, I started to discover the village, following this stairs. It was very quiet, very few tourists...and that made me feel better as I didn't like the crowd, especially while walking through the narrow alleys. As I went uphill, so it was surprisingly while passing by like veranda but on the 2nd floor.
                   I started to follow the stairs uphill...

                     Few shops along my way, very few tourists, September is no longer high season.

                      Mid September but no sign of Autumn, still very green everywhere. 

                    Looking at the rainwater gutter, I remember my old house back in Saigon 

                      Many old houses in the village, I'd love to see inside but all silently closed. 

                      and this one - pretty with the tiny balcony, people still living in there...

                     the same house shown above, but the view from another angle 

 I didn't measure this main door but probably no more than 2 my handspans! 

                the road in the village seemed sometime endless, the summer heat became stronger...

                     made me wondering whether I better continue my going uphill...
                Stairs leading to another house uphill, but the entrance was closed and clearly said "privé"  

                  I love this gorgeous villa, love their green, some red, creeper up all-over the walls 

                      if I looked down I could see other houses with nice pool in backyard. 

Talking about houses in this region, I would love to share with you something that you might never believe. A nice old stone house with 4 bedrooms, spacious and beautiful kitchen, living room with a fireplace, chimney, with a 20m x 5m pool in 1800 m2 (!) garden...cost you only over 5 billions VND! With the same amount of money - what we can get in noisy Saigon? A 3-bedrooms apartment in some no-view building? And that could be even worse in crazy Hanoi. Our estate price is ridiculously up to the sky.

                       I didn't go up to the top where I could see a fascinating troglodyte fort

                    The nice sleeping cat followed me for a while when I woke him up...

                    et voilà ...a 4-leg resident of La Roque-Gageac - Laroquoi

Time for me to go down, it was getting hotter, I tried to find a place in the shade to sit down, to enjoy these fabulous cakes that I bought in Sarlat this morning. It was super delicious, I didn't expect at all. Not because I was hungry, but by chance I got these cakes from the patisserie that has been voted as the best in the world on TripAdvisor.

                 Macaron noisette - the outside was good but the creme inside was terribly good.  

             Chausson aux pommes - forgot to take a photo after a bite - the layers inside were amazing! 

La Roque-Gageac is a small village but the residents here have their own church, even a Mayor and his small office building. Not far from the church I found a kind of "tropical style" garden, with a lot of bamboos, it likely brought me back somewhere in Asia, but deep inside the garden I found a small lonely house, probably a family restaurant...with only two guests.

Not only bamboos, along the road I still saw familiar banana trees, flowers...that was probably thanks to the cliff behind the village protecting it from the Northern cold air, and with the open view to the South ensuring the village to catch a plenty of the sunshine...that explained why many tropical plants in this village.

Another way to explore La Roque-Gageac was from the river, I wish to have more time to take one-hour cruise down the river on the traditional flat-bottomed boat which used to transport the merchandise along the Dordogne long in the past. As tradition these boats once reached this area of the river would never return, as they all were dismantled to be sold as firewood. 
                       Traditional boat - cargo barges of the old times, now carry only visitors in this area. 

I went down to the main road around 3:30 PM, I didn't believe that I spent almost three hours wandering through all narrow alleys in the village. I didn't have time or more precisely "energy" to go up to the top. Some time was spent for taking these photos but most of it - I was amazed at the beauty of this village and the wonderful panorama while standing up there.

                  People enjoying the summer sail on the peaceful river, I wished I could do some day. 

Time to say goodbye to my beautiful Sarlat, beautiful Roque-Gageac, I hope to come back here next year, if no change in my career plan, to visit this village again and some other neighbourhoods. But tomorrow I will be heading to Carcassonne - a real medieval castle! Will see you there!

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