As nice as it is, I can’t stay on holiday for ever, and if I didn’t come home I wouldn’t appreciate the fun of going away again. As sad as it is to leave this beautiful area, it isn’t as if the Dordogne is far away – where I was staying was only 230kms from home so it’s all within a few hours drive. My last day was a lazy one, especially as it was blazing hot again and the sun felt really fierce. Maggie was more than happy to hop in the car and enjoy the air-con, as was I!
First stop was to see the nearby Château de Biron, a massive structure that dominates the countryside.
Climbing the small hill and entering an old gateway, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small hamlet with lovely stone houses and even a rather smart restaurant. But it wasn’t lunchtime yet, so time to keep moving.
One of the absolute pleasures of driving on the small back roads is that there is virtually no traffic (other than the odd farm vehicle) and there is no pressure to maintain a higher speed…. I hate it when the car behind is just about touching the bumper and you feel that you have to keep going faster! Anyway, I was more than happy to motor along like a ‘Sunday’ driver, able to enjoy the countryside and to take my time. By the time I arrived in Issigeac there was just enough time to have a small walk around before the midday bells announced the daily ritual of closing up shutters, downing tools and heading home for lunch, or in my case, heading to the restaurant.
It’s not a bad view, is it? Sitting outside for lunch and being waited on is my idea of being on holiday! Another very good 3-course lunch for 13 euros with plenty of choice to suit all tastes. The other thing I really like about France is that even as a solo diner, you are not hidden away in the back of the restaurant or puched into a corner. I had prime seating right on the front and Maggie was made so welcome it was almost embarrassing. Of course she lapped up the attention and greeted everyone as if it was her restaurant!
Issigeac is a beautiful mediaeval village with some really stunning architecture. Unlike the ubiquitous bastides that fill the region with their grid layout, this one spirals and winds like a snail. The narrow streets and lanes are home to a number of artists and craftspeople and yet Issigeac doesn’t feel like a ‘museum’ or a ‘show’ village. It is positively thriving and has one of the biggest weekly markets in the area.
The Bishop’s Palace and church of Saint-Félicien.
Ancient Halle aux Grains (Market hall)
The charming ‘mushroom’ house standing alone like an island. You can’t really see it due to the vines, but it has an overhanging second storey which allowed the carts to pass through.
I’m sure that I’ll be back in the Dordogne again before too long. There is plenty to see and do and if only for the change of scenery and chance to get away in my pod.