mercredi, août 15, 2007

Dordogne, South west of France

As wednesday was 15 August and a holiday in France, Seb and I took a long weekend and spent four days in Dordogne. This little get-away was centred around the theme "nature and pre-historic".

We drove for about 6 hours from Paris to reach Dordogne. We lodged at a lovely bed-and-breakfast with friendly hosts.

Seb and I canoed 14 km where the river Dordogne winded through a few of the most beautiful villages. The picture on the left is Beynac.

We visited Lascaux 2 at Montignac. This was the famous site of pre-historic art. The original one was discovered in 1940. In order to conserve it against deterioration and pollution; carbon dixoide exhaled from humans, fungis growth from humidity, Lascaux 2 was created about 200m away. Using the latest techonology, 90% the cave drawings were recreated. It was really amazing to see how our ancestors could already draw so well around 17000 years ago.

In the town Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, we visited La grotte du Grand Roc. There were two parties in this area. In the cliffs of Laugerie-Basse, our guide explained to us how ancient men around 17000 years ago lived. They were know as the Cro-Magnon men. They did not live as cave men but used the cliffs as shelters for their tents. He also explained the use of these cliffs during the medieval times. There were other interesting explainations but you had to be there to understand them better.

A little uphill of the cliff was Grand Roc cave. In here, we could see all kinds of crystallizations. It was amazing. With the guide, we understood how these stalagtites, stalagmites, eccentrics etc... were formed. It was really beautiful. Notice the picture where there were a few darken lumps. These stalagmites had been touched by humans thus they were polluted and died (no more growing). We were forbidded to touch them.

This was really a lovely lovely place. Showing us what nature could do.

And I kept the best for last. We droved through small roads, past many beautiful villages and castles all the way to the next department, Lot. Here was the really famous Gouffre de Padirac. It was a big hole leading to the centre of the earth. (Yeah, I was living my childhood fantasy with Jules Verne's Journey to the center of the earth.) Thanks to advance technology, there were three elevators available for the lazy tourists. Still, this place was not wheelchairs or baby-prams friendly as there was still quite a lot of walking and climbing in the abyss.

At the bottom of the abyss, I felt so small looking up. The most amazing thing was hidden from here. We had to walked down a long tunnel and we could see a stream along our path. At the end of this underground tunnel was a long queue of people waiting to embark on a boat. We travelled by small boats along 500m of the underground river to reach the treasure.

As no photo taking was allowed, I invite you to view this God's creation from the 360° virtual tour. It was breath taking. No one could imagine of this great beauty underground.

The cave of Grand Roc was amazing enough but the Gouffe de Padirac, I can't find the right words to describe it.

The region of Dordogne is Périgord and it is the land of foie gras and ducks gastronomy. As I do not like foie gras, I tried duck dishes. After having 4 days of rich food, I am going on light chinese meals for this weekend.

This short getaway definately refreshs my mind on my long forgotten geography lessons. All the visits are guided and most are in french. However, there are printed explanations in other languages. I hope you will enjoy the links I provided.

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