On our way from Rochefort we went via Fontdouce Abbey, now in private hands and being restored with assistance from various bodies. The work is enormous and precious. So this abandoned abbey that had been used for storage and had silted up in parts due to the stream flowing through it, is being brought back to its beauty. The lower chapel and the exquisite Chapter House are just lovely and the garden has been planted with roses and the stream directed through proper channels.
We intended to see Chateau de la Rochefoucauld, the most fairytale of castles, but we sort of got sidetracked by a red awning under a large plane tree and people enjoying Sunday lunch. So we had to taste the Limousin beef served by Chez Steph. Very good indeed, even if it was “bleu” rather than “saignant”.
After that the chateau. It is very lovely and I now understand quite intact rather than fancifully rebuilt, but the entrance fee was more than we cared to pay, so we took some pictures from outside. I suspect we made a mistake!
Brantome is as we remembered, except the weather on arrival was nicer than before. We had worried about accommodation in this town and chose an inexpensive place, Hotel Coligny. But it was a great spot, right on the river, first floor with tiny balcony and a revamped bathroom, plus a lift. Yay! No stairs. A little noisy the first night, a Sunday, but then excellent. http://www.hotel-coligny.fr/
Great news the next morning; a new grandson born in Sydney, so much rejoicing. Welcome to the world little Jackson.
Off to Aubeterre for the underground church, companion to the one at St Emillion. Massive, and only a portion of what it once was, some having collapsed. On the way and in the village, beautiful foliage, roses everywhere, though the landscape is wilder and more forrested.
Around the village we also saw the local church which has a Romanesque facade as the only surviving part of the original church, but still a lovely old interior. And a second-hand shop seemed to have the world’s collection of old tea towels and serviettes and some very old wines. It was a bit as if he had found a stash in grandma’s attic and grandpa’s cellar.
Walking back through the town square, under the linden trees, we were again sidetracked by tables set out and a menu from which we could order a few light things, like terrine and a salmon salad. So it was, and it was good! I could get very used to this.
Coming home we stopped at St Jean Baptiste de Drome, a tiny place with a Romanesque portal and a sweet apse for the altar, and lit rather incongruously by chandeliers.
The next day we chose Chateau de Jumillhac, a huge pile we had tried to visit once before. In luck this time, the gentleman taking the entrance fee was also prepared to show us and two others around in English, so we got a detailed history of the family and a personal tour through some very grand rooms. In the last one it was apparent from a photo on the mantlepiece that our gentleman was also the owner. No internal photos allowed as people have used them in the past to steal some of his older furniture and paintings.
A fine dinner at a local restaurant, Charbonnel, completed the stay.