Tuesday, 3 June 2014


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.

abbey chapel abb chapter house abb garden

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”.

chez steph
Nick at Chez Steph

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!

chateau roche

Chateau de la Rochefoucauld

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/

brantome abbey
Brantome Abbey
Bridge and weir and tourist boat
br water gate
A water gate to the river
brantome view 1
View from a restaurant, first night
Brantome water
Dordogne River
brantome water night
Evening view

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.

brantome roses
Roses in profusion
tree arcade
Lovely alleys of trees
rock church1_edited-1
Interior and stone reliquary for soil from Golgotha
rock church 2
The higher levels where excavation started

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.

roses and door
Streetscape, Aubeterre
wine anciens
A few old wines

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.

lunch again
Lunch again

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.

St Jean Baptiste de Dronne
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.

pan jumillhac

Panorama of the forecourt at Jumillhac
The chateau
jumillhac gardens
The rear gardens

A fine dinner at a local restaurant, Charbonnel, completed the stay.
Tomorrow: Vers

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