Thursday, 5 June 2014


Brantome to Vers was through wild country; many limestone cliffs along the rivers, little fields ploughed in the river flats and forests looming; the wonderful Dordogne houses in yellow and pink rock with the brown lauze (flat rock) roofs or the slate tiles. The houses are no longer the cream and white plaster and stone nestled together against the winds of the coast but solid stone places, often covered with roses or vines and with that typical sloped roof with the flip at the eaves that characterises Dordogne homes. In addition they are spaced apart, maybe with surrounding farm buildings, some in ruins. In the villages the poorer housing can form rather grim rows as you approach. This is tough country with solid houses.

lauze roof
Solid houses with lauze roofs

So a chateau was required. I had read of Marqueyssac but we had missed it last trip. This time we got there: among the fighting chateaus of Beynac and Castlenaud, and above the fertile river flats, was a little gem of a place which had begun the rejuvenation of its gardens in 1996. Not flowers, but woods and trees and some statuary and walls and views over the aforementioned castles, and, above all, trimmed box plants. Oh my! This place is magic in green!
Clustered near the chateau, pretty in white stone and lauze roofs, including fairytale conical ones, the box gardens are a wave of precise shapes flowing one into the other, or trimmed to cubes or spirals or spheres. There are wandering paths for miles if you can manage (we could not manage the higher paths) ending almost above Le Roque Gageac on the Dromme. You are allowed some small inroads to the chateau itself, but only a spiral stair and a room or two, then out on the terrace with the peacocks and into the garden.

M entrance
Chateau entrance
m roses
Apricot climbing roses fade to white
m balls
Balls on sticks
m chateau
One path to the chateau
m yuccas
The yuccas between hedges
m chapel
Path to the chapel

m pan 1
m pan 2

If you can, go! It is not well signposted almost until the turn, and that not far before La Roque Gageac. There is excellent parking and picnic facilities before you enter, including undercover ones. There is also a useful gift shop with all manner of things for gardens and more.

We drove on, after a short picnic, to La Roque Gageac. I understand one can canoe and take a large boat for a pleasant sail, but apart from that I found this to be just a strip of tourist shops and hotels along a fairly busy road. Pretty in that pink rock and lauze roof way, but I am not sure what I would do there for any length of time. It may be fine as a base for a few days I suppose, or for camping with the river and fishing and long walks, but definitely not for us, who like to see and do things we can’t do back in Australia, but don’t do camping and fishing and long walks any more.


roque gageac
Houses along the waterfront
roque gageac 3
roque gageac 2
Building into the rock

And so, along the river to Vers. This seemed a tiny place with nothing much to see, but we wanted to visit nearby Cahors, and this looked like a reasonable base at a reasonable price. But I will admit to some misgivings, as La Truite Doree seemed to be the only place in town so we would need to eat there morning and evening. And mostly, for visitors, La Truite Doree is Vers, apart from a nearby camping ground on the river. The food at the restaurant was excellent, the situation around the pool or on one of several terraces or in one of two dining rooms provided great choice, the menus and cartes were well chosen and the food well cooked. Our fear for Vers were groundless. And our particular room had level access from nearby parking.

Cahors was on the agenda, for its “most photographed bridge in France” claim and for a strange cathedral with “the biggest domes in France”. The cathedral is unusual with two domes along the nave, some very old, faint frescoes across the back of the church and some interesting new stained glass which combines old images, photographs and local pictures to illustrate messages from the gospel. I couldn’t catch them very well, only a rose window, but I liked them very much.

cahors c
Cahors cathedral
cahors c cloister
Cloister door
cahors cloister
Cloister and domes
Cahors cathedral glass
Older glass
cahors cloister2
cahors c new glass
New rose window
Across town which has some very old sections, to the Valentre bridge, fortified with towers and with mighty piers below. It is very lovely and I can understand the “most photographed” tag though I don’t know how they count. Trouble is. it is too big to capture in one photo from anywhere close.

cahors bridge v pan
                                      The panorama chopped the top off the tower

cahors bridge v 3

Looking across the bridge

cahors bridge v

Stairs to the tower

cahors bridge v 4

The fortified towers


cahors bridge v 2
Too big for one photo

Again, lunch in a pretty restaurant across the street from the bridge. This is getting to be a very addictive habit. Home to Vers, with a stop in the churchyard of Notre dame de Velles  and a walk by the rivulet as it joins the river Lot, all peaceful and reflecting. A very nice place to stay.

vers church
Notre Dame de Velles
vers house by river
Old house near the river, multiple parts of multiple ages
vers pools
The cascade behind our room
Vers river Lot_edited-1
The Lot River reflecting
Next stop: Albi

1 comment:

  1. Re: "most photographed", These days, of course, you can get a pretty good idea from geo-tagged photos on the internet of how popular a particular location is. I've seen a lovely visualisation of Paris and what the locals photograph versus what the tourists take pictures of: all determined by the metadata encoded into each photo.