vendredi, septembre 03, 2010

Domme, France

Domme in the mist (photo taken from the Net)

From our hotel room we could see the village of Domme perched on a hill beckoning to us to come visit. Though I was the only one in the family lured by the siren's call, the others preferring to paddle in the river instead of elevating themselves to the wonder overlooking the Dordogne.

Domme village

I took my courage in my hands and drove myself up to Domme - alone. If you have a big car like I do, you will hesitate too when you know that you'd have to bring it uphill on narrow winding roads and then try to find parking in tiny medieval villages. But like I said, I couldn't resist the siren's call. Besides, I have quite a good car insurance.

I reached the village sans incident, but my heart stopped when I reached one of its narrow old fortified gates. Would my fat car get through without a scratch? The parking was beyond so I had no choice. I inched past the gate only to find a tiny full parking ahead of me. I braced myself to circle it all afternoon, but God must have taken pity on me because 2 cars (next to each other) started leaving then so not only did I find parking but I could actually park easy peasy. Hallelujah!

Old church in the main square

Took a leisurely walk through the streets in this 13th century fortified village - once again one of the most beautiful in France. And ended up in a square with a small townhall and the entrance to a cave with limestone formations that also served as a shelter for the inhabitants during the wars. I have visited quite a number of caves in different parts of the world so I wasn't really that interested in this one, but the bargain hunter in me couldn't resist the fact that if you buy a ticket to visit the cave they would throw in a free ticket to the Museum. And I only had to wait 5 minutes for the next guided visit.

Entrance to the cave below

The cave is small and doesn't contain a third of the limestone formations that I've seen elsewhere. But the young guide was damn good. He spoke clearly and knowledgeably and had quite a sense of humour. I gave him a large tip at the end of the tour for that. And the highlight of the visit, if you ask me, was the lift hanging on the side of the cliff that brought us back up to the surface and which allowed us a breathtaking view of the valley and river below.

View of the Dordogne river and valley below

View of Hotel le Périgord from Domme!

I walked through a beautiful garden (or was it the view from it that was beautiful?) on my way back to the town centre (for my free museum visit) and saw our hotel from there! Am glad that I visited the museum because it allowed me to do what I'm fond of e.g. visiting other people's homes.

One of the rooms in the museum

The museum is just behind the entrance to the cave and is in fact a very old lordly house that was donated to the village by the daughter of one of its former mayors. It houses a collection of very old instruments, costumes, machines and furniture donated by other villagers to tell a story of the rural life that existed in the region before. The donor of the house had also left a collection of items that she had hoarded of the war and in a small part of the house you can find posters and photos of Templar graffiti on the walls of Domme's fortified towers. Apparently those towers served as a prison for Knights Templar following the dissolution of the order in 1307.

I've spent nearly 3 hours in the village and had to return to Vitrac just below to fish my family from the river. Actually they arrived by shuttle bus from somewhere downstream, compared to more than a decade ago when we first canoed on the Dordogne, they have become much more organised and efficient in this canoeing business today.

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