Monday, February 04, 2008

MORE FRANCE IS NEVER ENOUGH



The Dordogne Region is rich in history and human going ons. You can't go 10 minutes without tripping over something interesting and more often than not tasty.

Highlights, skipping over how good the food was and how much Fromage was ingested and how much I miss the pain. I'm sure you get the idea.

Chateau de Commarque was shut and the door bolted, so being hardy tourists we scrambled up a mossy wall to have a poke around. It was built in the 12thC and was passed around between the English and French and the Protestants and the Catholic for a while. Who probably all hated each others decor, now its what we call 'Mossy Green' with 'Moss' undertones.

Once Were Stairs, Commarque.

It also had many caves cut out of the limestone beneath where the troglodytes dwelled.
I want to be a troglodyte when I grow up.

Exploring Commarque

Chateau de Beynac is a built on a very high impressive cliff, no way we were going to scale that. Lucky it was open and crossing palms with Euros was all that was required to have a run around.
It too was passed around between the French and English, with Richard The Lion Heart living there for a time. The Dordogne River was the boarder between French and England in the 1300-1400's and Chateau de Castelnaud on the other side was English. I'm sure many taunts and trash talk were thrown around.

View From Beynac

It was were the 1999 version of 'Joan of Arc' was filmed and the village below was were 'Chocolat' was made. Me and Johnny Depp in the same village!!!! only 8 years apart....
school girl sigh


Organ Gun Has Flavour

Chateau de Castelnaud
has a great warfare museum inside and full size working Trebuchets outside. We got there kinda late so didn't have a huge amount of time, but we checked out all the displays, ran up and down spiral staircases and itched to load up the siege weapons.

Sweet Sweet Siege Weapons

Stepping away from from the Middle Ages for a bit we took a journey through space and time to when our ancestors were even shorter and smellier but sure could paint and hit rocks with other rocks.

Grotto de Font De Gaume is a cave with many polychrome paintings of animals that don't exist no more. Only 200 visitors and day are allowed and it is one of the few caves like this still open to the public.
Lascaux, is in the region but is shut completely to the public and Lascaux 2 the replica was shut cause it was January.
It was amazing to see actual art done around 14000bc, give or take. The tour was in French so with Mike's mad French skillz we could at least get the gist. The main one being, if you touch, lick, photograph or eyeball too hard the walls, they throw you out.
Parts of the cave was pretty narrow and short...hehe to all the over 6ft peeps in our party.

Bison, part of Font-de-Gaume

Musee National de Prehistoire
Had a huge range was flint axes, arrows, burial artifacts, jewellery, history of the area and whacking things. Had great little videos showing various skills like how the flint knifes were made and used for skinning and cut meat, and how to carve a Venus from sandstone.


On our last full day in Belves was the day Mike and Laura had to leave to head back to Madrid for the flight home, so we hugged them goodbye and the 4 of us decided to go and see the 'spooky Nazi town' has we were calling it then, now I call it Orador-sur-Glane.
The Lonely Planet briefly talked about it as a town that was destroyed by the Germans in WW2. I guess morbid curiosity was the main driving force for going. It is up near Limoges and took us about 2 hours to get there.
They have left the town as a memorial and built another Orador next to it. The museum was closed but gates to the town were open. It was a sobering experience. Walking down the roads looking at the destroyed buildings and trying to imagine what that morning before the Nazi's rolled in was like. Each building has a sign with what type of store it was and who owned it. Cars are still parked in driveways, tilework is still visible and tools are scattered about.
There is a still used cemetary at the back with a underground section with all the names of the killed and displays of common household items, money, children's toys, melted and fused glasswear.

Orador-sur-Glane. Believed to be the Doctor's car

The information I could find about it seems to show that there was absolutely no reason for it to happen, not that I can imagine a reason for it to ever be justified but this was a total massacre.
On 10th June 1944, the Der F├╝hrer regiment of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division Das Reich was sent to this village to get 30 hostages in exchange for a German Officer who they believed was held there briefly then moved on.
Instead they moved in, killed 642 people and torched the town.
Mind boggling.
It was one of those experiences I'm really glad I did, but not in a huge rush to repeat it.

After that we drove home and spent our last night in our little peaceful village. The next day we drove Fitz and Leala to the train station so they could fly back to Oz. Rob and I still had 3 days to reach Paris for our flight, so we wandered northward checking out a few cool things on the way.