Ambivalent about having left the beauty of La Hoirie in Sarlat, we drove east past Souillac, had our second lunch of the trip in a cafe in tiny Martel, and cut north to the charmingly described Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne. It was somewhat smaller than we'd guessed, with few hotels and very few restaurants. We found lodging at La Charmille and took a third floor room in front that looked out on a curving street behind the medieval town center. A branch of the Dordogne ran just behind the hotel, and was visible from a tiny window in the bathroom.

The afternoon provided the chance to explore the romanesque church, narrow tangle of medieval streets, and, best of all, time to take another long walk along the river.

The current of the Dordogne River is very fast as it bends around the village, passing over a series of small waterfalls. The river is surprisingly wide at this point, and the walking trail that goes across one of the dams and along the opposite shore, provides a beautiful view of the town and of the villas bordering the river. We walked, watched the town's petanque players, bought wine for the room, and decided we'd been right to choose this place.

Next morning we visited the market in the central square, then left to make the long drive north back to Paris, by way of Chartres. The road from Beaulieu to Brive (and the autoroute north), running northwest from the town is one of the most beautiful countryside drives we've yet discovered in France. It passes the remarkable Collanges-la-Rouge--an entire town built in deep red stone that glows and warms in reflected rosy light everthing that enters its labyrinth of impossibly narrow streets. We tried not to be insulted to find that the road is officially part of the "Route des Noix"--the route of the nuts. The region is known for food and drink based on its walnuts, but we took a different meaning.



Copyright© 2003 - Darrell Taylor