Annie Bananie en Europe

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Tag Archives: dordogne

Saturday in Sarlat

Last weekend, I was planning to go to La Rochelle with some of the ladies, but due to some unexpected changes in scheduling, it had to be cancelled. Boo šŸ˜¦ I was extremely looking forward to it too!

So what did I do? I moved the trip to Sarlat with my friend ahead by a week. It was originally planned for next Saturday, but construction work on the railway on that day made it so that it’d take three and a half hours to get to Sarlat from Bordeaux instead of the usual two and a half, WITH a transfer to “autocar” (or bus) in Bergerac. If we went on the 12th, it would be an earlier, direct train, giving us the advantage of convenience and WAY more time in the town than expected. Score! No La Rochelle, no problem!

Sarlat, or Sarlat-la-CanĆ©da, is a medieval town in the Dordogne department in south-western France, a place known for its unspoiled countryside and villages. It is situated in what’s known as the PĆ©rigord region, which is further divided into four parts: black, green, purple, and white (PĆ©rigord noir, vert, pourpre, and blanc respectively in French). The four colours each describes a different characteristic of the regions they represent – black for the oak trees and chestnut trees, green for the hillside and meadows, purple for the luxurious wine, and white for the limestone plateaux. Sarlat is in black PĆ©rigord, the most famous and popular among tourists out of the four regions. (References here and here.)

Our journey started at 7:03 in the morning – on a Saturday! For a night owl like me who struggles to get out of bed even at 8:30, it was quite a challenge to start getting ready at 5:45 and take the 6:29 bus to the train station to catch the train. But both of us made it despite worrying that we’d oversleep! Heh, a 2.5-hour train ride gave us sufficient time to rest before reaching our destination, and we certainly took full advantage of that. Allons-y šŸ˜‰

The walk from the train station to the old town of Sarlat took a good 15 minutes or so. Bright red wild flowers were in full bloom along the road, adding such vibrant contrast to the scenery.

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Bergerac in the mirror

The first time I’ve ever heard of Bergerac was in grade 12 when in French class we read the play Cyrano de Bergerac. I had no idea what Bergerac meant, and I didn’t care enough to bother to find out. That was 6 years ago.

The second time I heard the word Bergerac was at a church service, when the English pastor mentioned that our French pastor’s daughter is going to move to Bergerac. Then it kind of struck me that I’ve heard of Bergerac somewhere, though I couldn’t recall for the life of me where and when I’ve heard it.

Then I began to look up small places nearby Bordeaux to visit on a Sunday with some friends. Near meant less than 2 hours by train, and with my limited knowledge on French geography, I opened up Google Maps, Wikipedia, and SNCF side by side, magnifying the regions around Bordeaux and looking up any towns or cities that seemed promising for a day-trip.

Lo and behold, directly to the east of Bordeaux, we found Bergerac hidden in the map, only an hour and a half away by regional train. Only after checking it out on trusty Wikipedia and reading the short blurb on Cyrano de Bergerac did it hit me that yes, that was indeed why it sounded familiar. As the TGV to La Rochelle was too expensive to book already, friends and I set out for Bergerac on a glorious Sunday morning.

As it turned out, Bergerac is one of the prettiest and most tranquil towns I’ve been to. This is why I enjoy visiting small towns. They give off an inexplicable aura of freshness and “soul”, and you can discover such inner peace by just walking down the old streets and staring at the reflections of the town in the river. In this case, Bergerac is situated along the Dordogne river, and though it may not seem as wide and majestic as our Garonne in Bordeaux, it shows a completely different kind of beauty. Of course, we were blessed with impeccable sunshine and warmth on the day of our trip, and as it was a Sunday, the town was calm and quiet, as if it was taking a break…

A tiny local market taking place among the trees. There weren’t many people, perhaps ten booths/vendors at most, but it was cute and cozy.

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