Saturday, August 20, 2005

Gouffre de Proumeyssac, La Roque Gageac & Jardin de Marqueyssac

To start our day, we drove about an hour from Sarlat to Gouffre de Proumeyssac. According to my French-English dictionary, a gouffre is a cavern. In the region, there are both natural and prehistoric gouffres. The one we opted to visit is a natural cavern. When you first walk into the gouffre, you can hear water dripping, but it is otherwise very dark.

I was very well behaved and adhered to the "no pictures" rule until I saw that everyone else was taking pictures. Then, all bets were off.

When the gouffre was fully lit up the view was beautiful:

When you visit, you can do the traditional tour, entering by foot through a tunnel. Or, you can pay for a special entry where you are lowered for the top of the hole in a hot air balloon-type basket. You can see the basket being lowered in the picture below. It's the darker-coloured basket. The other white form is part of the cavern. I believe they call it the octopus because of its shape. If I recall correctly, the forms develop because of the

The stalactites and stalagmites were beautiful.

After the gouffre, we headed to a village called La Roque Gageac in order to go canoeing on the Dordogne River. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful.

I would love to spend some time in a hammock looking up at the clouds. I only got a few shots of the clouds while canoeing:

We passed by a number of castles during our brief (9km) paddle.

Thankfully, despite R's canoe-directing abilities, this wasn't our boat.

After paddling, I was feeling a bit ambivalent about going to see a garden. I am SO glad that we went to Jardin De Marqueyssac. I didn't really know what to expect and was completely blown away.

When I saw all of the highly groomed trees in the pamphlets for the jardin (garden), I wasn't sure that it would be my thing.

We had already visited Versailles a couple of weeks earlier and I had had my fill.

Let me tell you, this garden was a highlight of our trip for me. Growing up, I've always like the fantasy/quest-type movies. My favourite film for years was The Neverending Story (the first movie, not so much the sequels). I also love labrynth. Anything where someone is going through a fantasy maze-type world where you have to beat the monsters and solve the puzzles to make your way out. Games like Zelda are completely addictive for me.

This park felt like it would be a great setting for a fantasy movie:

On Thursdays in July and August, a lot of the paths are lit up by candlelight. A group of 3-4 guys go around with mini torches and light hundreds of tea lights.
I even took a picture of this guy's butt to prove it:

Just be aware, if you pay to get in before 7pm, you have to leave the park and pay again to re-enter.

The darker it gets, the cooler the candlelight becomes.

The garden, or what I would describe as a park, includes about 6km of trails.

Along the trails, there are many unexpected things to be found. Near the entrance, there is a cafe where you can look out over the entire area. Perhaps the highlight of this area was the man playing the piano and the peacock that stood beside the piano obsessed with the music.

On the opposite side of the park is the belevedere. It looks out onto castles (Beynac and Castelnaud), the Dordogne River and La Roque Gageac.

It's times like these that I wish I had a better camera (and better photography skills).

Of course, no enchanted park is complete without a random thingamabob:

Or a little hut (this is one of two in the park):

A beautiful sunset:

Clouds that look like flying monsters:

And amazing musicians playing in a field:

I only filmed a brief bit of their song because my memory card was running low.

Actually, I feel a bit sad that I can't go back to the park. I'm sure there would be new things to discover each time I went back.

UPDATE: Check out The Biscuit Bunch's blog. They're a family from New Zealand who has been spending the past year or so in the South of France. Possibly the coolest parents ever!


No comments:

LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs