Monday, June 7, 2010

Backcountry France: Lot et Garonne



I've just returned from visiting my parents who, as you may know from previous posts,  live in the "France profonde," "the deep France" or back-country France.

This is not the France  that one would read about or tend to visit. Away from the touristic itineraries, one can experience the true France as it was once. Rich in history, the first Paleolitic paintings dating 17000 years were discovered in ancient caves near Lascaux in Dordogne, the Hundred Years war ( 1336- 1453) ravaged through the Bastides (fortified villages) when the region was the frontier between France and England. Joan of Arc finally led France to victory, until she was captured and burned by the English.

This region is famous for being the playland of Henry IV who became king in 1589 and was the most popular French monarch of all times. In Lot at Garonne, he built his summer retreat in Nerac, as well as numerous castles and hunting lodges for his lovers for which he was so famous. The French do admire this quality in a leader.... this is the home of the famous Alexandre Dumas character, d'Artagnan of the novel "The Three Musketeers".

Lot et Garonne was described by the French writer Stendhal (The Red and the Black published in 1830) as the Tuscany of France for its red tiled houses, its golden sunlight, fields of sunflowers and its beautiful villages. Monet came to Lot et Garonne to buy water lilies for his gardens. Lot et Garonne is famous for its classic rich french food with Foie Gras, superb wines, Armagnac, Magret de Canard, fresh vegetables.....

If you are ready for a trip beyond time, where history awaits you at every turn,  where the country side is there still in its raw beauty.....book a flight to Toulouse or Bordeaux or Agen, rent a car with a map in hand and start your adventure. I'll be happy to answer questions about the area within my ability. Meanwhile, I hope that you will enjoy what will be a series of short posts of a few places I just re-visited and wanted to share.







The streets of Port Sainte Marie where I walk to in the mornings from my parent's house


 
Nearby villages...




Nerac: so peaceful to spend the afternoon on the river



Traditional house



 Henri IV's Summer Chateau


Small street in Old Nerac 


Barbaste: The river powered mill was one of Henry IV's fortified homes which almost became my mother-in-law's 2nd home. She came very close to buying it while visiting the region during our wedding celebrations.


 
The mill with its 4 towers


 
The mill is now a cultural center and the starting point for wonderful hikes along the river





 

This is a wonderful book that truly capture the essence of the SouthWest of France. The american  author Marcel Sanders spends a year in a small village in the Lot and befriends the owner of the local restaurant as well as other local in dividuals. A treat for anyone who wants to discover the small pleasures of French country life.



13 comments:

  1. I am pretty sure that I could not be more jealous of you right now!! Beautiful pictures! I love it. Thanks for sharing.

    Christina

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  2. I Love the pictures.......so romantic :)
    Håkan

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  3. An absolutely stunning area of France, Francine. My friend has a house quite near to Agen, very close to Lectour. It too is a lovely area and has so many places to visit. Your photographs are exquisite and make me want to visit this part of France. Our daughter is off to Bergerac next week and our son and daughter-in-law are going there in Juky. XXXX XXXX

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  4. You are on your way to Heaven, for doing this post. I am in love with this country. Thank you so much for posting this fantastic post,
    yvonne

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  5. this is beautiful.
    thank you for sharing with us.
    xx

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  6. This is the kind of travel that I long to do, but I feel so intimidated as I can't speak French. My aunt and uncle (who live in Scotland) are fluent, though, and their favorite holiday is when they rent a small house in the Italian or French countryside and just immerse themselves in country life for 2 weeks.

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  7. Glad to hear you are back safe and sound...the pictures are idealic, and wonderful. Hope your visit was close to the same :)

    Best,
    Michelle

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  8. GORGEOUS place!!! I NEED to escape!!!

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  9. FABULOUS.... so glad you took some time to go be with them... hope mom is ok... xx

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  10. Very nice blog! I love the pictures that you post

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  11. Amazing... my absolute favorite way to travel, I must say! I hope all is well and thank you for such a beautiful post... I feel like I took a miniature trip with you :)

    xoxo

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  12. What a fantastic recommendation. I love places that seem to come straight out of history. It sort of takes one away and sparks the imagination.

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