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Report 1947: The Dordogne

By Winnick from Texas, Spring 2011

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Page 4 of 19: June 16 - Pech Merle & Figeac

photo by Mike Winnick

Figeac View

We woke to rain. But by the time we had breakfast and went to get the car it had stopped.

A short drive later we were at Pech Merle, a cave with paintings carbon dated to 25,000 years ago. The cave is immense. Fantastic calcite formations, but the pictures stop you. We walked far back into the cave, and it was paved, not rocky and boulder strewn as those ancients must have trod on, and lit by electric lights, not hand held torches and lamps. The paintings were astounding. It is also interesting to see how scientists were able to identify the painter by his style, as well as the pictures done in the style of the period and area.

We left and took a recommended scenic route. This followed the Cele River on a road, the D41 for those with a map, which never was wider than a small auto (our car is bigger) and was generally next to and under the overhanging rock outcroppings of the mountainside that bordered the river valley.

We arrived at Figeac and checked into the Best Western with a room with a view right onto the Cele river. Had a light lunch as it was only 2pm and knew we'd want a nice dinner.

This town is very tourist friendly and has laid out a great walking tour with good signage which we followed, spending about two hours taking in the sites. This town, with mostly 14th century buildings, typical medieval streets, still had two large churches, and interesting squares. But of special interest was the square named Place Champollion after Jean-Francois Champollion who discovered the secret to decoding the Rossetta Stone with a museum devoted to him and language.

By 5pm we stopped for a break and planned to eat at the hotel's restaurant whose menu looked very appealing.

We ate at 7:30. And finished as usual at 9:45pm. Mike a Salmon Tartare salad then a fish entree while Karen had a Pork Tenderloin, both exceptional. Bottle of wine, coffee, desserts. Great diet food!

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