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Report 1947: The Dordogne

By Winnick from Texas, Spring 2011

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Page 10 of 19: June 22 - La Roque Gageac, Domme, Chateau Des Milandes

photo by Mike Winnick

La Roque Gageac

Today's visits started with La Roque Gageac, another one of TMBVF's (The Most Beautiful Villages In France, as they are called). It too has a troglodyte development from the 12C as well as beautiful homes and a shopping street right on the Dordogne. La Roque is barely large enough to be called a village, itís a group of buildings climbing up a cliff, like a cardboard cut-out. There was no room to grow out, so it grew up along the rock face instead. The stone houses are enough to draw you there, but it has an added surprise. Lining the tiny, winding, climbing passageways, there are exotic tropical plants, bamboos, flowering climbers and tall grasses. This exotic garden was started over 30 years ago by a local resident. We spent about an hour there and even found another canoe rental place a bit closer.

Then off to Domme. As we left it started to drizzle (it was cloudy and cool today, even though at 7am the sun was out). But when we got to Domme it stopped and the sky brightened. We were fairly high up and chilly enough for a light jacket. We arrived in time for lunch right on a belvedere overlooking the valley. This town is another one of TMBVF's but larger than most we've seen with about 1,000 residents and more shops (which you know who liked). Domme was founded in the late 13th century and played a pivotal role in both the 100 years war and wars of religion. The ramparts that now afford a breathtaking view across the valley provided a strategic advantage to control the region. Those gates that now welcome visitors from all over the world once withstood the sustained attacks of the enemy.

After an hour's sightseeing we left and drove to Chateau Des Milandes.

This is like a 'Sleeping Beauty' castle built in 1489 and later purchased in 1948 by Josephine Baker, an African American who started dancing and singing at a young age, and moved to France to dance in the Folies Bergere (as a nude dancer, for which she became a sensation for that as well as her race). We toured the inside of the castle, which displayed all of her pictures, belongings and room designs as an homage to her. She was also very active in the French resistance as a way of giving back to France the opportunities it gave her.

There was also a great bird show on the grounds of the castle of all kinds of raptors.

Later we walked the trails on the grounds through the gardens and wooded areas as well as an aviary area where they raise raptors.

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