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Report 2068: Going for the Gold in France. Part 3: Dawdling in the Dordogne

By Roz from California, Summer 2013

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Page 3 of 12: Sunday June 23, 2013: St. Cyprien Market. A Castle and a Cloister

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Porte St. Louis in Cadouin

Partly cloudy and cool.

Daughter-in-law Maureen had developed a terrible cold; she stayed in most of the day. She was happy to have such a beautiful and spacious place to veg out and recuperate -- and when she felt inspired, to dabble with some of the sketching materials we had bought her in Paris as a birthday gift.

The rest of us went to the St. Cyprien market, which is one of the best around. We bought enough of the fabulous local specialties on sale to pig out for practically the whole week: a roast chicken and potatoes for that night's dinner, cheese, sausage, walnut cake and walnut wine. We also stocked up on a bit of California contraband. The PETA lobby in our new home state had recently managed to convince the legislature to pass a ban on the sale of foie gras, which is a major specialty of Southwest France. So we came away with a few tins of that Dordogne delicacy to smuggle home in our suitcases. (Lest anyone think we are flagrant lawbreakers, there is not a state law against eating or bringing in foie gras -- just against selling it.)

After a lunch of cheese and sausage, son Mike and I went out for some sightseeing; the other two stayed home to relax. We first went to the nearby Chateau de Biron, where I had been before, but Mike wanted to see it. It is a great place, but I had forgotten from our visit a few years back how much steep climbing it involved. Or maybe it's just a matter of being that much older and my knees that much more complaining.

We got the twin ticket for the Cadouin Cloisters, which was our next stop. First the 12th-century abbey, then the cloisters. There are some interesting legends around Cadouin. It was a pilgrimage stop because it had a shroud supposedly used to wrap the head of Jesus. Then in the 1930s someone finally got around to translating the writing on the shroud, and discovered that it was a Muslim invocation to the glory of Mohammed, and that it had been created for a Caliph who fought against the Crusaders. So much for the holy shroud and the pilgrimage destination.

Another point of pride for the cloisters was the supposed visit from Saint Louis (King Louis IX), which led to the main entrance to the town being named Porte Saint Louis. But the 20th century naysayers discovered that someone had mistranslated the Latin, and Saint Louis actually went to Caen, not Cadouin. It's still quite a lovely gate even if misnamed.

We ate the roast chicken with potatoes from the market for dinner, and it was wonderful. I had been disappointed in the chicken we got at the market in Paris -- honestly, Costco's roast chicken was better than that one. But this one in the Dordogne, fresh off the farm, was perfect. Life was good.

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