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Sep 22, 2010 05:28 AM

From San Sebastian to the Dordogne…

While I was trying to stay cool and not expire from the heat of the Steamer of Humans (also known as Shanghai-in-the-summer), I received a little word from Parigi on my Barcelona dining post. Through the sweltering heat, deafening buzz-saw of cicadas and roar of millions of people all talking out loud simultaneously, I registered something about “Pigging out in the Dordogne”. I felt like Horton the elephant when he hears a Who.

Months later, I’ve gone back to figure out what the Pigging-Out was all about and I realize that the Dordogne is not so far away from San Sebastian! So thanks, Parigi, for whispering in my ear (whether you meant to or not). I’ve been dreaming about San Se and I’ve decided to give this trip to my dear son for his graduation present. (I know, what a lucky kid. I suggested Disneyworld but he only asked what was on their menus ;-) )

In San Se, I’m renting an apt. in Gros that is footsteps away from Patio de Ramuntxo. We’ll have almost a week to explore San Sebastian. Thanks to Chowhounds for linking the fantastic website, I’ve studied the routes intensely and look forward to setting my son loose on San Sebastian! (His first experience with pintxos in Barcelona at Euskal Etxea was slow-slow-FAST!) We will have to be careful with nuts though.

After San Sebastian, I plan to drive up the coast and spend 4 days in the Dordogne to indulge in the terroir and see the famous caves. Here I have only 3 places and perhaps that’s all we’ll need, considering the generosity of the table! As usual, I try to pair sightseeing with eating. My question here is, Does this work and does anyone have extra suggestions? We’ll be staying in Montignac, Les Eyzies and Rocamadour.

Le Taulado in Les Eyzies de Tayac (sightseeing at Font de Gaume
)Ferme Auberge Calvel in Le Bougayrou (anything else to see, eat or do here?)
Hotel Roseraie (sightseeing at Lascaux II in Montignac)
Rocamadour (any good eats to add around here?)

After the Dordogne, we’ll probably drive back straight to San Sebastian and fly back to Barcelona for more eating (er, I mean sightseeing). Maybe a stop in St. Emilion or Monbazillac.

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  1. "We’ll be staying in Montignac, Les Eyzies and Rocamadour.'

    Ola! Glad to see you "cross board".
    Fyi, Montignac and Les Eyzies are near enough that personally I would not ùale twp bases out of them. One base can cover both easily.

    For that area, basically all along the Vezère river, there is not a single ugly building in sight. So anywhere there would make a good base, from which you can easily reach Montignac, Les Eyzies, Sarlat and beautiful river towns like La Roque Gageac, Beynac, etc., and esp the Taulado farm.

    "Le Taulado in Les Eyzies de Tayac (sightseeing at Font de Gaume) Ferme Auberge Calvel in Le Bougayrou (anything else to see, eat or do here?)

    Near the Bougayrou is the small but beautiful prehistoric cave of Cougnac. The world-famous Manoir d'Eyrignac garden is also about a half an hour's drive away.

    "Rocamadour (any good eats to add around here?)"

    Rocamadour is beautiful to see from afar but is exceedingly Disney-geegaw-y up close. But the area - Northern Lot - is again full of listed plus beaux villages. Martel is a great base with good eats.

    There is a lot to see - and eat - in that area. 4 days go by fast, you'll see.

    Btw, what time of the year are you planning to go? Some of the ferme-auberges are closed outside the June July August September months, or stay only partially open, such as for Sat dinner, Sunday lunch and dinner.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Ola, Parigi, and thank you for your response!

      I've been doing my homework and have added a lot more sights to the list. From San Se, we'll make our 1st stop in Monbazillac. I hope the Chateau de Monbazillac will play a good little brother to Chateau d'Yquem (yes, I have a sweet tooth). For dinner, I've found La Tour des Vents some 10 minutes away. The view looks great and I suppose the food will be good too. It's a convenient combination.

      We're not staying in Montignac after all. I realize that things are very close to each other and I don't need the hotel in Montignac to get tickets for Lascaux II. I'd much rather stay closer to La Taulado! I need to email them and find out when we get to eat. Do you remember if they are open for lunch or dinner? I suppose it's dinner since it's a ferme-auberge.

      Thanks also for the idea of the Manoir d'Eyrignac. I had already added Marqueyssac to our list. I thought we could go there after the Saturday market of Sarlat and have a picnic with some of our purchases. The website for Eyrignac is fantastic! My son (who has gotten used to being dragged to see gardens) will love it. He would say that any garden with a restaurant and an online menu is okay by him!

      I'll look around for more info on Cougnac. I need to contact Le Bougayrou to ask about hours of operation too. Again, I'm wondering if it's lunch or dinner. If dinner, does one eat earlier than in Paris?

      We'll be going in the second week of July. Everything should be in full swing by then. I agree with you; 4 days is not enough. We've extended and if I had my way, we'd stay a month. What a fascinating place! Beautiful scenery, amazing history and geology, some of my favourite things to eat.

      <<Rocamadour is beautiful to see from afar but is exceedingly Disney-geegaw-y up close.>> That is SO hilarious! How did you guess that Disney makes my blood run cold? ;-) Thank goodness we're planning to eat at Le Bougayrou when we're staying in Rocamadour. It'll be a good time, perhaps, to visit the Manoir d'Eyrignac. We're staying at Les Eclargies btw. I hope it'll be a nice respite before my long drive back to Spain.

      1. re: Aleta

        A couple of details: Lascaux, being a reeactment, albeit excellent executed, is not as moving as, say, the Font de Gaume. And 2 caves for such a short trip may be enough. Don't forget to come up for air and enjoy the landscape!
        Ditto. Maybe one overwhelming garden is enough. Both Marqueyssac and the Manoir d'Eyrignac are beautiful, but the Marqueyssac is green. I mean it has no flowers. Bothers me, a garden with no flowers.
        The ferme-auberge La Taulado is very near Font de Gaume.
        There is also a ferme-auberge near the Manoir d'Eyrignac, but I don't remember the name!
        I'd stick to that part of the Périgord noir. Quite a lot to see and enjoy. Your son - and you - will love the canoe ride on the Dordogne.

        1. re: Parigi

          "A couple of details: Lascaux, being a reeactment,"
          Being a very old guy, I've seen both and the reproduction is quite cool.

          1. re: John Talbott

            Thanks for the excellent points, Parigi and John. I will give them much more thought.

            Font de Gaume and La Taulado are the reasons why I've chosen Les Eyzies as our base. For me, a good day is something fantastic created by nature, followed by something amazing created by (wo)man and topped off by some very delicious food and drink!

            I told my son about the canoe ride and showed him some pictures. He said that the last time we were in a boat together, I taught him some BAD words ;-) ;-) That's because I had to do all the paddling and I didn't have anything nice to drink! Must remember to bring some snacks and refreshments for the trip.

            Does anyone know if the ferme-auberge usually serves dinner or lunch?

            1. re: Aleta

              "Does anyone know if the ferme-auberge usually serves dinner or lunch?"

              In July and August, probably both, but book ahead. In the other months, maybe just Saturday and Sunday dinners plus Sunday lunch.

              1. re: Parigi

                Thanks again. I will definitely book ahead.

        2. re: Aleta

          Couple of thoughts. I did a home exchange in Columbier two years ago which is very close to Monbazillac. We had a great Sunday lunch at La Tour des Vents. The tasting menu was inventive and quite wonderful. The service and view were splendid. I thought the food very reasonably priced and I am remembering a tomato ice cream that was marvellous. The tour of the Monbazillac Chateau was disappointing. There are some very good vineyards around that area. The deConti family has several. The Chateau Jumbertie was across the street from our house and their wine was our staple for the three weeks.

          Was in the area around Souillac last summer. Went to the ferme auberge La Bougayrou. I was disappointed overall but the potatoes as described here were in fact amazing. Not quite sure it was worth the trip. There is a very good but expensive restaurant nearby Le Pont d'Ouyesse. Ate there twice. The real find of the trip was the little restauarnt at Relaise St. Anne in Martel. The food was simple, the menu offering very limited but the food was good and reasonable. 3 course lunch was 20 something euros. The apricot tart was the highlight of the whole trip.

          Also did a canoe ride on the Dordogne. Wonderful. We did the two hour they pick you up at the end of the trip and drive you back to the starting point. It was too short. Would have liked to be on the roiver longer. Planning a return visit next summer.

      2. St Emillion is far preferable to Monbazillac. Besides the chateau there isn't much there while St. Emillion while crowded is lovely.

        4 Replies
        1. re: dave11743

          Thanks Dave for your input. I've copied down your comments from another thread on Relais Ste.Anne in Martel. Since we'll be in the Rocamadour area, maybe we can have 1 lunch there and the other at Le Bougayrou. Perhaps the food at the ferme-auberge was not what you expected? Was the country-style aspect of it not appealing to you or (apart from the potatoes) was the food just downright bad?

          Would love go to St. Emilion; I'm sure it's gorgeous. But Monbazillac satisfies both my interest in sweet wines and my need to stop, eat and rest after the drive north from San Se. What I REALLY want is to find a place for the night near Chateau d'Yquem ! If you have any ideas, please share.

          Glad you enjoyed La Tour des Vents. That's the other part of the Monbazillac equation ;-)

          1. re: Aleta

            The ferme auberge was ok. The meal was an uninteresting vegetable soup, a salad, a choice of lamb or duck - I had the lamb which was nothing special - great potatoes with mounds of cepes - and a floating island for dessert. Really nothing out of the ordinary except for the potatoes. I know enough already about the potatoes!
            I think you'll really like La Tour des Vents - attaching photos - I took photos of every course they served . And four desserts for dessert.
            I'm not sure the best tastings are at the actual Chateau Monbazillac,. The wine they give you as part of the entrance fee is trash. I didn't get to Chateau Y'quem. In St. Emilion stayed at the La Plaisance - a Relais and Chateau wonder with a restaurant to cry over. Fois Gras Lesagna.

              1. re: dave11743

                Thanks Dave! Those are great pictures of La Tour des Vents. I can hardly wait.

                Thanks also for explaining why you weren't so happy with your meal at Le Bougayrou. It sounds like a typical farm meal; not what you were expecting. We'll probably have a lunch there and another at La Taulado. Although we like "food as art", we're also big fans of aligot and other potato dishes.

        2. I hear Tour Des Vents in Montbazillac is very good but not been.

          Aligot is not a typical dish of the Dordogne.

          The village of Tremolat is about 25 minutes from Les Eyzies & has a delightful restaurant called Le Vieux Logis. Superb tapas style lunch served weekdays & during the summer under the most gorgeous trees. Weekends & evenings is traditional style food. Exemplary !

          Capital town of Perigueux has an amazing restaurant called L'Essential, and photos are from Saturday's lunch (Oct 16)

          2 Replies
          1. re: condor

            I can second le vieux logis in tremolat. The seeting is like Eden and the food is great. Took a group there for my divisible by 10 birthday last summer - the tapas lunch was very good and the price very reasonable. The fois gras creme brulee was amazing and the hit of the many many small coursed luncheon. Had dinner there once and it was great. I would rec this place very highly.

            1. re: dave11743

              Thanks Condor and Dave for the thumbs-up on Le Vieux Logis. I'll put it in my notes.

              BTW, I know that Aligot is an Auvergnat specialty.