September 4, 2013

Les Eyzies Loop

The flat Dordogne.

Days spent cycle touring do not always turn out as planned. That is one of the things that I love about touring, and this one followed that pattern. From Les Eyzies, I set out this morning on a loop ride to the south and east, to visit Urval, Cadouin, and Cingle de Trémolat, along with anything else of interest enroute. The morning began cool, a bit misty, and I was happy to have my jacket along as my route crisscrossed the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers.

The vineyards of the St. Emilion area have given way to corn fields (presumably food for the geese and ducks, for which the region is famous) and plum, apple and walnut groves.

Walnut grove, next to a road typical of those I rode on. There was a much younger grove across the street.

My route took me through a gentle, rolling countryside. Although I know that the region's climate and flora have totally changed, still it is easy to make up an imaginary story up about prehistoric people living here. There are so many caves visible in the cliffs, and signs for grottes and caves abound.

Dordogne countryside

The roads were somewhat busier than I anticipated, and soon enough I decided to turn off and follow little roads. That does not mean little roads that have route numbers indicated on my map. Twice today young men in Tourist Bureaus were so helpful, one drawing me a route out of his town and across the countryside on little roads. The other actually walking me to the start of the route, and carefully explaining the turns. Both warned me that the roads would climb. I reassured them it was ok, thinking that so many of the side roads go up and over hills, not around, and though slow, I am a determined climber.

Today's route followed many small roads enroute to Cadouin

I include the photo of the car to give you a visual on what I mean by "little roads." This must be my favorite kind of riding, on these little roads of France.

Frequently the smell of mint filled the air when a car passed me, left wheels off the road.

As I've said before, one very enjoyable things about cycling is paying attention to the smells offered up in the world around me. I noticed a familiar one, but could not place it ... until I came across this tobacco drying barn.

Tobacco drying barn. 

Coming to an intersection, this sign jumped off the barn wall at me, I suppose since I learned to sew on an old Singer machine. Stopped to take the picture, this young cat came over to investigate, and seemed to want to come along. I had explained that I had no food to offer.

My first stop was to be Urval, site of a fortified church I wanted to visit. It was certainly fortified, unfortunately it was also locked. But I was fortunate to inspect the nearby 15th century communal oven.

Fortified, and locked, church at Urval.

The town was beautiful, and I took a few photos before continuing on to Cadouin.

Communal oven.



  1. Glad to see you're having a good time. I told you: a good Solex makes for easier riding... though I would be the last to badmouth Papillon... You missed your calling: documentary film maker... Pictures are beyond beautiful and the commentary is so enseignant plein de grace et de bonheur. What are missing are the thousands of gentle paysans qui vaquent à leurs travaux quotidiens. It's not the desertification of far away places that's becoming a problem, it's the desertification of agricultural lands, in favor of corporate farming. Or am I blind? And so you go through deserted villages. Beautiful artifacts and remains, just no people. Look forward to your next adventures.

  2. A Solex, c'est quoi?

    Merci pour les belle mots!

    Et, quant à les paysans, ce matin, j'ai lu sur un panneau à St. Amand de Coly, ces chiffres: (le premier est l'annèe,
    Le deuxième, le numéro de gens.) 1500, 1250; 1730 1750 ; 1800, 1000; 1900, 500; 1990, 360; 2010, 401. D'après le panneau, c'est grace à le tractor, which destroyed smallscale mixed crop farming.

    Will pay more attention to photos of people!!

  3. Is the peace starting to sink in yet? Or do you need more days to unwind from life's routine and the journey to prepare and travel to France? The photos are so amazing, I am wondering if your gears are shifting as well as Papillon's.

    1. Oh yes, I am certainly here and unwound! The stress and travel anxiety disappeared like magic when my tired feet hit the street for dinner in Bordeaux. It is such a different culture .. as you know as well as I do!

  4. What beautiful pictures! And perfect weather in which to tour and ride! Can't wait to see where you go next! Marcy

  5. Beautiful photos and fantastic inspiration too - not had a main holiday yet this year, so this might help get my butt in gear :-)

    1. Hi Georgie,

      Good to hear from you, thanks. Main holidays are really really good .... and so is France. I doubt you need any help getting in gear, though, based on what I see on your site!

  6. I love this post! The roads look wonderful, and the idea of a communal oven has always intrigued me.

    1. Thanks! There is another, possibly more, along the way that I will look out for. And there was one, much larger, in the hamlet of Montcaret.


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