September 7, 2013

Sarlat to Carennac

One of three matching window boxes in ascending windows in this tower.

I enjoyed a particularly pleasant ride yesterday. It departed Sarlat on a paved bike path, something I am not usually enthusiastic about. But this one ... a well-paved surface, only a few other bikes or pedestrians, and about 12 miles of travel with no concerns about traffic or route-finding proved an exception. It was easy, pleasant cycling, following the Dordogne upriver, though the river itself was rarely in site.

The bike path, about the same size as many roads.

Walnut orchards are still abundant, with walnuts featured on menus everywhere. This one was located next to a typical medium-sized roadway.

Full-grown walnut orchard. Across the street was a much younger orchard.

I've become accustomed enough to the sudden, raucous sqwacking of magpies not to totally jump out of my seat and wreck when they have something boisterous to say.

A magpie on the move.

Stopped at an outdoor covered market, and bought local cheese, tomatos, cukes, bread for lunch, and then found my way through Souillac without problem. My map showed Martel as the next town. And what a town it turned out to be. Beautiful. Clearly well-visited, there were cafes, bistros, and foreign voices. But not crowded, and equally good, not jammed full of tourist shops. I hadn't read anything about it, and totally enjoyed the short interlude I spent there.

The road around the church in Martel

I passed perhaps forty-five minutes while waiting for the church to open for the afternoon drinking coffee with three cyclists whose paths had been crossing mine for two days. One of them certainly knew that he knew everything that needs to be known about cycling and was more than glad to share it. Have to admit I took a certain pleasure in suggesting that the Haute Route would be perfect for him. Mean, who me?

Covered market next to the cafe where I sat in Martel

Martel is lovely, founded in the 11th century on an old Roman road near the oppidum Uxellodum, where (I read on the sign) the last battle between Caesar's army and the Gaules was fought in -51.

Its church is named St. Maur, looks to me like a fortifird church, and was founded in the 11th century. The interior of this romanesque church was as brightly painted as any I have ever seen.

Carved detail inside the church

One of the most brightly painted churches I've seen, though books tell me original colors were often quite bright..

Towards the end of the day this one-lane suspension bridge crossed the Dordogne River, not too far below the point where the Cère joins it. Notice the wooden road surface.

One-land wooden suspension bridge across the Dordogne River

And lastly, the entrance to Carennac, where I arrived last night.

A washed out photo of the entrance to Carennac

The maps are all interactive, use the arrows to scroll around. My two day rides, described in the next posts are represented by the lines to Rocamadour and St. Cère, though you may need to scroll east to see them.

View Sarlat to Carennac in a larger map



  1. Bonjour Suzan, quelle belle région la Dordogne avec ses villages moyenâgeux...
    Mais ça grimpe aussi !

    1. Bonsoir Jean-Jacques,

      Merci pour ton commentaire! Oui, c'est tellement belle. Et en effet, ça grimpe mais, je pense, pas du tout comme Les Cévennes!


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