Manoir Fontaine de l’Amour

Watch slideshow video HERE

Our first year has been interesting and we have met lovely people; the most dramatic was when there was a kitten stuck up under the wheel well of our client’s Porsche and we had to phone the Fire Dept. to come access from underneath via pneumatic pillows to lift the car to rescue the kitten!

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Is THIS a sightseer’s dream? Explore a tiny magnificent French town – Dordogne ROCAMADOUR. It’s a name that rolls off the tongue – and then lives long in the memory once you’ve visited this magnificent but tiny French town.

ROCAMADOUR. It’s a name that rolls off the tongue – and then lives long in the memory once you’ve visited this magnificent but tiny French town.

FranceGETTYBUSTLING STREETS: Sarlat offers local produce and cafes
A sightseer’s dream, it clings to the side of one of the giant gorges in the Lot valley in the Perigord region and is one of the many breathtaking places to visit in an area full of scenic wonder.The town is named after Saint Amadour whose body, legend has it, was found perfectly preserved under the cathedral in 1166. That made the town famous and popular with pilgrims – but nowadays it’s a tourist destination.The landscape is so dramatic you need two lifts to get from the cathedral at the top to the restaurants and shops on the main street at the bottom. Meanwhile birds of prey soar overhead as they stretch their wings from the aviary at Rocher des Aigles (Eagles Rock) on the top.

FranceGETTYFAIRYTALE CASTLE: Chateau de la Malartrie on the Dordogne river

“To take in the spectacular scenery along the Dordogne, hop on a boat or hire your own canoe”

Stephen Hope

This is the kind of drama my wife Paula and I had been looking forward to as we embarked on our first holiday without children in 20 years. We booked an 11-night stay in Perigord with Al Fresco Holidays, took the overnight P&O ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge, then travelled to Le Val D’Ussel, just north of the market town of Sarlat and near the beautiful River Dordogne.

We stayed in a spacious Vivaldi three-bed mobile home with decking. It was airy and comfortable with air conditioning in the living area. La Val D’Ussel was perfect for our needs, with a restaurant, shop and plenty of recreational facilities including two swimming pools, a spa, table tennis, crazy golf and a play park – should you bring the children.

Just a three-mile drive down the hill lies the medieval town of Sarlat, a bustling little place, and the streets are filled with market stalls on Saturdays. This is your chance to enjoy the produce of the area.

FranceGETTYSIGHTSEEING: Liberty Plaza, city hall
There are delicious sausages, wine, cheese, foie gras, truffles, cherries and walnuts – plus straw hats, baskets and leather goods. We also made it our mission to taste as much patisserie as possible from pear tarts to almonds – you name it, we ate it.To take in the spectacular scenery along the Dordogne, hop on a boat or hire your own canoe. Either way, you’ll get brilliant view of the chateaux standing proudly along the river bank. We embarked on a boat at Beynac and took in the impressive castles of Castelnaud and Fayrac.Another way the see the valley in all its glory is to drive to Domme, a town perched high over the Dordogne. The panoramic view is stunning, as are the shops and restaurants in this popular coach-party destination.

FranceALAMYIDYLLIC SITE: Rocamadour on the hillside is a perfect base for exploring the area
 CREDIT/SOURCE:  The Daily Star

Sarlat-la-Canéda: an insider’s guide

PUBLISHED: 09:42 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:33 10 July 2017

Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of Dordogne's most popular destinations © Jonathan Barbot

Sarlat-la-Canéda is one of Dordogne’s most popular destinations (Credit: Jonathan Barbot)

Sarlat-la-Canéda is a Dordogne favourite, where visitors never fail to be captivated by the town’s fine medieval architecture and gastronomic delights. Here’s our insider’s guide to the main attractions, restaurants and hotels and buying property in Sarlat-la-Canéda

 Sarlat-la-Canéda is unsurprisingly one of the most popular towns in Dordogne. Located just a few kilometres from the River Dordogne in south-west France, the town has retained much of its 14th-century charm and its medieval architecture is still a main pull for its thousands of yearly visitors. A popular base for exploring the Vèzére valley, you could easily spend all of your time discovering Sarlat’s quaint medieval buildings, twisting alleyways and picture-postcard squares.

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Sarlat-la-Canéda has lots of impressive manor houses © Dan Courtice
Sarlat-la-Canéda has lots of impressive manor houses (Credit: Dan Courtice)

What to see and do in Sarlat-la-Canéda

Originally an abbey church dating from the 11th century, the Cathédrale St-Sacerdos is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The organ in the church is said to be one of the best preserved from the 18th century. Pop inside to hear it being played as part of a special concert or simply soak up the peace and quiet away from Sarlat’s busy squares. Nearby you can spot the a rocket-like structure called ‘lanterne des morts’, a 12th-century stone monument that is said to honour Saint Bernard, who is believed to have cured the sick by blessing their bread.

House-hunters to Sarlat should stroll along Rue des Consuls, which has a number of impressive mansion houses that are testament to Sarlat’s growth during the Middle Ages. From being a small community controlled by the church, it had, by the mid-1500s, evolved into a prosperous market town popular with wealthy merchants. Further on you’ll see elegant buildings including the 16th-century Hôtel de Mirandol with its imposing doorway; the 14th-century Hôtel Plamon with its mullion windows; and the 15th-century Hôtel de Vassal with its double turret.

You can’t go to Sarlat-la-Canéda and miss the buzzing Saturday food market in the city centre. You might have to jostle for space among the crowds of eagle-eyed locals but it’s well worth it. Trestle tables are laden with farmers’ produce: fleshy red tomatoes, brightly coloured carrots, farm-fresh plums and twisted cucumbers sit alongside seemingly bottomless boxes of garlic, truffles, and trays of foie gras.

 Another market well worth a visit is the indoor market at Église Sainte-Marie. Enter through the gigantic steel doors, and you’ll see stalls piled high with everything from spicy saucisson to local St-Nectaire cheese. Don’t forget to look out for the church’s main attraction; a glass lift that rises up through bell tower to reveal breathtaking views over the rooftops of Sarlat and beyond.

Place des Oies is where you can see the life-size bronze statue of three geese that seems to appear on every postcard of Sarlat; birds that have served as a delicacy for many Salardais over the centuries. Meanwhile, on Place de la Liberté, many visitors might experience a feeling of déjà vu, as this iconic square has often served as a backdrop for films.

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Macarons | The history and endurability of Macarons

Written by Janine Marsh in French Cuisine for The Good Life France

macarons

Macarons or macaroons are those timeless little desert biscuits… fads may come and fads may go says Janine Marsh who knows a good macaron when she eats one – but macarons, those little aristocrats of the patisserie world, will always be in fashion.

Popular myth has it that macarons, the pretty little crunchy, soft biscuit cakes, came to France in 1533 when Catherine de Medici arrived from Italy to marry Henry II of France.

macaronsMacarons are certainly of Italian origin, possibly dating back as far as the 8th Century after almonds started to be imported to Venice.

They seem though to have become archetypically French over the centuries ensuing.

One of the legendary stories of macarons dates back to the 18th century in the city of Nancy in eastern France. At the Convent of the Dames du Saint Sacrement, the nuns baked macarons because meat was forbidden and the sweet little cakes were nutritious – and of course delicious.

In 1792, two of the nuns, Sisters Marguerite and Marie-Elisabeth, began selling macarons commercially to the general public after losing their home in the days of French Revolutionary chaos and anti-religious fervour.

Their little crispy rustic looking macaron biscuits became instantly popular and the secret recipe has been passed on from one generation to another. Today Maison des Soeurs Macaron in Nancy continues to produce the macarons to the same centuries old recipe, a single biscuit with a rough, cracked top and a scrumptiously soft and chewy inside.

Elsewhere in France there are other legends, more stories of the making and popularity of macarons including that of one of the most famous macaron outlets in Paris – Ladurée.

macarons

In 1862, Louis Ernest Ladurée created a bakery at 16 rue Royale in the heart of Paris. When it burned down, Ladurée rebuilt it and employed Jules Cheret, notable painter of the century, to redecorate the new bakery. Inspired by the techniques used to paint the ceilings of the Opera Garnier, he adorned the ceilings and walls. Over the years the bakery became well known for its beautiful interior and superior pastries, becoming one of the largest tea rooms in Paris. In the early 20th Century the grand-son of Louis Ernest Ladurée, came up with an idea to assemble the little macaron biscuits sandwiched by cream and it became a best-selling idea which made the macarons of Laduree their flagship product and famous all over the world.

macarons

Today in Paris there is one man who epitomises the making of a perfect macaron – Pierre Hermé  of Paris is generally acknowledged to be the master . Described as a couturier of pastry, “the Picasso of Pastry” (Vogue) – his macarons are in a league of its own. For the last 15 years he has dominated the macaron market for enthusiastic  gourmets.

So beloved are macarons in France that there is even a museum dedicated to them! The Musée de l’Amande et du Macaron in Montmorillon, Vienne, Poituo-Charente where you can learn about the history of this fascinating and enduring little cake and even have a tasting in the museum’s Winter Garden.

Eclairs may come and go, Cronuts (half croissant and half doughnut) may be the darling du jour, but the macaron will keep on going, changing flavours, sweet… savoury, vive la macaron!

More about cakes of France:
Opera Cake – inspired by the Paris Opera
Eclairs – the lip-smacking sweet finger cake!
Stohrer – the oldest cake shop in Paris

Source/Credit:  thegoodlifefrance.com

 

Easy Recipe: Provençal Vegetable Casserole

This easy recipe can be served simply with a crusty baguette.  It can also be enjoyed by vegetarians and vegans!

You will need 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 large onions sliced thinly, 3 red bell peppers seeded and thinly sliced, 2 medium eggplants peeled and diagonally sliced, 3 medium zucchinis peeled and thinly sliced diagonally, 3 thinly sliced medium tomatoes, 6 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons chopped basil and Eggplant. Photo courtesy of www.vegan-magazine.com1/2 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on moderate heat and cook onions until soft. Add the peppers, and reduce the heat to low, cooking until vegetables are soft ~  about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400°F.

Layer a 9×13-inch ovenproof baking dish with 3/4 of the onion mixture.  Follow with a layer of the eggplant slices, then layer on half the zucchini and the remaining onion mixture.  The next layer is the remaining eggplant, then the remaining zucchini and finally the tomato slices.  In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for an hour and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Pour off any excess olive oil.  Cut into serving pieces and serve hot.  Serves six.

Bon appétit!

[Photo credit:  http://www.vegan-magazine.com]

SOURCE:  Au Chateau News

From Socca to Foie Gras

My article written for FRANCE ON YOUR OWN newsletter:  

When thinking of the French Riviera, Nice in particular, the senses become engaged: the sight of the azure Mediterranean Sea, the sound of the waves softly lapping the shoreline, the feel of the pebbles underfoot as you walk on the beach, the smell of the salty sea mist in the air, and mostly, the taste of local specialties, such as salade niçoise and socca (a pancake made from chickpea flour and served warm with black pepper). With a Mediterranean climate and average of 300 days of sunshine, the area is indeed attractive and booming.

When thinking of the Dordogne region, Sarlat in particular, the senses become equally engaged: the sight of medieval architecture and castles, the sound of market vendors selling their wares, the feel of cobblestones underfoot as you walk through the historical center, the smell of countryside air, and mostly, the taste of local specialties such as foie gras (duck liver that originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC and now is emblematic of French gastronomy) and black truffles (an edible fungus that averages 500-1000€ per kg). With the variety of four distinct climatic seasons, the area is a kaleidoscope of landscape colors.

Both places are famous for their cultural activities that attract tourists from far and wide, especially the outdoor markets promoting local produce and regional specialties: Cours Saleya in Old Nice and Place de la Mairie in the historical center of Sarlat.  Tourism is vital to both: Nice has a population of approximately 340,000 and attracts an average of 5,000,000 visitors a year, while Sarlat’s population is around 10,000 with an average of 1,500,000 visitors per year.  Due to its smaller size, the town of Sarlat has a more drastic decline in visitors than the city of Nice during the winter months, not to mention overall colder temperatures, yet both host cultural events to attract tourists during the low season.

Nice WikipediaTrivia & Tidbits:

Nice

  • the meaning of Nice (Nikaia in Greek) is the Goddess of victory; it became part of France in 1860
  • the original name of the Promenade des Anglais was “La Strada del Littorale” and it was originally made of marble
  • Albert 1st park is named after a Belgian king and is the oldest garden in Nice
  • the Carnaval has been a tradition for 700 years
  • the name “Côte d’Azur” was coined by the writer and poet, Stephen Liegeard, in 1888
  • the destruction of the castle on Castle Hill was ordered in 1706 by Louis XIV, but this resulted in the city’s growth
  • Nice’s traditional flower is the carnation; Nice’s specialty olive is the “caillette”, and tapenade is called the “caviar of Nice”
  • candied fruit was a favorite delicacy of Queen Victoria
  • Cours Saleya market was named after the sun “soleil” and has been Nice’s main market since the Middle Ages
  • Architecturally: Italian colors are ochre and yellow; French colors are beige and white – as seen in Place Massena

Sarlat Market. Copyright Kim Defforge. All rights reserved.Sarlat

  • Sarlat-la-Canéda (or simply Sarlat) is located in the Dordogne département of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in southwestern France
  • Inhabited since Gallo-Roman times, Sarlat became prosperous at the end of the 8th century
  • The town suffered from the Norman invasions and then from the Hundred Years War, owing to its position as a frontier region between the kings of France and England
  • Sarlat, one of the most popular of the Dordogne villages, developed around a large Benedictine abbey of Carolingian origin
  • Most of the town has been preserved and is representative of 14th century France with authentic restoration work
  • Sarlat’s weekly market has been in existence since the Middle Ages
  • Known for its regional specialties of foie gras, duck confit, walnuts, & truffles
  • Sarlat’s emblem is the salamander, due to its S shape and also because it once was featured on the coat of arms of the French monarchy
  • Host to an annual film festival since 1991

For traveling, you can’t beat the accessibility of the Nice airport and the city’s extensive bus system (except when there is a strike, bien sûr!).  By contrast, the Dordogne’s rural setting and its smaller airports significantly increases overall travel time, resulting in difficulty in getting to and from international destinations, except perhaps to the U.K.

As for ambiance, while living in Nice, I woke up to the cacophony of cars, buses, and pedestrians, inherent with city living and its hustle and bustle of activity.  Compare that setting to Sarlat, where morning birdsong and the sound of an occasional car passing by is the norm – a matter of urban vs. rural setting, each with its pros/cons & sounds:  Chacun à son gout (to each his own)!

After living nine years on the French Riviera, Kim now resides in the Dordogne.
Owner of Manoir Fontaine de l’Amour with its fully-equipped, holiday rental apartment,
she is ready to welcome you to the medieval town of Sarlat.
Visit her 24/7 in France blog  at https://twentyfourseveninfrance.com/

What is a chocolatine?

It is a debate that has raged across France for decades, if not centuries… what do you call the chocolate-filled
pastries so common in the country’s bakeries? Most expats will probably answer pain au chocolat, the term we tend to hear when first learning the language.  Much of the country would disagree, however, and vocally insist that the pastry is in fact a chocolatine.  A website has even been created to try to settle the argument once and for all and the results are in: of the 110,000 people surveyed 59.8% say pain au chocolat and 40.2% say chocolatine, but which you choose will most likely be decided by where you live. Those in the south-west of France almost all use chocolatine, with the remainder of the country opting for pain au chocolat
(see map).
The chocolatine camp feel they should no longer be overlooked and one group of pupils from the southwestern town of Montauban recently penned a letter to France’s president in a bid to get the word chocolatine added to the French dictionary. “It’s a word of our region, where a lot of people live, and there’s no reason why the rest of the country shouldn’t know it. We’re proud to be from the south,” one pupil told La Dépêche du Midi newspaper.  With linguistic battle lines drawn up, Bugle readers find themselves on the front line. In the Dordogne it is most definitely a chocolatine, a fact that pastry lovers in neighbouring Charente and Corrèze would agree with. Travel a short distance to the north, however, and your request may be met with blank stares in other departments of Nouvelle Aquitaine (see
table below). ■

Pain au chocolat (%) Chocolatine (%)

Dordogne              5              95
Corrèze                  6              94
Charente             10              90
Haute-Vienne    57              43
Creuse                 82              18

 

map

Source/Credit: The Bugle