Sarlat on the Way South

27 Sep

Somewhere in the middle of France.

Our rental week is wrapping up, so it’s time to make our way south. By this point, we’re both pretty familiar with the song choices on Virgin Radio France (I think ZAZ’s “Je Veux” has become the official trip themesong), but in order to avoid the (rather expensive) toll roads, we’ve opted for the more time-consuming “orange road” route (see explanation – Bayeux entry below). I’m a big fan of the smaller roads – as we find ourselves lost in fields of corn and sunflowers, but I realize it’s not the most efficient use of time and gas (and perhaps patience, given the numerous roundabouts).

Sarlat-la-Caneda, France.

Since we’ve only just mapped out the route, I’m now researching a scenic half-way point in which to spend the night. We’ve decided upon the medieval village Sarlat. According to the guide book, Sarlat only relatively recently underwent it’s restoration renaissance. Graced by a well-preserved historic center of town, it has (re-)become, quite literally, an amusement-park worthy medieval village, complete with perfect yellowish-stone alleyways, street-performers in the town square, artisanal ice cream, and hoards of fanny-pack bedecked (if mostly European) tourists.

Sarlat-la-Caneda, France.

We lucked out in finding a super-charming, budget-friendly hotel near the center of town, and spent the night taking in the ambiance and a full French meal (read: cheese course). Though the experience felt wholeheartedly-tourist-decadent, it would put its cartoon-mouse theme park rival to shame. (Though it may be slightly more gritty & authentic. No automatic below ground trash collection here.) (And you might want to keep an eye on your bags too.)

Not far from Sarlat-la-Caneda, France.

Our scenery changes as we come closer to our Pyranees destination. The small, winding roads out of town are speckled with mountain-perched fortresses, and the villages are lined with fresh fruit and vegetable stands. We decide to stop several kilometers outside of our drop-off point, and find a free surprise organ concert (dad would be so happy. . .) in even the smallest of villages. (Believe me, the tourist office attendant – yes, even this village had a tourist office – was thrilled to have someone stop in.) Oh, and we had Chinese food. Actually, to be accurate, we had Vietnamese food, but I still marvel at how even the smallest of villages has that too. Find me a village that doesn’t have an Asian restaurant, now that’s a small town.

Mirande, France. Population: 3,740. They have a tourist office. And Vietnamese food.

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