Archive for August 2011

Day trips by car from Maison Porte del Marty – Circuit 1

I called into the Lalinde Tourist Office yesterday and they have a new map listing 4 different day trips driving through the beautiful bastide towns of the Dordogne. I've enclosed the main Office de Tourisme link ( there are 2 ) which has a French and English tab that may be helpful for researching the area….but in the short time, I've listed these 4 day trips and using the Office de Tourisme link you can also visit the web page on each of these interesting towns.

Circuit 1 of abut 100 km starts from Maison Porte del Marty at Lalinde and heads off through


Beaumont towards the English Bastide town of Monpazier, one of the plus beau villages de France on their national register, this very well preserved bastide walled town is a delight to visit, from Monpazier drive on to Biron with it's fabulous

Chateau Biron

Chateau and médiéval village, from here we continue south through Vergt -de -Biron to St Avit, after a stroll here, next stop is Bonaguil with it's fortified Chateau of the 15th century, we then move onto Villefranche du Périgord, another Bastide town….but French, not English ! Following on, our next destination is Besse, a médievel village with a Roman and Gothic Abby completed in the 14th century, some of these magnificent buildings took many centuries to build, but most have also been modified over time through wars and expansion !. We then head to


Belves, another plus beau village perched high above the valley floor with a great surrounding view. Our last stop of the day is Montferrand du Périgord with it's Roman chapelle ” St Christophe ” then back to Lalinde. At all of these places you can stop and enjoy lunch, a coffee or just sit and relax and watch life go by. I'll list the local markets in a later Blog to help tie in some visits with the bustle of a Market Day. You may think ' not another blimmin village '….. it always surprises us how different the local villages are, and how each has it's own unique charm and architecture.


Autumn arrived yesterday at Maison Porte del Marty

Autumn has arrived at Maison Porte del Marty, the school holidays are over and the many people with summer houses in the area have headed back to Paris, Holland, Belgium, UK…….You realise we are in a semi rural area when you see tractors heading over the bridge with trailers piled high with straw or hay bales and we are also starting to see the fire wood contractors driving by with someone's winter order also piled high. I'm not sure why, but most people seem to buy their firewood (usually oak and aged 3 years ) in 2M lengths then ' the buyers ' cut these logs into smaller 50cm logs to fit their wood burner, that's a serious sweat-up, oak is hardwork !…. Yesterday we had a cool foggy morning that warmed up to a beautiful clear 30C, our grapes and figs are ripe and the big freelons ( hornets ) know the sugar levels are right as they are munching their way through too much of our crop. Cheri has been growing baby tomatoes outside the front door, plus we have quite a few wild plants on the river side from last years crop and trimmings. We can't eat them all at once, so some preserving skills are coming back into play. Along with some basil from our garden and the fresh violet garlic we have some nice preserved tomatoes ready for a later pasta dish….hhmmmm

Food specialties of the Dordogne Vallée – Perigord

Living here in Lalinde, at Maison Porte del Marty, we get to enjoy some of France’s more famous dishes. The Dordogne, or more correctly the Perigord is the home of some of the most prestigious foods of France including truffles (truffes), cépes, foie gras, confit ( twice cooked duck legs ),



magret de canard ( duck breast ), gézier ( gizzards – really delicious, like a mild ham), walnut oil, purée de marron (chestnut purée) cabécou(small delicious fresh goats cheese), honey, Monbazillac & Saussignac white dessert wine ( usually served chilled with foie gras ), Bergerac and Pécharmant Rouge ( a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet france ) Bergerac Sec ( sauvignon blanc / semillon blend ) and a wide variety of rosé.



Traditionally, goose was used for most foie gras, confit and magret, but today, the majority of these products are from ducks. It may have something to do with the international publicity about the forced feeding of geese. We understand that ducks are just plain greedy and will keep eating as much food you place in front of them giving them ( rather quickly ) very fat (gras) livers (foie) and delicious cuts of breast and legs to enjoy prepared and cooked in the local tradition with the remaining body often used for stock to make a regional specialty, cream of garlic soup.


Foie gras avec cépes

Whether bought at the market and cooked at home or eaten in a regional restaurant or ferme auberge, the tastes of the Perigord will make a very favourable impression !

Cycling along the canal tow pathes around Lalinde…..and further…

Lalinde has a very pretty canal and harbour running through the centre of town. The canal starts at Mauzac about 8 k's to the east and finishes at Tuilières about 9 k's towards Bergerac. The canal tow path is sealed for the majority of the way with cars generally banned apart from people accessing their properties. We keep some bikes on hand here at Maison Porte del Marty for any guests who feel like a leisurely pedal.

Mauzac Barrage

Mauzac is a village with 2 or 3 cafés and restaurants so it's a nice ride under plane trees with the opportunity to enjoy a coffee or lunch at Mauzac. Mauzac itself is directly in front of a barrage to help control the Dordogne River and supply water flow to the power station at Calés and Tuilières. Behind the barrage, the village of Tremolat borders a very large lake created by the barrage. During the summer you can take a canoeing trip from Tremolat which will take you by van to a point 1, 2 or 3 hours up river from Tremolat, then get you all set up for a leisurely paddle down the Dordgne of Vezere river finishing back in Tremolat. By canoe you will see all sort of beautiful properties bordering the river edge, but not visible by road plus enjoy some spectacular scenery created by mother nature.

Alongside of the Tuilières power station is the Tuilières canal locks, one of the prettiest scenes in the area with a series of locks cascading from the canal back down to the Dordogne river. No longer in operation, but very accessible, this is a ” must see ” in the area and is a sedate pedal from Lalinde. You can also visit the

Tuilières Hydro Electric Dam

river stairs built beside the dam to enable salmon, trout, eels, sturgeon and the likes to travel upstream for breeding. Just a few minutes from Tuilières is St Caprise de Lalinde, a small village with a 2 restaurants and a bar, so if you are feeling parched, you can get a drink, but they are all directly on the main road. If you can make it back to Lalinde we have 4 cafés on or next to the main square where you can watch life go by with a Perrier, impression ( draft beer ) a glass of chilled rose or vin blanc or try Pastis, perhaps the French National drink, so refreshing with some ice and plenty of iced water. The Dordogne and in particular the Perigord often host cycling events during the summer with people coming from far and wide to enjoy the hospitality, scenery and food of the region. For the more competitive cycling, the area has 1000's of country lanes, many overhung by oak and chestnut trees with dappled light fighting it's way through the canopy.

Visit the fish steps

Tuilières locks

During the summer months 1000's of cyclists pass over the bridge, some obviously part of a touring group, many a racing team along with a regular view of solo and couple holiday makers proudly displaying their fluttering flags from France, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium….. I'll use this following term broadly…. ' most ' …French drivers are courteous to cyclists, with it being a national sport and extensivley promoted there is a general awareness of being considerate to cyclists. It can be frustrating being behind a large group of cyclists, and not all show the same courtesy as the drivers but if you keep to the right and clearly show your intentions, you will have an enjoyable time in the region.

Les Truffieres Ferme Auberge

Brian, Cheri and Doug @ La Trufferies

Les Truffieres near the beautiful village of Tremolat is a very nice and creative Ferme Auberge at the end of a winding narrow country lane that is definitely not designed for 2 lane traffic. Starting with soup ( chilled Gazpacho today ) then a big slice of home made Foie Gras mi-cuit with Monbazillac moelleux wine followed by a farm grown salad, then BBQ grilled slices of marinated duck breast with pan fried potatoes and fennel, then cheese, then dessert  ( today sticky chocolate pudding ) and served with a carafe of wine and all for  a very reasonable set price of 29€ head… Great value !  It sounds like enough food for an army, but the portions are nicely sized and the delivery well paced, we have always enjoyed a very good meal served with charm.

Home grown salad hhmmmmm

Usually you would sit in the ' dining ' room ' which is more like sitting in someones drawing room with the great atmosphere and decorations in the room. Yesterday we went with Doug and Lindy Hawkins, our dear friends from Auckland and had a first time experience of eating outside. It's been incredibly humid over the past few days so sitting outside in a cool breeze and a full moon was just the ticket.  Doug and Lindy leave today to return to NZ  (with it's current sleet and snow) after having enjoyed 4.5 months of Italy, staying in B+B's and holiday homes to enjoy the ” dolce vita ” and brush up on their Italian.

Lalinde, Eymet and Beaumont vide grenier and brocante

St Pierres Day and a public holiday with a wide range of markets to visit today.

Freshly shucked Brittany oysters with a glass of chilled Bergerac sec, delicious !

First on the list is Eymet with a Foire à tout / everything for sale in a big paddock on the outside of Eymet, followed by a white wine and oysters public lunch in the village square. In addition to wine and oysters there were seafood platters, moules/mussels, prawns,  sausages, duck breast, pork kebabs,

Fried goats cheese wrapped in air dried ham

small round goat cheese wrapped in ham and fried on the grill, melon with red berries and all available with nice hot frites. We weren't looking for anything particular at the Foire à tout, , but bought a nice oil painting,  Nicolas Lancret ' Après la Chasse '  for hanging in our hallway.

Beaumont in Fête

After Eymet and a good lunch we headed off to Beaumont to wander around their Brocante market and enjoy the flowers strung across the streets for their summer Fête, we weren't tempted by anything and came back to Lalinde to check out our own

Our new

Vide Grenier and found 2 nice bedroom side tables for future use in Chambre 4.

St Avit Senieur – Vide Grenier and Farm Machinery display

Horse power rules !

St Avit Senieur is a small village about 15 minutes from Lalinde, overlooked by a huge and ancient church this pretty village hosts some of the best Vide Grenier ( empty attic / garage sales ) market days in the area.

Not your typical Mercedes Convertible

Today was a little different as they also had on display a very interesting selection of old farm machinery, threshers, hay balers, wheat grinders, mobile bread ovens, tractors, bullock and horse carts …. For many decades the Dordogne grew most of the tobacco for the famous Gitane and Gauloise cigarettes with the cigarette factory on the East side of Bergerac. The French Government sold the nationally owned brands in 2000 to a Spanish company and over a very short period, the production of the cigarettes and sourcing of the dried tobacco leaf moved out of France, plus, the popularity of these 2 brands fell away to more international brands like Marlboro, roll your own Drum etc….

How much further ? I'm famished

Our area is dotted with 100's of old tobacco drying barns, obvious by their high stud and louvered sides to enable the gentle summer breeze to flow through and air dry the tobacco leaves. The farmers were paid for their crop by a combination of dry weight and the humidity/moisture content of the leaves. Today the tobacco leaf crop has been replaced by maize and sunflower production.

Vide Greniers are an important part of our local social life, a great way to try and SELL those unused bits and pieces lying around, and a great way to BUY interesting things for your house and also a nice way to spend some free time on Sunday wandering around the stands and usually meeting some friends enjoying the same opportunity.

Blogs, bridges and summer

Welcome to our Blog ! Lalinde and our surrounding district is VERY BUSY in summer, every day there is a massive choice of events to enjoy such as evening street dinners, live music, art displays, medieval re-enactments, fabulous morning markets, choral singing in some of the beautiful and ancient churches of our area, classical music at a Chateau, Sundays are great for Vide grenier’s ( empty attic / garage sale events in village squares ). During the week you don’t need to look far for a Brocante or Antique Fair, there are literally  100’s of local vineyards offering free sampling, you could visit  a duck farm to buy foie gras, buy goat cheese from a farmer, visit one of the many Chateaux open to the public, many with beautiful gardens. This region of the Dordogne is the former home of Cro-Magnon man, their stunning cave drawings can be seen in many of the limestone caves dotted throughout the region….. Saturday is wedding day, church wedding have no legal standing in France. The wedding is always held at the Mayor’s office then a church service is a personal choice. Living opposite St Pierre, the church of Lalinde, we get to share and enjoy some fabulous weddings from the very countryfied to the most formal high brow events, all a joy to watch. St Pierre has a nice & rich bell tone which is very easy on the ear AND the last evening peal is at 22:00 and first morning peal at 07:00, all part of our service to ensure a restful night !


The olde and new


Friday, 17:00, August 5th, the official laying of the plaque for the opening of the Pont de Lalinde after a full rebuild and refurbishment. The bridge re-opened as planned on 18th June after a 10 week contract which widened the bridge by 6.5 metres, as you can see it was raining !

Our 1st rain in 3 months, bad timing !Old bones, new clothes

Our first rain in 3 months after a searingy hot spring, our local politicians and officials where all on site with their speeches to celebrate the opening of the bridge, but mother nature had other plans and the opening was  a very prompt and speech free event !

Wonders of modern engineering

Old bones, new clothes

The Pont de Lalinde  opened in 1881 in the days of horse and cart and was able to be widened to support 2 lane traffic without any structural strengthening, what a compliment to the engineering and design standards of the late 1800’s. Although our house over looks over the bridge, the ” white noise ” from the river flow and small rapids under the bridge cancels out most of the traffic noise. Unfortunately ” white noise ” will never mask the noise of young French teenagers on their 49cc scooters and motorbikes, one of the few scourges of French village life !


Lalinde Lions Club Annual Wine Festival – August 5th > 7th 2011 

Friday night, Saturday and Sunday,  the Lalinde  Lions Annual Wine Festival is in full swing. Over 70 wine makers and traders in partnership with Lions France host a weekend wine, food and entertainment festival in various parts of our region. This year’s goal  is to raise 15,000€ towards local Lion supported charities. The traditional music of our region has very strong Basque and Celtic roots. The Banda playing beside us is Basque style and perhaps the origin of the American Marching Bands, plenty of brass and drums with a very upbeat theme.  Any decent event in the Dorodgne/ Aquitaine starts and finishes with one of the many local  ” Banda ” bands celebrating the occasion. Our local ” Bordelais ” music has a Celtic theme with bag pipes, tin flute, fore arm drum, violin, viola, perhaps a small bass along with a variety of mandolin type string instruments.  Lalinde hosts this fun event every year on the first weekend of August. Lions is a great way for the local French, Dutch, Belgium and British community to work together and build friendships. Apart from the actual members, their partners and friends all pitch in to set up the marquess, tents, tables and chairs and man the kitchen which turns out 1000’s of meals over the weekend. The roast pork starts cooking at 07:00 in prepartion for serving at 19:00, slowly grilled with oak firewood and basted lovingly all day.  Other regulars on the menu include magret de canard ( duck breast ), confit de canard( twice cooked duck legs ) bavette ( beef brisket ), entrecote ( NY Cut / striploin ), saucisse…it’s a bit tough being a vegetarian at this sort of  event, canteloupe / rock melon is always available, often served with local dried ham and crepes and cheese always on tap to finish off the meal…..along with a fabulous selection of wine from local rose or red starting at  around 4€ to the finest Burgundy,  Gigondas or Champagne. These events are an important part of the local social calendar with young and old all turning out to celebrate the summer, enjoy the music and fellowship and catch up with old friends. For community leaders it’s a time to meet the locals in an informal setting, listen to a few gripes, firm up some electoral support and keep in the public eye. To the right our local Lalinde Mayor (Maire Péris) is working the crowd. Lalinde is the main village in the Canton of Lalinde which has 17 villages comprising the Canton. Maire Péris is an elected official, but also a  full time salaried Mayor with the other villages having local a local Mayor who generally also holds a full time job. For most government administrative paper work, the Lalinde Mairie ( Mayor’s office or Town Hall ) can process this paperwork including passports, births and deaths etc. The Commune and the Mairie is a very strong part of the local community.