Hello! Welcome to Pichets in Paris Publishing. Here you will find travel stories and photos, the occasional Book Review and fictional piece based in Paris or France. ALL IMAGES ARE BY L'AUSSIE IMAGES (owned by Denise Covey). Contact me for permission to copy my images.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bienvenue en France - the Dordogne - Sarlat, foie gras and the Lascaux Caves

The time for our next overseas trip is fast approaching. On June 18 we will be in Paris, but only for a few hours. Our itinerary takes us to Madrid, Spain, where we hire a car and drive to San Sebastian, Spain, then back into the Dordogne in France via Bordeaux. Very exciting.

We've never quite made it to the Dordogne, but it has fascinated us for years. We are staying in the very beautiful (I'm told, Sarlat) for a couple of days, where we will drive around admiring the fantastic countryside and architecture, sampling the regional food and wine...

Map showing the Dordogne

SARLAT (pronunced SARLAH)

A big attraction of Sarlat and nearby towns is the caves nearby with prehistoric paintings. The most famous is Lascaux, which is closed to the public. The French have constructed a replica named Lascaux II near the original. The only actual painted cave open to the public, or at least to 200 of them per day, is Grotte de Font-de-Gaume. Our guide, Philippe Mouret, was able to obtain tickets to both Lascaux II and to Font-de-Gaume.

Lascaux, won't it be wonderful to see these (reproduced) paintings
The paintings are truly remarkable. The folks who painted them used torches for illumination and wooden scaffolding to reach the ceiling of the cave, and combinations of minerals to create various colors. They painted animals utilizing the contours of the cave walls. The paintings are fairly large, with the largest animal being 15 feet long. They painted some animals at a 45-degree angle, not just in profile. And, they did this up to 18,000 years ago! Compare this with the builders of the Egyptian pyramids (6000 years ago), the New Testament writers (2000 years ago) and the writers of the US declaration of independence (225 years ago).

Foie gras anyone?

Sarlat is also famous (or infamous) for pate de foie gras. This translates to paste of fat liver. Farmers around Sarlat force-feed geese to enlarge their livers, which are then served as a delicacy. Another specialty of the area is truffles.

More information on the Dordogne,..

Monday, May 9, 2011

Death in the Dordogne, by Louis Sanders

Well, any book on France catches my eye, whether fiction or non-fiction, I grab them all with greedy passion. However, maybe I'll be sorry I found this one at my local library.

I'm preparing for a trip in a month where I am going to drive around the Dordogne region of France, probably the last region I haven't explored. Well, not just the Dordogne - I will then head to the South of France via Toulouse and Carcassone, before swinging up to Andorra and Northern Spain.

Anyhow...my point...I've just finished reading Death in the Dordogne. How did Sanders get the French Ministry of Culture (Centre National du Livre) to assist in its publication. It paints a pretty bleak picture of the Dordogne - the cold, the rain, the bleakness, the War, the Resistance (the French don't call it the Resistance), the murders, the odd people - locals and expats. Well, it wouldn't make me want to go there if I hadn't read all the other glowing tomes. As the blurb says, it's not "A Year in Provence.'

This is the Dordogne I hope to discover.
Here's a couple of short reviews:

The February weather may be dark and dismal, but the locals provide plenty of colour as "a newly installed Englishman" in rural southern France copes with odd neighbors (a secretive doctor, a reclusive Dutch woman, a goat-breeding English alcoholic) and odder fatal accidents in Louis Sanders's engaging debut, Death in the Dordogne, translated by Adriana Hunter. The genial narrator, lacking anything better to do, busies himself with investigating, and he turns up old grudges that lead to new crimes in the first of a series.

When you moved to France to a picturesque hamlet in the Dordogne no one said it would be like this in February: freezing cold, dark by mid-afternoon and so quiet. Members of the Caminade family keep dying in suspicious circumstances, and the doctor knows more about it than he's prepared to reveal…. Slyly funny and delightfully laconic, Death in the Dordogne is the perfect accompaniment for anyone thinking about a holiday in France! (Ya think?)

I've since discovered Louis Sanders is an editor at a publishing house and he now lives in rural France in the Dordogne with his English wife. I figure the reason he wrote such a bleak tale of the Dordogne is that it is already full of the English and he wants to stop the influx! Maybe I can track him down and ask him. He's supposed to be writing a series, the lucky dog!

Go to this link for more info...