Armchair Travel

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 21.26.19One of the great things about having a very sporty daughter is I get to travel, a lot! I do not have the time to be a conventional visitor, but I do get to see a great deal of France. All I need to do is to remember to take my camera and I can capture a little of the essence of the area we are visiting.

I want to take you to two very different parts of France today. So let’s start by heading inland to the Corrèze, the most southerly department of the Limousin Region.

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There is a joke that the cattle outnumber the people here. I am not sure if it is true but the population density is certainly one of the lowest in France. In fact the entire Limousin is rather like this, sparsely populated, ignored by many, yet to those who visit or live here it holds a very special place in their hearts, and I have to admit it has truly captivated me. Rarely do I utter the words, “I could happily live here”, but there is something about the department that has taken hold and won’t let go. Before I go any further, let me just state “We are NOT moving”, so don’t even think that for a moment, but if I had to move anywhere, this would be right at the top of my list.

This is a region of gently rolling hills and farmland. Limousin cattle graze contentedly. There are endless apple orchards and even vineyards. This is pastoral perfection.

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Nothing is hurried; France is often revered for its lifestyle and slower pace of life, but the Corrèze seems to take this one step further, it almost seems to go back in time, here you really feel you can get away from it all. However, that does not mean that standards are any lower, it can be a gastronomic delight with menus proudly advertising that their produce is only from the immediate area.

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There was just one tiny annoying problem, I forgot my camera. So I hastily took a few shots with my iPhone, but despite lovely weather I didn’t have a lot of free time to play the tourist! However, all is not lost, we are returning at the end of the month and I will be sure to take lots of photos, I will make time! I took this snap when we visited last June, it will at least give you an idea as there is nothing worse than reading about somewhere and having no real feeling for what it is like.

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On our return home we took a slight detour to stop and buy a bottle of water. We were somewhere in the department of the Charente, somewhere in a very pretty village.

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That’s the best thing about driving, one can really do entirely as one pleases.

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By complete contrast the same week we headed south to Bordeaux. Not to the city but out into the countryside again, into really ‘grown-up’ wine country.

IMG_9480P7850128We were right in the middle of some of the most famous vineyards in the world. Acres and acres of vines as far as the eye could see. Where wine is produced for real connoisseurs, a class way above my simple taste for a nice bottle of organic red!

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Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, a 78 hectare vineyard which was reportedly sold in the 1990’s for a slightly eye-watering 250 million euros! We managed to snatch a couple of hours to take a little walk around.

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Just imagine what this will look like in a couple of months when the wisteria is dripping with flowers.IMG_9472IMG_9474

We walked through the main building into the gardens beyond.

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The 16th Century tower has an underground cellar housing 1000 barrels.

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The vintage van is not just for show, it is licensed and insured and still used today.

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At each turn there are enormous sculptures and statues, this resembles a crumpled piece of paper, complete with writing.

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Another world famous establishment is Chateau Carbonnieux. By the time we passed by it was evening, the gates were locked and so we could only stop and stare from the drive.

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P7850130P7850133These are two very different areas of France. It is a country that really does cater to all tastes. Better still, there is always something unexpected to see, that catches you unawares. A chateau that just appears in the middle of nowhere

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or a glimpse of a neglected building on a little used country road.

P7900122 copy It is a country that continually captivates me.

 

 

 

 

46 thoughts on “Armchair Travel

  • When God created the earth and everything on it, he went on to ‘do’ France. He gave the country EVERYTHING He had, all the goodies, the beauty, the varieties of everything, gifts in and on the grounds, He gave mountains, lakes, forests and plains – it was overwhelmingly glorious. Then the humans of other countries came to Him and complained: Why God do You give this country FRANCE EVERYTHING good you have? This is not on!!!!
    And God said: You’re right – I shall now give them the French…. 😉

    An old story, which always made me laugh – and it’s so true, it’s such a stunning country with such treasures – ….. I’ll leave it there!

    • Oh that is funny, but also a little sad don’t you think? I think every nationality has their traits that people stereotype and then find tiresome, I am quite sure as a British person people can find plenty wrong with us!!! xx

      • Susan, I would leave it at ‘funny’ because in all the years since I heard that definition, I haven’t found one single person to say But it isn’t so…. The French themselves agree most readily. I think it’s – as always – all in the eye of the beholder and/or the mind of the person looking at things. What IS important in that statement though is the fact and truth that France has indeed been particularly blessed with beauty, treasures in and on the land, with everything nature could possibly provide for, and that it might, in an onlooker’s regard, be a bit unfair…. 🙂

        • I’m going to just laugh and take this exactly as it is intended! I think sometimes one tends to look too deeply into things and analyse too much, I know I am guilty of this!! xx

  • Susan, thank you for these interesting photos! I LOVED them! I am looking forward to exploring some of these vineyards myself even now more than before. I love the little “van” and thank you for the tour! Spring is reluctant in Texas—from the mid-teens up to a promised “in the 70s” later this week. All of my beautiful plants are languishing, but alas, that is Texas weather! Spring continues to show its’ face here & there so it can’t be too far away. Have a beautiful day!

    • Spring is doing much the same here, playing a little game of hide and seek most of the time. You will absolutely have to go down to Bordeaux and the vineyards for a day, highly recommended! xx

  • You are certainly lucky to be able to explore all these beautiful regions while spending time with your daughter. Treasure the time and experiences.

    • I do, I don’t really get enough time to explore, but even just driving to a place is exciting, often we are on tiny roads and certainly not always the autoroute so it is fascinating. xx

  • I have been to many parts of France and each area I go to is breathtakingly beautiful! I am in awe of this country and I hope that people take care of it. I so thank you, Susan for sharing your drives with us. I look forward to each and every one, including the backyard with your adorable woofers❣️😊

    • Thanks so much Liane, I think this is why I never complain about a four hour drive here or there, it is always fascinating to be able to go somewhere new and there is so much to see, I love it! xx

  • Susan, it would be fun if you mentioned the different cheeses of the area that you visit. I guess that sounds like another to do, on your staggering list of responsibilities.
    It’s fun to explore the off the beaten track places….before they are discovered by the masses. Those cows look like cheese factories….
    Ali xx

    • What a great idea Ali, I shall do some research. In fact we are back in the Corrèze in two weeks time, so I am certainly going to start doing this, brilliant idea, thank you. Plus, Roddy being such a huge cheese fan will get a little gift every time we come home!!! He will love you even more xx

  • Great pictures. I was thinking how wonderful it must be to live right by the river as in pic #5. Presumably it never bursts its banks. I guess they never have to worry about the great Spring melt the way we do. Just lovely.

    • No not a problem with the spring melt, although there are floods and very serious ones, but I am not sure this place in particular is at risk. But I too would absolutely love to live by a river xx

  • Love the old buildings & the wine areas. Thank you so much for the pictures – enjoy them! Also wish I were there!

  • THANK YOU, THANK YOU for these armchair pictures!!! I’ll never go to France but sure do LOVE French decor and architect!

  • I’m a bit late to the party, but greatly enjoyed all the scenes. The chateaux that go with the vineyards are a bit above my touch, but I’d love to tour and taste there. When we’re driving around and my s-i-l sees cows like these, she always says “Happy cows.” 🙂 She sent me a link today of an article in French (I’m working on learning more French, but I can do much better when reading than listening!!) that you might enjoy. I’m glad to see I’m in the majority!

    https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/insolite/pain-au-chocolat-ou-chocolatine-le-sud-ouest-contre-le-reste-de-la-france-1551965834?fbclid=IwAR2b8-ce4gYNYZ5S2BhuT5Ycc4VlWbm7a4ZijODD–qrdSrHxkNJMb3v6nI

    janet

  • Somewhat a choice twixt cows and wine today, methinks 🙂 ! Love both but shall make a longer stop at the second . . . and you have done remarkably well with a phone camera . . . what relaxing armchair travel . . .

  • Coming back to this post – to me this is the best and perfect way of travelling (anywhere). Take the country lanes, let oneself getting lead to surprises, I once drove a rental car down a narrow lane to the sea (Britany) and although I got scared by the even more narrowing lane I couldn’t turn around, so I continued and thanks God at the end of it, I just about could turn the vehicle around on the sands of the ‘marré basse’ and climb back up again. I still shudder thinking of what would have happened if it were high tide.
    That was before GPS and my map reading hasn’t improved non plus since! 😉

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