We have been in Limousin, just outside a beautiful little town called Martel, since Tuesday and have once again fallen on our feet with fantastic accommodation. We are staying in this beautifully renovated house, owned by the equally beautiful Deirdre who is Irish but has lived in France for 30 years. I think the bed is the most comfortable I've slept in for the whole trip - something to do with the White Company sheets, I'm sure - and the loo paper the most luxurious I have used ever!
|Enjoying the view|
Despite the forecast, the weather has been reasonably kind to us and the region is spectacularly beautiful - although totally different to the Alps. Spring flowers are crowding the hedgerows and the landscape is an appealing mix of rolling fields, escarpments and gorgeous medieval villages, sliced through by the majestic Dordoigne river.
|Flower verges (Rob arty shot)|
Martel is near the Dordoigne and we have spent a bit of time down by the river. Rob did a three hour canoe trip on our first day, which he said was world class.
|Messing about by the river|
|Messing about on the river|
We've been using alternate days to do something the children will enjoy and then something more for us. We spent one afternoon at Quercyland - a children's play park with about 20 different bouncy castles, which the children loved.
|I love bouncy castles|
The next day was village visiting - the true-to-its-name Beaulieu-sur-Dordoigne and the also-true-to-its-name Collonges de Rouges.
|Collonge de Rouges - made of red sandstone|
|The very beautiful Beaulieu-sur-Dordoigne|
Yesterday we explored the Gouffre de Padirac, an amazing complex of underground caves, rivers and lakes with stunning calcium formations. Floss found it a bit boring until she realised it looked like fairyland and could imagine where the fairies lived and what their boats and animals looked like (variations on the palette of pink, rainbow and sparkling).
The lovely Deirdre offered to babysit for us, not only on Friday night but Saturday and Sunday mornings too. We went for a great meal at a restaurant that specialises in regional cooking. The Limousin cuisine hinges on variations of duck and goose cooked in their own fat or fattened up to the extent their livers are of no use to them, but utterly delicious for us to eat.
|A lot of foie gras|
|Rob's marginally more healthy cassoulet|
I've been enjoying cooking with the local ingredients - we had duck confit from a tin last night and an amazing bottle of Bordeaux.
We spent a lovely sunny morning relaxing in Martel sans enfants yesterday. So nice to have a peaceful coffee and a mooch around some antique shops without have to change a nappy, find a toilet or deal with a tantrum.
|Child free!!!! (for two hours)|
Unfortunately, our planned Sunday morning to ourselves has been marred by....
I'm not a great believer in teething, but Freddie has been running a bit of temperature, is super grizzly and keeps putting his fingers in his mouth, so may be these two big gnashers are causing him some grief. Anyway, he was up every other hour in the night, so we decided he was too tired to be left.
So we are having a quiet day today, especially as the rain has set in. There are a few options for our final day in Limousin tomorrow - chateau, monkey park, train ride - so we will see what happens with the weather. It feels like this week has flown by - perhaps because we have now passed the halfway point of our holiday. We'll be meeting mum and Jo in Brittany on Tuesday...