Bordeaux is a large, sprawling city. This is due to the soft ground underneath. Bordeaux is situated near the Atlantic, and beside a bend in a large river (the Garonne). Soft, wet soil coupled with an old city and a huge population means the city goes outwards, and not upward. Like many older towns, it is interesting to be in a place where I don't have to crane my neck to see the roof.
Leaving Bergerac, we entered the Vézère Valley. I cannot (at the moment) express the importance of the area. The Vézère Valley is the site of European Prehistoric Cave Art. The famous Lascaux cave is here, as are many other caves with ancient (up to 32 000 years old) art. Lascaux itself is closed to the public, as the opening of the cave to the public has caused massive amounts of damage. Instead, visitors can go to Lascaux II - a detailed copy. There is one other polychromatic cave open to the public, and one generally has to make reservations. It is situated just outside Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil. And we happened upon it by accident! The cave, Font de Gaume, is astonishing. Our tour was in French (with the occasional "you understand me?" in English), and was fantastic. I got 90% of the info (and passed it on to Matty when required). The cave has been used for the past 20 000 years: for survival, for art, for culture. There are images of bison, horses, reindeer and mammoths. The images are painted to seem 3-dimensional: rock formations and etchings are used as representations for physical aspects. The images are black (charcoal) and red (iron oxide) and best seen with flickering, low light (like a candle). There are expressions, meaning and life imbued in the animals. We have no pictures of the inside as (rightly) photography is prohibited. Instead, we bought a book. And a postcard. And the place has stuck in both our minds.
|Inside the Sarlat Church.|
|Half a half-timber|