Going beyond (way beyond) the GDA

Every now and then, it’s good to move out of our routine in the Greater Daglan Area and head to other adventures. Especially when those adventures include meeting up with family and friends in the city where Jan and I spent virtually all of our working lives — Toronto.

Like so many of you, our international travel plans hit a brick wall a couple of years ago, as the Covid pandemic closed borders. So a major trip planned for September 2020 had to be cancelled, and our only travel for the next couple of years was within France.

In any case, we’ve now completed the major journey from Gourdon to Paris (by train) and then on to Toronto (by Air Transat plane), and back again. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting a few highlights of our trip — although, for reasons of privacy, I won’t be showing off the wonderful times spent with family (including children and grandchildren) and some of our closest friends.

I’ll begin with just a single photo, taken one evening by our good friend Elisabeth, who has a holiday home near our house in Daglan, and who visited Toronto with her husband Gerhard while we were there. (It was their first trip to North America, and we think they truly enjoyed it.) This photo shows the Toronto skyline at night, looking from the east across a large park to the city centre:

Toronto glistens at night.
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The cooling-off period

Here we are in mid-September, or what I’m choosing to call the cooling-off period. Not that the temperature is cooling very much — in fact, the afternoon high temps are still bumping up against 30 degrees. It’s just that activities are clearly starting to cool off.

Traffic is noticeably lighter (although there are still a great many cyclists on the road — probably because they chose to vacation in September, rather than in the assured heat of July and August). Campgrounds are emptying, or are already empty. And restaurants will soon start to shut for the coming slow season.

One sad fact of life, we’ve noticed, is that restaurants are so short-staffed that they are closing early in the afternoon or otherwise limiting customers. It’s been frustrating driving to La Roque-Gageac lately to find the village teeming with tourists, but almost no place to enjoy a drink on a terrace.

So I’ll be putting away thoughts of my blog for a while, in the hopes that in a few weeks there might be enough news to warrant a new post. Meanwhile, I’ll close with one of the coolest photos in my library: a stretch of the Céou River north of Daglan, as it nears the Dordogne River:

A dip in the this would certainly cool you off.
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Our parade: a closer look

In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to the parade that takes place on a Sunday in August and is the highlight of Daglan’s annual summer festival. In that post, I served up just two photographs from the Disney-themed parade. Today I’ll fill out my review and provide a closer look at some of the fun and frivolities that went on.

You may remember that two things struck me about this year’s parade (over and above the usual nuttiness). One was “the preponderance of Dalmatian dogs,” obviously referring to the film “101 Dalmatians.” The other was “the incredible interaction between the spectators (residents of Daglan and visitors alike) and the people or characters in the parade itself.”

So let’s kick this off with a concentrated look at more Dalmatians — this time, three family members who live near the centre of the village, and normally dress, well, quite normally:

This family really got into the spirit of “101 Dalmatians.”

Next comes the float representing Peter Pan, with Peter himself and Tinker Bell on top, and Captain Hook sitting within the ship:

That’s Peter Pan at the top left, and Captain Hook inside the ship, wearing red.

The Aladdin float was one of the more complicated creations, with an assortment of characters and lots of decoration. Here’s a look:

There was quite a crowd on the Aladdin float.

Mr. Potato Head was featured in the film “Toy Story,” and so our parade featured him as well. Here he is at the table next to us, having a good visit with the couple sitting there:

Mr. Potato Head, from the film “Toy Story,” gets up close and personal with the spectators.

Another float with lots of characters along for the ride was this tribute to the animated film “Vaina,” known in some markets as “Moana:”

Another crowded float, representing the movie “Vaina,” also known as “Moana.”

Mickey and Minnie Mouse were, of course, a couple of the best known characters in the parade, and they were particularly good at greeting the spectators and even giving hugs. Here is Minnie making a little girl happy:

Minnie Mouse hugs a little girl.

Of course Micky and Minnie are a couple, and they weren’t afraid of showing their feelings for each other at the parade:

Minnie and Mickey Mouse getting all friendly with each other.

Not that Micky avoided some good looking women among the spectators, like my wife Jan, shown here getting a big hug:

Mickey leaves Minnie long enough to give a hug to Jan.

Showing just how huggable she is, here’s Jan getting a visit from a neighbour of ours, who was portraying Jessica Rabbit, the sexy singer and wife of Roger Rabbit in the hybrid feature film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit:”

She famously said: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” (Jessica said that. Not Jan.)

So that winds up coverage of the 2022 festival parade. After the silence and inactivity brought on by the Covid pandemic, the parade was a real treat, and a good example of how much fun can be had in a small French village.

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Our parade: a first look

Daglan’s Sunday afternoon parade, the highlight of our annual summer festival, la Fête de la Saint Louis, took place again yesterday through the heart of the village. And it was back to being the wild and wacky affair we knew from pre-Covid days.

Taking photos at the event is a challenge, because there is so much going on. But I’ve valiantly edited down my many photographs, and will show you several tomorrow. But today I wanted to post just two photos that I think capture two of the dominant themes of the parade.

Yes, the official theme was Disney Daglan. So when I use the term, I’m referring to what really struck me. First, there was the preponderance of Dalmatian dogs, obviously reflecting the Disney movie, “101 Dalmatians.” Here’s just one example:

Our parade had pretty close to 101 Dalmatians.

The other thing that struck me about yesterday’s parade was the incredible interaction between the spectators (residents of Daglan and visitors alike) and the people or characters in the parade itself. For instance, when a small group of pirates approached our table at La Cantine, where Jan and I were sitting with friends Sarah, Karl, Suzanne and Mark, one helped himself to Suzanne’s glass of rosé wine. How’s that for interaction?

“Wine? Don’t mind if I do. Aaaargh!”

A bit rude, you might think. But hey — he’s a pirate!

Stay tuned for more coverage of the parade, to be posted tomorrow.

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Remembrances of parades past

Tomorrow (Friday) marks the start of our village’s annual three-day Fête de la Saint-Louis, but local residents and loyal readers of Radio Free Daglan know that the highlight will come on Sunday afternoon, when the temperature is forecast to be 28 degrees and the parade theme has been decreed as Disney Daglan.

To provide a glimpse of what we might expect on Sunday, I’ve put together this posting to show off some entries in the annual parade over a period of three years — starting with 2016, when the theme was Les civilisations. The first photo simply shows a band, not because it represented a particular civilization but simply because all parades need at least one band, if not more:

And the band played on.

This next photo shows how a sailing ship full of Vikings may have looked as the explorers (or marauders) sailed into your harbour:

And the Vikings sail into our village.

The ancient civilization of Egypt naturally had to be featured in this parade, and a special bonus was seeing our village’s Mayor outfitted as a Pharaoh:

That’s our Mayor in the middle — as a Pharaoh.

Now come a few photos taken during the 2017 Sunday parade, when the theme was Le Cinema. We begin with Batman and friends, marching through Daglan:

Batman and friends have a stroll in Daglan.

“Pirates of the Caribbean” was a popular movie, and so it’s not surprising that Daglan had its own version of the pirate ship:

Those crazy Pirates of the Caribbean.

And then, for reasons I can’t remember, there was one entry that sprayed out large quantities of foam — blanketing the village’s main street. Here’s the aftermath:

You want foam? We got foam.

My last series of parade photos features some entries from the 2019 version, when the theme was “historic inventions.” Here’s an entry featuring the wonders of plastic, including its use in making condoms:

Yes, plastic can indeed be fantastic — as well as pink.

Now comes the historic invention known as the airplane, which in this case is The Widow Maker:

The Widow Maker was a name given to a number of early planes, for good reason.

Finally, this entry recognized the historic invention of the telephone, although based on the style and the model of this phone, it was not the earliest version of the device:

Can you imagine the ring tone on this one?
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Pennants, sheep and weather

I do realize that those three things aren’t really related. But I’ve strung them together as the title of this blog posting simply because each item won’t be very long.

Better-late-than never: As you discovered in my recent post “So who needs Disneyland?” (August 9), this year’s version of Daglan’s annual summer festival will again feature a parade on Sunday afternoon (August 21). But at the time of writing that post, there were no pennants hung around the village, celebrating the themes of previous parades.

Then the scene changed yesterday morning, as the village workers set about hanging up the bright yellow pennants, each of which displays the theme of a Sunday parade, year by year. Now the pennants are hanging from just about every lamp pole in the village.

Yesterday was just three days before Friday’s start of the festival (La Fête de la Saint-Louis), so there really wasn’t much advance notice. But as I noted above: Better late than never. Now have a look at a section of our main street, with pennants flying:

Bright yellow pennants record the theme of each year’s Sunday parade.

Mowing with no gasoline, no electricity, and no pushing of lawnmowers. In a posting last spring (April 15, 2021), I explained that the village of Daglan had just embraced the concept of something called éco-pâturage, which means using animals, rather than machines, for mowing. The post was called “Putting our sheep to work,” which pretty much says it all.

Since then, I hadn’t noticed any sheep at work, because they are placed on a hill just behind the village cemetery, near one of Daglan’s rows of garbage and recycling bins. Then yesterday I drove there with a load of garbage to be placed in les poubelles, and there were the sheep — at work. Here’s a look at them:

Sheep shearing grass — instead of being sheared.

Some welcome weather relief. No doubt you’ve either experienced or been hearing the news about the brutal heat wave engulfing much of Europe, including southwest France. And it really has been bad. For Jan and me, the heat has meant that we’ve limited our activities to the bare necessities, and spent a lot of time indoors, with the blinds closed to keep out the heat. But of course the real tragedy has been the effects of the heat and the related drought on farms, fields, animals and forests. The amount of forest burned in far southwest France, not to mention other European countries, has been immense.

But now we’ve had some relief: A bit of cooling, and some very welcome rain. Météo France is predicting maximum temperatures in the 20s for the next several days, instead of the mid- and even high-30s we’ve lived through. I suppose the relief won’t be permanent, but we’ll enjoy it while we can.

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Too much of a muchness

We are always keen to try new restaurants — new to us, anyway — and so yesterday we set out with friends Helen and Sara to La Table de Vialard, a small but nicely decorated place on the outskirts of Sarlat. And there I had a lunch that, to some extent, defeated me.

We all began with a kir, and then reviewed the rather large menu. Helen ordered an entrée that involved a warmed tomato with bits of cheese; she said she really enjoyed it. But the rest of us decided to skip having a starter and instead chose a plat principal and a dessert.

For the three women, main courses included duck and pork, cooked in a variety of ways. Jan, Helen and Sara all seemed pretty satisfied. However, I went for the special hamburger, which included a slice of sautéed foie gras, melted cheese, lettuce, and thick-cut fries, and found it was all just a bit too much. I also made a mistake in ordering it, because I first asked for it to be well done, but then changed my order to à point, which in France can mean very rare. Here’s a look at how my plate arrived:

Massive bun, large slice of foie gras — all a bit too much.

As it happened, the meat was indeed pretty rare, and not particularly appetizing because it was actually quite dry. The result is that I left about half of the burger on my plate.

Then came dessert, and again it seems that for this restaurant at least, size matters. I had ordered the classic dessert of profiteroles — choux pastry filled with ice cream and topped with a rich chocolate sauce — which is often served as three separate pastries. Not mine. As you can see, it was one massive pastry, holding three scoops of ice cream:

At least Helen and Jan were there to help me finish it.

Now in fact, it was quite delicious. But as Helen pointed out, the presentation left a lot to be desired. While the pastry wasn’t “as large as my head,” to quote an old expression, it was certainly as large as my fist.

Needless to say, I didn’t eat dinner last night.

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So who needs Disneyland?

Disneyland (the original) is in California. Walt Disney World (the huge one) is in Florida. And Disneyland Paris is, well, near Paris. But who really needs them, when our village becomes Disney Daglan on Sunday, August 21?

Okay, the entire village is not being made over. But Disney Daglan has just been advertised as the theme of the parade that we know as the highlight of the three-day Fête de la Saint-Louis, otherwise known (in Radio Free Daglan) as the Festival of Heat and Noise.

Loyal readers, and local residents, may remember that in the 2021 edition of the festival, there was no parade at all. But it seems that the late-afternoon parade is back on, and it will be interesting to see how big the parade is, and how creative and elaborate the entries are. During this infernal heat wave, I can’t imagine that decorating a trailer or tractor to look like something that the Disney people created would be any fun.

In any case, here’s the poster advertising this year’s festival, placed on the front window of our village’s convenience store:

The poster in the front window of our convenience store.

Maybe the temperature will have dropped a bit by the 21st, because right now the heat is beyond unpleasant. If nothing else, Jan and I can watch the late-evening fireworks on Sunday (Grand Feu d’Artifice) from the comfort of our bedroom window.

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A grand day, and a grand way, to watch the Tour

The route of the Tour de France changes every year; sometimes the ride passes relatively near us, and sometimes it doesn’t. And since we’ve lived in Daglan, Jan and I had seen a Stage of the Tour in four different locations, before this year’s race.

In 2011, we were at a corner in the historic town of Figeac. In 2012, we watched the Tour in a hamlet called Pont de Rhodes, relatively close to Daglan. In 2014, we watched the Tour with friends Suzanne and Mark in the pouring rain at a village called Miramont-de-Guyenne, west and a bit south of Daglan. And then in 2017 we picnicked with a fairly large group of friends at Vitrac Port, which is pretty much halfway between Daglan and Sarlat. But this year, for Friday’s Stage 19, we headed south into the département of the Lot.

Our destination was a village to the west of Cahors, to the home of friends Sarah and Karl. Travelling with us were friends Elisabeth and Gerhard, plus his parents, who have been visiting from their home in South Africa. And it turned out to be a grand day — lots of fun, and a good look at the Tour.

We arrived at the home of Sarah and Karl at about 11:30, and immediately set up under a huge oak tree in the back yard to relax, drink wine, and enjoy a picnic. Jan had prepared the picnic, including sautéed salmon with dill sauce, tossed salad, and fresh fruit. No rush to eat, because the “Caravan” — that long parade of vehicles promoting various products and companies that precedes the Tour riders — wasn’t due in the neighbourhood until about 3:30.

Well before then we were seated comfortably along the road where the Tour would pass, and began watching as all kinds of vehicles — police in cars and on motorcycles, other motorcycles, and a range of cars — zoomed by. And then the Caravan came rolling up.

I’ve chosen to highlight just a few of the wheeled creations in the Caravan, starting with this vehicle promoting LCL, the large bank formerly known as Le Crédit Lyonnais, which is a long-time supporter of the Tour:

This bank is a major supporter of the Tour.

A high proportion of the vehicles in the Tour are Skodas, as the car manufacturer has been a major supporter of the Tour for years. More recently (since 2015) Skoda is the sponsor of the green jersey competition, in which the best sprinter in the Tour gets to wear the green jersey and collect extra prize money. Here’s the company’s Caravan entry:

Skoda cars are pretty much everywhere.

Next up is FDJ (for Française des Jeux) which is the company that operates France’s national lottery games. and which sponsors its own cycling team in the Tour. In this photo, our view of the vehicle is partly blocked by a raised glass, which is not an uncommon sight along the route :

Gee, a wine glass?

What makes the Caravan so popular with children (and those of us who are young at heart) is that riders on many of the vehicles throw goodies to the crowd as they pass by — everything from packets of laundry detergent to key chains to hats. And since Haribo is a candy maker, this vehicles is particularly popular with people along the route. (Yes, Jan snagged a pack of candies, among other things.)

A favourite of children along the road — candies!

Finally, here’s a vehicle that is just about my favourite, since it’s so clever. As you can see, the brand represents a variety of poultry products:

A very clever chicken indeed!

Eventually the Caravan finished rolling past, and after a wait of about an hour, the first of the racers came blasting past us. This happens so quickly that it’s virtually impossible to pick out individual riders; instead, if you want photos, you just have to keep shooting away.

As it turned out, by chance I caught two of the most important riders in the Tour — the rider in the green jersey (top sprinter) and the rider in the yellow jersey (the Danish rider who is expected to be this year’s winner when the Tour finishes in Paris this evening, Sunday, July 24). Here they are, ahead of another group:

The young man in yellow will be the ultimate winner.

And finally, there’s look at the so-called peloton, which simply means the largest grouping of riders in any one Stage:

“Peloton” refers to the largest bunch of riders.

When the last of the riders rolled past us, the eight of us packed up and headed back to the shade of the huge oak tree. There we celebrated with a few more glasses of wine before switching to coffee, and then heading out for the drive back to Daglan. Jan and I arrived home just before 9 p.m., tired but happy. It had been quite a grand day.

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4 friends, 2 lunches

It’s been wonderful finally being able to see friends after the Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions. And in this past week, we’ve enjoyed seeing a variety of friends — from Scotland and New Zealand — and getting set for visits with good friends Elisabeth and Gerhard, who arrived in Daglan yesterday.

Our lunch-with-friends program began on Wednesday, when we met up with Scottish friends Shona and Tim, who have been frequent visitors to the Greater Daglan Area, and are very knowledgeable about it. They were staying at Trémolat’s venerable inn (with a Michelin-starred restaurant) Le Vieux Logis, but we opted to dine across the street, at the related restaurant, Le Bistro de la Place.

I’ve reviewed the bistro before, so I won’t go on and on. Put simply, it’s a casual place with quite good food and a pleasant location. We ate outside, despite the sweltering temperature, but we were tucked against the building in the shade so we were comfortable enough. After the customary kirs, we placed our orders.

I chose the 26-euro Menu Bistrot, which began with Gaspacho de Courgettes, Crème de Chèvre et Citron — that is, a cold zucchini soup with a dollop of goat’s cheese. Cool and refreshing. My plat principal was Pressé de Joue de Boeuf au Vin Rouge, with sautéed vegetables. As you can see in this photo, the vegetables had virtually every ounce of life sautéed out of them, but the beef cheek in red wine sauce was delicious:

Frazzled veggies, yummy beef in red wine sauce.

My dessert was a tasty, seasonal dish — roast apricots on a Brioche Perdue (somewhat like French toast, soft and eggy) with a granité of verveine. Here it is:

A nice treatment of apricots.

So once again, Jan and I thoroughly enjoyed the great conversation, accompanied by good food and a nice rosé from Provence. Late that night, back at home, we we were able to watch from our bedroom window a typically great fireworks show, put on by the village, because Thursday was of course la fête nationale de France.

Friday brought another chance to enjoy time with friends and have a wonderful lunch as well. This time it was lunch with Sarah and Karl, who have recently moved from New Zealand to France. (He’s originally French; she’s originally English.) Because we hadn’t seen them for quite some time, we invited them to our home to catch up over a bottle of Prosecco, before heading out for lunch.

Our restaurant of choice on Friday was (no surprise) O Moulin in Carsac, where we were seated on the outside terrace under a huge umbrella and a large leafy tree. We all chose the Menu L’Enéa at 35 euros, although our specific choices varied. Certainly a highlight was the entrée, a salad of assorted tomatoes, in a pool of clear tomato water infused with herbs, and with a large helping of burrata (the mozzarella with a creamy centre) on top. Here’s my serving:

Fresh, seasonal, savoury.

For the main course, a few of us chose the pork cheeks served with a polenta that included four spices and black olives. Here’s my serving:

Tender pork cheeks on top of creamy polenta.

Finally came a summery dessert — a fraicheur of rhubarb in a sorbet and compote, topped with a foam of fromage blanc, and sitting on top of a soft biscuit made with almonds. It was indeed refreshing, and a real treat. Here’s my serving:

Yes, there is rhubarb under it all.

Of course, the fun continues. It’s now Sunday afternoon, and time to get together with Elisabeth and Gerhard. In the words of our great friend Rob (in Toronto): “Let the games begin!”

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