For most of a year, the great mystery in our area was a massive project of renovation or construction (we weren’t sure which) on the site of an old hotel known as Le Périgord. Bulldozers were piling up mounds of earth; diggers were digging; window frames were being ripped out of the hotel and piled on the ground; trucks kept buzzing in and out; and gardeners were planting trees, shrubs, vines and flowers just about everywhere.
Was the hotel being demolished? Renovated? Changed into something completely different? No one seemed to know, until a friend in Daglan told us that a friend of hers had heard the place was being turned into a convention cente.
“Well,” you might be thinking, “surely there would have been a huge sign explaining what was being built.”
Nope. This is France, where for some reason the ultimate purpose of a project is treated as a secret. So the only sign at the entrance to the property was the usual listing of the various trades responsible for the work — electrical systems, and so on. As I wrote in a previous posting, “By contrast, in North America almost every commercial sign is seen as a marketing opportunity: ‘Coming soon — a new Starbucks! Don’t miss our Grand Opening on June 18!’ or ‘Camp Lalaland will reopen April 1 — Come enjoy our new pool and our café’s new menu!’ And so on.”
In any case, the mystery has been solved, and so the remainder of this posting will deal with what was actually built. Here is the entrance, with the only sign I could find on the property — and it’s a fairly modest one, given the size of the project. It says that this is now a four-star hotel and restaurant known as Le Périgord, the name of the previous hotel:
The sign adds that the restaurant is open every day of the week, and adds the telephone number for reservations: 05 – 53 – 28 – 36 – 55. Now, because this is a hotel, breakfast is served every day, although I assume that’s only for guests who have spent the night. And the hotel’s website says that the restaurant serves only in the evening– not at lunch.
Now for a few more basic facts. First the hotel is located in the outskirts of La Roque-Gageac, on property about a third of a kilometer north of the end of the bridge that spans the Dordogne River from Cénac. The builders left the basic structure of the old hotel, but completely renovated it, with new windows and a new roof and so on.
Looking up from the parking lot, here’s a view of the hotel’s main structure, surrounded by plants and with a long walkway leading to the front door:
However, the builders didn’t stop with the renovation of the old structure — they also added two large wings, in the same style, built out at a right angle from each end of the existing hotel. Here’s a look at one of the new wings:
Guests of the hotel also get a place to lounge around, and to enjoy a refreshing dip in a pool. Here’s a view from the parking lot, looking up at an expanse of lawn, towards a pool:
Perhaps the most mystifying aspect of the project is the size of the berms that were built up around most of the property, and then decorated with a variety of plants. The berms are truly huge, and I’m not sure what the purpose was: To hide the hotel from the road? To reduce wind and traffic noise? Or are they simply meant to be a decorative feature?
In any case, this next photo will help you see the size of the berms — perhaps eight feet tall. The photo was taken in the parking lot, so this view is actually from the inside of the property:
Obviously, this project represents a fairly massive increase in the number of hotel rooms in our area. One service that might help fill the hotel with guests is the ability to custom-produce a variety of seminars (this must be the origin of the claim that the project would be a “convention centre”).
As the hotel’s website promises: “From your business meetings to product launches, the hotel Le Périgord will organize your events.” Given sufficient promotion, that might be enough to attract business people from all over France. After all, why not spend a few days “bonding” with fellow employees in this beautiful region of the country? Time will tell.