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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Bicycling in the Greater Daglan Area: A few ideas

Summer’s here and that means tourist season, big-time. In turn, that means many more bicyclists are on our roads, because cycling is one of the most popular activities here, along with sight-seeing, enjoying local cuisine, and canoeing on the Dordogne River. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some guidance for visitors who are interested in cycling.

First, however, let me explain why this is such a great area to put on your brain bucket (cycling helmet) and get on the road. Here’s some of what I wrote a few years ago:

What’s with biking in the GDA? The simple answer is that the GDA (parts of which go under the name of Périgord Noir) is a wonderful place for biking, whether you’re an occasional recreational rider or a serious cyclist. Roads are good, scenery is lovely, traffic is relatively light, and there’s a great variety of routes; you can choose from flat trips to rolling hills to steep climbs. Renting bikes is easy … and you can plan your ride so that you wind up somewhere nice for a coffee, a drink, or a lunch. (Caution: Exposure to the GDA can be a life-changing experience. Our bike trip to the Dordogne and Lot départements in 1998 is the reason that my wife Jan and I wound up moving to Daglan.)

Nine years ago (good grief — I’ve been writing this blog for a long time!), I wrote a series of four articles on bicycle trips you could take, with Daglan as a starting point. The articles are easy to read, not particularly technical, and full of photos. To find these posts, you just need to go to the Search box at the top of this blog, enter a few key words, and press Search; you will be taken directly to the post you want. So, here are the articles, with the original dates of posting:

To Belvès by stages: Bike Route No. 1. Posted on June 13, 2013. To find it, just enter the words Route No. 1 in the Search box.

Over the hill to Chez Lilette: Bike Route No. 2. (The destination is in Prats-du-Périgord.) Posted on August 1, 2013. Search Route No. 2.

A short, sweet ride to a book-binder: Bike Route No. 3. Posted on August 8, 2013. Search Route No. 3.

From tee to green: Bike Route No. 4. (Destination is a golf course.) Posted August 12, 2013. Search Route No. 4.

Actually, you don’t even need to cycle any of these routes. If you’re driving a car, each of them can make for a pleasant trip. Happy sight-seeing!

That’s me on my bike, a few years ago.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

The colossal construction mystery: Answered

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:

A modest sign for a massive complex.

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:

The old hotel, completely renovated.

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:

One of the new wings added to the old hotel.

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:

At the rear, a large lawn leading up to 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:

These large berms surround much 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Celebrating the Platinum Jubilee

While the U.K. had all manner of parties and celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne, quite a number of Anglophones in the Greater Daglan Area celebrated too, with a tea party in St. Cybranet (the village just north of Daglan) yesterday.

Leading the organization, choreography and publicity for the party were two active local women, Carolyn and Jan (not my wife Jan, but a friend of ours). For a pot of tea and a plate full of traditional English treats like cake slices and sandwiches, guests paid 6.50 €, with the proceeds donated to a cancer support charity and a local school. Great idea!

When my wife Jan and I arrived on Sunday afternoon, with friends Kathy and Keith (visiting from Toronto) and Joanne and Chris (English friends staying at their holiday home near us in Daglan), the event’s dog show was under way. There were a number of categories in the competition, including the best rescue dog. Here’s a look at the dog show arena, with organizers Carolyn (pointing) and Jan (in blue shorts, bending forward):

Judging takes place at the dog show.

My ever-creative wife Jan managed to get us involved, by entering our papier maché dog Tonto into the competition, having suggested the possible categories of best-behaved dog or quietest dog. Here’s Jan showing off Tonto to chief judge Carolyn. (As it happened, Tonto did when a prize — a bag of dog treats. We gave that back to Carolyn, so she could present it to a dog which could actually enjoy the treats.)

Our silent dog, Tonto, gets the once-over from Carolyn, one of the event’s key organizers.

Once the dog show was over, people trooped up to Jan’s large property, which includes good-sized grounds and a large barn. Here’s a look at the area:

Guests were all over, at tables outdoors and also in the barn.

As the tea party went on, our group was joined by Scottish friends Nancy and Iain, so we had quite a number of people around our table — which was pretty well loaded with sandwiches, sweet treats, tea and coffee, and of course glasses of wine. Here’s our table:

Our table of traditional treats.

Just in case you’re wondering, “Anglophone” is a term used to define English-speakers, which includes Canadians Kathy, Keith and me. And of course, Queen Elizabeth is the head of state of Canada, so we were quite at home celebrating her Platinum Jubilee along with the English and Scots at the party.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Get out the truffle recipes!

Shaved over pasta? Shaved into scrambled eggs? Added to whipped potatoes? Whatever your favourite, truffles do add a certain “something” to a variety of dishes.

And today was the first Sunday for the village’s weekly truffle market — the truffes d’été or summer truffles being on offer.

Jan, of course, was right there. And she came home proudly carrying four truffles, for just 15 euros. Admittedly they are not large, but still, it’s a great price.

If you haven’t tried the market, do give it a shot.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Lunches galore, with an anniversary celebration

We’ve just finished a fairly whirlwind three-day visit with my sister Karen and her husband Mark, culminating in a wonderful lunch at Carsac’s O Moulin restaurant, where Jan and I celebrated their anniversary as well as our own. Both anniversaries come before the end of the month, and are just a week apart.

Karen and Mark live in Florida, and are well-travelled to say the least. Their latest jaunt took them to Spain and then Sarlat in the Dordogne (just 30 minutes or so from Daglan), which served as their base for a week-long tour of historic sites around the area. We picked them up on Friday morning, and headed right for our village.

Our first lunch together was that Friday, where we enjoyed a meal at the ever-dependable Tournepique, in Castelnaud. On Saturday, Karen had wanted to visit Château des Milandes, one of our area’s best tourist destinations, which for some reason had not been included in their week-long tour.

Karen and Mark toured the château, which as you may know was the long-time home of Josephine Baker, and then we four had a pleasant outdoor lunch at the château’s very good brasserie. After that came the 3 p.m. showing and demonstration of the château’s birds of prey.

For Sunday’s lunch, we pulled out the stops in celebration of our forthcoming anniversaries, asking our charming hostess Cécile Guerin to bring us a bottle of Taittinger champagne. That went nicely with our amuse-bouches, which included a Mimosa d’oeuf, as Cécile called it. Now I know mimosa as the name for a drink, so this was new to me; it was a warm and foamy concoction in which you could taste the yolk as well as the egg whites. Unusual and very good. Have a look:

This eggy creation was warm and smooth and delicious.

As an entrée, three of us had what’s described on the menu as Gambas façon thaï, sauce homardine et crème de coco — that is, Thai-style large prawns in a savoury lobster sauce with lots of Thai flavours, sprinkled lightly with toasted peanuts. The dish included layer upon layer of flavours, the prawns were perfectly cooked, the sauce was delicious, and we could have eaten serving after serving. Here’s my bowl:

Prawns in a sweet Thai sauce.

For our plat principal, Jan and I had the roast filet of beef with a selection of vegetables and a red wine sauce. Once again, an outstanding dish:

When I made the reservation, I hadn’t mentioned our forthcoming anniversaries, but I did once we were seated. So on that short notice, Chef Nicolas Aujoux came up with candles for each of our desserts, and created small Joyeux Anniversaire badges made of chocolate. Here’s Jan’s dessert — a deconstructed strawberry tarte:

Jan’s deconstructed strawberry tarte.

As for my dessert, well, I’m pretty well unable to order anything other than a chocolate treat, and this dish had all I could possibly want:

Chocolate, chocolate and, well, more chocolate.

The whirlwind continued yesterday morning, as we all had to rise at the crack of dawn to drive Karen and Mark to the Gourdon train station, headed for Paris and ultimately, a flight home to Florida. I think I napped a lot that day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 9 Comments

A sunny start for Daglan’s new café/bar

This morning the sky is grey and full of rain, but yesterday was beautifully sunny and warm. And it turned out to be a perfect day for the “inauguration” of Fabrice Lemonnier’s new café/bar, L’Annexe.

I introduced you to L’Annexe just a few days ago (May 8) in my posting “At last — an afternoon place with promise.” My summation: “The plan is for L’Annexe to offer a completely casual eating and drinking experience. L’Annexe has been granted a Licence IV, which means it can offer bar service, so that customers will not need to order food. But there will be food on offer — easy dishes like tapas, burgers, pizzas, and ice cream.”

Jan had bumped into Chef Fabrice yesterday morning, who said his new place would be unveiled at 6 p.m. So, naturally, we were there a bit early (to make sure we could get a parking spot), and things just weren’t quite ready. So we waited out front for several minutes, chatting with a French couple who had also arrived ahead of time. And then we were in.

I’ll start with a photo of the inside of the café/bar, which shows the bar itself, with Fabrice in the background (in chef’s whites, of course) and one of his staff members in the centre of the photo. Everyone was focussed on getting the place ready — arranging the trays of hors d’oeuvres, putting bottles of wine into ice water, and so on.

You can see how bright it is, outside the place.

Aside from serving drinks and food, L’Annexe also features a wide number of specialty food products for sale. They include a variety of sauces, mustards, and so on. Here’s a look at the shelves:

A nice variety of products on offer.

After things settled down, Jan and I moved outside to one of the many picnic benches, and joined a group of friends and neighbours. And then the drinks arrived — poured freely, free of charge, which I think are some of the best things you can say for servings of rosé wine. Here’s our table, being served:

Olives were for munching along with the wine.

As time went on, two more good things happened: The servers started bringing out trays of complimentary snacks, including (my favourite) little paper trays holding pieces of char-grilled sausage with crispy fries; and more and more people arrived. By the time Jan and I said our good-byes, around 7:30, it looked like every table was filled:

The crowd of people kept the servers busy.

Last night’s event was actually just the “inauguration” or “dry run” of L’Annexe, rather than the “official opening.” That is still a few days away, as chef Fabrice awaits some last pieces of equipment for the kitchen. Then he plans to start serving food, as well as beer and wine. To us, it looks like L’Annexe got off to a good start, and should act as a magnet for cyclists and other tourist, as well as locals, as the summer season arrives.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

At last — an afternoon place with promise

For far too long, Daglan has had no café or bar — a place where bicycle riders and other tourists, not to mention villagers, could order a drink without having to buy food. We have two restaurants, but they are required to provide meals with any alcoholic drinks that customers order. But the situation is about to change.

In the past, Daglan had Le Thé Vert at the south end of the village (in the direction of St. Pompon), which offered meals but also a terrace where you could order a coffee or cold drink or ice cream. But the tea room closed when owners Judith and Paul moved to Scotland; their large renovated home is now, once again, a home.

When Jan and I bought our Daglan home in 2004, L’Auberge de Céou (almost straight across the road from Le Thé Vert) was still operating as a hotel, restaurant and bar; but it soon closed. Then there was a succession of owners, none very successful. At its peak, the Café de la Fleur (as it came to be called) served not-very-good food but at least offered a terrace where people could gather and enjoy an afternoon drink. The building has been vacant for quite some time — a particular shame, since it’s one of the first things you see as you enter Daglan on the main road that crosses the Céou River.

Now comes Fabrice Lemonnier, the chef whose La Cantine operates in the very centre of the village, just metres from the Mayor’s office. I last wrote about the restaurant on April 5, in the posting “A nice surprise at Daglan’s La Cantine.”

Planned to open this week is Chef Lemonnier’s new venture, L’Annexe. It’s located roughly in-between the locations of Le Thé Vert and Café de la Fleur, in a disused building.

The plan is for L’Annexe to offer a completely casual eating and drinking experience. L’Annexe has been granted a Licence IV, which means it can offer bar service, so that customers will not need to order food. But there will be food on offer — easy dishes like tapas, burgers, pizzas, and ice cream.

Here’s a look at the front of the café, on the main road that eventually leads to St. Pompon:

The view from the main street.

At the back of the café is a large area fitted with picnic tables, some on gravel, and some on grass. The idea is that customers can carry their refreshments out of the café and plunk down at a table. In the sunshine (which we’re getting a lot of), this should be fairly delightful. Fingers are crossed that all goes well.

Just a few of the picnic tables at the back.

In other food news: Loyal readers of Radio Free Daglan will know at least two things about me: I spent most of my life in Toronto, and my wife and I love fine dining. In fact, the word “Michelin” may be one of the most common company names in all my postings.

And now we’ve learned that the Michelin guide is being launched in Canada for the first time, with a guide to the restaurants of Toronto. The official announcement is planned for Tuesday, with celebrity chef Daniel Boulud (owner of a starred restaurant) taking part in the ceremony. My friend Dave in Toronto has predicted that two of his favourite restaurants, Alo and George, are well positioned to be given a star. We shall see!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments