Down by the river

Let’s get this out of the way first: Daglan has now gone beyond the “beautiful” stage, and is clearly in what my wife calls the “stupid beautiful” phase of spring. Grass has greened up; the willows are almost fully in leaf; bright yellow forsythias seem to be everywhere; and all kinds of bulb flowers — tulips and so on — are in full bloom. So there.

Since we knew today was going to be lovely, and we had no serious plans, we thought it was time for a longer bike trip. So off we went, late this morning, towards Castelnaud la Chapelle. We took the back road as usual, which generally follows the twisty-turny Céou River until it meets the mighty Dordogne River at Castelnaud. Along the way we had a good chat with Joel, Mr. Bike Bus himself, who is starting to gear up for the tourist season.

Then it was lunch at Le Tournepique, which I wrote about on November 3 of last year, in “Basque in its glory.” It’s a Basque restaurant, just in case you missed the pun, and so we began by sharing a plate of the mixed tapas, along with our kirs. Delicious. Then it was on to mussels and (very good) frites for my wife Jan, and the Basque omelette with mixed salad for me. Oh yes, and a bottle of Spanish rosé wine.  After coffees, we headed off again.

First stop was down by the river, to admire the view. Here’s a photo looking back at the imposing château high above the river, with a fresh green willow tree in the foreground:

River scene.

From the Dordogne River up to Castelnaud.

Then we noticed this tractor backing up into the river. We had seen him earlier on the road through Castelnaud, where there is all kinds of construction activity going on (new road surface, lots more parking, new sewage system). He was spraying water on the road to keep down the dust. So what better way to fill up a tank of water than putting it straight into the river?

Tractor

Filling up the tank.

We continued on, riding all the way to Château des Milandes, the former home of Josephine Baker, the legendary singer-dancer (and heroine in France). The château itself is a great attraction, by the way, and will be opening for the season on April 1, if you’re in the neighbourhood. From there we headed straight home to Daglan, stopping only to admire some wildlife. First, we saw what appeared to be an adult otter and two or three youngsters, swimming in a little tributary that comes off the Dordogne. Here’s a shot of one of the young ones:

Otter.

A young otter swimming.

Further south, we stopped to admire a red fox trotting through one of the farmer’s fields south of Castelnaud. Closer to home, we looked for wildlife in Bunny Meadows, but still — no luck. Now where are those wascally wabbits? Total mileage on the bikes, by the way, was about 36 kilometres. Not a bad start to the season.

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This entry was posted in Bicycling in the Dordogne, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Down by the river

  1. Carol Anderson says:

    Okay, NOW I’m jealous! We have lots of snow back here for you, if you’d like…

  2. Teri says:

    Heavenly!

  3. Loren says:

    You know, we’re REALLY not missing the snow. Seriously. We’re not.

  4. Chief scout says:

    I will be jealous next week but for now we are still in Belize and loving it. Cocktails at Turtle Inn for a stupid price. Last time for that guaranteed. Then off to Dolce Vita for too much Italian food. As if there is ever too little.

  5. Lesley says:

    How much of the really good stuff do you miss by driving around in a car?

    • Loren says:

      Hi Lesley, I know that in a car you miss the details — the hawk sitting on a fence, the interesting plaques on a wall, and so on. But I still look touring this area by car too. For one thing, it’s a big area! And of course you can always stop the car and wander around once you’ve reached that new village or new lookout.

  6. Double D says:

    Everything looks so picture perfect but we are wondering.. were the queues for the IPad 2 very long in Castelnaud?

    • Loren says:

      No lineups for the iPad2, but there are still a couple of people waiting for the new transistor radios that are due to arrive soon.

  7. JoS says:

    Hello over there! I’m from Puylaurens and was looking for pictures of willows to illustrate a CD called “The Banks Of Green Willow. British Pastoral Favourites”. Thought you ‘oughter’ know that’s no otter – it’s a Coypu (Beaver Rat) known as a Ragondin – castor des marais (Myocastor coypus) in French, not the same family. Lovely website – I enjoyed the visit!

  8. Loren says:

    Hi, JoS — Thanks so much for that. I really wasn’t sure about the so-called otter. We had heard about “rangon” but no one around here could remember the right name. You obviously know your wildlife. I had not heard of Puylaurens, but just Googled it. So you’re east of Toulouse. Another great area! Thanks again for your comments.

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