From ghost town to boom town

A belvedere is a building or other structure that’s been placed to take advantage of a beautiful view. In Domme, just 10 kilometres or so from downtown Daglan, Le Belvedere is the place to be if you’re looking for a coffee, a kir, an ice cream sundae or a light meal — along with a terrific view.

Late Sunday afternoon, my wife Jan and I headed up to Domme for a drink and a big dose of scenery. And what a change from the autumn.

One Saturday last fall (fall means autumn, if you’re British), I thought that we should drive to Domme, enjoy the view, and have a coffee. Instead, we arrived at a virtual ghost town, with almost everything in  the village shut down.

In fact, there were precisely three places open for business — a somewhat touristy shop that sells over-priced local products (like tins of foie gras); a dusty little convenience store; and a small café-cum-bakery with absolutely no view and not very good coffee. We wouldn’t have been surprised to see an old cowboy leaning against a stone wall, chewing a piece of straw, while tumbleweed rolled through the deserted streets.

But yesterday? Ah, that was quite a different story. We arrived at the peak of this hill-top village at just about 6:30, and the parking lot was almost completely full, there were tourists wandering through the streets, and Le Belvedere was open for business. Huzzah!

So here’s a look at the building itself, located near lots of parking, and at the edge of the hillside that drops down to the Dordogne Valley below:

Le Belvedere's the name, a wonderful view is the game.

Le Belvedere’s the name, a wonderful view is the game.

We sat at a corner table on the terrace, had an espresso (moi) and a kir (Jan), and simply took in the great scenery and bright blue sky. Here’s the terrace some time after 6:30 p.m.:

A nicely peopled terrace, at 6:30 p.m.

A nicely peopled terrace, at 6:30 p.m.

And the views? Well, here’s a photo that I took on the promenade in front of Le Belvedere, looking back towards the village and showing some of the limestone cliff that descends from Domme:

Domme was built on top of this limestone.

Domme was built on top of this limestone.

And here’s a view looking outward from the promenade just below Le Belvedere, towards the fields and forests, a stretch of the Dordogne River, and the hills beyond:

A view of fields and hills from Domme.

A view of fields and hills from Domme.

As for today? Just as sunny as yesterday, but even warmer. So our lunch consisted of steaks that I cooked on the charcoal grill, accompanied by a lovely Tavel rosé.

And in an important sign that life in the GDA has transitioned from the quiet of winter to the bustle of summer (in other words, the start of the tourist season), the 8 à Huit convenience store in the heart of Daglan is open today. Yes, I know, it’s a Monday, when the store is usually closed. But not when there’s business to be had. Let The Season begin!

This entry was posted in Cafés in France, Flora and fauna, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Tourist attractions, Weather in the Dordogne and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to From ghost town to boom town

  1. Doug Curson says:

    “downtown” Daglan?

  2. Suzanne says:

    Bags packed. Passport in hand. Look out Daglan la Falkirkoise are on their way!

  3. Loren says:

    Yes — “downtown.” The centre. The beating heart. The soul of the GDA. And all that!

  4. Loren says:

    Suzanne — Yay!

  5. Judy says:

    Good to hear the Tourists are around in their droves, hopefully loads of them will find their way to Daglan…… Judy

    • Loren says:

      Judy, yes, I’m sure they’ll find us. They just have to look out for the Radio Free Daglan beacon! (Or the 8 à Huit, if all else fails.) — Loren

  6. Frances says:

    I am a tourist who is due come to Daglan I promise to be good

  7. loren24250 says:

    Okay then, Frances — welcome to the GDA.

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