And so it begins — not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with the gaseous roar of a hot air balloon. Yes, it appears that our long, gray, wet winter has ended, that spring has sprung, and that the earliest hints of The Tourist Season are starting to blossom in the Greater Daglan Area, or GDA.
This was confirmed yesterday afternoon as I ran an errand near the village’s rugby field (le Stade Municpal), and watched a huge, dark blue hot air balloon sailing serenely over Château Peyruzel. Ballooning is a favourite tourist pastime in the GDA, so evidently some brave souls must have decided not to wait for summer’s heat before taking off.
There are many other signs of new life and renewed activity around us, but before I give you a quick run-down, let’s have a look back at just how wet this past winter was. (This was our sixth winter since moving to France from Canada, and my wife Jan and I agree that it was the grayest, wettest yet. On the plus side, it never got very cold.)
The best examples of the rainfall we endured during our winter are photos like these — showing the Dordogne River and its tributary the Céou (which flows through Daglan) running high and wide. These were taken just a few weeks ago. First is a shot of the Céou, taken in a low-lying area that normally would be covered with grass — not water.
And here is another photo of the same area, near La Borie:
And yet another photo of the normally placid Céou:
Now we turn to the Dordogne River at La Roque-Gageac, a few kilometres north of Daglan. La Roque is a popular tourist destination, and its main road was widened and improved not long ago, to include an attractive walkway along the river. This photo shows how high the Dordogne was running a couple of weeks ago:
In fact, the river rose so high that it flooded the village’s parking lot and the area where tourists start off on guided boat rides on the river. In this next photo, the building at the right is the office where tourists pay for their boat ride:
But now that the rains seem to have ended, and the sun is increasingly visible, things are definitely improving. Jan and I are seeing tourists riding through our quartier on bikes; there are more and more cyclists on the road; and fields all through the GDA have been turned over and are ready for planting.
So far, most of the deciduous trees are still without leaves, but the early bloomers like willows are starting to go green. Here’s a photo, taken yesterday, of a willow that stands beside the road running from Daglan to nearby Cénac:
Flowering trees and shrubs are also in bloom now, like this shrub growing near Daglan’s Salle des Fêtes:
And finally, villagers are now busily planting their gardens, and putting out their pots of flowers and other plants, secure in the knowledge that they won’t be freezing. Here’s the collection of one of our flower-loving neighbours:
In other signs of life, the restaurant Le Petit Paris in Daglan has re-opened after its usual winter closure; campgrounds are getting ready for their annual opening (some of them at the first of April); and chef Fabrice Lemmonier and team are madly working to convert his former shop into a small restaurant.
To further encourage gardening and planting, our village has organized its first Fête du Printemps (Spring Festival) for this coming Sunday (March 20). Lots of plants and flowers will be on display (and for sale); there will be entertainment for children all day long; and there’s a lunch featuring chicken (Poule au Pot Farcie) to be served at 12:30. The cost is 15 euros, and you can reserve a place by telephoning 05 – 53 – 28 – 41 – 16. Enjoy!