As I write this, Daglan’s annual four-day Fête de la Saint Louis is halfway over. Loyal readers will know that my wife Jan and I have a love/hate relationship with the affair, which I refer to as The Festival of Heat and Noise. So here’s my report so far, on the good, the bad and the ugly, in reverse order.
I’ll start with the ugly: the noise. For a reason that will soon become clear, it’s not actually bothering Jan and me awfully much this year. However, that isn’t true for some of our neighbours, particularly those who live anywhere near the bumper-car ride, which dominates Daglan’s main square during the festival and blasts out loud music from raised speakers. Jan chatted with one such neighbour this morning, who reported that she is at her wit’s end, because she simply can’t sleep until the bumper-car ride shuts down — at nearly 2 in the morning.
The bad is that this year’s festival seems diminished. There are far fewer stalls (such as snack stalls and games for children), and the bicycle race that normally takes place on Monday has vanished from the schedule. Poor organization? Lack of interest on the part of vendors and games operators? We’re not sure, but the fête is definitely smaller.
The good is that Jan and I have spent the past two nights away from the festival (we return home during the day) at a wonderful spot called La Tour de Cause, located about eight kilometres north of Daglan, in the hamlet of Pont de Cause.
La Tour is a large, old, solid-limestone house and barn complex that was converted some years ago into a chambre d’hôte, or bed and breakfast, by a couple from California who subsequently became friends of ours. Recently, they sold La Tour de Cause to two talented and charming guys from Belgium, who have long experience in the restaurant business. They now offer breakfast each morning, and also prepare dinners after discussion with the guests.
Here’s a look down at the main level of La Tour from the upper level of the grounds:
Last night was particularly enjoyable. We returned to La Tour from Daglan by 7:30, in time for apéritifs on the back terrace, before dinner was served. Here’s the setting:
Everything about the place seems “just so” — colours are co-ordinated, fresh flowers are everywhere, rooms are beautifully decorated and comfortable and practical, and the food is well chosen and very well prepared. As just one example, here’s our entrée from last night’s dinner — homemade ravioli stuffed with a mixture of slow-cooked lamb, peas and mint, decorated with sage leaves and garnished with Parmesan shavings:
By the end of our main course (Thai-style mussels with almond-flecked basmati rice), the evening was turning cool, so the guests went into the large kitchen/dining area with our hosts, for the cheese and then the dessert courses. And this turned out to be a real highlight.
Aside from our Belgian hosts, the guests included a Canadian couple (us), another couple from Belgium, a couple from Holland, and a couple from Spain. We all got along well, and the discussions went on until midnight — covering everything from the U.K.’s Brexit vote to local cultural differences to a comparison of Romance languages, and more. It’s one of the things I love about living here — the chance to meet and talk with visitors from other parts of Europe.
If you’re interested in more information about La Tour de Cause, here’s what Trip Advisor has to say: https://www.tripadvisor.fr/Hotel_Review-g672395-d671218-Reviews-La_Tour_de_Cause_B_B-Castelnaud_la_Chapelle_Dordogne_Aquitaine.html
Which brings us to today’s highlight of the Daglan festival: the Sunday parade. We will be out with our camera, because this is the one event we don’t want to miss. This year’s theme for the parade is Civilization, which seems broad to enough to cover, well, pretty much everything.