No, this is not a Biblical posting. It’s simply a brief tale about the annual exodus of tourists from the Greater Daglan Area, which appears to have begun.
I have no hard evidence, no numbers. But the signs are all there, it seems: fewer vehicles on the roads, fewer people crammed into campsites, fewer cyclists, more spaces in parking lots.
If you’re not familiar with the seasons in the Greater Daglan Area, the summer months are The Season — that is, the tourist season, when local merchants (including campgrounds, gîtes, chambres d’hôtes, restaurants and shops) make most of their money for the year. June tends to be busy, but July and August are simply crammed with tourists.
This year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, June was actually a bit slow. But things changed radically when July and August arrived. We had expected things to be quieter than normal — because British tourism was so affected by travel restrictions — but the shortage of Brits seems to have been more than made up by an influx of French residents from other parts of the country. Many from the larger French cities wanted to breathe the fresh (and Covid-19-free) air of the GDA.
A good example of the recent turnaround can be seen in the parking lot at Castelnaud, the village about 10 kilometres north of Daglan. Castelnaud and its imposing château is a magnet for tourists. It also boasts a small plaza with popular shops (including the best bakery in the area), two bicycle rental shops, and a major centre for canoe and kayak rides on the Dordogne River.
Over the past several weeks, the parking lot has been absolutely crammed with cars, vans, campers and trailers — not a single space remaining. But here’s how it looked yesterday:
And here’s another view of the same lot:
Now if I were a merchant, I’d be a bit unhappy about the exodus of tourists. But I’m not, and so the quieter roads and less crowded stores are just fine for Jan and me. As well, the weather has turned a bit cooler lately, with nights that are much better for sleeping. So, no complaints.