Category Archives: Photography

France wrap-up

I have now reached the end of photographic narrative for our springtime trip to the French department of Dordogne and then to Paris. For those who are interested, a couple of Flickr albums have been created to consolidate the pictures from the trip, including some that I did not pick for the blog posts. Over

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Monet house and gardens, Giverny

Even if you are not an art enthusiast, you probably have knowledge of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series – and may have chanced upon some of them in various art museums around the world. A real Impressionist buff has to find their way at least once to the house and gardens of the artist, where

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Paris, again

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from Woody Allen’s ode to the French capital: That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me. Which is a bit ironic, because as much as we love Paris, we happen to live elsewhere. In fact,

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A few more from Dordogne

As we are leaving Dordogne, let’s take a look at a small selection of photographs that did not have enough collective mass to support a featured essay. Actually, I might be doing Domain de Monrecour an injustice by saying that. This fantastic hotel is anchored by an eye-catching landmark of a castle. The château is

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Saint-Jean-de-Côle

There are 10 Les Plus Beaux Villages de France in Dordogne, more than in any other French department. We have already seen 9. The persistent drizzle that accompanied our stop in Brantôme at the start of our last day in Dordogne kept telling us to wrap it up and drive to Paris for the next

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Brantôme

The historical province of Périgord, which roughly corresponds to the modern Dordogne department, is informally divided into 4 “colors”. Our base was in the southeastern Black Périgord, where the flow of the Dordogne river is the most picturesque, and the places like Sarlat, Beynac, La Roque-Gageac, Belvès, and others are located. The Vézère valley is

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Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is practically a clone of Beynac-et-Cazenac – a riverside village running up the steep hill with an imposing castle as the crown. In fact, the château is said to have been erected specifically for the purposes of rivaling Château de Beynac. The village holds membership in the Prettiest Villages in France association, but somehow

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Château des Milandes

Once you’ve been to a certain number of castles, you begin to realize that aside from architectural grandiosity the ones that leave the most lasting impression are those that look livable. No matter the historical significance or the commanding position, barren walls and a sense of abandonment will render any castle a little more than

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Belvès

Belvès is the largest of all Les Plus Beaux Villages de France in Dordogne, counting nearly 1,500 residents. We started hitting the point of diminishing returns when we visited here, as the village would surely impressed us more if we had not seen close to a dozen other places on this trip already. Although located

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Périgueux

Périgueux is the capital of Dordogne and of the historic province that preceded it, Périgord. It is by some distance the largest town in the region, and out appreciation of it suffered for that. The central part of Périgueux – historically called Puy-St-Front district – is attractive enough, but the town is too big to

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Limeuil

Our next entrant on the list of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France was Limeuil, which occupies strategic heights at the juncture of Dordogne and Vézère rivers. The best view of the village is from the bridge over Dordogne. Limestone deposits and silt give Vézère waters their yellow color, while Dordogne is mostly blue. In

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Monpazier

Monpazier was probably our favorite village of all that we visited in Dordogne. There is something about a neat bastide (a fortified village) that we find especially attractive. They are always colorful and pleasing to the eye, even under the rainy skies. The grid plan of the bastide means that there are several streets running north-south

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Saint-Amand-de-Coly

It is probably obvious to anyone by now that our Dordogne itinerary was heavily influenced by the list of the Prettiest Villages in France. Dordogne department has 10 of them, the most of all departments in the country. I admittedly subscribe to the notion that existence of a formal recognition of any kind makes seeing

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Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère

In between exploring prehistoric caves, we made a lunchtime stop in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, another of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. The little village has about the same population as La Roque-Gageac, but its more “huddled together” topology makes it feel smaller. Its highlights are the 12th-century Romanesque church, a couple of watchtowers at the

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Domme

Domme is the quintessential hilltop village, sitting 250 meters above the river Dordogne. Its elevation gives it a sometime moniker of the Acropolis of Périgord (the latter being the natural region roughly corresponding to the present Dordogne department, so the two names can be almost used interchangeably). A bigger village than Beynac-et-Cazenac or La Roque-Gageac,

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La Roque-Gageac

We have already had glimpses of La Roque-Gageac in a couple of recent posts. The small village nestling under imposing rocks along the bank of Dordogne river has got to be considered picturesque even by the elevated standards of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Here is another look at it from the Belvedere of

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Jardins de Marqueyssac

Château de Marqueyssac is likely part of the quintet that gives “the valley of five castles” its moniker – it has a commanding position on top of a hill overlooking the river Dordogne. But the castle itself is not the main event on its own grounds. In fact, almost no one makes an effort to

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