Having realised that Dexter was much happier travelling in the car without the use of a cage, we felt more relaxed about taking him abroad for his first holiday.
The Gite at Le Treuil, near Mussidan
Such was the popularity of the Dordogne in south-western France amongst the British (and running out of coastal areas to explore!) that we thought we'd give it a go. We found a gite on the web, booked a slot on the Eurotunnel and set off south.
The gite was owned by a retired couple from Suffolk who stayed next door. Although there was only one bedroom, the place was enormous. Outside there was a well-kept garden and our own pool. Although the weather wasn't warm enough for the cover to come off during our week and a half stay, we did manage one afternoon on the sun-loungers.
Our evenings, rather than sitting outside, were spent around the wood-burning stove watching a boxed set of 'The Killing'.
Exploring the Dordogne
The attraction of a holiday in the Dordogne (referred to also by the French as the Périgord) is in the small hilltop towns and exploring the countryside between them, so the lack of sunshine didn't get in the way too much. Our first excursion was to the relatively-close town of Aubeterre sur Dronne. Despite the pretty setting, we couldn't help thinking how quiet it was.
Our second trip took us further afield, first to Sarlat, a larger town which was having it's market day. After lunch in a cafe, we moved on to the nearby Jardins d'Eyrignac, noted for it's topiary. Our route back took us along the Dordogne river for the first time.
Our nearest large town/city was Périgeux, which provided a pleasant stroll. We continued onto Brantôme, and followed the river Dronne to the village of Bourdeilles before heading back to the gite. We visited the other large town, Bergerac, and its surrounding vineyards on another expedition.
We gave up the car one day and took the train to Bordeaux, an hour away. We added to Dexter's experiences by taking him on a tram between the train station and the city centre.
The furthest we strayed from our base near Mussidan was the day when we visited firstly the caves at Lacave (reached by a little underground electric train), then the deservedly popular hillside town of Rocamadour. Here, Dexter was able to tick off from his public transport experiences first a cable car - down through one level of the town to the next - then a lift, down to the main street level.
Our final tour was back to the Dordogne, where we visited first Limeuil and then Tremolat before returning back to Le Treuil for the last time.
Staying at Jackie's Place
Our friend Jackie has a farmhouse in the Charente, an hour away from our gite, so we arranged to spend the last few days with her there. Happily our mutual friends Phil and Tessa were also there that weekend, so Friday night saw a group walk to Jackie's local cafe in the village of Yviers. We went upmarket the following night at a restaurant housed in the chateau of the nearby town of Chalais.
We stayed in on Sunday, and all helped out to make our final meal of the holiday - our contribution being the use of our newly-acquired raclette machine, together with a supply of the cheese.
Too soon it was Monday morning, time to say our goodbyes and drive back to the UK.
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