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Getting Creatively Lost: A Ramble Through France

To Autoire

A path between Loubressac and Autoire.

The path to Autoire impressed me more than any I took between villages. It had everything a hiker could want–views, an antiquity, a waterfall and brook, and a pretty destination where a cold Leffe was waiting to be drunk.

Much of my route went through woods, for once, with low stone walls on either side, and climbing a back road brought me to a lookout to end all lookouts. Farther on, I came to “the English castle,” doubtless a relic from the Hundred Years War, which ended in the fifteenth century. Built into a hillside, the masonry, still in excellent shape, had a light, tawny color, and the crossbow slits offered marvelous views. As with Taillefer, I think it must have been a guardhouse/lookout.


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An Intimate Village

The twelfth-century tympanum at St. Maur

What I liked best about Martel as a place was its intimacy. Unlike other villages further along my route, most residents lived in multifamily dwellings, not fancy houses fenced off and set back from the roads. Walk the quiet, narrow streets in the early afternoon or early evening, and you can tell what everybody’s cooking for lunch or dinner. Martel’s a homey place.

Late my first afternoon, I visited the church of St. Maur, whose entryway dates from the twelfth century and is worth a look. Its bell tower, built with defense in mind during the Hundred Years War with England, was what I’d seen entering town. My first evening, in the shadow of that tower, I ate duck breast, a Dordogne specialty, while swallows swooped and dived in the fading light, and the tower rang vespers. Only in Europe.


Like this blog? I invite you to visit my other one, Novelhistorian, in which I review historical fiction and history.  Read More 

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