Saturday 10 September 2022

Hot in the Dordogne

Saturday 10 September 2022

Nido's parked up in an (yet another!) aire with free services, in the small village of Sourzac, overlooking the Isle river.  It's been a hot sunny day and tomorrow's forecast is even hotter - summer's back!  Having said that, we were quite chilly when we woke up this morning and a hot shower was welcomed.

Yesterday we stayed overnight at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne (yes - it was also free!).  This is one of the 'beautiful villages' of France, with a chateau, medieval hospice, convent and various churches, including a troglodyte one which was carved into the caves and rock.  On our way we stopped for lunch in the village of Mouthiers sur Boëme in the aire next to the church.  Had we arrived the day before, we could probably have joined in with the village fete which, in France, usually includes food, drink, live music and a late night!  The marquee, seating and bar were still all in place but everything else had been cleared away.

The aire at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is next to tennis courts, a football pitch and a campsite. It's quite small, gravelled and had the potential to get a bit crowded.  Luckily just across the road was another large parking area on grass, backing onto a big flood meadow alongside the river.  We opted for this and spent the afternoon reading and catching up on admin.  It was quite busy and, as it was a Friday, French families arrived in their motorhomes, equipped with tables chairs and lots of food and drink; they were set on a party!

After dinner we left Salty in the van and took a walk across the bridge and up into the old part of the village.  It's typical of those around these parts - lots of tiny narrow streets opening into a number of squares as you wind your way up the hill.  The main square had most of the commercial shops and restaurants. But in other smaller squares and along some of the narrow lanes were eclectic bistros, bars, restaurants and various art galleries and potters.  There's even a butterfly and a puppet museum in the village.  The medieval buildings gave a feeling of how it may have once been, but in modern times they're almost lost behind all the cars parked in the narrow lanes. Most of the shops, galleries and all the churches and interesting buildings were closed, but we still enjoyed a peaceful walk around the village.

Warmed up this morning by a hot shower and boiled eggs (making good use of our Breton eggcups!), the first task of the day (after servicing the van at the free point on the other side of the road) was to find some new dog harnesses.  Salty is a Patterdale Terrier.  Patterdale Terriers like to hunt for rats, rabbits and pretty much anything small that lives down a hole!  If left to his own devices, he would pick up a scent and would be gone in a flash; if we're lucky we'd see his tail poking out of said hole, at worst he'd be gone and we'd never get him back.  Plus he's a rescue who had a miserable first 12 months as the runt of the litter and so is reactive to other dogs - he just doesn't like them.  He loves people and children but thinks he has to defend us and himself from other dogs.  So he has to stay on a lead at all times. One of the consequences is that he gets through a lot of leads and harnesses. During our short time in France he's managed to trash the two harnesses we bought with us, so we needed new ones.  I found three possible sources in the nearby town of Ribéac and luckily found them in the first place I tried - the Le Clerc Hypermarché.  Now, I'm not sure how long these ones will last, but they 'should' last long enough to get us home and source some more robust ones.  We'll see.....

The aire in Sourzac is by quite a busy road and being Saturday, the traffic is constant, especially loud motorbikes.  These are definitely no friend of Salty and if he hears one he tries to bury himself into a hole underneath the van driver's seat.  Other than that, it's a lovely spot with shade from the trees, picnic benches and walks along the river.  So after lunch we went for a wander to escape the traffic noise, walking along the river, finding fresh water streams by the church across the road, which in turn were feeding cool, clear running water to small concrete watercress beds.  Our route took us over the river and along some quiet country lanes, passing various old houses with lovely gardens. We like a good nosy on our lane walks!  It was a hot day and I was glad we took some water as we sat in the shade of the local football ground pavilion for a drink.

Dinner was eaten outside before the mozzies eating us drove us back into the van. It's a warm, sultry evening so doors and skylights are open.  The skylights and windows have fly-screens - the doors don't!  The adjacent church's - Église Saint-Pierre et Saint Paul - bells ring out every hour.  I understand they stop after 10pm and start again at 7am - I hope so!

On the corner of the road by the aire servicing point is the village war memorial, listing all the locals who died in both world wars and various conflicts since.  One side of the memorial is devoted to those men (and boys) in the village who were rounded up and shot by the Nazis on 11 June 1944, as retaliation for a recent attack by the French Resistance.  About 350 men from Sourzac and the surrounding villages were rounded up.  At 4pm the men over 60 or disabled were released.  The remainder were herded into three classrooms in the school.  Those who 'dressed like the resistance' were marked as terrorists. Those who had no papers on them were also designated. The hostages were taken away, lined up in 3 rows, arms in the air, then shot at about 9pm.  Two of the victims were barely 16 years old.  In total 54 civilians were massacred and another 115 deported to the concentration camps.

War is cruel and inhumane.  Some people like to glorify war, particularly those who have never fought in one. 

Park up at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

View from Aubeterre-sur-Dronne 

Sourzac aire

At least someone got to cool off!

Watercress beds fed by a natural stream

War is cruel

Église de Saint Pierre et Saint Paul

Troglodyte restaurant built into the cliffs, over the road from the aire

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