Our two stays at the Château de Courtebotte served as bookends to our (almost) final destination — our beloved Dordogne Valley, specifically the Périgord Noir — land of walnuts, truffles, medieval towns, and the caves of early man. This is the area where we had hoped and planned to make our retirement home. In fact, one particular location was the entire inspiration for this trip.
This is how it came about…
We first discovered the Dordogne on our 2012 Tour which took us throughout many regions of France. One of our stops was in the tiny community of Peyzac-le-Moustier where we stayed for a week in the Haybarn, a self-catering gîte at the Manoir des Granges. We didn’t sit still for a moment and took off in every direction day after day exploring all the amazing sites in the surrounding areas. For some background, read The Three C’s of the Périgord. It was the perfect home base for a wide variety of experiences which helped us narrow down our choices for a retirement location. Here we are enjoying the gîte life at the Haybarn…
Tour #2 in 2015 was focused entirely on southwestern France with the goal of pinpointing our retirement spot. We stayed in many different places including the Manoir des Granges once again. We enjoyed even more daily jaunts to beautiful places like Brantôme and the community of Annesse-et-Beaulieu where we located a house to rent for the following summer. Here’s an account of some of our experiences in the Perigordian Countryside.
True to our plan, we set off on Tour #3 in June of 2016, settled into our little house, and prepared ourselves for a serious French property search. Of course, if you have followed the blog, you know how that turned out. Even though weren’t staying with them, when I got sick, our hosts Paul & Philippa from the Manoir des Granges came to visit us in Annesse-et-Beaulieu offering advice, translation assistance, and moral support during a most difficult time which we so greatly appreciated.
In August of 2018, after a year-and-a-half of treatment, I was feeling brave and anxious to make another French trip. At the Manoir des Granges, in addition to several gîtes, there is a large manor house (Manoir) available to rent. With its 6 bedrooms and 6 en-suite baths, it easily accommodates 12 people.
I had always wanted to stay in the Manoir, so I suggested to our son, Lorenzo, that he round up some friends and plan to join us for a week in July of 2019. To be honest, I never really expected this idea to come to fruition. Low and behold, a couple of months later, Lorenzo informed me that he had several interested parties and we could move forward with our vacation plan. That’s when I decided to organize one last big trip centered around this week in the Dordogne… starting in Spain, the country that had been so elusive in my life for so long.
I studied the calendar working backwards from our planned stay in the Dordogne and came up with an itinerary for Tour 2019 that would include many of the most popular cities in Spain plus some favorite previous destinations such as San Sebastián, and the Château in Saint-Jean-de-Blaignac. Originally, we were going to fly home from Bordeaux but chose to add three more days in Paris as a bonus making it somewhat easier to return home via Portland. As the saying goes, Paris is always a good idea.
Norman was a bit nervous about whether or not I would be able to handle the trip. While I certainly didn’t have the stamina I had for this sort of travel in the past, I managed quite well with my important (and culturally appropriate) daily siestas.
Now that you know how it all began, I imagine you’d like to know just exactly how that week in the Dordogne turned out. Check in tomorrow to read the full story.