Sharing Our France
As you learned in the previous post, part of the inspiration for this trip was an opportunity to stay in the manor house at the Manoir des Granges. But truthfully, the majority of the motivation was to share all the things we love about southwestern France with our son and his friends. And share we did!
At first, Lorenzo’s friends were a little skeptical about spending a week out in the middle of nowhere with his parents. You can’t blame them. They really had no idea what they were getting into. However, our various recommendations for daily adventures worked out well for them. Coupled with the availability of a large private pool and fabulous local food and wines plus the unique qualities of the Manoir, they seemed to have a really good time. We were really pleased to see them enjoying much of what we love about the Dordogne and southwestern France. As you can tell from these photos, they do know how to have fun!
“The Kids” started off their journey with a short stay in Paris including a spectacular dinner at Bernard Pacaud’s Michelin three-starred restaurant, L’Ambroisie — quite a contrast to what awaited them in the Dordogne. Here they are decked out in their finest for that evening.
They even managed to squeeze in a few major sites especially for first-timer, Amy… Lorenzo’s friend since 5th grade, 22 years ago.
Sunday – Bastille Day
After arriving in Bordeaux from Paris via the high-speed TGV train, the Kids hung out there for a few hours and even whisked through La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s new wine museum.
Still reeling from jet lag and lack of sleep, they made it to the Manoir ready to experience a week in the countryside. Coming from their home cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles and spending some time in two of the largest cities in France, they were looking forward to a less hectic lifestyle for a few days.
The Kids made the requisite trip to the local grocery store stocking up on all kinds of local delicacies and treats for the week. Meanwhile, we headed off to Sarlat on the first in a series of “revisits” and ate a light lunch surrounded by some medieval grandeur.
That evening, Ryan, who served as Activities Director & Food Connoisseur during their stay, produced this delectable dinner spread for all to enjoy.
Over the week, the Kids also became well-acquainted with the large private pool and took advantage of many opportunities to spend idle hours there simply relaxing — something they rarely get to do in the midst of their typical daily grind in the tech industry.
Most mornings began with breakfast often featuring eggs cooked-to-order by Ryan and/or Jacob accompanied by fresh pastries Norman acquired from the bakery just a five minute walk away.
It was time to explore farther afield, so we set the Kids off on a 27-mile loop through the Périgord that encompasses the quintessential towns of Sarlat, Domme, La Roque Gageac, and Beynac. We had driven this route in 2012 (read about it here) and knew it would be a great introduction to the unique history of the area. Later, Norman prepared a delicious meal of Cassoulet to finish off the day.
Continuing the theme of revisiting favorite places, we returned to the beautiful village of Brantôme where we ate a tasty bistro lunch along the river and wandered the charming streets.
Despite being seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, there are a few notable restaurants in the vicinity of the Manoir where you can make reservations for a special meal. One of these is the Auberge du Coq run by a former Michelin star chef who decided to leave the stress of the big city and retire with his culinary skills to the country. We all dined there together choosing some delicious options from the three-course menu. Merci beaucoup, Ryan!
And, yes, I had Foie Gras twice on this day!!
Officially declared “stay-at-home” day. Even if you are young, you have to stop and rest sometime! Directly across the road from the Manoir is an archeological site called La Roque Saint Christophe — an easy walk and entertaining window into the past. The Kids ventured over in the cool of the morning to check it out and returned with intentions of canoeing, but, in the end, the relaxation of the pool called to them again. Time to kick back and take it easy.
For this evening’s gourmet dinner, we were all able to walk right up the road to La Table de Moustier, a small restaurant with big flavors and superb enthusiastic, multilingual service provided by a very talented husband and wife team. Once again, we ordered from a three-course menu and were extremely delighted with the results.
Below is just a sampling of our various dishes…
I have to say that eating well and drinking some fabulous wines played an important role in the success of this week.
The Kids went all out for the grand finale of their week making the 5-hour round trip to Toulouse. It had been Jacob’s lifelong dream to visit the Airbus Factory located there and his friends were determined he should have the experience. There was a slight compromise… Ryan accompanied Jacob on an engaging tour and museum visit, while Lorenzo and Amy spent the day hanging out and shopping in the Place du Capitole, the central square of the Pink City. We made our own Toulouse trek in 2012.
While the Kids were out and about all day, Norman and I made one last revisit to the hilltop bastide of Domme for that spectacular view of the Dordogne River and Valley it so uniquely provides. Another light lunch and we were on our way back to the Manoir through the lush green countryside.
Since three of us had upcoming birthdays, a small celebration seemed a fitting way to end this wonderful week. I arranged for a traditional French cake called a Croquembouche which is a tower of vanilla pastry cream and caramel-dipped profiteroles decorated with sugared almonds.
With candles lit, we made our wishes, and served up glasses of our favorite Bonhoste white and rosé Crèment while pulling apart and devouring the delicious pastry. When asked if we would reveal our wishes, Lorenzo stuck with tradition and kept his to himself. Jacob admitted his wish was to move to New York. I replied that I didn’t make a wish because I had already gotten mine… to return to France and have the opportunity to share what we love about it with others exactly like we had that week.