We packed so much into the eleven days of my Grandson’s visit but the time still flew by way to quickly.
I had been looking forward to Derek’s arrival for a long time. He had been to Uzerche once before but that had been over ten years ago, long before I bought my current house.
We had decided to meet at Charles de Gaulle airport. I took a morning train to Paris planning to do some shopping before time to take the RER to the airport. But, as so frequently happens here, things don’t always go according to plan. I knew the 1st of May was a national holiday. I had anticipated boutiques and small shops being closed but not the Grand Magasins, the major department stores and malls, after all it’s Paris.
So after giving up the idea of shopping I returned to the hotel, close to Gare Austerlitz, then explored the nearby Jardin des Plantes.
His flight arrived too late to catch the last train to Uzerche so we spent the night in Paris and left the next afternoon. Derek had stopped in Iceland for a few days on his way here. After a bit of hiking, cycling and late nights with new found friends there he slept-in the next morning before we headed out to see a bit of Paris.
Late morning we grabbed some lunch, picnicked in the Jardin des Plantes and walked around the gardens. Later we caught the Metro to Montmartre where we visited the Sacré-Cœur Basilica then wandered around district before time to catch the train.
First on the agenda upon arrival in Uzerche was a tour of the house: walking through all the rooms, looking at the features, explaining what had been done, what needed to be done and how I envisioned the completed renovations.
Just before going to bed Derek discovered that his phone was missing. A frantic search ensued with calls and listening for his ringtone. So after staying up later than planned we had to get up early the next morning to try and track it down. The call to the taxi driver was to no avail. Since there was only a pay-per-minute number for SNCF, the French train company, we took a mile hike up to the train station only to be given a web site to file a claim. Later that day we relaxed, did a little local exploring around Uzerche and of course ate some yummy pastries.
The following day we took the bus in to Brive-la-Gaillarde. I took Derek to Emmaüs, the charity shop where I’ve bought most of my furniture. Then it was off to pick up a rental car so we could explore more of France. On the drive back we stopped at Donzenac, a medieval village with the impressive Église Saint-Martin.
Then because we were busy talking and missed the turnoff to Uzerche we stopped at Salon-la-Tour on our round about way home.
The next day we drove to Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a somber visit due to the town’s history. On 10th June 1944 Nazi SS officers marched into the town and rounded up the residents. They locked the women and children in the church and men in barns. After looting the town they killed the inhabitants and set the town on fire leaving it in ruins. Only six of about 650 residents escaped.
The town has been preserved as a memorial to the inhabitants and the outrages of war. Other than some wear from weather the buildings look much as they did after the town had been destroyed.
The reminders of the horrors of war are even more striking when viewing pictures of the town and people in previous peaceful times. (Some of those pictures can be viewed in the following video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vbaVgT6QDM. )
The sixth day was rainy so Derek did some work on my house. He removed the shelves & backs of the cabinets in my (soon-to-be-again – I hope) kitchen. He was also going to remove a corner sink on the second floor but I didn’t have the right tools to disconnect the copper pipes.
Sunday we went to Church. There was a special service at Église Sainte-Eulalie because the area Bishop was going to be there. Services are usually held at Église Saint-Pierre or at the chapel Notre-Dame. It’s posted that services are held every Sunday in Uzerche at 11:00 – I always like to add “except when it’s not”. Because of the Bishop’s visit the bulletin gave the start time as 10:00. I figured it would go a little long and that we should be through by at least 11:30. So I had arranged to have Jo come meet us for lunch at noon.
But I didn’t know the 10:00 start time was for an introduction and question/answer session with the Bishop. The service didn’t start until around 11:00. I had left my phone at home so I couldn’t text Jo that we were running late. Communion is offered near the end of the service so I told Derek that as soon as they finished we would make a quick exit. As it turned out, the Bishop served communion at the front and the priest about half way down the aisle, which happened to be the end of our pew. The priest turned to return to the front of the church and just as we got up to leave he turned back around. Derek and I were both feeling embarrassed but at that point there was no turning back. When we arrived home Jo kindly assured us that she hadn’t waited long. We enjoyed a nice visit and lunch .
The following day we set out for Rocamadour but on the way we stumbled upon the beautiful town of Turenne. We pulled off the road to take some pictures then proceeded to the town where we stopped for a wonderful lunch.
After lunch we walked up to the top of the hill and also enjoyed an amazing view of the countryside surrounding Turenne.
We wanted to stop for gas and as we followed the signs to a gas station we noticed another sign for Collonges-la-Rouge. I plugged it in to Google Maps on my phone; since it was only a short distance we decided to take another detour.
On our way again and we finally arrived at our destination of Rochamadour, a clifftop village celebrated for its religious buildings and known as the Cité religieuse. Some of the buildings are built into the cliff. The pictures just don’t do it justice.
The next day we returned the rental car and took a brief look around Brive before taking the bus home.
Wednesday morning was rainy again so a little more work on the house before going up to the old town in Uzerche to enjoy an exhibition of 1920-1940 couture and picking up some goodies from a mobile British shop that come to town about once a month. Back to my house and sadly having to pack in preparation for Derek’s return home.
We had one more outing though. I book a night train for Derek from Cahors to Paris so he wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel the night before his flight. Thursday we took the train to Cahors. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel we went out to get some lunch. Afterward we were going to have a quick look around then go back to the hotel for a rest before his train which left just after midnight.
We saw an interesting building that I wanted to get a picture of. There were several people standing in front of it so I took a couple of other pictures hoping they would move away so I could get a good view. We noticed that they were waiting for a tour so we inquired about the price and decided to join it. As it turned out it was an architectural tour of Belle Époque, Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings around the town. It was a walking tour and took three hours. Very interesting, at least what we could understand as it was all in French, but also very long. We estimated that we walked at least 6 miles on the tour. We eventually made it back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest before dinner.
I saw Derek off on his train. We both wish he had more time to stay and hope he’ll return soon.