Tuesday, July 24, 2012

South West France....a home from home.

We returned to France early in July for an assignment in the Lot Valley. A stunning part of France and where our French "families" reside. This is where our love affair with France began. Back in the late 70s we both took part in the Bristol-Bordeaux student exchange where we spent a month living with a French family and they spent a month living with us back in the UK. Both Della and I were extremely lucky with our host families as, unlike some other students whose match didn't quite work out, we had the good fortune to cement lifelong friendships with our French families. Our exchange visits continued for some years and we all stayed in touch. It is without doubt that this introduction to France and all things French influenced our love of the place, people and their culture. Each trip is memorable and each visit feels like coming home.

The location of our pet and house sitting assignment was near to the village of Monflanquin. A bastide town built in 1256 and which changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The village is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ("The most beautiful villages of France") association.

During our stay we had a mixed bag of weather but mostly, it was dry and cool. We had plenty of opportunities to explore the local neighbourhood whilst we were there and we managed to get out and about on several days.
We had a lovely vegetarian meal at a restaurant in Penne d'Agennais with views over the surrounding countryside. It was a warmish day when we went so we were able to take advantage of dining on the outdoor terrace and enjoy the superb scenery. http://www.lepatiodhauteville.fr/ 
The view from the terrace at Le Patio d'Hauteville

We also visited Villereal which is located in the northern part of the Lot-et-Garonne department, near the border with the Dordogne department. The most remarkable feature of Villereal is undoubtedly its intact 14th century market hall dominating almost all of the central square - and still used for its lively Saturday market today. A wonderful lively small town, with a myriad of back streets to explore. Villereal was founded in 1269 by Alphonse de Poitiers, in an effort to keep the English at bay. This didn't work and the English occupied the town during the Hundred Years War.

Flowers on a balcony in Villereal

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