Posted by Steve & Judie Burman, Caves & Castles

What makes a good holiday?

A warm welcome

Friendly hosts

New and intriguing places to visit

A knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide

Great food

A comfortable bed

This is actually from a comment in our Livre D’Or (Visitors Book) – and it’s great to know we’re getting so many things right!

The advantage of taking a small group Tour is that it’s likely to be run by a small company, perhaps a couple, who care about you and your holiday experience and who know their ‘patch’ really well.  It’s certainly like that for us at Caves and Castles.  No coaches, no early morning starts to travel for miles and miles, no queuing for tickets and no complex planning before hand.

We’ve been told that we should talk more of the gastronomic side of our Tours

Caves & Castles Colourful salads with seasonal flowers and leaves of all sorts

Colourful salads with seasonal flowers and leaves of all sorts

and it’s certainly true that we take you to some unusual eating places you wouldn’t find for yourself!   Colourful salads and home-made terrines andpates, fish smoked in the restaurant’s own smokery, delicious desserts!

One of our favourites is an Auberge hidden in the woods above Les Eyzies, it’s run by a delightful couple, Regis & Sabine, who are passionate about food and give excellent service. No fast food here!  The meal ‘flows’ through the evening – after a warm welcome, a delicious aperitif is served – perhaps a glass or two of an appetite whetting wine in which peach leaves have been steeped or spiced bitter oranges added.  Each table has a huge bottle of very quaffable red wine selected by the patron – they have others available, but we’ve never felt the need to try anything else.  You can even take your own wine, the corkage charge is a glass for Regis!

Caves and Castles - Good food, good wine and good company - perfect.

Good food, good wine and good company - perfect.

The meal often starts with nettle soup and a basket of croutons and garlic cloves. You rub the crouton with the garlic before putting them in your bowl and they impart a delicate aroma and flavour to the soup. Terrines, pates, confit du canard, “ze cheeks of ze beef” which have been gently cooked for hours!  Salads with seasonal flowers and fresh crusty bread.  Then a huge cheese platter is produced – perhaps the finest you’ll taste, superbly selected and stored so they are in prime condition – and the red wine still flows.  Hopefully you’ll still have a little space left as a delicious walnut cake is served next accompanied by home made ‘confitures’ – not jam as is often the French translation of this word, but sugar syrups infused with all sorts of flavours – perhaps rose, sage, dandelion, pine, pumpkin or tarragon.

Caves and Castles - Walnut cake and fragrant sugar syrups - delicious!

Walnut cake and fragrant sugar syrups - delicious!

To round off this feast, coffee, crystallised sage or mint and a liqueur (home made, of course) – beware the prune is powerfully strong!  But there’s subtler ones such as rose or peach too.

It’s more than just a meal, it’s an experience much enjoyed by those joining us for a Caves Art and Castles Tour.  Imagine, stunning cave art by day followed by a gastronomic feast, like this!

What makes a good holiday for you? We’d be interested to hear from you so do let us know.

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Caves & Castles - Steve & Judie Burman

We live and work in the Vezere Valley, Dordogne, France which the French call the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ – you get really close to your ancestors here! Steve is a professional archaeologist and we offer Day Tours, residential and non-residential Guided Cave Art & Castles Archaeology Tours and self catering holidays. Come and spend a day or more with Steve – you’ll get to know so much more than the guide books tell you!

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