Gems of the Dordogne

Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours

Through verdant fields, rolling hills, and a shadowed forest we drive, coming out into the light of the golden village of Cadouin, famed for its abbey and cloister. Pass through the Porte Saint Louis, the only remaining gate of the walls that surrounded the Abbey centuries ago, and the bulwark of a church towers behind the market hall.

Founded in the 11th century, the somber Cistercian Abbey became a pilgrimage site due to a piece of cloth (brought back from the Crusades) said to be part of the burial shroud of Christ…bringing famed visitors such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionhearted to this tiny town.
It was not until the 1930s that the piece of cloth was found to be from Egypt (that Arabic writing on the edges gave it away!), and the town lost its pilgrimage status. Today the main attraction of this Unesco World Heritage Site is the glorious gothic cloister dating from the 15th century (long after the simple bulk of the church itself), with intricately carved capitals, keystones above (with a surprising abundance of curly kale!), and traces of medieval frescoes beside the bishop’s chair.

Not far from Cadouin another ancient gem hides in yet another tiny hamlet …. the communal oven of Urval. Tucked behind houses and beside the village church, this is where the town baked their bread – can you imagine bringing your loaf (did each family have a particular emblem to identify their bread, I wonder?), then sitting in the square while it baked, chatting with your friends awaiting their loaves?
Departing the quiet village (didn’t see a soul!) we wind our way to the hilltop Farm Inn Le Tilleuils for a fresh-as-can-be lunch. In addition to lunch, friendly Nadine offers every imaginable duck product for sale, all from their own farm. Such a peaceful place, as is much of this lush region of France.
Snaking along the curvy Dordogne, we arrive at Limeuil, another Plus Beaux Village, where the Vezere river meets the Dordogne. Not far from the town hall, with its pretty promenade overlooking the rivers, a glassblower is at work on his special designs. We watch for a while, then tackle the steep lane leading to the top of town. From hilltop to riverside Limeuil’s a charmer – as is practically every village we pause in in the lovely Dordogne region!

************************************************************************************The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and the south of France.
While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over thirty ye

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