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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Excideuil in Dordogne - Gite "Lo Meijou"

My dad, Sidney, did not gamble.  Nor did he drink (much) or live a reckless life.  Heck.  He married a French woman with 2 small kids (and adopted them) while having a complicated family life of his own involving 2 daughters.  He did, however, have a weakness for airplanes, cars and boats - which in a round about way brings us to Excideuil and the medieval Knights Templar Commanderie he fell in love with and subsequently bought in 1998. 

With glorious skies like this, it's hard to imagine that 3 weeks ago it was -24c
Excideuil is a small town in the Perigord region of Dordogne in Aquitaine, about an hour from Bordeaux. Not only is Excideuil the heart of the Black Truffle region of France, it's been 'on the map' since 527 in a region now famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings (Lascaux being only one of 147 documented sites) medieval architecture and Knights Templar lore.

Thursdays, December through March, truffle foragers and fois gras makers offer their goods
The weekly farmers market in Excideuil falls on Thursday mornings.  Winters are local farmer affairs, but as the weather improves and the Summer residents return to otherwise closed up houses, the market flows into side streets throughout the town.
Photo from a family 'all day float' a few summers back

A beautiful if sleepy region of France, the Perigord is blessed with glorious landscapes, ancient villages with Troglodyte beginnings and remarkable chateaus best enjoyed leisurely traveling the back roads or floating  in a canoe down the River Vezeres.  
Chateaus and villages are remarkably evenly spaced along the river with many 'pull out' spots along the way for a walk about, a bite to eat, or shady spaces to 'pique-niquer' if you bring your own supplies (as we did). 

 The reason for our trip to Excideuil 2 weeks ago was not nearly so romantic.  I'd received an email form the couple who keeps an eye on the Commanderie, telling me of the -24c (-11.2f) cold 'snap' during which 4 radiators had frozen and burst. So off we went, my daughter Davis, morale supporting friend Kim and I, to assess the damage (it turned out not to be too terrible)BUT, since the water and power were both shut off, we couldn't stay at the house - a wonderful turn of events, since instead, we stayed on a small farm in the Gite "Lo Meijou" less that a mile from Excideuil.

Spring had not yet arrived at Lo Meijou, but the sun was warm and Pidds enjoyed his walks
Our home for 4 nights was that 2 story stone building on the left, a classic Perigourdine structure with all the modern amenities including heated floors. Monsieur et Madame Boulestin could not have been nicer.  We were welcomed with homemade plum jam and, after a lively conversation about bees (what else is new?) Mme Boulestin gave us a pot of miel harvested last summer from her 4 hives.

Lo Meijou
We took advantage of the warm sunshine and the views as often as possible during our brief stay.

'Aperos' during the Golden Hour at Lo Meijou
The view we enjoyed
It looks like there are going to be several more 'off season' trips to Excideuil in the coming months as repairs slowly get underway.  All should be complete by June, or July (or August) which won't stop me from returning since there is Lo Meijou as a back up!  Here are a couple of photos of the water damage, which mostly involves the wood floors.  Don't be fooled, the rooms are HUGE:
Master bedroom
Guest Room
If you'd like to know more about our Commanderie (yes, you can stay there - well, once it's all repaired and beautiful again) or the Gite "Lo Meijou", here are the links:

Watch for future posts, over the next few months, about repair adventures at the Commanderie which will include places to eat, what to cook, and how to cook it.  Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this image of something we picked up in the covered 'Fois Gras et Truffles' Hall during our visit.

Dried duck magret wrapped around duck fois gras, covered with black pepper.
This is a region I would have known nothing about had it not been for Sid's 'coup de foudre'  (love at 1st sight /hit by lightening) for an amazing (if somewhat impractical) building my mother lovingly referred to as "my husband's dance hall girl".  Mom and Sid left us several years ago. I hope my sharing this home, which they both so loved, will give you as much pleasure as it gave to them.

A Bientôt,

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Elissa said...

I'm drooling Marie! Matt and I should have forced you into a car this summer and just gone there! It's adorable!!!

scenefrominside said...

This is a fabulous article..thanks for sharing...Tom O'neal

The Rambling Epicure said...

Now that's the real France I love so much.