Five Reasons to Visit Dordogne France

There are hundreds of reasons to visit Dordogne France, but five that top our list.

Known by its older name, Perigord, Dordogne is France’s third largest region located in southwestern France about a 5 hour drive south of Paris between Lyon and Bordeaux. The Perigord region is full of medieval towns, gorgeous châteaux, prehistoric caves, elite gardens, awesome food and all in and around the spectacular countryside. So don’t delay, visit Dordogne France this year!

There are four major towns are Périgueux, Bergerac, and Sarlat, but don’t stop at visiting those towns and experiencing all that the Dordogne has to offer. When you visit Dordogne France, you’ll pass by many honey-colored stone houses and rich green meadows. Along the way you’ll be reminded why the Dordogne, the rural south-west of France is so loved by residents and tourists.

Here are five reasons to visit Dordogne, France.

  1. Le Châteaux – The Dordogne region has around 1000 castles and exquisite châteaux. Some of the most visited châteaux include the 15th century Chateau des Milandes which was restored by the legendary jazz and singer and actress Josephine Baker.

    Châteaux des Milandes in Dordogne, France.
    Châteaux des Milandes in Dordogne, France. Photo by Manfred Heyde.

    Also, worth a visit is the fortified 12th century Châteaux de Beynac. Set 200 meters high on a cliff that juts out onto the Dordogne River, it was temporarily occupied by Richard Lion Heart. The history alone is a reason to visit as well as the fantastic views of the countryside.

  2. Gorgeous Gardens – When you visit Dordogne France, you’ll see it has its share of châteaux as well as astonishing gardens to match.
    The most famous being Les Jardins de Marqueyssac with numerous perfectly manicured boxed hedges. The gardens overlook the chalky cliffs of the Dordogne offering an amazing panoramic view of Perigord.  Even more amazing than a day trip to the gardens is visiting the magically illuminated gardens during the summer evenings.

    The Gardens of Marqueyssac, Dordogne, France
    The Gardens of Marqueyssac, Dordogne, France. Photo by Lemoussu
  3. Quintessentially French towns – There are three major towns in Dordogne, Bergerac in the south-west, Perigueux further north, and Sarlat in the south-east, but don’t stop at those three. One never tires of visiting any of the towns especially those classified as ‘les Plux Beaux Detours‘ in France, so just look for the label Most beautiful detour in France and you’re on the right track. One city on the detour is Brantôme, also known as the known as the Venice of the Dordogne. A stop at the Benedictine Abbey on the river’s edge and the old stone bridge are well worth the visit. Each village has its own charm so make time to thoroughly enjoy as many as possible.

    Abbey of Brantôme and its bell tower, Dordogne, France
    Abbey of Brantôme, Dordogne, France, Photo by Monster1000
  4. Brilliant Caves – France is peppered with hundreds of caves full of prehistoric art and extraordinary rock formations hidden deep beneath a sea of caverns. At Grotte de Rouffignac, the electric train descends you to complete darkness where you’ll see nearly 100 line drawings and engravings of mammoths, horses, and bison as well as the ‘Great Ceiling’ decorated with 65 animal figures.When visiting Gouffre de Padirac you’ll see nature’s beauty in an underground gorge. After the 99 meter descent (elevator or stairs), you take to a gondola ride to enjoy the beauty of the limestone caves.

    Photo by cave painter
    Photo by cave painter
  5. A Gourmand Experience – I had to save the best for last as without a doubt, Dordogne is a foodie region. It’s the food and wine which draw many people to Dordogne. After all, the region is France’s capital of foie gras, duck, and truffle. Vegetarians, don’t fret, the daily markets in the towns and villages are full of seasonal produce such as walnuts, strawberries, mushrooms, goat cheese (cabécou), and French breads of course.And what better way to enjoy Dordogne’s bounty than with one of the region’s Bergerac wines. The region is one of the few in France that produce nearly as many white wines as red (around 48% versus 52%). The area contains 13 Appellations Contrôlées where Bergerac red wine, Côtes de Bergerac red wine, Bergerac dry white wine, Bergerac rosé wine and Côtes de Bergerac sweet white wines, are grown in the Bergerac vineyards.

    Bergerac white wine, Dordogne, France
    Photo by JPS68

Need another reason to visit Dordogne France? Stay-tuned as we update you on more great things to see and do in Dordogne France.




The Great Traveling Fabric Fairs

Get your craft on at one of Europe’s traveling fabric fairs.

I’m a born-again sewist. I began sewing and crafting when I was 8 years old and never stopped until I moved to Germany 14 years ago. Why did I stop sewing? Mainly because I couldn’t find affordable fabrics and notions. And the second reason? I couldn’t find parts for my beloved Kenmore sewing machine. Fast forward a few years and I have a new Bernina sewing machine. But I need fabric and buttons and zips too. Well, I finally discovered there are traveling fabric fairs from Holland that stop in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France several times a year.

Stoffenmarkt Holland Fabric Fair

I don’t know the history of these traveling fabric fairs, but they are reminiscent of America’s traveling salesmen. The men would ride through your homestead on horseback, wagon, or buggy selling the small things needed in the household. You know, needles and thread, buttons, collar stays, and wicks for kerosene lamps. But where did the ladies get their fabric? Gonna have to watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie to figure that one out.

What I do know is that instead of having to fly back to the US to purchase fabric, I can visit one of Europe’s traveling fabric fairs and see about 50 vendors and in one location. Sorry JoAnn Fabrics, but a sewist hast to do what a sewist has to do–find great fabrics and save money too.

Stoffmarkt Holland vs. Stoffenspektal

So far, I’ve attended several of the Stoffmarkt Holland traveling fabric fairs held in large and small German cities throughout the year. Stoffmarkt Holland holds nearly 40 spring events (~Feb – June) and an multiple autumn events leading up to Christmas. Most of their traveling fabric fairs are held outside in an empty parking lot and have awnings to cover the fabrics and slightly shield you from the elements, but I wear a hat or carry an umbrella just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

At the Stoffmarkt Holland traveling fair you can find a large assortment of cottons, silks, wool, knits, and leather fabrics for sewing, crafting and quilting. There are also lots of designer fabrics too. There’s quite an assortment to choose from, so you just need to look around and find which fabric suits your needs. No pun intended! 🙂

If it’s notions you are looking for, I find the assortment quite overwhelming and so do the other sewists. It gets really, really crowded at the notions tent where you need to nudge you way in to get a chance to view the pretty buttons, clasps, and ribbons.

I recently discovered a second traveling fabric fair called Stoffenspektal. I learned about this one while buying fabric in Holland where the fabric shop owner said the prices are good as well as the selection. The Stoffenspektal event in France I attended had around 40 vendors and the selection of fabrics were different than the ones from Stoffmakt Holland, so I now I have an alternative fabric fair to visit. Stoffenspektal caters to sewists located in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg, but from, my home in Germany can reach those borders in a little over an hour–which makes for a perfect day trip.

Both the Stoffmarkt Holland and the Stoffenspektal offer a good selection of fabrics for the average and advanced sewists. If I ever get into making ball gowns again, I’d probably travel to Holland or Belgium to visit one of the designer fabric shops. For now any of the traveling fabric fairs will do since I’m just making skirts, dresses, bags, and some pretty table cloths.

Bernina sewing machine

They speak your language

Don’t worry too much about the language barrier, because the Stoffmarkt Holland vendors are mainly from Holland and Belgium and speak good German, English, and French. Other vendors include Bernina, who is a sponsor of many fabric fairs, so a local rep is on hand to demo and/or sell you a machine.

Not everyone in the family may like sorting through bolts of fabrics and button bins like you do, so they can take a snack break while you fabric shop. If you brought along the kids or your significant other, there’s always a food stand selling beer, brats, and ice cream to keep the non-sewists busy for a bit.

Things to know before going to a traveling fabric fair

  • Go really early to avoid the crowds.
  • Wear sturdy comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking on hard surfaces.
  • The vendors accept EURO, and a few accept credit cards (mainly MasterCard or Visa).
  • Bring a shopping stroller; you’d be surprised how heavy fabric can be.
  • Metric Measurement Conversions
    • 1 inch  =  2.54 centimeters (cm)
    • 45 inches = 1.15 meters (115 cm)
    • 60 inches = 1.52 meters (150 cm)
    • 1 yard = 0.91 meters
    • 9 inch zipper = 22 cm (22.86 cm)

Happy sewing, crafting, and quilting.




My First Yoga Retreat Experience

Going on my first yoga retreat was a major turning point in my life.

Last summer I decided to take the plunge and sign-up for a serious and much-needed yoga retreat. My body and mind were mush and I desperately needed help. Months later, I’m still practicing yoga and feeling the effects of a lifestyle devoted to the mind, body, and soul. I took a long-time to post this because I wanted to make sure the retreat was beneficial it and indeed it was.

Le Château du Montgoger

There’s no other glorious place I can think of to practice yoga than in a historical French Chateau. The Loire Valles is home to more than 300 châteaux where nobility lived and vacationed. As I entered the sprawling grounds of Le Château du Montgoger, I put on my princess demeanor and opened up to be transformed.

Chateau du Montgoger, France
Chateau du Montgoger, France

Le Yoga

I recently returned to yoga after a long absence and prepped my body as best I could by practicing at home. Of course, there’s nothing like a good yoga teacher to provide the best adjustments as well feedback on your performance and our yoga teacher Emily did just that. I won’t kid you, it was tough practicing yoga fours hours a day, but you need to set your intention and do the best you can (or hang out in Child’s Pose). LOL

Yoga Room at Chateau de Montgoger
Yoga Room at Chateau de Montgoger

Aside from prepping the body for daily yoga practices, a good yoga retreat packing list helps since I didn’t have time or the means to travel into town to purchase forgotten items leaving time to relax and reflect.

Le Detox/Le Food

Frankly, I was terrified about the detox and the effects it would have on my body as well as the taste of the food. The word detox alone conjured up grotesque images and made me turn up my nose, but boy was I wrong.

Ayurvedic Detox Meal at Chateau de Montgoger, Emilyoga.com
Ayurvedic Detox Meal at Chateau de Montgoger

The team at Le Château du Montgoger poured so much love into the amazing, healthy, and delicious sattvic meals. Eliminating dairy, meat, fish, salt, and sugar was actually quite easy. Most of the fruits and vegetables were harvested from the organic garden in back of the chateau so they were as fresh as could be.

Ayurvedic Drink at Emilyoga.com Yoga/Detox Retreat
Ayurvedic Drink at Emilyoga.com Yoga/Detox Retreat

During our daily brunch and evening meals, one-by-one, the vegan dishes were presented accompanied with an explanation of the health benefits.  For those with allergies or dislikes, alternative dishes were made and during the week-long retreat I did not once go hungry. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and taste of the food and kept saying “Ce repas est delicieux!” (The food is delicious!).

Le Meditation

The health benefits of mediation are numerous. Whether you wish to help reduce stress, sleep better, feel happier, or be more at peace, a regular devoted practice is necessary. I started meditating more often at home, but am still thrown off by sounds. Whether it be a neighbor mowing lawns, a bus passing by, or a dog barking, I haven’t been able properly enjoy meditating.

Yoga Retreat Bliss
I’m still in yoga retreat bliss.

During the retreat not only were we guided on how to meditate, but given the tools in the comfort of a peaceful surrounding. Now that I’m over the first hurdle, I find it a little easier to meditate and be more present. Just like yoga, it’s a practice that keeps getting better with time.

Le Downtime

The chateau is located about one hour outside of Tours, France and entering the grounds you are immersed in a tranquil, serene setting. Even at a retreat you need a little downtime and after two yoga sessions daily, I was able to catch up on my much-needed sleep.

The daily meditation and walks through the forest certainly helped me to relax and so did the walks among the hectares of luscious green forests. There  were bikes available for rides into the nearby villages and hammocks to relax  under a large oak tree awaiting the next Yogi nor far from where Joan of Arc slept.

Grounds of Chateau de Montgoger, France where Joan of Arc slept
Grounds of Chateau de Montgoger, France where Joan of Arc slept.

The only sound was the occasional bark from the dog, a few pigeons, and the sound of lat summer leaves gently blowing in the breeze. To break up the routine, we also had some play dates at a nearby river and a visit to an organic cheese farm. It’s not sattvic but I couldn’t insult the cheese maker as she place a sample fromage in my hand.

Le Experience

Without getting into the details, before the retreat I was in a bad place and in much need of a sleep and TLC. So, how was my first yoga retreat experience? All I can is, “Ahh, pure bliss”. I can’t believe it’s already been seven months since the retreat and I’m still feeling fantastic.

I’ve returned home to a familiar place with a renewed spirit. And guess what? I decided to continue eliminating meat and fish from my cuisine but cheat a little and eat cheese every so often. I’m a cheese head from Wisconsin, so don’t comment. 🙂




What to Pack for a Yoga Retreat

Things to Pack for a Yoga Retreat? Here are some essentials you’ll need to bring.

I decided to treat myself to a yoga meditation vacation near Tours, France and it’s time to start thinking about what to pack for a yoga retreat. I still have a bit of time before the retreat, but really want to be prepared for my solo getaway.

During this retreat held at Chateau de Montgoger Yoga in St. Epain, I’ll spend 7 glorious days practicing yoga, meditation, and eating delicious vegetarian foods. I’m traveling by train and will need to travel as light as possible. I don’t want to over pack, yet I don’t want to under pack. Oh my, such dilemmas for an event that should be calming.

What to Pack for a Yoga Retreat
Packing as light as possible for a yoga retreat isn’t so easy.

What to Expect

Wish I could tell you, but I have no idea. This is my first yoga retreat. In fact, my first retreat ever outside of Girl Scout camp. I re-started my practice after many years but feel it’s the right time to treat myself with more love.

The daily schedule for the retreat includes silent walks in the forest, yoga, meditation, and the practice of breathing techniques. I’m using it as a guide to decide what to pack for a yoga retreat. If I don’t get it right, I’ll update the post after the retreat.

Yoga Gear

  • Yoga mat You’ll need to bring your mat, but some yoga retreats such as Chateau de Montgoger Yoga, supply the mats, blocks, belts, and other accessories.
  • Yoga hand towel Great for when I want to wipe away the sweat and dry my hands. Also keeps me from slipping on the mat during extreme practices.
  • Yoga mat towel (My optional tip) Highly recommended if you don’t have time to clean and dry your mat between practices or if you’ll be borrowing a yoga mat.
  • BPA-free water bottle

Yoga Clothing

I don’t have a lot of yoga clothes. I still use some of my general exercise clothes that work fine for now. I wish I had more pretty yoga clothes, but the prices are pretty outrageous. Therefore, I will pack for a yoga retreat by bringing the following:

  • 3 pairs of yoga pants. One mid-calf, one wide leg, and one wide cuff that can double as dressy pants.
  • 2 sports bras If one is soiled I can quickly wash and dry it and have the second as a spare.
  • 2 tank tops Take at least one top that isn’t super sporty, so it can be worn alone or with a shirt.
  • 2 leggings Who doesn’t love leggings? They’re perfect for relaxing and meditating.
  • 1 pair of walking pants Even if it’s hot, during a forest walks one way to protect yourself from mosquitoes is to simply cover your legs. They can be washed and dried in a jiffy.
  • 1 long sleeve shirt Also for the silent walks in the forest, a camping shirt with roll-up sleeves is very versatile.
  • 2 pairs undies per day Sounds crazy, but hand washing undies and finding a line to dry them in a shared room/bathroom ain’t my thing.
  • 3 pairs socks Shoes aren’t normally allowed in yoga centers, so I prefer to cover my toes. Also, I’ll need them for the sport shoes.
  • Comfortable walking shoes An absolute must for any trip. Invest in a good lightweight pair of sport shoes. Your feet will love you for it.
  • Flip-flops Well, I’m not a flip-slops, I mean flip-flop fan, but since we’re sharing a bathroom, I might just make an exception just this once.
  • 1 light sweatshirt or pullover For walks in the forest, during meditation practice, or evenings under the moon light.
  • 1 dress Throwing in a 100% cotton dress that I’ll probably wear after the day’s session around dinner.
  • Headbands Keeps my Afro-Caribbean hair out of my face and allows me to change my look. Uh oh! another diva statement.
  • Sarong A sarong is so multi-functional and can double as a dress, skirt, shawl, meditation blanket, and much more.
  • Salwar kameez (Another optional tip) I picked up a few the beautiful Salwar kameez (3-piece tunic, pant, and shawl) outfits while visiting India. Not only are they lovely, but practical too. The loose fitting pants are cool, the tunic top can be worn with leggings, and the scarf makes a great wrap. All pieces worn together are perfect for dress-up evening.
  • Travel wallet The bare essentials such as cash, credit card, insurance card, ID. Leave all the other stuff at home.
  • Light/Foldable Rain Jacket

Tech Gear, Never Leave Home Without It

I should shut off during this retreat, but let’s be realistic, there are some essentials one must pack for a yoga retreat ad they include the tech gear we have difficulty living without. I will indeed stay in touch with my husband, family, and friends, so will pack the following techie travel essentials yet keep them out of the practice area:

Cosmetics/Toiletries

When you pack for a a yoga retreat trip, any trip, keep it light. The essential cosmetics and toiletries are scale breakers and weigh one down when traveling.

  • Shampoo One that doubles for hair and body.
  • Hair Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Facial wipes They double as a cleanser, toner, and light moisturizer.
  • Makeup I’m a bit of a diva, but do need to protect my skin from the sun’s harmful rays. I like the Kiehl’s BB cream tinted moisturizer (SPF 50 PA +++ UV protection). It has everything I need.
  • Mosquito bracelet I just purchased a bio-type bracelet that contains no DEET (That stuff is deadly 🙁 ). The bracelet sachet fits on my wrist or ankle and is filled with an enhanced citronella gel. Never tried it before, but hoping it will repel the mosquitoes, gnats, and other creep-crawly insects.
  • Medications and first aid travel kit I use homeopathic remedies and have a small, lightweight kit with the essential remedies. If you need to take medications, especially traveling to Europe, bring the original bottle in case you need a refill.

Anything Else I Need to Pack for a Yoga Retreat?

Yes, most importantly, an open mind.

Namaste 🙂




Alsatian Flammkuchen Recipe

Follow the simple Flammkuchen recipe below and you’ll receive rave reviews when you present family and friends with an authentic Alsatian Flammkuchen.

Une tarte flambée, spécialité alsacienne
Homemade Flammkuchen

Basic Flammkuchen Recipe (Tarte flambée).

  • 1-14-16″ really thin pizza-style yeast crust of your choice (frozen, fresh, non-gluten, or homemade)
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 3/4 – 1 cup (150  – 200 grams) of crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) lardon, matchstick-cut pieces of bacon cut from the belly of pork
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh or dried thyme (optional)

Variations

Be creative as you can and make sure to enjoy the journey!

  • Strasbourg (Alsatian recipe above and slices of Munster cheese).
  • Veggie Flammkuchen (Cherry tomatoes, olives, onions, mushrooms.)
  • Greek Flammkuchen (Feta cheese, green olives, spinach, red onions, dried Basil)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  2. Place the prepared dough on a pizza stone or oven rack covered with baking paper.
  3. Spread crème fraiche evenly onto dough, leaving 1/2 inch of outer edges free.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on top of the crème fraiche.
  5. Sprinkle the chopped onions evenly over the crème fraiche.
  6. Next sprinkle the pancetta bits on top of the crust.
  7. Place the Flammkuchen in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until crust is crispy, but not too burnt.
  8. Garnish with fresh or dried thyme.

Note: As oven temperatures vary, you’ll need to carefully watch the Flammkuchen or it will indeed be a burnt mess – baked in the flames.