Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Dordogne: Lost in Space, Font de Gaume and L’Augerie Base

That night, at Domaine de la Vitrolle, in the middle of the night I heard a bumping sound and my husband was not in bed. I said “Is that you?” and my husband’s voice came back saying “I’m lost! I don’t know where I am!” It was SO dark in our room that somehow, he had missed the bed and was off wandering in the sitting part of the suite and couldn’t orient himself.

It was dark, and it was quiet. I turned on a little flashlight, and he laughed at how disorienting it was to be in a strange space and not to know which way to turn.

The next morning, I was awake early (we sleep so well when it is dark, and quiet) so I took a bath in the great big tub and watched the day dawn through the stained glass windows of the bathroom. I had the windows open, and could hear the birds awake, and some tractor off in the hills head up to harvest the last of the grapes. It was so peaceful, and so lovely.

First, I need to tell you how very kind all the French people have been to us. We are often asked if we are not afraid the French will be rude to us, and I think maybe once or twice in the many years we have traveled in France, maybe someone has been having a bad day or was rude, but nothing I can remember. Mostly, we are delighted by how very helpful the French are with us.

Many times, I am taken for French. People stop me on the street and ask for directions, and I laugh and tell them (in French) that I am a tourist, and an American, and they just laugh.

On this trip, information is gold. The limo driver who took us to the train station told us to gas our car at the Intermarche or Carrefour, not at the regular gas stations, because the gas stations charge a lot more. We listened! He was right! The hotel manager at Domaine de la Vitrolle told us about the super markets, so we didn’t have to eat every meal out, especially at night when we would have to eat late. What luxury, to eat French foods in our own room, at our own pace, and as lightly as we chose!

Martin Walker/Bruno, Chief of Police particularly mentioned Font de Gaume in Les Eyzies, one of the very rare opportunities to see original cave art, which moves me greatly, and is a priority for me. But Font de Gaumes only allows a few people in every day, under strict conditions, so our breath, body temperature and sweat won’t impact on the fragile cave art.

I try to reserve tickets online, but it says it is not possible, so we are up, have breakfast and out the door by nine to be sure we are first in line and get to see Font de Gaume. Sadly, what I didn’t know was that we would have to leave our cameras outside, you can’t even take them in.

We get to Les Eyzies, and Font de Gaume way before it even opens, but we are far from the first ones there. They have benches with seat numbers on them, and we are close to the very end, like 48 and 49.

While we waited – and this line was just a line to get a number to buy your tickets, I saw this frieze over a door on a house across the street:

We got a number, and were told that there was only one English speaking tour and it was at 11:00, in 45 minutes. Or there was another one late in the afternoon. We chose the 11:00 tickets, thankful just to be able to get in.

At around 10:30 they said we could walk up to where we would meet our guide. We walked up and there was a group, but the guide said “This is a French group, you are in the next group!” and she was right – she already had 18 people.

In our group, it was interesting, there were only six real English speaking people, two from Australia, two others from the US, and us, and the rest were all other-languages – Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, etc. but people who could speak some English and who didn’t want to wait until later in the day to take the tour. We all had a really good time.

Here is a map of the cavern we will enter and the sights we will see:


The setting is spectacular. These mountains and hills and caves are thousands of years old.

And here we are, me with my bright shining face because we are going into Font de Gaume. I will share with you a secret – I am mildly claustrophobic, but I know how to keep it sort of under control. But I was glad to have this photo in my camera – all cameras had to be left in a special locked space – in case there was some kind of disaster, and they needed to be able to identify those trapped in / destroyed by a collapse in / etc. the cave. Drama drama drama I was glad what might be our last photo showed us smiling and happy.

We had a superb guide. She spent a lot of time showing us detail. She had a great group, we asked a lot of questions, and the more we asked, the more detail she gave us. It just kept spiraling, and we were all really serious and awed by what we were seeing. I could have stayed forever, and I just wish I had been able to take a photo for you, but we were in almost total dark, only the guide had a little (infrared?) (Ultraviolet?) (both?) flashlight with which she could show us the drawings. As we would go through some sections, she could turn on very dim lights, and she had to warn us constantly to watch our heads for outcroppings of rock.

Visiting Font de Gaumes was a thrill. I wish the same thrill for you. Here are a couple images, not my own, I found on the internet:



There are many bison, some deer, wolf, horses and mammoths.

Our wonderful guide is showing us the primitive kinds of pigments used to do the drawings in the caves, colors from stones, chalk, ashes, some mixed with liquid, some made into powder and blown onto the wall – and it must have been almost pitch dark. Imagine . . . .


In one of Martin Walker’s books, Bruno and his friends gather for a wedding feast at L’Augerie Basse, a restaurant built into a cave in the side of a mountain. You have a short hike to get there, but oh, what fun. (I want you to see where L’Augerie Basse is, and where it is in relation to Les Eyzies and Le Bugue)



Once again, people were very kind. Most of the people in the restaurant were working people, or locals. There was a constant hum of arrival and greeting, departure and farewells. Many people didn’t even look at the menu.

The restroom was not actually in the restaurant, but across the walkway, and I think it was all just bathrooms, not male or female except that some had urinals, but I think you could use either. I didn’t ask, it was all very clean and mostly I wanted to wash my hands. My husband excused himself and before I had a chance to tell him where the bathrooms were (it was not obvious) he left . . . and was gone a long time. He had trouble finding them.

Here is what I ordered:

Here is what my husband ordered:

Mine was pretty much the same, except I had one duck confit, and salad.

Best of all, I found a wine Martin Walker / Bruno Chief of Police recommended, a very local wine I wanted to try. I loved it! Pecharmant:

This was (another one of) the most memorable meals of our trip.

We had a wonderful lunch, and we needed to pack, but neither of us were ready to face that task quite yet. So I said “why don’t we go see St. Alvere, the truffle town? It is just on the other side of Limeuil?” and AdventureMan, always up for an exploration, agreed.

Did I mention the day our marriage survived a two and a half hour drive that ended up taking a whole day? Getting to St. Alvere was like that. I was navigating with Google, and we got on the tiniest, most remote roads. It took a long time to get to there. I never saw a truffle, but it was a gorgeous day, and a beautiful town, and indications that it, too, was on the pilgrimage route to San Diego Compostela.

On our way, we passed farm after farm filled with geese!


Thousands of geese!

The little road of the Pilgrims, above, in St. Alvere.






Now it was my husband’s turn to make a request. He had been very uneasy about our tires; there was a symbol on our dashboard that implied our tires needed more air, and as we were making a longer drive tomorrow, he wanted to add air, and put gas in the car. We headed back to Le Bugue, to the Intermarche, where we knew there was a gas station, and a place where you can clean cars.

We gassed up the car, and then found the car cleaning place. There was a man busy cleaning his car, vacuuming it, and we waited until he was finished and then asked if he knew where there was a machine which added air to tires.

He looked at us as if we were crazy. “It is right here,” he said, pointing to the machine with which he had been vacuuming.

These are the things that try men’s souls. It is not intuitive. Jeton means “token” but does it also mean coin? How does psi translate in French, how will we know how much air to add? We are consulting the car manual, the side of the driver’s door, the machine . . . eventually, we were able to add enough air, without adding too much air.

It is amazing what a major relief accomplishing this simple task gave us. We felt mighty! We had prevailed! We had conquered!

We celebrated with French tartes, little pies, peach for my husband and raspberry for me. AdventureMan discovered the Lego set we bought the day before is now HALF PRICE and he is hopping mad. I speak French, but I do not have the language skill set or the energy, at this point, to try to explain we want a refund. It is late in the day. I convince him to just . . . let it go. 🙂

It is a beautiful afternoon, almost the end of October and we are in short sleeves. We head back to Limeuil to take some shots of the Vezere river joining the Dordogne.



We drove across the Dordogne to take a picture of Limeuil from the other side:

Thank you, Martin Walker, and Bruno, Chief of Police, for intriguing us to visit this gloriously vivid and picturesque locale, with so much to do and to see. Below is the Vezere River joining the Dordogne River.




January 2, 2020 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Civility, Cultural, Food, France, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, History, iPhone, Language, Restaurant, Road Trips, Survival, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast at Domaine de la Vitrolle

It would have been a false economy to skip breakfast at the Domaine de la Vitrolle. Yes, you can grab a cup of coffee at a local supermarket, and a croissant, and go your way for very little, but you miss the whole joy of a really good petit dejeuner.

If you’ve been reading me for long, you know I like people, I get along with people, but oh, I am such an introvert. I crave quiet time, and I love privacy. I treasure privacy.

For me, this hotel stay was restorative. All that socializing on the Viking Forseti! All that chatting and cordiality! Yes, I can do it. It takes its toll.

We have the dining room all to ourselves, and the table is beautiful and the food is beautiful. Look at this beautiful bread.  It tastes good, too!


See the apple juice at our plates? Pressed from apples grown on the domaine, where you can smell apples from the minute you drive in. They also have fields of grapes, and their own vintner, I understand. You can buy their juice and cider at the little store at the Domaine de la Vitrolle.

See the little plate of meats, and the separate little plate of cheeses? Lovely! Little pots of jam. Little pats of unsalted butter. Fruits. Over on a side table you can choose from cereals, and make some toast.


Croissants and pain au chocolat arrive in their own basket, still warm.

For me, this is what I love the most. Coffee and warm milk, served in separate pitchers. I love it that I can pour in a lot of milk and it doesn’t damage the heat of the coffee. I hate tepid coffee; but who serves warm milk anymore? Domaine de la Vitrolle won my heart with their coffee service.

We also got a bit of solid gold information before we headed out for the day. The manager tells us “there are three supermarkets in LeBugue, just turn right when you get to the bridge and they will be on your right.”

We are on the road for several days, and we like to have snacks with us, and to be able to eat local treats from the area. The supermarket format is also easy for us – mostly, a supermarket is a supermarket wherever you go, and you find what you want, go to a counter and pay for it.  This Intermarche turned out to be one of our favorite places. We went first thing in the morning, and then we went back late in the afternoon and picked up food for dinner, so we wouldn’t have to go out.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? You go all the way to France and you don’t want to go out for dinner? This is why I love traveling with my husband; we share some of the same oddities. We love travel, we love seeing what is available for people to buy, we love eating lunch out, but by the end of the day – we’re ready to settle in. We don’t want to wait until seven for restaurants to open, and then spend almost two hours eating a meal that is heavier than we want to eat.

We can pick up salads, pate, sandwiches, pastries, pieces of pie, macaroons with chocolate, tangerines . . . little napkins, forks, knives – it’s all so easy. We get to pick our own meals and amounts, and then, we have time to make notes at night, or read, or look at the map for the next day’s adventures, or even take a lovely hot relaxed bath in a huge bathtub. The making notes is critical; there is so much detail we forget, and when I can write some of it down, it makes for fun later on, reliving moments we had forgotten.

At the Intermarche, we also found something really fun – a Lego advent calendar for our grandchildren. It took a little doing, as there was no price on it and we had to track it down, but we are so delighted to have found it. My husband found some amazing macaroons with dark chocolate bottoms; we had one a day and they lasted the entire trip, oh how we enjoyed them! I found Prunes from Agen, famous prunes, fat and juicy, and I brought them back and used them in my Christmas fruit cakes. People were so kind and so helpful. It would not surprise me if we go back for another visit.

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Advent, Blogging, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Food, France, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Emory Valentine Doesn’t Get His Way

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It all started with a conversation with my Mom, during which, in a hushed voice, she told me about a neighbor “who had gotten a blue card.” A blue card? I had never heard of a blue card.

“It meant she had to leave the state!” Mom said.

Such a small thing, and such a journey it has led me on, trying to find out about the blue card and how it functioned. It led me to The History of the Juneau Alaska Police Department, and reading through that led to an hour of hilarity reading through the struggles of a small frontier town trying to bring order out of chaos and fight the battles of sewers, garbage, untethered horses, bawdy houses, and law enforcement.

Here are some examples of early actions:

September, 1904 – George Kyrage (“George the Greek”) was elected to the Council and served with Mayor George Forrest, Councilmen Henry Shattuck, John Reck, Louis Lund, J.P. Jorgenson, and Henry States. Kyrage was named chairman of the Police Committee and found himself squarely between those who wanted prosperity through a wide open town, and those who demanded strict enforcement of a new ordinance prohibiting women loitering in saloons.

January 7, 1910 – The conduct of a man named Al Graham was discussed and the Council ordered that he be given a “Blue Ticket”.

April 15, 1910 – The applicants for City Marshal were as follows: Charles Biernoth, W.G. Harris, Charles Meline, Mike McKenna, William Steinbeck, John Sweeney, Fred LaMarche Holmberg, and J.T. Martin. Charles Biernoth received the majority of the votes and was elected.
May 6, 1910 – City Marshal Charles Biernoth was asked to resign.


April 18, 1913 – Mr. Nolan appeared before the Council and protested that the women of ill fame were allowed to live in the vicinity of the saw-mill outside of the restricted district, and the matter was referred to the Police Committee and the Chief of Police.

January 2, 1914 – The City Attorney was instructed to prepare an ordinance against expectorating on the sidewalks of the City of Juneau.

-An ordinance was passed that provided punishment for pimps and moques to be set at not more than one hundred dollars.

City refuses to clean up red light district
February 6, 1914 – Councilman H.J. Raymond said that the last Grand Jury: wanted the City of Juneau to do something about cleaning up the red light district in the City. It was moved that the Chief of Police be ordered to close up every bawdy house in the City; but the motion died for lack of a second. It was then moved that the Chief of Police be instructed to stop the sale of liquor in all houses of prostitution in the City of Juneau; and again the motion died for lack of a second. It was then moved and seconded that a letter be forwarded to John Rustgard, US District Attorney, First Division of Alaska, stating that the City authorities of Juneau will be glad to lend all the aid they can in the enforcement of the law in the sale of liquor in houses of prostitution in the City of Juneau.

May 14, 1914 – A day’s labor in the Municipality of Juneau was set at eight (8) hours, common laborers were paid 35 cents per hour, and could work any number of additional hours at the same rate per hour.


January 27, 1915 – A special meeting was called to hear charges of misconduct in office that have been made against Chief of Police William McBride. The Council requested that witnesses give their testimony. Harry Grove was duly sworn and testified and Charles Freegrove, Helen, and J.H. Gilpatrick were called and questioned by different councilmen. The hearing was then continued to a subsequent meeting of the Council.

January 29, 1915 – The Clerk read the resignation of William McBride from the office of the Chief of Police of the City of Juneau which took effect on February 1, 1915.

-A proposed ordinance was presented entitled “An ordinance requiring horses to be tied”.

July 7, 1916 – S.A. Judd protested that the Chief of Police had ordered him to leave town.

It makes for fascinating reading. Then I came across this sequence of reports, but for all my Googling, I cannot find out what the charges were against Chief of Police W.S. Harding:

Mayor Emory Valentine

April 11, 1917 – Mayor Valentine declared that grave and serious charges have been made against W.S. Harding, Chief of Police, and that proofs are now in his possession. He further declared that an emergency existed, ordered that the office of Chief of Police be declared vacant, and stated that he will in due time appoint an emergency Chief of Police.

Councilman King asked Mayor Valentine the nature of the charges, to which Mayor Valentine replied that Mr. Harding would be given an opportunity to answer them, and that he would call a special meeting for that purpose.

April 12, 1917 – It was moved and seconded that W.S. Harding be elected to the position of Chief of Police for the coming year, to which Mayor Valentine declared out of order and stated that Mr. Harding had been suspended under the rules. Councilman Blomgren called for a vote on the adoption of the motion, and all six councilmen vote aye.

April 20, 1917 – The Clerk read the following demand: To Emory Valentine, Mayor and Common Council of the City of Juneau:
Whereas, Emory Valentine Mayor of the City of Juneau did at a public meeting held in the City of Juneau on the night of the 19th day of April, 1917, read certain affidavits purporting to contain certain charges against me as Chief of Police of Juneau, and that Emory Valentine publicly announced on the streets and public places of the Town of Juneau that he had other charges against me, I hereby demand that affidavits and all charges made against me as a public official and against my conduct, if committed and filed with the Common Council of the City of Juneau, or the Clerk of the City, and that a hearing be had immediately. Respectfully submitted, dated Juneau, Alaska, April 20, 1917. (signed) W.S. Harding

-An Executive Session was scheduled for Monday, April 23, 1917, at the hour of eight o’clock p.m. for the purpose of having the charges against W.S. Harding formally filed or presented.

-The Mayor called for the election of a person to fill the position of Chief of Police for the coming year. The Clerk read the following names as persons who had filed their applications: W.S. Harding, W.D. McMillan, E.J. Sliter, and Capt. E. Harrigan. W.S. Harding received six votes and the other applicants received none. The Mayor declared a veto on the election of W.S. Harding as Chief of Police.

-Harding appointed Dan Harrington, W.D. McMillan, and Emil Mullenbeck, to serve as police officers under him and asked for approval of the Council which was given. The Mayor declared a veto to the action of the Council.

April 27, 1917 – The Common Council of the City of Juneau, Alaska, convened in the Council Chambers of City Hall at the hour of eight o’clock p.m. on Friday, April 27, 1917, for the purpose of trying the charges against W.S. Harding, Chief of Police.
-The trial of the charges was to be heard by affidavit, and W.S. Harding was given until Monday night to file his answering affidavits, with the trial continued to Thursday, May 3, 1917 at the hour of eight o’clock p.m.
May 3, 1917 – The Common Council of the Town of Juneau, Territory of Alaska, convened in the Council Chambers of the City at the hour of eight o’clock p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 1917 – Mayor Valentine presiding. A resolution calling for the reading of the charges against W.S. Harding, Chief of Police accusing him of misconduct in office and the answering affidavits from the Chief was read.

-Affidavits of Walter Johnson, Frank Morrison, Jack Ivey, Fred Alexander, Mrytle Mercer, J.W. Felix, D. DeBlaser, F.J. Breezee, L.N. Ritter, and E. Valentine supported the charges.
-Affidavits of W.S. Harding, Emil Mullenbeck, Louise Dejonghe, E.W. Pettit, L.O. Sloane, C.O. Lindsey, Carl R. Brophy, W.D. MacMillan, A.C. Williams Jr., Frank E. Sargent, Glen C. Bartlett, H.H. Post, D.J. Harrington, George C. Burford, Edith Johnson, John B. Marshal, Harry Ellingen, and E.A. Naud were read in answer to the charges.

-The Council took a ten minute recess to consider the charges, and Mayor Valentine left the meeting.

-Following the recess, the following resolution was read: Be it resolved that W.S. Harding, Chief of Police of the City of Juneau, whom certain charges have been filed against, has been exonerated and it is the wish of the Council that he continue as Chief of Police.

May 4, 1917 – The electric light at the end of the garbage dump was out, causing trouble for boats navigating up and down the channel.

-Mayor Valentine objected to the claim of Chief Harding for his full monthly salary, saying that he was only entitled to pay for the first eleven days in April, because Harding was relieved from office on that date.

-The Clerk read Mayor Valentine’s veto message to the action of the Council electing W.S. Harding as Chief of Police on April 20, 1917, and to the action of the Council confirming the appointments of W.S. Harding, Patrolman Harrington and Mullenbeck. The following resolution was then read: Be it resolved that the veto of Mayor Valentine to the action of the Council in electing W.S. Harding, Chief of Police of the City of Juneau, Alaska on April 20, 1917, be overruled and held for naught. And be it further resolved that the veto of Mayor Valentine to the action of the Council in confirming the appointment of Patrolman Harrington and Mullenbeck on April 20, 1917, be overruled and held for naught.

Mayor Valentine served as Mayor for six terms, according to Wikipedia, and organized the volunteer fire department and designed the city’s first water system. For some reason, he really didn’t like the Chief of Police, but Harding and a lot of support among the council members, and retained his position. Fascinating stuff; brings history to life.

And you thought history was dull?

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Alaska, Biography, Crime, Cultural, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Social Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment