September 18: After a night of sheet lightning, potential power outages, and heavy rain, we had no idea what to expect today weather wise, but we woke up to nothing more dramatic than light fog. It cleared as soon as we reached the Grotte de Pech Merle and then the sun came out. Richard (our host) drove us up there so we wouldn’t have to tackle a steep, one kilometre climb first thing this morning.
The Grotte de Pech Merle is one of the few caves in France where you can see original cave paintings. These ones are 30,000 years old, and include animals such as mammoth, bisons, horses, and people, as well as a realistic engraving of a bear done with a flint tool. The painting of spotted horses is an exceptionally well-preserved masterpiece. One highlight is the footprints of a small child, preserved undisturbed for more than 10,000 years. Another highlight is a collection of beautiful cave pearls. All of the stalagmites and stalactites are like an art form, too. Unfortunately no photographs were allowed but we downloaded a photo of the spotted horses.
At one point when we were entering the bear cave, our guide asked in both French and English if it was okay if she turn off the lights so we could experience the darkness. It took five seconds of total darkness before I felt a desperate need for her to turn the lights back on. It was scary, imagining people who have been lost in caves with no light source, having to find their way out.
I like the rocky trail today better than yesterday’s road walking but not Dave. He doesn’t mind the repetitive movement of road walking whereas I find it tedious after awhile and my feet aren’t happy either. The first part of the ten kilometre hike from Grotte de Pech Merle to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was pleasant along a rocky trail. Then we came to a road and couldn’t find the Chemin’s red and white markers. We ended up walking the rest of the way to Saint Cirq Lapopie on the road. When we saw a “road narrows” sign on an already narrow road, we could hardly believe it. 😳
We were relieved to finally make it here to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. Our “lunch” in the middle of the afternoon was beer with apple pie at a little outdoor table overlooking this beautiful medieval village. Ancient ruins are visible from our window at Hotel l’Auberge du Sombral right in the central square. Love it! 😊
It’s impossible to go to France and not say something (a lot, actually!) about the food. Yesterday’s salad sprinkled with tiny purple flowers was delicious and beautiful. We could tell from the waiter’s face that he knew he was bringing something special to our table. Today’s apple pie was the best we’ve ever eaten, too. Eating is definitely an “event” here in France! ❤️ 😋