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18 May 2010

La Vie en France

There's a lot that's interdit en France (forbidden) but, for the most part, Les Francais just ignore signs like these. However, there are somethings that you can't get around and some things that are unspoken when it comes to the sign really needed. At the top of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lascaux II, it is toddlers peeing inside the cave. Yes, it is a replica, true, but that makes it all the harder to mix human pee in with that of paleolithic cave bear urine and that belonging to anything else that might have wandered in during the last ten thousand years or so. M. le Bubby did his little pee-pee previous to entree, but you know how being in an enclosed space with no lights on can inspire one to ruminate on urination. Yet, the announcement came and Jason, being a good outdoorsman said, "can't he just go in the corner?" Dear God, No!!!! was my first response, the second was, Dear God, I am going to have to stop the entire tour and ask, in French, if we can leave this place early, somehow, without getting lost in the many side caves, to faire le pee pee?, which was swiftly followed by some sage, motherly advice: take this sweater and make him pee in it in a dark corner.

Have any of you ever peed into a sweater in a cave in France? Me neither. Cormac neither and he wasn't having it. Hey, Mac, look at that reindeer over there!!! Anyway, his need subsided and we pushed it to the darkest recesses of our consciousness and instead focused on Mossy, whose barking cough reverberated off the cave walls, oh..about every 5 seconds or so, interrupting the guide, who tried to slip a quick syllable in during Moss's intake of breath. I think he's really going to miss us.

The picture below is the seminal picture of the Perigord Noir found in all guide books and blogs and tourist photos. It is of the Dordogne river winding its way off to the interior of France, having begun as a large sleeve pouring in at the Atlantic. Here it passes by innumerable towns and villages of wine country and on in.

The photo is taken from the fortified city of Domme, just a few kms from the gite. Perched on a tall promontory, there are low walls overlooking a drop off into the river valley below, the kind that makes my stomach pierce itself with fear to look over the edge it's so far down. There are no safety fences in France on these are in control of your kids and if they impetuously jump up on the edge or go running towards it like a cockamamie cowboy and fly over the edge to their deaths, you're a negligent parent. period. This was brought home to me the other day at the chateau Castelnaud (photos on Rubes' camera, sorry), where I spent the visit paralyzed by fear that one of the little boys was going to fall off the horribly high drop-offs, just like a 14th century soldier taking a hit. Everyone survived and I might have lost an inch or two of foie gras in my anxiety, so it works out.

One of many winding, steep streets in Domme

Waiting for Maman to negotiate baguettes, tartes and a biere for Papa for our pique-nique

La Roque Gageac

You know where Johnny Depp comes floating up a river to ogle Juliette Binoche in Chocolat? Well, here is the town. Built right into the cliff along the river, its streets are steep and charming, buildings packed together, on top of one another with lush gardens spilling over every free inch. More drop offs and erratic running and no listening. Normal day, in other words. The amazing thing about these little famous medieval villages is that, not only are they important historical sites and tourist attractions, but people actually live everyday lives here.

Part three of the day: the Chateau Marqueyssac

These gardens are incredible and extensive. There is an entire section that is heavily sculpted all by hand twice a year that is shown here but it goes beyond this with many different types of gardens, landscaping etc. Really unbelievable. We missed almost all of it due to low energy functioning in the family engine. Major dehydration and a few with colds so by the time we got here the whine-o-meter was on high (myself included). I'd like to return. With no children. For a day. Ha. ha.

Oh..and I was just feeling lonely for Cabela's, when we stumbled into a tiny room on the chateau grounds filled with cases displaying the local carnivorous relationships. Mossy mourned over each dead animal carefully, "Poor_______", why, Mama?". Well, it was cool in there and peaceful and there were dead things...what a nice breather. Then, we scooted outside to find a peacock calling to its friend on the rooftop of the chateau. Finally, Ruby and I retreated to the little outdoor cafe to sneak an espresso while Jason to the boys to the living labyrinth for children. He got this shot of M. Le Bubby before his back permanently stayed bent to toddler size.

Then it was home for a dip in the Ceou. What an incredibly clean, beautiful little river.


  1. Oh! Oh! Oh!
    *jabs hand and arm up repeatedly to get the teacher's attention*

    I JUST sent a note to Henri telling him to ask you if were going to go near Domme!!

    The Templars left graffiti scratched into their cell walls at Domme!


    So.. beautiful blog. The kids look fantastic.

    Peeing in a sweater... that's a new one.

    : )

  2. Ruby is so beautiful in that dress, yay for sunshine! I was always the kid getting sick because of low blood sugar or closed in spaces...making everyone have to get out of line or miss the show in europe. I think it's the youngest kids' job on a vacation to do that!

  3. You never cease to amaze me with your complete disrespect for le garments. A sweater? I pictured it wet and wondered who was going to be carrying it for the rest of the tour. I laughed so much during that segment. Poor Mossy...with his barking cough and sadness for taxidermied animals.

    Piercers, you cracked me up too.

    I cannot tell you how much I miss the little guys. Seeing them in pics and reading about their antics helps, though. Still waiting to see a pic of my little brother, enjoying the trip you so masterfully planned.