A French Haven, Caves & World Class Wine

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of France  , Aquitaine,
Friday, August 12, 2011

Here we are in the tiny village of Pensol - well not IN the village but on a property close by. 

Our friends Phil and Linda live in the UK, but have purchased this property as a home away from home, a real retreat and haven from the busy working world. No TV and no Internet suits them and us just fine, and we revel in the country remoteness (wild boar and other game in the forest around) and the company of good food, wine and friends. 

For one day we relaxed completely with a sleep in, then a leisurely lunch, comprising of a set four course menu with included wine, at a local restaurant. Linda and her friend Rozz and ourselves made up the lunch party as Phil was not yet back from the UK.   

The next day we set off early for a full day out of sightseeing and to our dismay found all the tourist hordes again. First stop was the UNESCO decorated caves of Lascaux. We found the caves OK, several kilometres past an extremely busy village, but got to the ticket office and were told "no, you have to go back into to town to buy your tickets"! Back we go and finding it impossible to park, Avan dropped me off then circled for a park. Next blow is that you cannot visit without a tour and the next English tour was not for 2 more hours! We bought the tickets then found an Internet cafe and did some research before heading back up to the site.

We were 2 of 50 people doing the tour and the first thing the guide explained was that this is actually Lascaux II, the real cave is too precious to show!!! We did feel rather ripped off but they have done an excellent job recreating the cave, which has amazing and quite colourful cave paintings. Lascaux contains the largest cave drawing ever found, a 5.5 metre bull and many colourful animals and patterns. Even though it was a replica cave we were still not allowed to take photos! The tour guide was hard to hear as even though this was an English tour, many nationalities were present and interpreting for their partners in loud whispers

We had a much better feeling on visiting the La Roque St Christophe, which is the oldest and largest cave site in Western Europe. The large natural cavities in a limestone cliff have been inhabited by man since prehistoric times and were altered later to become a fort and city in the middle ages. No re-creation here - it was the real deal.

Our last visit for the day was to find the very old and UNESCO listed Saint-Emilion Wine District. Wines from here are very sought after and we found a cellar to visit and buy some wine as a present for our hosts.

We'll be sad to leave this haven at Pensol. It has been a family and friends gathering with a Mongolian tent full of teenagers (Phil and Linda's 2 daughters and their friends) and the house full to overflowing with visitors of like mind. There's to be a party at Phil and Linda's builders house Saturday night and we have been begged to stay, but we have a date with some more UNESCO sites and Monday our car needs to be returned to Nice, which is still a long way away in distance. We say a reluctant no to the party and pack up ready to move on.

Footnote: Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vezere Valley and Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion are both UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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