In Les Eyzies - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 2, 2022

In Les Eyzies

Cave

It’s just past 9:30 when we leave town on foot and cross the river on a rippled bridge that in a modest way brings back memories of crossing the exceptional bridge in Iwakuni fifteen years ago.  One of the aspects of travel I especially value is the way that fresh experiences often reawaken long-dormant memories from the past.

Les Eyzies is given over to tourism, unsurprisingly given its exceptional setting beneath the cliffs.
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Keith AdamsMeh. They've got nothin' on Mesa Verde, and MV got there WAY first. :)
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsI’m not sure about that. The Lascaux paintings are dated to about 17,000 years ago. But ho2 about yourself? Have you been to MV? I biked up there in April 1991, en route from Grand Junction to Durango by way of Moab and Monument Valley: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/durango1991/cortez-to-san-juan-narional-forest/. It was cold! There were icecicles on the lines down in Bluff.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott AndersonYeah, I'd agree. The all knowing interwebs say that the under the cliff dwellings at MV probably date from around the late 1190s and were abandoned by 1300. So only 110 years of actual occupancy.

I was only seeing the relatively modern buildings when I made my flip remark.

We were there in the mid 1960s and again around 1977. Neither visit included bicycles.
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1 month ago
leaving Les Eyzies, crossing the Vézère.
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ann and steve maher-wearyThe Iwakuni bridge is very beautiful as is this one. Thanks for linking to your older blog. I agree with you on that, new vistas, help us remember other events and places.
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1 month ago
The Vézère. We’re here at just the right time, it seems. There’s more color in the trees every day.
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It’s only about a mile and a half to the cave from our hotel, and the tour we’ve booked into doesn’t start until 10:30 but we’ve allowed plenty of time.  We arrive almost a half hour early and are the first ones there for the first tour of the day.  We’re directed up to a waiting platform about halfway to the cave’s entrance, where we sit and enjoy the dramatic views along the cliffs and down to the river while we wait for the others to arrive.  It’s a small group this morning - just seven of us plus our guide, who tells us it was a full house yesterday with groups of about 20.  Rainy days drive people into the caves, she says.

Walking to the Grande Roc cave. It’s about a mile and a half from downtown, most of it on a path beside the lightly traveled road.
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The entrance to the cave is in that dark recession at the top.
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Getting our orientation. The guide, from the Netherlands but fluent in both French and English, is speaking. The man on the right is a solo American traveler from the Bay Area. We’re waiting for the other four members of our group (one couple from France, the other from Wales) to make it up the path.
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While we wait we’re given background information in English and are instructed to study it carefully. You should too, before watching the videos.
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Looking across the Vézère, I think to the village of Tayac. The outskirts of Les Eyzies must be just around the bend to the right.
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The Vézère Valley is a renowned site, known for the large concentration of prehistoric cave settlements, some of them famous for their cave paintings.  Lascaux, maybe the best known of these sites, is just twelve miles upriver from Les Eyzies.  All along the river though are any number of unmissable sites - caves, troglodyte ruins thousands of years old - the entire area was declared a UNESCO world heritage site over 40 years ago.You could spend a long time exploring the sights within just a short distance of Les Eyzies, I’m sure.

We’ve only got one day though, and we’re not going to see any of the prehistoric sites.  Instead we’re walking to the Grande Roc Cave, partly because it sounds like a spectacular cave and partly because it’s so accessible to us - we can just walk there, without worrying about what to do with the bikes.

Rachael and I aren’t really cave hunters, and offhand I can only recall a few caves we’ve been inside of in all our travels together.  If we’re only going to see them on rare occasion though, we picked the right one today.  It really is spectacular and well worth the time.

Hike

It’s closing in on noon when we leave the cave and go our own way for the afternoon.  Rachael’s feeling chafed and likes the idea of another day off the saddle so she’s mapped out about a twelve mile walk for herself that continues up the river to Le Madelaine, a troglodyte village, before doubling back to the hotel.  I’m planning a bike ride for myself so we say our goodbyes at the cave - she rushes off to the facilities before continuing with her hike, and I turn back toward our room.

Rachael doesn’t make it to La Madeleine though, because partway there she comes to a pair of snarling, scary dogs.  They’re constrained, but barely, by a young girl doing her best to hold them back with their taut leashes.  Rachael can’t think of any good reason to tempt fate when there are so many other places she could walk instead, so she heads off inland and haphazardly makes her way back to the room.  By the time she’s done she’ll put in 14 miles, so it’s just as well she didn’t have me holding her back today.

Bike

My bike ride gets off to a very slow start; and in fact for a period of time I considered just hanging out for the afternoon before I finally decide it’s just too fine a day to sit out and give myself a virtual kick in the butt to get me out the door again.

The main issue is that when I get back to the room I find that the door to our room is locked, Rachael has our only key, and there’s no one around who will unlock it for me.  This is irritating - it looks like the cleaning crew must have worked over our room (there’s no do not disturb sign in the room and locked it behind them, and there was no one in the hotel when we left earlier to indicate our wishes).

So I waste about a half hour sitting around the lobby scrolling through the blogs and the news on my phone before someone finally shows up.  Once I’m in though, I’ve still got some wait time ahead.  The main thing is the camera, whose battery is almost dead from all the shots I took in the cave.  I plug it in to recharge while I change clothes and eat lunch, and it’s 1:30 or so before I’m finally out on the road and rolling upriver.

Walking back to the room along the Vézère
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Like Rachael, I’ve mapped an out and back route up the Vézère for myself - about 45 miles, if I decide to go that far.  With my late start though I don’t expect that will happen.  I time box myself and decide I’ll just turn back around four.  It wouldn’t do to arrive after dark or late for dinner.

Once I’m riding though, surprise of surprises, the miles get checked off slowly because there’s so much to see and worth stopping for.  Maybe I’d have gotten further if I hadn’t taken the time to recharge the camera?

And, like Rachael, I call an audible and decide to leave the river after I’m about twelve miles into the ride.  In my case there are no fearsome dogs, but not long past Saint-Leon the traffic picks up a bit and I can’t see any good reason not to bike down a perfectly fine quiet lane branching off to the side.

The end result?  A terrific loop - exceptional while I followed the river, and very pleasant cycling away from it as I climbed high above to a fine viewpoint before eventually enjoying a fast seven mile coast back toward town.

I expect we’ll be seeing many scenes like this in the next few weeks. This one was funny - they were all lying down in the dust but apparently were mobilized by my approach and arose as one and started eddying around the yard clockwise.
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Bob KoreisFoie gras. OMFG it's so good. wish I could find the same quality at home. And you are in prime country for it.
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetFunny, we saw few geese, once, when were in the area, despite foie gras on every menu.
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1 month ago
Maison Forte de Reignac, one of a steady stream of attractions along the river.
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Along the Vézère.
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Along the Vézère.
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Along the Vézère.
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Fantastic cliffs as I approach La Roque St. Christophe. There’s room for only one car at a time, so you have to proceed slowly and keep your ears open for what might be around the bend.
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The highlight along the river is Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere, one of the most beautiful villages in France.
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In Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere.
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In Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere.
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The 12th century church at Saint-Leon is one of the oldest Romanesque churches in the Dordogne and a stop on the pilgramage route from Vezelay.
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High on the ridge, looking across the next small valley to the north.
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Overlooking the Vézere from the Mont Jor viewpoint.
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Sure, go ahead and take a book from the library.
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You don’t have to be by the river to see some impressive cliffs.
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Mystery chateau, near Plazac.
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The ivy is intensifying by the day.
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Back on the Vézere, heading back to town. The Grotte du Grande Roc is just around the bend.
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ann and steve maher-wearyHi Scott and Rachel, We are keen on the possibility of meeting you in Bouzies around 10-12 Oct. Might this still work out for you? My email address is annmaher1@yahoo.com. Let's talk more off the site.
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1 month ago
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Ride stats today: 35 miles, 2,800’; for the tour: 517 miles, 34,100’

Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 518 miles (834 km)

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Jacquie GaudetAnother area to revisit!
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1 month ago