Monday, April 11, 2016

La Dordogne

Rape seed oil growing in La Dordogne
Our oldest daughter Sophie has been helping teach English in a French school in Bergerac for 8 months. It was wonderful to visit her on her home patch in France. She is joining us as tour guide and translator for a week in the south of France.
Awesome medieval village of Sarlat
Like in London, I have been struck by the history of the region.  We have seen structures that date back well into the middle ages, some of them back to Roman times.

The valley of La Vezere dates back even further with prehistoric archaeological sites yielding fossils of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal Man.  I know those who believe in a young earth will have arguments to refute the ages of these sites, but they claim to be inhabited for 400,000 years.  We visited some of these sites, including a reconstruction of some of the most sophisticated cave paintings in the world copied onto a new cave constructed so the drawings can be viewed by the public while the original drawings are preserved in a controlled atmosphere. It was freaky to think of the ancient artists living in that same site thousands of years ago. They developed tools, art, and even a burial ritual for their dead.
The famous drawings of Lascaux attributed to Cro-Magnon man
We also visited some caves which had been inhabited more recently from the 8th to the end of the 16th Century. These caves had houses built on the cliff face making a troglodyte (cave dweller's) city.
La Roque Saint Christopher - Troglodyte Fortress and City

 They were a secure defence point for the area. We are aware of current tensions and threats, but this has reminded me that violence and war have been a part of human history for a long time. Here it was Viking raiding parties, later Normans and others.

It became the last stand for the Huguenotes who were French Protestants.  Persecuted and even massacred by the Catholics, they fled for their lives and this became a fortress for many hundreds.
Sue among some of their cranes

This and a village we visited on our way to the Loire Valley have made me grateful for the peace and relative tolerance we enjoy in New Zealand.

More on that village and the Loire Valley next time.



1 comment:

Fiona Dodds said...

Great to see your photos of where we had been 27years ago. Brings back many memories for Ken and I. Ha, nothing has changed in the last 27years, even tho its been there thousands of years! Ken & Fiona