Hot-footing it to Hautefort

Cycling 26km in 30 degree heat was possibly not the most sensible way to spend a hot Sunday afternoon.

Our original plan had been to head south to the Dordogne river for a day of canoeing on the river. However, a night of interrupted sleep caused by the heat, a mosquito buzzing around our heads and perhaps one too many glasses of our neighbour’s 20-year-old homemade cherry wine put paid to that. We needed to have left the house by 8am but at 11am we were only just dragging ourselves out of bed.

Determined to do something other than sit at my desk all day (which would have been all too easy to do when taking into account how much work I have on my plate at the moment), we weighed up the best of the alternatives that our foggy heads could muster up:

  • Walk to Tourtoirac and have lunch (but we’ve done that a couple of times already)
  • Drive to a nearby town or village that we have not yet explored (not energetic enough, plus the temptation to sit in a restaurant or bar all day possibly could have been too much)
  • Cycle to Hautefort and have lunch

We’ve been to Hautefort a few times now, but given how pretty it is, returning again is no hardship. Despite being a tiny little village in the middle of the countryside, it is home to a huge chateau, several restaurants, two brocantes and a beautiful old town hall that doubles as both a museum and gallery, so there is plenty to do.

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The rather fabulous-looking town hall in Hautefort

Our first visit was when my parents came to stay and we spent a lovely few hours wandering around the Chateaux. Meanwhile, on Friday night we had great fun in one of the bars, eating tapas, drinking wine and tapping our feet to Crazy Dolls and the Bollocks, a rock n roll band who were as their name suggests – the bollocks!

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What a load of bollocks!

For our bike ride today, we had two choices of route:

The hilly route via Chourgnac’ d’ans

Or…

The hilly route via Tourtoirac

We opted to go via Chourgnac d’ans on the way there, and boy, was it steep. Every corner turned brought with it more winding hills. Just as I was thinking it would never end, we arrived at the top. And with it came the most fabulous view of Chateaux de Hautefort. Totally (almost) worth the pain.

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It’s all about the view

Of course, what goes up, must come down and for a brief moment of respite I was able to take my foot off the pedal and glide down the D704 towards Hautefort. But the joy was short lived. For at the bottom of this hill was another. Deceivingly steep and long, I managed to make it to the first lamp post before having to get off and push. Dennis, however, made it to the top – a full seven minutes before I did (as he emphasised when I finally arrived!)

All this considered, the steak and chips with ice cream for dessert from l’Adventure, was well-earned. And besides, I had still got a 13km return journey to do so I needed the energy, or so I told myself as my eyes skimmed past the salad option on the menu… *ahem*

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