A whole Lot of fun: Holidays in Lot et Garonne, France

Sometimes even the most active and adventurous outdoor lover needs to enjoy the outdoors at a more leisurely pace. This is where the sunny gite holiday comes into its own. Find a group of friends in need of a holiday, find some accommodation somewhere sunny (I’ve found www.ownersdirect.com very good for France and Spain), book some flights and car hire (I like using Auto Europe who consistently seem to have the lowest prices when I look) and you’re pretty much there.

Wine often features pretty heavily in these weeks so this year somewhere near Bordeaux was the groups choice. We found accommodation that suited us in a town called Duras which is about 40 minutes south of Bergerac airport. The area is very rural but ideal for enforced relaxing by the pool.

When we did venture out we came across some real gems within about an hours drive.

Gem 1: Canoeing down the Lot river

We hired open canoes from the very friendly and helpful Nautilus-BKS. They suggested canoeing for a couple of hours downstream from Castelmoron-Sur-Lot to the intriguing Musee du Pruneau (Prune Museum) and back again. Normally I’d be pretty alarmed at canoeing upstream but the Lot is such a wide slow flowing river around the area that my worries were unfounded. The river was beautiful and along this stretch there was the opportunity to stop at a little village with picnic area before the days highlight – the Musee du Pruneau. After a lovely picnic on the river bank we explored the pruney delights of the Musee du Pruneau cafe. Many prune based delights were available –  prunes any which way, prune sorbet, prune macaroons and also prune flavoured alcoholic beverages. I’d be lying if I said it was the best museum I have visited but it was definitely the best prune based tourist attraction I have ever been a guest of. All in all a low key but incredibly relaxing way to spend a day.

Gem 2: CAPC (Museum of Contemporary Art), Bordeaux

I love the outdoors and the countryside but I also enjoy a day in the city. We traveled to Bordeaux in fairly stifling heat and were definitely on the look out for some activities that would offer shelter form the suns unrelenting rays. This museum is just the right size for a break from the heat. It is housed in a converted, cavernous warehouse on the waterfront. Thick stone walls a low lighting provide the perfect backdrop for regularly changing exhibitions. A particular highlight while we were there was an exhibition featuring Lego to illustrate the constant need for buildings and cities to change and evolve. The building itself warranted the entrance fee alone, there is a lovely roof terrace and also a small but perfectly formed gift shop.

Gem 3: Bordeaux en generale

I hadn’t really given much thought to Bordeaux prior to this trip. We visited for a day out midweek and it was absolutely buzzing. Full of beautiful classic french architecture but with many modern twists and great countryside nearby I was sad we didn’t explore more. I’d love to return for a weekend break, to explore the city and cycle out to the Medoc to explore some wine. To make a great city even better it’s twinned with Bristol – who knew!

All other gems of the week came in the form of wine, cheese and the plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables which are so freely available in all but the smallest French villages. I’m not into taking photos of food in general so you’ll have to imagine the fruity delicious red wines, the sparking sugar cane sweet combination of white port and tonic and the flavour packed heritage tomato salad laced with garlic that formed the culinary cornerstones to our week.

View of Duras Chateau from our garden

For true rural relaxing I’d definitely recommend a week in Lot et Garonne. Who know’s where we’ll end up next year but I can bet there will be wine a plenty!

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