So, it was quite the busy run of days for us. Viewings completed; house now under offer. WorkAway completed; new friends made. Making our way north and west to our latest house-sit was the next thing on our agenda, but we had a few days spare to rediscover a more gentle pace. After leaving Dordogne Studios, we first stopped off in the nearby town of Lalinde. It was a rather pretty, and surprisingly busy, town set right on the banks of the Dordogne. The buds of summer had arrived and the ancient, sprawling river-frontage buildings were resplendent with flowering wisteria and other free-flowing decorative plants. Walking back across the bridge lent us perspective, letting us take in the whole village in one wide, colourful vista. Even in early morning, it was obvious the day would be a scorcher, and we embraced it as a welcome change, denoting summer was finally arriving.
We moved on, parking at the well-provisioned aire 3km north out of town on the Rue du Coulobre, near some pretty parkland trail walks in the Parc de Pombonne. We creamed up in advance of the solar onslaught and walked from here into Bergerac. It was hot, a properly sunny day, and our pace dropped as we slowly meandered into the centre, wilting a little in the unfamiliar heat and searching out shade where we could. Crossing a busy railway line we soon arrived in the heart of the town, near to the dominant Eglise Notre Dame de Bergerac. With no particular plan, we wandered in whatever direction interested us, soaking up the sights lit up beautifully in the bright sunshine. We passed through wonderfully shaded squares lined with stone and timber medieval buildings, eventually reaching the Dordogne river frontage.
We crossed the bridge and admired the frontage from the opposite bank, reflected in the calm waters. We found and wandered along many tiny streets, some leafy parks and a few busy roads, all filled with the bustle of daily life. We paused to examine the Eglise de la Madeleine then returned across the bridge to walk the frontage we had just observed. We passed a restored example of a timber courau boat, displayed at the corner of the harbour. A once common sight on the busy river, this style of workboat plied their heavy goods trade in the late 19th century. We climbed up café-lined streets that rose up to another small church, Eglise Saint Jacques, that hosted a small, leafy square where a statue of Cyrano de Bergerac stood. Everywhere was bright with flowers and new growth; leafy, rich and pungent, a sensual delight to walk through.
We returned to the aire to overnight, surprised to still be one of only two vans parked in the six free spaces outside the paid barrier, although many other vans were parked inside. It was a bargain for those planning to stay in the area longer – the cost was €12 for three nights, including electricity. We passed a peaceful, quiet night around the aire, enjoying the bird calls with our beer. The next morning, before the sun was too hot, we undertook a slow, looping 5km run around the park and lakes adjacent to the aire, before doodling off in Benny through wonderful countryside, heading north. We passed Mussidan, noting it was twinned with Woodbridge in Suffolk, a place we know well. We were close enough to our house-sit to stop early in the day, so we cut east, deciding to overnight at the small aire in Sourzac. Our spot was a glorious sun-trap that overlooked the river Isle, complete with its own picnic table and optional shade. We had a lazy lunch with a view before deciding to do some further, gentle exploring of the village.
After lunch we climbed a steep, narrow chemin behind the nearby buildings to gain an overview of the area, before looping around through the quiet farm roads and returning the same path. We had a quick look around the church buildings, although they were all locked up. Instead we crossed the steel trussed bridge then dropped off the grassy side to reach the opposite banks of the river Isle. We went for a short riverside walk, admiring the rustic beauty of the countryside and enjoying looking back at our overnight spot, still feeling that quiet satisfaction of how wonderful, how privileged, it is for us to be able to experience such freedom and tranquillity. The afternoon turned into evening as we sat watching the river slowly pass us by, fully enjoying our last night in Benny for a while as our upcoming house-sit was to begin the following morning.