Manzac Ferme & the Delightful Dordogne
Manzac Ferme has only a few pitches, with 6 pitches for caravans / motorhomes and then additional tent only pitches in the surrounding woods. It is an adult only site, so Greg and I looked forward to Juno not chasing boys to throw sticks. We settled into a very private pitch at the end of the row. We discovered that all of the caravaners / motorhomers were from the Midlands – how strange, from Mansfield, Nottingham, Burton-on-Trent, Sutton Coldfield and then the two of us. The site is immaculate, without doubt the cleanest and best kept of all the sites I’ve seen. Margaret and Georges have also prepared an information sheet to help all their guest determine the local area.
We settled in and took Juno for a long walk, directions and map given by Margaret and Georges, through local woods, fields, Christmas tree plantations and a small village with a bar that was basically someone’s front room. It was a lovely walk, but hot! A chilled out evening and early to bed.
The following day we decided to do a bit of exploring of the Dordogne area, starting with Brantôme. The weekly market was on so a good opportunity to bimble around the town. There is an aire only 200m away from the town centre so we headed there; turns out it was lovely and spacious, lots of grass, a park next door and was a very popular spot but without feeling cramped. It would have been a good place to stay and only €5. There was a slightly different way of paying via credit card on the way in and this caused a bit of a log jam in and out but no-one was in a hurry so eventually those wanting to get in got in, and those waiting to get out got out.
Brantôme is a very picturesque little town set on the river Dronne with a large Benedictine abbey, founded by Charlemagne, dominating the skyline. We had such a lovely walk around the market, Greg bought himself a couple of new belts almost identical to the one that I bought him for Christmas but a third of the price! We heard a lot of British voices around us and so reckon that the Dordorgne is where all the Brits go as we haven’t met many in the other areas of France we’ve been to.
We hopped back into Knigel and carried onto the village of St Jean de Cole, which Georges and Margaret say is a “must see”. It really was. The village was much quieter than Brantôme and immensely pretty. We stopped for lunch at La Perla, which served delicious salads, then wondered around the village taking a lot of photos plus stopping for Juno to have her obligatory dip in the river. After a captivating few hours we headed back to Knigel, who was parked in a free aire right in the village centre.
Next on our hit list was St Estephe, which has a large fresh water lake with a beach. The beach was really busy and Juno wasn’t allowed to swim in the lake or be off the lead, so we headed to the west side of the lake where there is an aire. The aire is lovely again, set in woods and I imagine is quiet and relaxing at night. We found a trail and decided to throw caution to the wind and let Juno off the lead, it seems we are getting better at living life the French way! Juno had a wonderful sprint around and managed to find a place to have a dip.
Back at Manzac Ferme we had a lovely evening in stunning, peaceful surroundings. The four of us totally chilled.
The next day, we got back to exploring and headed to Piegut-Pluviers for a gander at a medieval tower built by Richard the Lionheart and in keeping with my history geekiness I was quite excited. The Tour de Piegut is located a little outside of the small village, so we had a nice stroll there. The tower and surroundings were empty so the three of us climbed up to the top. You could see how it would be a good defensive position as it was pretty tough going climbing up as it was so steep. I was thrilled to be touching something that had been built so long ago and was weirdly excited knowing that Richard had been in the same place.
We jumped back in Knigel, and having been told about a cycle route where Juno could go off the lead, we headed there. The route goes between villages and is an old railway line. We had a nice walk, although I think Juno is suffering from the heat a little today as she is a little lack lustre. Then on we went to Montbron. To be honest, we didn’t really like Montbron, it wasn’t that pretty and didn’t have anything to hold us so we carried on.
Knicola (Knigel’s sat nav lady) tried to get Knigel in trouble again by sending us through Montbron’s centre on a road where his wheels had to straddle onto the pavement – bad Knicola!!
Our last stop of the day was La Rochefoucauld, which is dominated by a beautiful renaissance château. There were lots of really nice looking bars and restaurants too, but we were too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so we couldn’t take advantage of them.
We headed back to Manzac Ferme via St Estephe lake for another “breaking the rules” run for Juno. We had heard from our neighbours that there was a small restaurant nearby, Chez Pez, that was run by an elderly lady who cooked the most fabulous food. Unfortunately, they were fully booked so I think we had the campsite to ourselves for the night as our neighbours all went and enjoyed a lovely meal.
We leave tomorrow to go and see a friend and mentor of mine, who lives near Bergerac. Manzac Ferme is probably the best place we have been for peacefulness, beauty, cleanliness and the helpfulness of Georges and Margaret. I can see why they have so many returning guests and the coveted 5 tripadvisor stars.