A Rainy Week In Southwestern France

  • After leaving Spain we drove north, past French Basqueland and into the Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne for a night outside of Sabres. In the morning, we drove into town and bumped into the twice-weekly farmers’ market, which was perfect because we needed veggies and cheese.
  • The weather was terrible so we kept driving, through Bordeaux and close to Angoulême to visit a second natural regional park, the Parc Naturel Régional Périgord-Limousin.
  • Regional natural parks in France are “inhabited rural areas recognized at a national level for the value of its heritage and landscapes which form part of a concerted sustainable development effort to protect and promote that heritage”, according to a brochure I got of activities and patrimonial sites in Brantôme. Périgord-Limousin has a five point action plan to work towards that:
    • Point I: improve water quality in the three heads of the drainage basins
    • Point II: preserve the diversity
    • Point III: encourage improvement of local resources as part of a sustainable development drive
    • Point IV: combat climate change
    • Point V: strengthen local identity and social networks
  • It’s inspiring to see local communities (network of villages, museums, nearby castles, restaurants, workshops and seasonal, holiday businesses) organize to promote economic good and environmental sustainability.
  • The problem for us is we’re passing through in March. It’s low season, so many things are closed or unavailable due to weather. It’s been raining off-and-on the whole week, with only a few moments of fleeting sun before being swallowed by the clouds. There aren’t as many hiking trails around these parks.
  • There hasn’t been much of an opportunity to meet French people this trip either. Everyone is at work, school, or inside and we haven’t visited any hotels, restaurants, or cafés.
  • In any case, we have a destination and we keep ourselves pointed that way. How is southwestern France? Beautiful, green, rainy, somnambulant, elusive.

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