The beautiful and compact city of Bergerac is less than an hour from Puymangou and the gites at Bon Abri. The lovely city of Bergerac was not our primary destination but it proved to be a very entertaining one.
It was a delightful, warm day preceded by a cloudless blue sky even before the sun rose. Taking our cue from the calm dawn we made a very slow start to the morning. Lounging, as we did, at a table on the lawn with fresh strawberries picked before the sun could warm them was a delight. These were the first of the year and we savoured them. I have nurtured and netted them, watched and watered them and anticipated that first bite, My delight in finding that the rabbits seem to avoid them just added to the juicy full flavour as we sank our teeth into them.
By the time that we were heading south down through the deep green and speckled forest clouds had drawn a thin veil over the sky. We passed through the busy market in Mussidan, a business-like town pressed up against the Isle river, and then along the fertile and rolling valley of the Crempse river. In contrast to the steep, dense and dark Forêt de la Double this was open, manicured and neat.
Our destination was the tiny village of Campsegret that appears to sit on a hillside like a jumble of badly stacked books on a rickety bookcase. This is where the animal charity, Phoenix, runs its book sale twice per year. I will not dwell on the good work that Phoenix do but it is sad that they are needed to help the domestic animals that are treated as accessories and disposable items here. The book sale is an impressively organised operation with marshals directing cars full of books in and empty cars out. All the while streams of people pour in with or without books they want to pass on and everyone seems to leave staggering under the staggering piles of books. All of the books are in good condition and most cost a single Euro each. Briskly passing the long counter of sweet and savoury food, cakes, tarts, sandwiches, pies and on and on with a large brigade of very busy helpers bringing you that oh so tempting sweet thing (or is that just me – no it seems to be almost everyone), you can browse through the books. To stay is to drown. The longer you are there the more books keep appearing and the longer you will stay.
Throughout the year books are collected and cleaned, sifted and sorted, stacked and stored ready for the next sale. It is an operation that brings delight to many who voraciously read their way through lazy, insect droning, hot summer days or chilly, wind-swept winter evenings huddles around the wood-burner.
We left with a smaller pile of books than we came with so we stuck to our game-plan. We headed back into the rolling hills past meadows carpeted with orchids. Most were the purple pyramidal orchid but some, less obtrusive orchids bobbed in the breeze and waved their sinuous tongues (Lizard orchid) to attract passing insects.
On into Bergerac and we parked close to Place Gambetta and the historic centre.
As we made our way through the square we realised that the jazz festival was in full swing. We checked the performance list for the afternoon and then strolled down through the old town and its cobbled, narrow streets like ancient cliffs of medieval brick and plaster, mostly beautifully restored.
A lot of restoration work has been done and a huge amount is still under-way. It is pleasing to note however that visual intrusion and the blight that construction work necessarily involves has been kept to a minimum and well disguised.
Back in place Gambetta we sat with glasses of wine and enjoyed a couple of hours of excellent music from Purple Blues and from Serge Molinier Trio.
Topped off with a pan au raisin from a baker who had the biggest selection of artisan breads I have ever seen our day was completed by the final leg of our round-trip to Bon Abri gites in Puymangou.