Plan B

On Monday it was a grey start to the day…with rain forecast for the morning and storms for the afternoon. I had planned we would walk around a lake but clearly that would be a bit damp so onto plan B.

Through social media I knew there was an exhibition of three photographers at la gare – Robert Doisneau in the old station at Carlux. As there are only three galleries in the building and two of those devoted to Doisneau I knew it would be a small exhibition and therefore a quick visit. Remembering that last time we had problems finding a picnic spot and with that storm warning (yellow) we opted not to picnic and just do the photographs.

The drive takes about an hour and as we drove along the Puybrun bypass we could see the black and grey clouds hunkered down over the causse de Gramat, last week’s route. We were following the Dordogne to the west of Souillac. It didn’t look much better in that direction either.

We passed through Martel, the town of ‘sept tours’ and very pretty. There was an outdoor art exhibition due to close at the end of the week so I hoped we could stop on the return journey for a quick peek, weather permitting.

As we arrived at La Gare, there were spots of rain on the windscreen. Grabbing coats just in case of a deluge as we came back out, we hurried into the tourist office section. As usual our nationalities were asked for and how we knew of the place. ‘We live in 46 and we’ve been here before’, I countered, more interested in buying the booklet of walks in the area, only available from this office. I once answered ’46’ in the Toulouse Lautrec musee at Albi and the cheerful chap behind the desk made the queue laugh by commenting how the Lot accent had changed! I joined in with the joke, part of the expat’s lot, ‘scuse the pun!

As expected, the exhibition was small, just the one space with one photographer’s work hung in the corridor. All black and white which we have a preference for and all portraits from two of the exposants. I liked the third photographer’s work best. Dreamy, ethereal studies with just certain parts lit. ‘Photoshopped’ sniffed ‘I’m only the chauffeur’. We visited an annual art exhibition in Tulle several times, the results of a photographic competition. The last attendance we were irritated by the heavy use of ‘photoshopping’ which rendered most of the images into something resembling stills from florescent video games. We stopped going.

by Fabrice Domenet

But I liked these. Of course, my sneeky photo was hindered by the reflection of the green(?) lighting.

Outside, we opted for coffees from the smart little cafe/bar that is part of La Gare. (Lunch smelled delicious). Just time to drink them before the rain started again. But I did have time to notice a huge and beautiful tree nearby.

Back in the car, before he switched on, ‘i’m only the chauffeur’ risked asking if there was anywhere else I wanted to go before we went home. It did seem a long way for just a half hour visit. Well, I ventured, could we go up to Carlux proper, please? Like some other towns in this hilly part of the world the stations are often at a distance to the town eg Turenne, Aubazine.. ‘It has a castle which is where the Carlux boucle starts from, it’s probably just a bit of wall…..’

The GPS told us it was three kilometres away so not far. We climbed away from the Dordogne up a pretty valley (is there a river? a stream?) and into the beginnings of a pretty village. The GPS told us to take a left turn in what seemed to be the centre bourg and we drove up a very steep and narrow street.

Driving down that steep two way street on the return

At the top we came out into a wide area that was once part of the castle precincts, I learned later.

We parked under that ‘bit of wall’

Curiousity piqued, we followed the wall around to our right and came to an entrance with a severe sign telling us that we entered at our own risk!

The weekend that had just finished had been the journees de patrimoine and something had clearly taken place. There was a huge tarpaulin roof stretched over tables and chairs and the ever present buvette and in the adjacent basse-cour there was a stage still in situ.

We spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes clambering and scrambling around the restored ruins and enjoying the 360° view and the sun which had come out just as we left the car. What a delightful and unexpected find!

la basse-cour and la tour longue
la chapelle, Sanctae Mariae de Carlux 1153
Le logis Roman X1e-X11e siecles
the view west

When we tore ourselves away I walked on past the entrance to see how far that ‘bit of wall’ went. The path I was on dropped down but I was able to see how the chateau was dug into the rock of the hilltop.

Probably because of the heritage weekend, there were a number of brochures in a box by the exit. It was only later I realised I had picked up the English version. The chateau dates from the 12th century and has had its fair share of pillage and burning since then. As always, I am intrigued by how these places hang on despite their stones being taken away to build local houses and their lands sold off. This particular chateau was donated to the commune as recently as 1990.

There is a boucle around Carlux and with so many other buildings to explore; church, halle… plus I saw a pretty restaurant terrace with a view over the valley…..we’ll be back!

l’eglise Sainte Catherine

We drove back down that steep hill without meeting any vehicle coming up, thank goodness. There were more lovely buildings tucked away in side alleys. I felt very chuffed at how our day was turning out. Now we just had to make it to Martel while the weather stayed dry. And it did.

Gilles Sacksick is a local artist who always had his work hanging at the Casino in St Cere that I wrote about a while ago. There is another little gallery in the area that I visited last year to see his paintings and had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with him. Like his art he came across as a gentle and unassuming man and I was pleased to be able tell him how much I liked his work. The print I bought is still waiting for its frame, I’m ashamed to say!

one of his favourite subjects, victim of our recent storms by the looks of it
this is a comment on migration but I need to study his thoughts with a dictionary to hand!

As I walked around Martel peering upward at the artworks above me the cooking smells from two busy restaurants were making my tummy rumble so back to the car and home, with the sun still shining…just!

Castelnau Bretenoux from the Puybrun bypass
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