Journiac is a small rural community in the middle of the most gorgeous countryside you can imagine, in Dordogne. For those who do not know the Dordogne, it is a department located in south-west France and is part of the Aquitaine region between the Loire valley and the Pyrenees. It is named after the Dordogne river that runs through it.^
The Dordogne conjures up an image of a return to rural life at a slow pace, where the houses are built of honey-colored stone, the meadows are green and rich and the locals are friendly. Most of the area is still full of old villages and country hamlets and is very much “off the beaten track”, still waiting to be discovered.
Journiac is situated at the beginning of the Vezere valley and the Perigord Noir, in the heart of the Dordogne. The population is around 450, with Stuart and I being the two newest members of the community. It is situated about 30 minutes from the towns of Bergerac, Sarlat and Perigueux. The village itself is tiny but does have its own mairie (town-hall), a church called Eglise Saint-Saturin dating back to the 12th century and even an elementary school. There are maybe 5 homes in the village itself as most of us live on farm houses in the surrounding countryside. Our home is a beautiful, (I am naturally biased), old farmhouse dating back to the 18th century. It was completely renovated by the previous owners about 25 years ago. We now have the main house, a guest house, a tower with an office and an attic room, just like in Rapunzel, a huge workshop to store the tractors and mowers, (there are 48 acres, luckily part of that is forest and will not require Stuart to mow it), the pool house, and several outbuildings containing the laundry, storage rooms and the cellar. That might be the favorite room. As with most homes in the area, they are made with a lovely honey coloured stone, stone floors and lots of natural light.
The garden has been beautifully laid out and at the moment is brimming with flowers. The only downside is that the watering of the flowering plants is done by hand and takes the better part of a day. Now normally that would be just fine as we moved here to “retire” after all but our arrival coincided with a massive heatwave and temperatures have been hovering between 33(91)and 41(104)degrees. Last Wednesday we were actually the same temperature as Tombouctou and that is in the middle of the Saharan desert! As with most French homes, there is no air conditioning, so we are using fans and doing as much as possible in the mornings and evenings. Not that it gets much cooler at night, mind you. This is going to continue at least another 10 days according to the weather report but with nothing over 33(91) predicted, which should be more bearable. Heat and I simply do not go well together. Now you would think that growing up in South Africa without the benefit of air conditioning, I might be used to heat but to be honest, Cape Town does not get that hot and I am convinced that this heat is the worst I have ever experienced. Might be due to the fact that I am getting older, but, no, that is simply not even a consideration, is it? We are praying for some rain, maybe a rain dance will be next on our agenda as the grass and trees are looking very thirsty. The lavender is gorgeous and the bees and butterflies are in heaven, and it smells great. The hibiscus is stunning as are all the dozens of hydrangea shrubs.
We have been very, very busy since our arrival last week. Our furniture has not yet made it here but we are living in the guest house which is mostly furnished and equipped. Although we are making do with two towels and limited linens. Our first action after our drive from Bordeaux airport, about 2 hours away, was to open up all the shutters and windows. Then we zoomed off in the small rental car to the InterMarche, our local supermarket, to stock up on a few basic essentials which included, pate, assorted cheeses, pastries, just the necessities. We are in France after all so those constitute the bare essentials in my mind. Actually we also got a huge yoghurt assortment. The French have the nicest yoghurts and there are what seems to be hundreds to choose from. Oh, and the obligatory desserts which might take me months to work through the varieties even if I have to force myself to eat one every day. Sometimes life is such a chore. Store hours here are very different to the US where things are open long hours and even many 24/7. Most shops are open from 9 to 12 then close for lunch and again from 2 to 7. Most are closed Sundays. It takes some getting used to and yesterday we arrived at the Bricomarche, a hardware store like Home Depot at 12:10 and it was closed! We had to go home and have lunch as all good people are supposed to be doing and return later. Now we know for next time. I think the Intermarche is the only place that does not close for lunch and as such is packed with tourists between 12 and 2 doing their groceries. I guess they too were caught trying to go to an attraction only to find it closed for lunch so they made use of the time until it opened up again and they could continue visiting the chateaux, museums, caves etc. Now back to our first week. As I mentioned before, we have been incredibly busy getting the house ready for the furniture arrival. The expected date was TODAY but obviously as I am sitting here typing, it did not get here. More on that in another post. To be continued…..