Day 16 — Albi to Périgueux

The Plan (the whole Plan)
Day 16 : Wed 6 Jun : To St Etienne, taking in some very old art indeed.

We might have thought twice about all having the cassoulet if we had remembered that we were going to spend most of today in confined spaces. (Regular readers will be able to insert their own puerile flatulence jokes here.)

The main item on today's agenda was a visit to the cave paintings at Lascaux. At one level, a day that involved staying under cover had a lot to be said for it: the weather was such as to make any sensible Cro-Magnon say, "Bugger this hunting and gathering lark - I'm going to stay in and paint the cave." And so we headed north through the drizzle with the distant sound of thunder in the background.

You can't get at the actual cave paintings any more - 15 years' worth of human contact after the opening of the caves in the mid-20th Century had resulted in irreparable damage from mould and calcification, so they've been shut since the 1960s. But a rather impressive mock-up has been built just 200 metres from the site.

The new expo contains all the normal prohibitions on photography, pets, noisy children and so on. Inexplicably, it contained no prohibition on dopey adults who don't listen to the introduction given by the guide and ask endless questions that have already been covered in said intro. So progress was slower than it might have been.

The rain became heavier as we emerged from the caves, so we headed straight for Périgueux, and once installed in the hotel, we wrote up yesterday's events and started to decide what to do with the evening. And it was at this point that the day's rain turned into a full thunder-and-lightning show with a downpour that flooded the streets and confined us to the hotel for another couple of hours.[1]

About as exciting as it got today.

Anyway, the flood receded a bit and the ark-builders were made redundant and we consulted the Lonely Planet guide for somewhere to eat. Lonely Planet has a fairly poor reputation in this field - everyone has a story about being directed to an indifferent place occupied entirely by people clutching Lonely Planet - but it had done us fairly well on this trip, with some of the best restaurant finds coming from its pages. However, on this occasion the place they recommended no longer existed - we circled the area for a while getting wetter still until we concluded that no, we were in the right place, and found somewhere else.

Ah, a bit of a dull day in the end. Never mind. Back to Lyon tomorrow.

[1] Those of an Old Testament bent will be pleased to know that the full Biblical indundation with thunderbolts and lightning (very very fright'ning) began immediately after Mark had written the passage slagging off the church on which the Editors commented acidly in yesterday's diary. Mark responded to this divine wrath by leaning out of the window and shouting "Missed!" every time lightning struck nearby. [Back]