Jax Shack and the Heart of Rural France

We left Andorra behind us with as much checking of paperwork as we had had getting into Andorra from Spain!

We were heading to our friend´s place in Lot, half an hour from the Dordogne, proper rural France, but enroute we thought we´d try to find a few interesting places to stop by.

Not knowing this part of the world we were entirely in Google´s hands. The first place we found looked lovely….

However we were greeted by a distinctly aristocratic English gentleman non too pleased that we had driven up his drive, who curtly told us it was a private house under renovation.

After a few apologies and a quick retreat we decided we could do with a day of rest after our exciting night in the mountains so found a cosy little camp site where we could put our feet up for the day – and where I hoped I could use their fast wifi to do some work on the computer. The campsite owner appeared very concerned by this and after a bit of French arm waving eventually typed his worry into our Google Translate app – ´Storm broke Wi-Fi´! ´Cést la via´ I smiled, there´s worse fates than using up all your phone data in one day!

Next morning we headed straight for Phil and Jax place in Payrac. It´s a beautiful, old house with many acres of land and the two of them run a bunk house for bikers and families (depending on the season) called Jax Shack. Idyllic is the word that came to mind as we rounded the corner.

Sadly Jax was in the UK visiting family but we were greeted by Phil and two other very happy faces! Meet Alan and Gringo….

Both rescue dogs, Gringo apparently didn´t speak a word of English when he first arrived. He´s now impressively bilingual and ignores ´Come here´ and ´Sit´´just as well as he ignores ´Allez´ and ´Asseoir´ 🙂

We spent a lovely 3 days with the team, James even got a couple of hours on a bike exploring the local trails whilst I updated the blog.

One of our tasks was to finally book the ferry from Sete to Nador – a big moment! We had waited until we could use Phil´s help to translate the very confusing French ferry web-site but by the time we were ready we found all the ferries were booked up until 29th October – 4 days late for meeting our convoy. But at least we´re booked so as long as we haven´t made any mistakes with the booking or overlooked some COVID restriction or requirement…..we´re on our way!

We now had nearly three weeks before we sailed however so Phil gave us a whole load of fantastic ideas for where to visit in the meantime. Our exploration of France proper was about to begin….!

Exploring France

First up was Castlenaud. If Spain do a good line in Castles they have nothing on France! We spent hours wandering around all the nooks and crannies and the views were spectacular. As castles go this was five star!

Next on the list was Castle Beynac, however we had spent so long as Castlenaud we weren´t in the mood for another castle so we just admired it from the outside.

The final stop for the day was the town of Terrasson. To be honest we hadn´t asked that much about our stops so weren´t sure what to expect at any of them. Terrasson turned out to be a beautiful medieval town built on a hill. Many of the buildings seemed derilict or at least shut down which added to its mystery. If we were to settle somewhere eventually this is the sort of place we could be happy calling ´the big smoke´!

Tired out we headed for somewhere to rest our weary bones and recharge.

Early next morning we headed to Rocamadour. Again, we had no idea what we were going to find and again Phil came up trumps! Rocamadour is another amazing place to visit – a whole ancient complex including castle, town, sanctuary and valley. This was a full day´s excursion with some steep up and down hill climbs.

The weather was glorious and the views stunning so ice cream and crepes were definitely the order of the day for lunch – we just haven´t kicked the feeling we´re on holiday yet!

Our final day of sites took us to the town of Collonges-la-Rouge. As the name suggests, it´s red!

Built from red stone between the 11th and 15th centuries but unlike Terrasson it´s definitely well lived in and beautifully kept.

So many interesting and gorgeous places to visit around this part of France, we barely feel like we´ve touched the surface – as we drive from one place to the next there are a hundred more in between that look fascinating. It´s a shame we didn´t get the chance to do our 3 month shakedown in this wonderful country….we´re even starting to remember some of our school-child French, we´ll be as bi-lingual as Gringo soon!

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