A Head For Heights

No matter how integrated I might feel here in France, there is still a kind of basic comfort in finding some reading material in my mother tongue.

The Bugle, monthly free local newspaper available at our dordogne holiday cottages

The Bugle, monthly free local newspaper

So when I come across the latest monthly edition of The Bugle , a local, free, English newspaper, I happily scoop up a few copies; one for me and some to leave in the gamesroom and up at La Tour de Genèbre  for our guests. I then settle myself down for a good read with a nice cup of tea and some biscuits …. So British!

In among a piece about Ryan Air’s recent cancellations scandal and a story about France now banning too skinny models, this month’s edition just happened to have an article from The Grumpy Granny Guide comparing 3 Dordogne climbing attractions. These have all been visited by lots of our guests before so I thought it might be quite interesting to reproduce their findings here.

Their testing team was made up of an experienced mountaineer, a 10 year old child and a fearless teenager. It may be pertinent to note that they omitted to include a 50 something, risk averse, stiff jointed, prone to vertigo mother of two, ( aka Moi!!) in this focus group so the results may be somewhat skewed 😉 !

Anyway, here are their findings, copied verbatim (in italics) from the Grumpy Granny write up in The Bugle …. hope the editior, Steve Martindale doesn’t mind!

The Grumpy Granny Guide to climbing in the Dordogne

The Grumpy Granny Guide to climbing adventures in the Dordogne




This attraction has been squeezed into the crowded Euroland site next to Le Bournat and is a glorified climbing frame for all ages. The safety harness ensures you feel totally secure and it was judged to be a very “tame” experience because at every step you can choose your level of difficulty and it’s not hard to negotiate.

“More annoying than challenging”, “An acrobatic and not a climbing experience”, “Fine for the very young or those who have never climbed before” were the team’s comments.

However the ticket price is high at €17 for what is a short visit (approx 30-40 minutes or even less for an agile or experienced climber), and not really exciting enough to merit a “stand alone” visit. But, it could be included if you are visiting Le Bournat or the Aquarium and have time, and money, to spare.

Big Bird climbing experience in Le Bugue

Big Bird climbing experience in Le Bugue. Photo credit –  www.ce-multi-entreprises.fr


The Via Ferrata in the grounds of Marqueyssac was a much greater success. Well organised, there was a feeling of total security yet with more than enough of a challenge to make it exciting. The Via Ferrata is included in the price of a visit to the gardens, which means those in your party who are adventurous can test their skills while the others can can go off and admire the gardens. The cliff just below the gardens has been transformed into a via ferrata (climbing wall) and the panorama over the river is magnificent. Even our expert climber was thrilled with the spectacular view from this angle. Contrary to the impression given from the Marqueyssac online video, it is not – and does not feel – dangerous, but to allay any fears you may have you can make a 50m test run before committing yourself to the longer ( approx 45 minute) climb. An excellent initiative which some other sites would do well to follow.

The one negative was the lack of signs indicating where the Via Ferrata was located in the grounds. The team had a frustrating time finding it. Overall judgement – “Brilliant!”

via rerrata marqueyssac

People in action on the Via Ferrata!  Photo credit  – www.journees-du-patrmoine.com

You can see a video of people in action here!! In agreement with the above report, to me it just looks petrifyingly scary, but for all those adrenalin junkies out there I can see why it would be a fantastic experience – I can almost, almost see myself now, clinging one handedly on to those ropes while clutching my camera with the other hand , hoping in vain to capture some of those breathtaking views which are almost certainly … in my case, possibly quite literally … to die for 😉 !


The experience at the Forêt des Ecureuils is different again, consisting of a number of high rope trails through the trees which present different levels of difficulty which you can select to climb as you go round the grounds. Again there is something for all ages and the price of the ticket depends on the level selected ( from €15 ). This site presents a real, but achievable challenge with the added advantage that you can spend the best part of a day there if you so choose, stopping off for a snack or picnic or just stopping to catch your breath.

This site was judged to be really exciting and very good value for money; far better than the flyer suggested,being a true climbing experience and not just a set of ropes and zip wires.

However, getting from one trail to the next was complicated by poor signage and the lack of information in the trail area. Something to be corrected for next year’s season maybe?

high wire action at La Forêt des Ecureuils in sarlat.

high wire action at La Forêt des Ecureuils in Sarlat. Photo credit : http://www.sarlat-tourisme.com


All 3 sites staff were friendly and helpful, ensuring clear, careful safety procedures and all spoke some English.


There are quite a few other similar activities in the Dordogne which the Grumpy Granny Guide intends to test for next season so if any of our guests who have tried out some others want to give their tuppence worth you can e-mail them at grumpygrannyguide@orange.fr

A few which could well be included next time are:

Monkey’s Forest

L’Appel de la Forêt

Airparc Périgord

Do let us know if you’ve tried any and what you thought ….. in the meantime while I’m waiting for the November edition of The Bugle to hopefully come up with a more sedate set of amusements to test, I may well take myself off to the Via Ferrata for that 50 m trial run ….. who knows, I might even come back with a head for heights!

A very Merry Christmas!!

Well, here we go again…..sending out Merry Christmas messages on Christmas Eve ….always at the last gasp. Oh how I dream of going all Martha Stewart at this time of the year ….pinny on, home baking smells wafting through the house as the mince pies bubble away in the oven, beautifully wrapped gifts safely under the tree and the whole family gathered round the fire warbling Christmas carols…..

Merry Christmas from our dordogne holiday cottages

Alas , here I am contemplating the list of all the people I haven’t written to and wondering if a blanket heartfelt message via social media will suffice or if it would be better to cash in on that fantastic French custom of sending a New Year’s message instead. This can be done right up until the end of January so it’s actually very tempting!!

I’m also considering the possibility of squeezing in a quick dash round the shops for those last minute gifts, the ideas for which have been firmly planted in my mind since last Christmas but have only just decided to send me the reminder last night… plus ça change, as they say in French!

christmas at our holiday cottages in france

This isn’t as bad as it sounds though as round here the Christmas shopping frenzy is actually very sedate. Yes a few more people milling around but all with very modest shopping trollies …. nobody here seems to buy up the supermarkets as if they’re suddenly going to be handed out ration books. This is a good thing but the lack of buzz always catches me out and no matter how organised I think I am, every year Christmas seems to creep up on me unannounced. The Christmas markets are lovely though ….all mulled wine and roasted chestnuts and very picture perfect.

winter sunset at our dordogne holiday villa

And we have had some stunning Winter sunsets which all add to the festive charm and are altogether much more appealing than panic buying up the local Carrefour!

Winter sunset at our luxury villa in dordogne

This year may be a bit more focussed (or frantic, don’t know which yet) as we have decided to have our Christmas meal today on Christmas Eve…. Emma has been invited for Christmas Dinner by her significant other and to avoid the pain of having to eat two dinners on the same day we have compromised…..this means I have a whole day less to get my act together (so I suppose I really shouldn’t be writing blog posts right now 😉 !)

One thing I have managed to do ahead though is publish this year’s Christmas newsletter! It’s just a quick catch up of the year gone by and the one to come – you can find it at  www.lescrouquets.net/newsletter.php  and if you would like to receive next year’s news just sign up to our subscriber’s list ( Don’t worry, you won’t be bombarded with loads of annoying e-mails – I won’t promise anything more than an annual send out as given my track record this is highly unlikely to happen!)

news from our dordogne holiday cottages

This year’s Christmas newsletter

Oh yes, and our Christmas guests at La Tour de Genèbre are already settled in and looking forward to a cosy family Christmas (so in effect I have had two houses to decorate) …

luxury dordogne holiday villa at Christmas

Ready for Christmas at La Tour de Genèbre

….and I have managed to fit in a bit of pre Christmas homebaking too …

homebaking at our dordogne family holiday cottages

home made festive nibbles!

….very Martha Stewart after all!

Anyway I just wanted to wish everyone here a very merry Christmas and only good things and lots of happy times in 2017.

Bonnes fêtes à tous and see you all next year !!!