How not to walk in France.

Mad dogs and Australians walk on French country roads in the afternoon sun.

In the sunflowers.

As we walked down the road to the gardens of Marqueyssac it became abundantly apparent that no one else even thought to walk on these roads. Too narrow, cars too fast, too hot – just isn’t done. Heads held high and mentally whistling Waltzing Matilda we soldiered on. The upside was that we walked past some great fields of sunflowers and wheat and finally got the photographs we’d been meaning to get for the last two weeks.

Marqueyssac hedges.

Marqueyssac turned out to be worth the effort involved in getting there too. The gardens are a huge complex that has been in the same family for almost 500 years. They show the results of centuries of planing and pruning. The hedges are pruned by hand into careful and surreal shapes, the paths wind just-so, revealing absolutely amazing views. The trees and flowers are all placed for maximum effect, framing avenues and shady grottos. We were more than pleasantly surprised.

Hidden amongst the pathways we found playgrounds, little round houses with stone or thatched roofs, waterfalls. And everywhere there were those grand, sweeping views of the Dordogne valley and the surrounding castles.

We used our elevated viewpoint to try to map out a better way to walk home. A complete failure unfortunately – walking back was just as much a trial as walking there. It was worth it though; both because Marqueyssac was so wonderful and because it’s made a final swim in the pool feel so, so good.