Half the fun is in the planning

Letter to Viz comic “My husband heard somewhere that planning a holiday was half the fun. So this year we planned two holidays and didn’t go on either of them”.

When I’m planning a holiday or visiting a new area I like to research it first. First you need to establish exactly where you are going. There are many ways to describe where we are: Haute Vienne is the Department or county (Number 87). Limousin used to be the region and is still used by many people to describe this general area of France, although it doesn’t really exist any more. Limousin, which always conjured an image for me of big brown cows grazing in rich buttercup meadows, has been superseded by the much less evocative Nouvelle-Aquitaine, which hasn’t caught on yet. We are also right on the border of The Dordogne – it’s the neighbouring department and we cross the border virtually every time we leave Le Moulin. Most British people have heard of the Dordogne and so many Brits live there that its sometimes known as Dordogne-shire.

Here are some books to whet your appetite for the area:

For a general guidebook on France we like the DK Eyewitness travel series. Their one on France is called, hey guess what, “France.” Great photos and maps. Lonely Planet is also good.

For a bit more regional information DK Eyewitness Travel also do a book called “Dordogne, Bordeaux & the southwest coast”.

But to get a real feel for the area, culture and cuisine, it might seem strange but I’m going to recommend a series of novels. The “Bruno, Chief of Police” series by Martin Walker tells of the adventures of Bruno from the small town of St Denis in the Dordogne. I first came across these books when I saw on twitter that Martin Walker had been given an award for his work to promote “la vie de France” and the cuisine and way of life in Périgord. Intrigued, I bought the first book on Audible (fed up with falling asleep with a book on my face every night I now listen to books while I work in the daytime instead.). I was immediately hooked. Basically they are simple crime novels, but Bruno is originally an Englishman who has live in the area most of his life and has become an expert on the culture, people, history and most of all the FOOD of the area. My favourite chapter is in the third book of the series where Bruno does nothing other than cook a venison stew. There are also murders, hunting, dogs, horses, environmentalists (“ecolos”) and a reasonable amount of sex. I heartily recommend them.