As we have traveled and shared pictures we have received a few requests from our friends back home for certain pictures or things from Europe. One of those requests was a desire for pictures of street performers. After only seeing one true street performer in Paris and just one pair of sisters in the whole Loire Valley, I didn’t think that there would be a lot of photographing opportunities in the area of street performers. I had always heard about people putting out their hats on the cobblestone and trying to beguile the public enough that they can pay their bills, but after a few weeks of my holiday, I thought that they were very few and far between. Man was I wrong.
Recently we spent three full days in the medieval town of Sarlat. Our apartment was a block from the town center area. There were several cafes and tons of side roads that led among the tall stone buildings. Nestled between a double pronged sloping staircase and the mighty doors of the indoor market (an old church like building) was an unofficial amphitheater where you could find a street performer jumping about and shouting throughout most of the day.
When we first arrived in Sarlat, we thought that the large crowds enjoying the night life and the constant performers popping up around the plaza were due to it be Saturday night, but every evening, week day or not there were adults and little children sitting on the stone floor or leaning over stone walls in hoards. I’m not even sure what time the party would finally stop. When we would finally head to our own beds around midnight, there would still be little ones clumped at the performers feet.
One thing is for sure, I defiantly know how to count to three in French now. All the way from our apartment you could hear the collective un, deux, trois as someone prepared to eat fire or balance a 20 foot pole on their head. The cheering and laughter bounced off of the walls of the historical buildings, filling the night and the village.
The natural amphitheater had a statue of a man sitting on the towering staircase wall, watching. We concluded that that very spot has probably been enchanted by performers for hundreds of year, enthralling all those in the vicinity for ages.
Some of the entertainment that we enjoyed was first class and some was just silly, but they were all unique from one another. I’m sure that each person was an increasingly enjoyable entertainer, just through the commentary that they gave their acts, but unfortunately every show was in French. Everyone around me thought that they were pretty funny and I almost wanted to laugh along to.
The performers inability to speak English was not a problem when you were hanging out with the mimes
This Neanderthal would not be a surprising human statue to find in Sarlat, for the region is famous for its local caves that are filled with art work from prehistoric man. brightly colored bison and mammoth etchings are now carefully preserved for the public. The Vezere valley is filled with signs of ancient human history, boasting an impressive 15 UNESCO world heritage sites (The whole United States only has 23).
Along with the artistic cave masterpieces, there are also multiple cliff dwellings and museums. While we got to see some of the cliff dwellings along the Dordogne river while we went canoeing, we only got to actually visit one prehistoric sight, Grotte de Rouffignac.
The tour of Grotte de Roufignac takes you on a little open train down into the mouth of a six mile deep cave. Along the way you will see impressive engravings of mammoths and large drawings of wholly rhinos and more mammoths. At the end of the cave you are greeted by the great ceiling which is covered in large paintings of horses, ibex, and yes more mammoths. Grotte de Rouffignac (also known as the cave of the hundred mammoths) is the largest collection of Mammoth cave art in the world.
While this cave is awe inspiring and I would totally recommend visiting It, it is not the most impressive cave in the area. Lascaux is the largest and most famous cave in the Dordogne, but due to conservation needs, it is no longer open to the public. They have two different replicas that you can visit, Lascaux ll and Lascaux llll. The second largest cave, which is still open for public access, is Grotto de Fonte-de-Gaume. This cave is extremely difficult to get into for it is extremely popular and only allows 78 visiter a day in the summer due to conservation purposes. So, Grotte de Rouffignac is a superb choice if you are in the area. *Knowing which cave to visit an when can be very confusing. If you are trying to plan a trip to see the caves I would recommend getting a travel guide book. I used one by Rick Steves and It was wonderful!
So between the prehistoric cave art and the superb street performers, Sarlat was a successful stop on our trip around France. Three stops down, eight more to go! ~Emily