Friday, April 20, 2012

Off to Gouffre de Paridac

04/19, Thursday, Molly's Birthday
It's another rainy day. What better to do than drive to an indoors activity. Paridac is about two hours drive in the on-and-off rain, some country roads and a short stretch on a toll road. It's at upper end of the Parc Naturel RĂ©gional des Causses du Quercy in the Lot Department.

We were delayed along the way trying to find gas. Stopped at three stations that were closed or our credit card wouldn't work (many places here require a card with a chip, the stripe doesn't work). Gas is the equivalent of $7.60 per gallon. Filling up is a major expense.

Indoors is in an underground river chasm. It is an unusual cave of un The diversity and many times the delicacy of the formations is truly amazing.usual dimensions. We have never seen anything quite like it. It was discovered in1889 and they are still exploring the network of tunnels. It is considered one of the most interesting geological site in France.

You go down almost four hundred feet either walking or by three elevators. After waiting in line, we get in a boat paddled by a French gondolier, to enjoy the breathtaking sight on a subterranean river. There is no oxygen in the water so there are no fish or plant life. It is clear and cold.

The diversity of stalactites and stalacmites is amazing in size and shapes. These are unlike any we've seen elsewhere. The delicacy of the formations is truly amazing, too. Photos are not allowed and it is too dark anyway, so there are none attached.

Returning late afternoon (6:00), our GPS (We haven't named it since we've been in France. Maybe she is mad at us.) led us along more back roads than on our way to Padirac. The roads are in good condition, but sometimes narrow (the D- roads, Departmental like our county, are single lane) and very winding. Pretty countryside as we pass through even with intermittent rain.

We have not eaten anything since breakfast so we stop in a small town around 8:00pm for dinner. It's a tiny place. Three British couples sat near us. Mom and I both chose a fixed menu of four courses which was too much food, but it was good...salad with cheese, confit of canard (duck leg and thigh) as the main dish, frommage (cheese), and dessert with a local wine.

We didn't get home until 10:00pm, a little tired but very full. We watched part of an old Robert Redford movie, "Clearing", with Helen Mirren...2-stars.

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