When I decided to go to France, I determined to see some “charming” villages. I may have been influenced by Pinterest and the following lists: 15 of the Most Beautiful and Charming Small Towns in France; the 25 Most Beautiful Villages to Holiday in France; 13 Most Charming Small Towns in France, etc. You get the idea. One night I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. locating these towns on my map!
I’ve always loved old things and to be in a country where everything is so old inspires me. My visits to these small towns has been hindered because the buses don’t run after tourist season. Luckily, I had an accommodation in Gargilesse and the proprietors gave me clear instructions on how to get there.
Gargilesse is situated in the valley of the River Creuse. Of course, there’s a castle and a church, cobblestone streets, shuttered windows, and autumn colors. Not a single shop or service was open, but the food at Hotel Des Artistes was excellent. I spent my days hiking, through forest and woods by gentle streams, then out into open acres of verdant pasture land. The livestock seemed anxious to receive guests, as several of the bulls got to their feet when I approached!
The first day I hiked to Dampierre–another village on the list–that has a single cafe that remains open through the year. I had a hot chocolate and enjoyed visiting with the locals.
Then I stumbled onto an enclave of buildings that were clearly inhabited by an artist–there was an open studio housing a large sculpture and a grouping of statues outside. I met the artist, a potter by trade, and was able to buy a couple of his pieces.
On the return trip I noticed a plaque in honor of two brothers who died in World War I. I wondered why it was placed so randomly and then realized I was standing by the remains of a home, completely overgrown. They must have lived in that beautiful spot, and sadly, never returned.