Recently I was asked, “What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path destination?” Immediately I recalled a fortified village or bastide in southwestern France named Domme. When my husband and our two children stepped through the 13thcentury arched gateway of rock wall it felt like we’d entered another time. Narrow cobbled streets cleaned by a summer rain, cozy honey-hued cottages with pitched tiled rooftops, turquoise doors on one home, red shutters on another.
We strolled through Domme like we’d never seen a village before, lots of pausing to look up and stopping to point. Land ended beneath our feet and we came to a sudden halt on an outcropping, 800 feet above a river. The 180-degree view forced silence. It was the broad Dordogne (pronounced Door-doan-ya) snaking through the valley floor of the French countryside; lush green hillsides of oaks, chestnuts, and pines climbed up to us.
Henry Miller wrote, “It was most important for me to have seen the Dordogne. It gives me hope for the future of the race, for the future of the earth itself. France may one day exist no more, but the Dordogne will live on just as dreams live on and nourish the souls of men.”
My 8-year-old daughter, Michele, shook me from my reverie when she took my hand and pulled me to a carousel nestled near a copse of green, ruffly walnut trees. I lifted her onto a white horse donned in a pink and purple saddle. I selected a grey and white spotted filly. The carousel journey began; twinkle lights glowed from the carousel ceiling.
The famous accordion song “Under Paris Skies” serenaded us. My daughter’s face radiated pure delight. I leaned my head against the brass pole and closed my eyes—the nostalgic music, the sparkling Dordogne, the village of Domme. The camera of my life closed in on Michele and me swirling round and round and round. My mind emptied. My heart opened. At that moment, nothing else mattered; all that mattered was love.
Share Your Favorite Off-the-beaten-path Destination and WIN!!!
What is your favorite off-the-beaten-path destination? Comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Rick Steves’ EUROPE Through the Back Door, 2013.
One winner will be selected at random on Jan. 28, 2013. Good luck!