Fiona Alderman: A Snapshot of Salignac
A busy month again but it is now the end of the season. Visitors are leaving and the exodus of cars and camping vans are noticeable on the roads heading Northwards and everywhere of course.
It has been a strange time with tourism though .It was deemed to have fallen even during August, normally the height of the year.The World Cup was said to have had an effect and holiday spots like Tunisia, Morocco and other Eastern countries were cheaper.The usual transport strikes that France pulls every summer and even the poor climate in July had a bad effect. However despite all that France is very popular and I even read that it was number one destination as a naturist place to visit!
Our street has been quite lively with several neighbours visiting their second homes for the summer.It is always so lovely to see them as they bring a bit of life to this slightly neglected part of the village..
Our retired plumber French neighbour often recounts how it was before, when he was a child.He used to play in the grounds of the castle just opposite his parents house where he now lives himself. All the neighbours would congregate outside the house sitting on the wall at the end of the day to relax and have a drink.There was a lot of commerce here in the village from bakers to haberdashery, ironmongery, hairdresser and several café bars. It was very busy with the flow of pigs and cattle to the open market just up the hill from us. Imagine the noise and the smell.
It was also said there was a small cinema just across from our house?Seems hard to believe now!
Waiting at the Station
I was recently invited by friends to go and see the restored railway station at Carlux just 15 minutes away from us. The connection however is not of engineering interest but one of photography. The famous French photographer Robert Doisneau used to come on family holidays to the Dordogne where they would stop at Carlux. It was on a main line from Bordeaux to Sarlat through to Aurillac, always represented as one of the coldest parts on the weather map in France.
The station closed in 1970 and has lain empty and neglected for years The railway tracks have long since gone and it is now a popular cycling path through beautiful countryside.However, the Council took it over in 2000 and with Government aid it has been given a new lease of life. It is both a tourist information centre plus a permanent exhibition of photography by Doisneau himself. The centre will also host school visits and also have artists in residence to encourage new work.
Born in the outskirts of Paris in 1912. Doisneau trained in engraving and then worked in advertising at Renault ‘s factories before becoming an independent photographer.He took the now famous photograph in 1939, of his wife and friends standing on the platform of the station at Carlux.
He fell in love with the area and would come on holidays with his family to enjoy canoeing on the Dordogne.It was quite an unusual activity at the time!
Many years later his two daughters came to inaugurate their father’s work at a very moving ceremony on the very place they had themselves been.
Robert Doisneau died in 1994 leaving behind 450,000 negatives.A huge amount of a lifetime’s passion.They are now in the possession of his two daughters who direct his company and his studio that he lived in for over 50 years near Versailles.
I popped into our friendly corner shop L’Epicier to buy some fruit and vegetables and have a chat with the owners Sylvie and Pascal. They are a lovely couple and they work extremely hard. It is a place where locals meet and discuss the daily events and where everyone knows everyone and everything! Just like the wall with our neighbours years ago?
They are always looking to offer something new or unusual too. As I turned the corner of the row of tins and bottles two pairs of bright eyes faced me. Two huge mannequins. One male and one female. They looked very life like; dressed in nice clothes, the girl in a very fetching mini dress!
I am not quite sure who is going to buy it though?
Rural France I love it!
Fifi’s stories from rural France. September 2018.
Dance and film courses in the Dordogne region.
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