Inevitably, not every day at Les Terraces is a sunny one. I enjoy a rainy day some of the time, especially when there’s maintenance to be done as I don’t feel that I’m missing out on anything that I might be doing that is considerably more fun. However, with a house full of friends and my son over from school for a brief, extravagant, exeat weekend we had to do more than sit in the house and watch movies.
Aileen and Judy had, during one of their days of exploring, been to Duras. Graham and I had driven around its edges and past the lovely chateau there while house hunting last year, but we’d not had the opportunity to stop. Thus it was agreed that we’d all go down to Duras and have a look around and have some lunch (Aileen & Judy had had eaten at a restaurant to which they gave rave reviews). Duras on a Sunday morning, even in mid-September isn’t exactly a bustling town. Duras on a rainy Sunday mid-September morning is positively quiet. Still, this gave us the opportunity to see the architecture of the town unimpeded by people.
Arriving at the Chateau’s gateway I was alarmed to discover that I had morphed into my mother! I had gone ahead and bought tickets for all of us to go around the castle (I was raised on weekend visits to English National Trust properties and museums). Graham looked resigned. Mo had an “oh, Mére” look on his face. Fortunately, Aileen, Judy and Liz were more enthusiastic.
The Chateau has been extensively renovated, but there are areas where repairs are still needed, and others still where repairs appear to have been unsuccessful. It is a fascinating building, with its two most impressive features being its central well, which has chutes through which buckets could be lowered from the floor above, and the whispering room (the room is such that if you stand face-to-the-wall in one corner and whisper something, a person standing in the diagonally opposite corner can hear you clearly, but no-one else can hear what you’ve said).
I enjoyed the displays showing the process of the renovation project – 40 years ago the Chateau was in such a terrible state of disrepair that, had it not been for the determined people of Duras, it would surely have been condemned. The most disappointing part of the visit for me, however, was the incredible amount of contemporary graffiti scratched into the stone work. Why do people do these things?
The Chateau is located in such a manner that it must have been strategically important – it has a commanding, unimpeded 270° view.
Sadly, the restaurant that Aileen and Judy had been to was closed (it was, after all, France on a Sunday), so we ventured to try a restaurant overlooking the Chateau instead, which served us some excellent meals. All too soon it was time for me to drive Mo back to Bergerac for the flight back to school while everyone else headed back for the warming fires at Les Terraces. Thanks are due to Mo for saving the day, as his idiot mother had forgotten to bring her camera along, but his cell phone was available to fill the void.