Yesterday was the French Feast day of the Ascension. It's one of the many holidays in May making it a month of 4 day week ends for the people fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of them. We went to one of my favorite villages, Allassac, in the Correze, North East of Brive-la-Gaillarde. Allassac has been around since the 10th century and has a magnificent "Tour de Cesar" which looks like a giant chess set rook, made out of uniform "bricks" of black ardoise slate. Most of the village is constructed out of the black ardoise bricks, including the magnificent eglise, Jean le Baptiste on the central place.
The set of pictures are about 120 years apart....The biggest change is the existence of automobiles. On week ends and market days, the streets are still filled with people.
The church is an eccentric solid Correzien gothic masterpiece which dates from the 14th century. There is a little cafe on the other side of the church which has seating in the square. The little cafe, Le Cafe de Tour is deceptively small. In side there is an ancient zinc bar and standing room for about 15 people. But there is a stairway and upstairs is a huge room that extends through 3 separate buildings. The room is a convivial dining room and there is no sign, but it is one of the best lunch time bargains I have ever experienced.
The way I found the place was standing in the square at noon, smelling food, hearing voices and the sound of clinking plates. I walked around the area looking for the source of the sound, then into the cafe and asked if there was a restaurant nearby. The barman smiled and pointed at the stairway.
The last time I ate there, I had perfectly done roast lamb, dauphin potatoes, a small salad, then the cheese platter came to the table with a selection of the regional cheeses. If you are familiar with this area, you know that cheese is serious business here. There are too many different varieties.Oh, yeah, a bottle of table wine is on the table whether you want it or not...then there is dessert. The restaurant is above a bakery....
Unfortunately, coffee is extra...but still not a bad deal, because the price of this repast was only 8 Euros...no wonder the place is always packed!
Many of the villages in the Correze are like stepping into a time machine. They are relatively unchanged over the centuries, still lively commercial centers and fiercely traditional and proud. This week end, I am stepping into the time machine again and going to Brignac-la-Plane.