Morocco

Our small group tour to Morocco has been especially crafted to get to know the friendly people of Morocco and delve deeper into the culture and traditions of this fascinating country.  We’ll be able to get a sense of how the people live and how history and geography play a part in their lives. This small group tour (maximum 10 people) has been tailor made for Unique Backroad Journeys.  With this deeper, more meaningful travel experience you are certain to have memories for a lifetime. On our small group trip we will eat lunch with the Berbers, walk in the high Atlas Mountains, sleep in a first class tent in the Sahara, wander the palm groves of oases, while staying in boutique hotels and traditional guesthouses called riads. Our adventure will take us to two UNESCO World heritage sites including the famous square in Marrakesh, Jeema-el-Fna, to enjoy the carnival like atmosphere that comes alive at dusk with storytellers, musicians, acrobats, snake charmers and delicious Moroccan food stands.

For a complete itinerary click the button below.
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For more information call us at 404-273-0207 or 1-800-303-0375.  We would love to talk to you. Or, send us an email at info@uniquebackroadjourneys.com. Better yet, click the button below and sign up.
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You may enjoy reading about Morocco’s World Heritage sites. this post.
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Le Pays Basque

Saint Jean Pied-de-Port 2011-05-21 DSC_0236

Tenacious, proud, spirited, intelligent, friendly and enigmatic, the Basque people have managed to keep their ancient language and customs alive even under French rule. Most of the French Basques live in the mountainous region of the Pyrenees while some inhabit the coastal regions From Bayonne to the Spanish Border.

The mountainous region is mostly agrarian where sheep, goats and cattle roam lush green valleys and verdant high pastures in summertime.  All of the houses and buildings are painted white with doors and windows painted either red or green – the colors of the Basque flag.

The Basques are passionate about their cuisine, especially their fresh ewe’s milk cheese and their hot red peppers known as Piment d’Espelette. Theirs is a rich culture of music and traditional dances that are nearly as important as their national pastime, the game of pelota.

During our venture to this unique area, we will:

• Stroll around the coastal town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz with its bustling weekly market, its vast array of interesting shops (hand-made espadrilles anyone?), and a vast boardwalk lined with period houses. There’s a wide beach with warm, soft sand where we can sit for a while and perhaps dip our toes in the eastern Atlantic Ocean;

• Travel the coastal road above the treacherous shoreline of the Atlantic

• Wander two timeless beautiful villages with lovely shops and traditional houses of red and white;

• Explore Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (literally at the door of the mountain pass) a major stopover and resting place for pilgrims on their way to Santiago di Campostella in Spain.

• Sample local and famous Basque fermented cider at a local Ciderie (cider house);

• Taste locally produced wine at a Basque winery (perfect with traditional Basque cheeses);

• Ride a cogwheel train up the side of a mountain populated with free roaming, mostly tame ponies and sheep, for a stunning views of both the Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast.

• Sample the Fromage de Brebis (fresh ewe’s milk cheese) with its own DOC label;

• Discover Biarritz – one of the surfing capitals of the world.

Friday 5/31/2013 – 6/5/2013

We will meet in Bordeaux and drive to the Pays Basque.  Prices and further details coming very soon.

Please fill out the form below if you are interested in further details to this very unique place.

Lascaux – The Most Famous Painted Prehistoric Cave

Font-de-Gaume,, Painted Caves, Cro Magnan, Prehistoric, Reindeer, Dordogne, Culture, France

Discovered in 1940 by a teenage boy, the cave of Lascaux, located in the Dordogne region of France, opened the world’s eyes to the beauty and sophistication of prehistoric cave art.  Preserved for over 17,000 years, the images are life-like and depict the animals that roamed this area of France at the time the paintings were made. The paintings are striking not only for their rich color but also for the realistic reproduction of the animals, the shading to indicate form and shape, and the primitive attempt at the portrayal of perspective, something that would not be addressed, let alone mastered, until the Renaissance.

Since the discovery of Lascaux, many more sites have been found in this region.  In 1979 UNESCO designated the Vézère River Valley, of which Lascaux is a part, as a World Heritage Site that includes 197 prehistoric sites and 25 decorated caves.

According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lascaux the original cave was closed to tourists in 1948 because of severe deterioration of the paintings due to the carbon dioxide humans introduced into the cave.  Since that time, the French government has made it possible for us to see the main part of Lascaux with an exact replica called Lascaux II.

A Day Visiting the Vézère River Valley

2013-01-05 St. Leon Sur Vezere TownDuring the upcoming boutique tour to the Dordogne, we will spend an entire day exploring the Vézère River Valley including a guided tour in English of Lascaux II.   During the day, we will visit a giant limestone cliff on which there is evidence that ancient, as well as medieval, man lived and a medieval village.  There will be an opportunity to visit Les Eyzies (considered the town of prehistory) and the famous Museum of Prehistory, which has the 3rd largest collection of prehistory artifacts in the world.  (Photo of St. Léon-sur-Vézère courtesy of Rob at http://www.ourfrenchgarden.com)

Lascaux II has a website where you can get an idea about what the cave looks like and some of the drawings and symbols seen in the cave.  Click here for the English language site.  The site is vast and takes a little time to get acquainted with it.  The music can be turned off by clicking the word ‘sound’ at the bottom of the page.  After clicking on ‘Visit the Cave’ just under the word ‘Lascaux,’ an informative map appears in the lower right hand corner indicating where in the cave the photos are located.  Also, a menu will appear by moving your curser to the left of the screen. Clicking on the separate photos will bring up a menu with links to additional, and more detailed, information.   Screen

Books

  • Stepping-Stones: A Journey through the Ice Age Caves of the Dordogne by Christine Desdemaines-Hugon
  • The Cave Painters by Gregory CurtisThe first book I read about cave art was
  • Mapping Human History, Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins by Steve Olsen

Websites

The Bradshaw Foundation offers an interactive map showing the migration patterns of humans out of Africa with a timeline.  It also indicates periods of different ice ages.

Another Cave

There is an opportunity to see another splendid painted cave near Les Eyzies, Font-de-Gaume.  This beautiful bison is from that cave as did the tender painting of the reindeer above.  Font de Gaume, Painted Caves, Dordogne, France, BisonAll painted caves have similarities and differences.  In my opinion, would be well worth seeing this second cave to get a sense of how other caves differ.  Also, one day these beautiful prehistoric masterpieces may be closed to the public.  The following paintings are found in Font-de-Gaume.

The Natural and Cultivated Beauty of the Dordogne

Several times I have commented on just how beautiful and lush the Dordogne is.  The land and what it can produce seems to be endless and bountiful.  There is something about the proximity of the warm colored stone of the buildings and the plants, flowers and trees that contrast and heighten each ones’ essence.

A dear friend, Nancy, who may love flowers and gardening as much as she does travel, sent a link to a blog that fully illustrates not only the beauty of the area but furnishes photo after photo of the beautiful contrast described above.  The owner of the blog, Our French Garden, Rob, has graciously agreed to allow me to post some of his beautiful photos of his garden and the Dordogne.   Check out his blog at http://ourfrenchgarden.blogspot.com/ Thank you Nancy and Rob. Our small group journey in June will be a perfect time to visit the Dordogne. As we travel around the area the flowers should be beautiful.

Dordogne, Flowers, Perigord Noir
Dordogne, Flowers
St. Léon sur Vézère, Dordogne, Perigord Noir, Plus Beaux Village de France

Dordogne

France as it used to be.

An ancient land of lush valleys, majestic castles, soaring limestone cliffs, meandering rivers, painted caves and a star studded cuisine, the Dordogne is a place where you can lose yourself for a while.  It’s a place to step back in time while visiting fortified bastides, ancient pilgrimage sites and medieval towns and villages considered to be some of the most beautiful in France.

If you like slightly off the beaten path destinations rich in a culture and tradition that still thrives, join our small group of like-minded travelers to this unique area of southwest France.  It will be a journey to delight each and every one of your senses and bring your camera, there’s an award-winning photograph at every turn and from every vista.

Solo travelers are welcome.  We will be happy to match you up with another solo traveler if desired.  Single rooms are also available.

Each outing on the itinerary includes a professional, English speaking guide, van and driver.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO READ THE DETAILS OF THE ITINERARY.  Dordogne Itinerary 2013

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