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21 June 2017 @ 10:25 pm
Blacksmith Prince - Perigord Postcards  

Some of you might remember that we took a lovely vacation in France, in the Perigord Noir, last year in September. We rented a stunningly beautiful place near Cénac-et-Saint-Julien and had two wonderful weeks of perfect food and company and the most beautiful surroundings.

During the last days of that stay, I increasingly felt the urge to pour all that beauty and magic of the area into a story. A romance, of course, something historical to do justice to the rich history of the Perigord. With the river Dordogne being the dominat feature of the landscape, it was pretty obvious to me that my main character would be a fisherman - but what else? The Perigord Noir is home to some of the oldest human settlements (like the Caves of Lascaux), and almost every stage of human history has left their traces along the yellow cliffs. That was a lot of history to choose from.

In the end, I did what I usually do when I have no rational means of weighing the options. I went with something totally subjective and superficial - I picked the period in which I like the outfits best. So it would take place in the first half of the 17th century, in the time of musketeers, brigands and nobles. A certain BBC series which I adore for its look (if not the occasionally whacky plot and absurd woman's dresses) might have influenced my decision just a little bit.

One of the primary advantages of that setting was that the villages of the Perigord still look very much like they did in those days. Maybe they were less touristically developed, not as nicely renovated and a lot less squeaky clean, but the feeling of the locale would have been very close. So for several of the main locations in the book, I took my clues from real-life villages. Today I want to take you on a little picture tour through the Perigord Noir, both in real life and in the novel it inspired - 'The Blacksmith Prince' - and offer some actual visuals together with the descriptions in the book.

La Morangiasse (and its real-live inspiration: La Roque-Gageac)

Afternoon sunlight flooded the market square of La Morangiasse, gilding the stone houses that clung to the cliffside like swallows' nests. It struck sparks on the languid waves of the river, where mosquitoes played over the embankment, and the lengthening shadows brought the first relief after a scorchingly hot, late summer day.

Castelfort (and the real life Castelnaud-la-Chapelle)

Similar to La Morangiasse, Castelfort had been built against the side of a cliff, as high up as possible to remain safe in case of another flooding. But unlike their home town, Castelfort sneaked up all the way to the cliff's top, where the castle sat on its rocky promontory like a heavily armoured lookout. Also unlike La Morangiasse, this town had two market places - one down at the river, for everyday goods, and another one up on the cliff in front of the castle's main gate, surrounded by a goldsmith, two tailors, a cabinetmaker and a perfumer.

And the valley of the river itself

When Jehan turned around on the very last ledge to offer his hand to Giraud again, he almost stumbled when he caught the view that spread out in front of him. The top of the cliffs reached out of the forest, and he had an unobstructed view all across the entire valley. Roughly a hundred feet below, the vast river had turned into a glittering ribbon that curled through the landscape, lined by fields and meadows, wedged in between the cliffs on either side. In the distance to his right, he could make out the ramparts of Castelfort on their own cliff, banners fluttering lazily from the towers. Faintly, the church bells from Castelfort tolled all across the valley. He could make out the the bridge of Beronsac as a pale line across the river, straight ahead, and the dark, ragged shapes of the ruins on top of the cliffs above that. All beyond was lost in a dull green sea of trees.
“My, will you look at that...” Giraud asked, breathing heavily and yet smiling. “Now, that view alone is almost worth the trouble, isn't it?”

I hope this glimpse into the world of 'The Blacksmith Prince' has been interesting and fun and maybe I even managed to show you something beautiful and new to you.
As always, if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.

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Ariss Tenohariss_tenoh on June 22nd, 2017 07:50 pm (UTC)
Wow. Looks like you had a good time. thanks for posting about this!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 28th, 2017 12:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you liked it, posting vacations photos is a bit ... risky. :)