When we were researching our itinerary for this trip, we kept coming across web sites for various towns that proclaimed themselves "un des plus beaux villages de France." ("One of France's most beautiful villages.") Despite the apparent ubiquity of this claim, it did not appear to be casually made. Nor was it just unrestrained civic pride run amok, the kind that prompts a state or town to adopt a slogan like "Famous Potatoes" or "Hog Capital of Nebraska." For one thing, Les Plus Beaux Villages de France had an official logo and a website. I imagined a phalanx of government employees fanning out across the country with clipboards and digital cameras in search of certifiable villages.
So when we visited La Roque Gageac, another postcard-ready, cliff-clinging habitation along the Dordogne, we knew we were in for a certified beau village. But did we know that President Poincaré himself, when visiting La Roque in the 1920s, proclaimed it le plus beau village en France (the most beautiful village in France)? That seemed to up the ante a bit. (No word on how many times M. Poincaré awarded this designation when campaigning in the countryside.)
Speaking of upping the ante, we discovered when climbing to the troglodyte caves above La Roque that Coventry had, shall we say, a little apprehension when it comes to heights. The stage is set for a showdown with the Eiffel Tower next week.