Blog Entries

My Surprising Start to Sarlat

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Photo by @OneBrownGirl
From the moment I left Paris headed to the southwest region of France, I knew immediately how difficult it would be for me to describe to you everything I saw and everything I felt on my journey to Josephine Baker’s beloved Château des Milandes.  It’s during times like these that I wish I had studied journalism in school or mastered the English language far better than I have; or was simply gifted with far more eloquent and descriptive writing skills.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter how well you can write a school essay, a letter or a blog post for that matter, particularly when you’re trying to get across a feeling, a smell, or the energy that surrounds you.  I think that’s why I bring women to Paris every year, so that they can feel what I feel.  See what I see.

So I’m sitting here listening to the voice memos on my iPhone surprised about being surprised at the words I spoke and the emotion in my voice as I walked down the 1,000 year old cobblestone streets of Sarlat-la-Canéda; simply known by most as Sarlat and the village I chose to stay in that is close to Josephine.  I only recorded myself so that I would have a reference point when it was time to write and it was the first time I had done so in many years.  But now, for reasons I can’t really explain, I’d like to share with you the transcript of my voice memo…verbatim.  After that, I’ll share with you – the best I can – what it felt like to step into Josephine Baker’s former home here.  I know this is different. But bear with me.  I didn’t expect that I would be doing this.

“It is the end of the tourist season here in Sarlat.  It is raining a little bit…a little misty and it is very very quiet. But it almost doesn’t feel real here as if it’s enchanted. I have no idea why I’m on the verge of tears. Maybe just… I don’t know.  I don’t know whether it’s because I’m alone, or I miss my husband, or if, as usual, I’m just so overwhelmed by beauty all of the time. But whatever it is, I’m very happy that I can be here because life as we know it is not a given, is it? Nope.  Not at all."

Photo: @OneBrownGirl

"I’m roaming the small village just kind of taking it all in.  You wonder sometimes if the people who live here take this for granted. Of course I take California for granted on some levels so I imagine they do too." 

"I know this might seem strange, but walking through Sarlat for some reason makes me wish I had never stopped playing the violin. Maybe it’s the music school I just passed.  Or maybe I’m just crazy."

Photo: @OneBrownGirl
"Today felt like a fairytale.  And me, a fantasy lover, constantly on the edge of tears…on the verge of tears just overwhelmed that I’ve been allowed to have an experience like this. I’m not taking it for granted for one moment. I’m just not taking it for granted."

"The problem is that everywhere I turn there’s another beautiful image asking me to take its photo."

"Of course I can’t help but wonder what the local people think of me as I walk down their streets with my dreadlocs and brown skin.  It’s not that it matters so much. I’m just curious."

"This crazy woman taking photos of our building and our windows and our flowers. What does she see that we don’t see?"

"So many nooks and crannies expecting my photograph.  It’s as if they’re waiting for me and my camera. Even though I know they aren’t."

"It smells clean. Maybe it’s the rain. Maybe it’s just cleaner here. I don’t know."

"Asking myself 'Why is a potted plant so much more interesting in a small village in France than a potted plant is on my front porch at my house? What could it be?'”

"Everyone’s day to day looks like it’s out of a storybook.  Jeez.  It’s just a hotel I keep reminding myself. It’s just a house. It’s just a store. They’re just tables. It’s just a potted plant. It’s just a door. But it really isn’t, is it?"

"I walked past a street sign called Impasse des Miracles. I walked past it, turned around, walked back, took a picture. Not sure why. Said a prayer. Not sure if I’m looking for a miracle or if it’s a miracle I’m here. But I did it anyway. 

And I am lost."

You can check out my photos of Sarlat here.

You can read Finding Josephine, a post about my personal experience at Château des Milandes and the Dordogne Valley here.



1. Sarlat is not a day trip from Paris. You'll want to stay at least two nights and will not be sorry if you stay longer.

Crevettes et riz noir
(Shrimp & Black Rice) from
Le Petit Manoir
2. Eat at Le Petit Manoir.  It was recommended to me by my driver Christoph.  If I had been at home, I would've licked my plate; that's how good it was.

3. Ask the locals where to eat, what to do, where to go.  You can't go wrong.  (See #2.)

4. Take the Sarlat village tour that the Office of Tourisme offers so that you can get the history of the area more than I did.  Otherwise, walk the village and get lost. You'll find your way back eventually. You might even find a miracle.  ;-)


Aqueelah on: November 13, 2012 at 7:50 AM said...

Well done, Tracey. I felt as though I was need to wish you wrote a better post. I always love traveling with you. The picture with the trees is pure enchantment and I could almost smell the freshness in the air. Many spirits speak through you.

Unknown on: November 13, 2012 at 10:15 AM said...

Thanks, Aqueelah! I was a tiny bit unsure about sharing this, but *shrug*, it's my reality and my truth. Makes me feel special to know that you travel with me. Keeps me writing. =)

Unknown on: November 13, 2012 at 10:18 AM said...

Sharing a few Facebook comments:

Sherrelle Kirkland-Andrews: I love it! I know ACTUALLY how you feel. When I was in Paris in December, I went to the Tuleries alone. This was my second trip to Paris in 6 months, so I had just been there. But as I exited the Metro and walked into the garden, I had tears in my eyes. Shoot, I have tears in my eyes writing this now. Why did I have tears in my eyes then? I don't was winter and cold, the garden was not even in bloom. I think it was because I was THERE. No words, no explanation. But you know exactly what I mean ;-)

2 hours ago · Unlike · 1..

Tracey Friley: I hope everyone has an opportunity to have these feelings, Sherrelle! #JustWow

2 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1..

Sherrelle Kirkland-Andrews: Me too Tracey. Tears again just reading that. We are hopeless LOL.

2 hours ago · Unlike · 1..

Tracey Friley: Sitting on Rue Montorgueil having dinner smiling and tearing up just a bit. Too hungry for a snotty cry. LOL

2 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2..

Sherrelle Kirkland-Andrews: I wanted to go there (the street) and didn't get to. Next time! I had a little bit of what you have every time you bring women to Paris on your One Brown Girl in Paris trips. My friends GOT IT and that truly warmed my heart. Have a good meal.

2 hours ago · Unlike · 1..

Aqueelah Muhammad: I have lots of tissues if you want some lol

2 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Itiel on: November 14, 2012 at 5:21 AM said...

Beautifully expressed. Your raw emotions leaves me longing to return to France.


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