Getting there by car
Firstly find France and land at a suitable place (e.g. St Malo.) Then travel down the left-hand side to Bordeaux. There are two options - the Autoroutes (A10 etc.) or the Routes Nationale (Nxxx.) The Autoroutes are smooth, fast and quite scenic (with regular and pleasant stopping places "Aires" - frequently with services. They are toll roads; cost is about £20 from St Malo to Agen, which we think is OK. The Routes National roads are free, but not as fast as the Autoroutes and they involve negotiating towns and villages. The signs for Autoroutes are blue, those for RN are green.
The Autoroutes from the outskirts of St Malo (or Caen) are now continuous to Bordeaux. From either St Malo or Caen, head for Rennes. Keep your wits about you as you leave the ports and for the first 10-20 km on the Autoroutes; there are exits from one Autoroute to the next one and you can come across these exits quite suddenly. Although they are sign-posted, these signs are quite close to the actual exit and not always as obvious as might be wished (in our experience!)
From Rennes head for Nantes (the route is around the Rennes by-pass or "peripherique") sign-posted "Nantes" - again this one (on the right as you get close to Rennes) is not too obvious if you are just cruising on towards Rennes! At Nantes you again by-pass the city to the South (going over a new high bridge) on the A83.
There is a nice "aire" (motorway
services) "Aire de la Vendée" between Nantes
and Niort (just after you cross the river Lay.) Then on past Niort
to Bordeaux. Another good services is at St Leger - just south
of Saintes - decent restaurant (by motorway standards) and snack
bar on the northbound side (accessible from both directions.)
Just at the outskirts of Bordeaux (approx. 8km after the R Dordogne crossing) there is a right turning off the A10 to get onto the A62 for Toulouse (and Arcachon.) Again, this turning is one to watch out for; if you go straight on you'll go around Bordeaux the long way!
From Bordeaux, follow the Autoroute des Deux - Mers, A62, towards Agen and Toulouse. Just follow the blue (Autoroute) signs for Toulouse.
Leave A62 at junction 6 for Aiguillon.
Through Aiguillon, take D666 and D911 to
In Villeneuve there are big supermarkets where stocking-up can take place if needed. There are three main ones:
All three supermarkets have low-priced petrol; but on Sundays may have only French credit card operated pumps in service.
There is now a by-pass around Villeneuve, which re-joins the D661 at the roundabout at which you turn right to Penne d'Agenais. (If, instead, you don't turn right but carry straight on over the river Lot, you will arrive at the large E Leclerc supermarket referred to just above.) Continue on D661 past Penne d'Agenais (a hill-top village with a prominent silver-domed church at the summit) on the left.
Tournon d'Agenais is some 15 km east of Penne on D661. It is a medieval town built on a small hill. The D661 ends at a roundabout beneath the northern edge of the town. Take the first main exit, D656 towards Agen and Toulouse and then the second left, just over the stream, towards Toulouse and Montaigu-de-Quercy.
Take the first left, a narrow winding road, for ½ mile, past a farm (take care, the dogs will pretend to chase the car!) and Bladanel is the last house on the left before the first woods.
Getting there by car from Bergerac
Turn left out of the airport and head for Villeneuve sur Lot - signposted Agen initially - on the N21. Go through Castillonnes and Cancon and keep on the N21 around Villeneuve.
On the outskirts of Villeneuve keep on the
N21 heading for Agen until you cross over the river Lot, after
which you turn left onto D661 for Penne d'Agenais at the next
roundabout. Then see above for the rest of the route.
The nearest main airports are at Bordeaux
(Merignac) and at Toulouse. Merignac is about 2¼ hours
drive from Bladanel and Toulouse about 2 hours. There is also
a recently enhanced airport at Bergerac (no longer disguised as
a field with nearby portacabins) which is only 1¼ hours
from Bladanel. These days there are quite cheap flights to all
these airports from Stanstead, and to Bergerac from Edinburgh.
Fresh bread in the mornings. The Boulangerie is one of the shops by the roundabout below Tournon d'Agenais. It's open every morning (except Thursday's, when the proprietors' other shop and bakery in the main square in Tournon is open.) Excellent croissants (made with or without butter) and baguettes or flutes (bigger baguettes.)
The Alimentation (general store) is also just by the roundabout; it's closed at lunchtimes and Monday afternoons. Sells a few UK papers. A garage and filling station is 100m from the roundabout on the Fumel road.
There is a medium-sized "Intermarché" supermarket in Montaigu de Quercy, some 8km south of Bladanel. It's good for day-to-day food and drink shopping. There is also an open market there every Saturday morning; very good fresh local produce. The hardware shop in Montaigu is an "Aladdin's Cave" of things you never knew you'd need; also has a good selection of UK papers, if you must. The nearest E Leclerc supermarket is on the outskirts of Fumel, about 15 km away due north of Tournon; the biggest is by Villeneuve - as mentioned above.
There are lots of good restaurants in the area. Les Voyagers (closed Sunday evenings) by the Tournon roundabout, is consistently very good value and reliable; good local food and friendly service - see photo of Valérie, who with her husband Denis, owns the hotel.
There is a hotel (Le Beffroi) and a cafe (La Maison de Framboise) in the main square in Tournon. On fine days a table outside in the square and a light meal whilst watching the small world go by is very OK. Further afield, Le Vert at Mauroux is a fine, more up-market, restaurant.
And beside the very imposing castle at Bonaguil
is L'Auberge Bonaguil restaurant, where we have been made very
welcome on every visit (recently bought by a couple from England.)
There is a pharmacy in Tournon, opposite the garage. The nearest post office is in Montaigu de Quercy (up in the highest part of the old town.)
Whilst at Bladanel
There is a telephone; it's set up to receive calls from anywhere and to make local calls. If you have a mobile phone (with international roaming enabled) then coverage is adequate around Bladanel.
There is no rubbish collection from Bladanel; any proper black bin bags can be left at the junction of the narrow road from Bladanel with the Tournon - Montaigu road, for collection very early (~6 am) on Friday mornings. Alternatively, you can take bagged rubbish to the small "skip" about a mile away - head towards Tournon, turn left towards Agen on the D656, then first right and the skips are about ½ mile along that road.
The swimming pool is cleaned twice weekly (usually on Tuesdays and Fridays) and the grass is cut when needed. This is all done / organised by the managing agents - Paul & Michelle Thompson who live a few km away. If you need any help or advice whilst at Bladanel, call them on 0033 (0) 5 53 47 41 06.
Things to do / places to visit near Bladanel
There is a green file at Bladanel containing brochures from lots of local places of interest. Many of the nearby "bastide" towns are well worth a visit - especially on market days. In particular:
If you fancy a walk, then follow the road
east from Bladanel. About 1½km from Bladanel the road splits.
The left-hand branch goes past a few houses and a farm and meets
the road from Courbiac to Tournon; you can walk back to Bladanel
via Tournon - about 7km in all.
The right-hand branch goes up a hill, past a house being (very slowly) restored, to the plateau. The road becomes a path which carries on through thin woods, past meadows, and (if you follow the path down to the right at the very furthest point) comes out by the large lake beside the Tournon - Montaigu road. You need to cross the overflow stream from the lake (not too tricky - at least when we did it!) and return via the main road. Altogether about 12 km., but with lots of wild flowers (including orchids in season) and fine views en route.
Tournon is just outside the Cahors "appellation" area. The road east to Cahors is fringed with vinyards producing the characteristic dark red Cahors wine.
There are three very local vinyards. All three are on the road from Tournon to Mauroux and produce good red "vin de pays."
The main towns that are worth visiting and are well within a day's trip from Bladanel are: