Thursday 6th November
Considering we were in the middle of a large city with a major factory to one side we had a very quiet night. Lucy was very surprised that she hadn’t heard any fireworks so I had to remind her where we were.
We’ve been using a few different guides to make sure we see the things we need to see but have been swapping about between them all and managing to miss some very important places, never mind, we will blindly go where lots of men have gone before. We have the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide to France which we have been studiously ignoring until it is far too late. We have used a website called france-voyage.com where you can tell it the things you like to see, where you want to start and finish and how long you want to take. It will generate a full itinerary for you including two hour lunch breaks but it doesn’t take into account the need to park the motorhome somewhere, it will show you a hotel you could use and restaurants you can eat in though. We used it a lot for Calais to Tours but have moved off route since then and have almost stopped using it for the moment.
We also have a DK Eyewitness Travel book called Back Roads France (Tip of the day, visit “The Works” and have a look in their travel section, they do lots of travel books and the stock changes regularly). We’ve found a route called Volcanoes of the Auvergne which starts in Clermont Ferrand and the first stop is Puy du Dome. The photo above is Frankie in the Aire (Number 63, Limousin & Auvergne). It’s free, takes 20 units, has services, but I would make sure you don’t need them if you go, the elsan point was very iffy!!!
It doesn’t look very far to the summit, the pointy thing is one of the major TV masts for France and next to it is a meteorological station. We opted to take the rack and pinion train up to the top and then stroll down. It was chilly when we left Frankie and the met office was saying winds were 25kph and it was 0ºC up the top. The track going up was very steep and it had to circle the volcano almost twice to get to the summit.
Obviously once we got to the top the clouds had come over again so everything was very misty but it didn’t last long and soon we were back in bright sunshine. These “feathers” are actually ice crystals forming on the lee side of blades of grass, I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Can you see Frankie? He is the little white blob in the bottom right hand corner, all by himself in his spacious aire. Clermont Ferrand is behind the volcanos and if you look behind the clouds you can see Month Blanc. (We couldn’t see it either).
More pretty ice feathers.
The Puy du Dome is home to a very important Roman Temple. Dedicated to Mercury and now being recreated before your very own eyes by a team of master craftsmen and millions of Euros from the EU. WTF. Sorry, I can see no reason why ancient monuments shouldn’t be reassembled from the stones left on site but why on earth do they have to try and recreate something that might have been there? They didn’t know of it’s existence until they started building the weather station and can only guess at what it may have looked like. It might look better in a few years time when they have finished the work and removed the layers of earth protecting the original building while they build the new bit.
Dearly beloved, now feeling much, much better, strolling through a winter wonderland.
As mentioned before, we decided to walk down but the photos really don’t give a very good idea of how steep this volcano is, and how high we were. The French don’t really go in for namby pamby fences to stop you falling over the edges so it was a bit of a struggle to talk Lucy into walking down. It wasn’t really difficult, it was a choice between hot chocolate or train and she was a bit chilly so hot chocolate won. It was a long walk, a good two hours, most of it steep but it was interesting, every so often there were seats with information panels. Apparently someone has run up the path in 11 minutes, there were people walking up and down the path keeping fit and there were paragliders hovering overhead for much of the walk.
We were very pleased to get back to Frankie and rather pleased with ourselves but we did see a sign saying no parking overnight. It would have been the perfect place to stop but we decided to push on. We’re not really “French” enough to stay.
We followed our back roads route and drove up into the hills and just happened to stop to let some cars pass us and saw this Basilica which looked interesting enough to stop and have a look at. The village of Orcival was nestled in a valley and really didn’t look big enough to warrant such a huge church.
Lets just say it was very impressive from the outside and leave it at that. It was built in 1894 and had just celebrated it’s 120th anniversary.
We pushed higher into the hills and went through the Col de Guery, a high mountain pass usually closed at the end of October and here we have on the left the Roche Tuilliere comprised of trachyte columns from the chimney of a ruined volcanic cone and to the right is the Roche Sanadoire, a volcanic core which was host to a castle until it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1477.
My bloody shoulders are aching like nobodies business, the roads have been narrow, twisty, steep with thousand feet drops either side so I have had to concentrate like a ninja. Frankie has managed everything like a mountain goat. Lucy has discovered her camera and has been snapping away at every turn. There was always something worth taking a photo of, I’ll let her write up a blog one day and she can put some of her photos in it. I’m trying to keep the numbers of photos down a bit since they are taking so long to upload, I have reduced their sizes to make it quicker but for most of the time we have been standing in peoples doorways trying to get good wifi signals.
Tonights view through Frankies windscreen, Le Chateau du Murol (Number 83, Limousin & Auvergne). Yet another free aire but this is really a large car park with a play area next to it. There is water and rubbish disposal and can not be used in July and August but it is very quiet at the moment. Two school buses have dropped off the kids so we expect to be woken in the morning as they get back on the buses. We’re going to try and get to the castle tomorrow, it looks close enough but in-between us and it is a deep, steep valley.
There is a tourist information office on the edge of the car park / aire with free wifi. It isn’t keen on letting me send emails but receiving them was a breeze. Checked with Dave in the shop and he is coping without us!!
Lucy must be feeling better now, she has just opened a bottle of cider, she says it is for medicinal purposes.