Hello, and welcome back to my blog from France. If you haven’t already seen it at Hello! Online than catch up here instead…!
Thanks for taking the time to log on. Last time I blogged, I was welcoming some visitors from the UK. Not so absorbed with entertaining now, so I’ve had the chance to do some dedicated exploring of the Auvergne, and improve my tour guide credentials for the next time I have guests!
The ‘Tour de France’ has not long departed from this region – passing through a town about forty-five minutes away from Clermont – and producing another Brit winner in Chris Froome. So, I decided it was time to break my 2-decade bike veto… and buy a ‘vélo’. Regular readers of my blog and Cardiff Life columns will know I’ve already indulged in a little pedalling practice on a friend’s (just to check the old adage really is true). It is. And so now I have invested in my own two-wheeled transportation and there is no stopping me…!
The aim: to find places that pass you by in a car, places not accessible on four wheels. So, although I started within only a few kilometres of our house, I was immediately rewarded. Two villages along from ours, past a small lake where model boats were being sailed and anglers were waiting for a bite, I found a pretty path. On one side, novice French farmers were tending to their small holdings in the evening sunshine – ploughing, plucking and pruning their harvests ready to sell to passers by. And on the other, the biggest and most beautiful field of sunflowers I have ever come across!! Millions of ‘tournesols’, named so because the buds bloom towards the sun, being grown for their oil and seeds.
These photos from every angle no doubt prove that I developed something of an obsession …and that my cycling route has been a little repetitive. If only this little street I head past on the way home was full of shops instead of houses! A little retail therapy for all that pedalling perhaps? But no such luck!
Tough as it was to drag myself away from the spectacular sea of flowers, I did find some other stunning scenery to share with you. This is Murat-le-Quaire. A village in the Puy-de-Dome region. If you are looking to sample quaint, then this is it. And with panoramic vistas thrown in. There is a small museum called Maison de la Toinette et Julien if a history of rural France interests you. But my favourite spot was where rural met retro – a quirky tearoom below a barn shop selling produce from the region.
This was just one village in a string nestled in the lush greenery of this route. The next spot along – Le Mont-Dore – offers cable car trips. So, there really is more to discover here than you would imagine.
I think Central France has often been the poor relative for holidaymakers hopping across the Channel, but if what I’ve found in the Auvergne area so far is anything to judge by, I predict more airlines will be taking up routes here (I’m not being paid commission by the tourist office, promise!).
Finally, away from the travel sales pitch, here’s your Hank update (he’s our miniature schnauzer puppy). Well, he’s just turned 3 months and is still a cheeky monkey!
But he has now had is next vaccination at the vet (he was a very good boy) and Lee and I are now able to take him out for walks, which is proving useful for exhausting those mischief reserves!
Until next time….! Au Revoir.