6. 4 for the price of 1 Normandy to Laurens via the Brenne and the Auvergne!
Updated: Mar 5
4 days that is! Wifi and phone signal have been very intermittent.
We headed south with the objective of avoiding motorway tolls! We had worked out that the whole trip could potentially cost us £135 in tolls. Now that is at least 4 nice meals out. No contest!
Skirting Rouen and Chartres, we crossed the Loire Valley and headed for the Brenne. A little known area of 2000 lakes, and a nature lovers paradise. What is amazing is that the lakes are all man made…. not modern gravel pits, but dug in the middle ages for carp rearing. Some of the carp were served as delicacy to the Royal court. We got out of the car and BOOM.. the warm air hit us. We so often find that after you cross the Loire the temperature goes up! We did some walks and bird spotting before finding a nice free aire in the village of Thenay for the night. Chris had to point out that we were in the dead centre of town…next to the cemetery.
The aires vary immensely. This one was super. Very peaceful , and equipped with a special area for obtaining water, emptying tanks, and for 2 euros…plugging in to electricity.
An early start for a drive south east to the Puy de Dome area. Definitely a shorts day! (Clothes not drinks!). Stunning scenery all the way.
7 things you didn’t know about… the Puy de Dome area.
The Puys are a range of volcanoes which erupted as recently as 11,000 years ago.
Most of them are just the lava plugs…. the volcano sides have been eroded.
The largest is the Puy de Dome which is over 4000 feet high.
On top of the Puy de Dome are the remains of a 2nd century temple dedicated to Mercury built of black lava rock.
There is a new electric rack railway to the top which is innovative and eco friendly. It generates power on it’s way down which it then uses to help power it backup.
The Puy de Pariou is a proper volcano, with a crater…and we climbed it!
The specks in the bottom are people!
The nearest city is Clermont-Ferrand which has a black cathedral mad from black lava. It can be seen from miles around.
We climbed Puy de Pariou. The views were stunning. Then got the train up the Puy de Dome. Even better! Then drove into the Auvergne hills to a tiny village to have dinner at the Auberge de l’ane. It was a local, very rustic restaurant which had a great reputation for serving 2 traditional Auvergne dishes…Truffade and Fondue Saint- Nectaire. Both were wonderful. Our 4 course meal with a glass of wine was £16 each! Heaven!
Then onto a former campsite next to Lake Aydat for the night.
Stunning scenery again all day. We did a 6 mile circular walk up a lovely wooded gorge…the shade was very welcome as it got up to 32 degrees today! Then drove south along the amazing toll free autoroute the A75. This must be one of the most scenic motorway drives anywhere, culminating in the Tarn gorges and the Millau viaduct.
We are now ensconced in a campsite – Camping a la cascade – in Rome de la tarn, on a terrace clinging to the side of the tarn gorge. Possibly the most dramatic campsite we have ever stayed on! Super loos and showers all for £14 per night!
Drove south again and did a stunning walk just off the A75. Great walk to break up a long drive. Up a river valley culminating in a 2nd century Roman bridge. Not a soul around. Idyllic scenery and a sleepy bridge that has stood there for 1800 years!
Finally on to Laurens in Languedoc Roussillon to stay with Ron , my friend from California who has a house here. Super meal at a local vineyard -Abbaye Sylva Plana. I love being able to sit out on the terrace listening to cicadas at 11pm. …. night night!