Vacances en France – 2018 – A Little Bit Of Gastro


Sorry to say that after the previous days trip out to Tournemire and Salers, two of our party were suffering from Ghandis Revenge. Since we ate and drank pretty much the same stuff, the fact that the gastro was only affecting two of us remained a mystery. So, it  was decided we would have a quiet day at the gite. The weather was, once again, really good, so no real hardship. While the sun worshippers reclined, just a short, easy, sprint to the loo. I grabbed my camera and took a walk up to the village.

 

The local cattle have a way of looking at you, as if to say …. “Do you really know what you are doing ?”, “Should you be out un-supervised?”

 

Badailhac is a French commune , located in the  department of Cantal  in  the  Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. Up until about three years ago the village had a population of around 130 people. It has a church and town hall / school, a football ground but no shop or hostelries. It is the epitome of a sleepy french village.

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Local sign, telling me to go back to the gite.

Dominating the skyline over Badailhac is the local church, Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste

From the website of Fondation du Patrimoine (Heritage Foundation)

The church was built in the late sixteenth century as a modest chapel served by the clergy of Raulhac. It disappeared during the wars of religion, but was rebuilt under the reign of Henry IV and completed in 1625.

Became a parish church, and in very bad condition, it was rebuilt a second time in 1886, thanks to the generosity of Bishop Géraud Soubrier, Bishop of Oran.

Thanks to a donation made in 2007 by a family from the town, important work was done inside the church: plaster, jointing stones, plaster and whitewash on the vaults, heating and electrical circuits redone to nine, restoration of most joinery, furniture and central chandelier.

The decoration was favored with the creation of a rosette around the chandelier, friezes highlighting the stained glass and a magnificent fresco in the bottom of the church.

 

Badailhac is a very quiet village. On my walk, over the space of an hour and a half I didn’t see a single person, or vehicle. Other than the occasional bird or insect it is absolutely silent.

 

For my walking efforts I just got dehydrated and a blister on my foot. Shortly after I arrived back at the gite, we were visited by the French Air Force …

Much later we sat outside and stared at the sky. There is so little ambient light at the gite you can actually see the milky way. There was no  moon, but Venus was shining brightly. On this particular night we were also blessed with another light show, a thunderstorm. It was a long way off, so we couldn’t hear the thunder, but the colourful flashes were very bright.

Vacances en France – 2018 -Tournemire and Salers


Tuesday, the 12th day of our holiday. We were up, bright and breezy, and after a quick breakfast piled into the car and headed off to Tournemire. Gerry and I had visited before, but thought Dave and Jane would like a look too. We arrived after an hour or so drive.
Driving along the Doire valley, as you near Tournermire,  one is presented with a spectacular view of  the Château d’Anjony.

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Château d’Anjony at Tournermire

And then the village of Tournemire comes into view.

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Château d’Anjony with Tournermire Village

From France This Way ….

Tournemire village is situated 15 kilometres north of Aurillac, in the Massif Central (Auvergne region) of central France. The village is classed among the ‘most beautiful villages of France’, and is situated on a tree covered hill overlooking the valley of the River Doire and falls in the Cantal mountains at the southern edge of the Natural Park of the Auvergne volcanoes.

The history of the village is tied up with two families – the Tournemire and the Anjony, and their battles to control the village.

Public vehicles are not allowed in the village, however a substantial car park is provided, where you can park for the princely sum of  one whole euro. As with our previous visit, the tourist office was closed when we arrived, so we were unable to pay the parking charge.

The village is just a short walk from the car park.

Strolling through the village we decided to stop at small coffee shop. Unbeknown to us, we were stepping into an alternative universe.

We sat at a table that had just been vacated by a group of British motorcyclists. A lady came out, we assumed she wanted to know what we would like. As two of our group wanted milky coffee we asked for “Deux café au lait”. The lady didn’t seem to understand “café au lait”, neither did she understand “café avec lait”. This was proving to be really difficult so Dave said he would have an espresso. So we tried “un expresso”. Again we were met with a look of non-comprehension. Gerry wanted an Orangina so we asked for one. Again the lady just looked at us. I asked her to come with me to the front of the premises, where a menu was displayed in the window. I indicated that we wanted coffee, Orangina and tea, all of which were itemised on said menu. All this achieved was for her to squint at the menu, with her nose virtually pressed to the glass. She did say something when I pointed to where it said “thé / infusion”. She read the word infusion and I said yes that’s what I want. But she still didn’t seem to understand. Feeling really frustrated I tried to enlist the help of a couple of ladies who were walking by. I asked if they understood English hoping they could help with translation.

Apparently neither spoke English but one trotted off down into the village. I assumed she had gone to get someone who could help. She disappeared for quite a while, abandoning her friend who shrugged helplessly. As time was marching on we decided to give up on the drink. I walked down the street with the abandoned lady and her friend suddenly reappeared. I indicated to them that we were giving up and thanked them for their time.

This was one of the weirdest experiences. Never have we been unable to order drinks or food in France. It has, subsequently, been suggested that perhaps she didn’t want to serve us because we were British. If so, she is the first anglophobe that I have ever met.

Resigned to being thirsty, we carried on exploring the streets of Tournemire.

and the 12th century roman style church (L’Eglise de Tournemire en Auvergne).

Walking on through the village, eventually you come to Château d’Anjony. Per our previous visit it was closed until after 14:00.

We all agreed that it was time for a drink and headed back through the village and up to the Auberge de Tournemire we had passed earlier.

Tournemire – Auberge de Tournemire

We sat, enjoying our drinks and the view. While we were sat drinking we were approached by a guy asking if we owned a black VW, which of course we didn’t. There was no explanation as to why he was asking, then he was gone. As we sat there, totally relaxed, the decision was made that we would stop for lunch. Our host was a good sport, playfully teasing as I tried out my French, gently correcting my pronunciation. We all had one of the set menu lunches. Three of us had steak with truffade, while I had the charcuterie, also with truffade.

From Wikipedia ….

Truffade is a rural dish traditionally associated with Auvergne in France. It is a sort of thick pancake made with thinly sliced potatoes that are slowly cooked in goose fat until tender, then mixed with thin strips of tome fraiche (which is very different from actual tomme cheese: the recipe will fail if tomme cheese is used, since that melts in a very different way). This mixture is stirred until it sticks together in a sort of thick pastry, which is sometimes decorated with fresh parsley and may be served with a simple green salad.

We all followed the mains with a selection of local cheeses. Cantal, Bleu Auvergne and Saint Nazaire. Very tasty.

Needless to say, after a quite substantial meal, we were reluctant to move. But move we did, back to the car and on to Salers. As we were driving out of the car park, it became clear why we were asked, earlier, about the VW. Someone had parked their VW  Golf and not made sure the hand brake was sound. The car had rolled across the car park and into the  side of a motor home. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for the upcoming conversation between the two drivers.

Salers is about a forty minute drive, north of Tournemire, the route taking us through beautiful countryside.

From France This Way ….

Salers, listed among the most beautiful villages of France, is 42 kilometres north of Aurillac in the Massif Central (Auvergne region) and is at the western edge of the Cantal volcanic region.

Salers has origins that can be traced back almost 1000 years ago, but it was during the boom years of the 15th century that much of the current town was constructed. Salers describes itself as ‘a black diamond on a green carpet’, a quite appropriate description, because of the dark grey volcanic stone used to build many of the beautiful buildings in the town.

 

So, arriving at Salers, we parked up on the edge of town. Our first destination was the souvenir shop Les Sagranier, where Gerry and I picked up a few small hand towels to match those that we had purchased on our previous visit. Then we began to explore the town.

One of the more colourful businesses, in Salers, is Maison Servans, a Patisserie / Confiserie. The exterior of the store is decorated with characters from the Hansel and Gretel fairy story.

While the others were being distracted by the local brocante (bric-a-brac / second-hand) shops, I ducked into the local church,  the 13th century Eglise Saint Mathieu …

 

There are many narrow streets in and around Salers, with many nooks and crannies….

Many of the side streets provide glimpses of the past lives, none more so than the various doors and archways…..

Some of the doors are so robust, one wonders what they are keeping secure. Or, are they an indication of violent times gone by.

The elevated location of Salers provides glorious views of the surrounding countryside ….

… volcanoes silhouetted against blue skies….

…and rolling hills carpeted with lush green forests.

If you ever in this region, Salers must be high on your list of places to visit.

Vacances en France – 2018 – Aurillac


Monday morning, day 11, and another fine start to the day, blue skies and sunshine.
The cattle were very vocal, it turns out that one had gone into labour and given birth. As we watched she licked her calf clean and was nuzzling it, encouraging it to stand.

All the rest of the herd gathered round the new-born, sniffing and licking. Then, they all seemed to lose interest, turned their backs and walked away, leaving mum to look after her calf. After this exciting event we headed off to spend the day in Aurillac.
We parked up in Place Gerbert and started our exploration of Aurillac.

Had a very nice meal in restaurant Tables Zé Komptoir at Place Hôtel de ville. The restaurant was directly opposite the Mairie (Town Hall), an impressive building.

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Aurillac – Mairie / Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)

When we sat the restaurant was pretty much empty. Within twenty minutes or so our restaurant was full, as was the one next door. For once our timing was perfect.
After lunch we carried on with our exploration. Many of the streets have umbrella displays, symbolic of the industry for which Aurillac is renowned. As I described in a previous post.

Having had enough of exploring, we headed of to a supermarket. For some inexplicable reason, we seem to keep running out of essential supplies.

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The Graveyard

The sharp-eyed among you will recognise that none of the wines are from the Cantal. In fact, they don’t have a regional wine.  At least some of the wine we have been drinking is actually french and the Pelforth beer definitely is. At least our taste is fairly cosmopolitan. We had already seen off a Prosecco from Italy, a Freixenet from Spain, one each of the Mercurey, Gigondas and a Vacqueyras from France. Not forgetting a few beers. The Pelforth from France and the Leffe from Belgium.

So, supplies purchased, it was back to the gite. Where we sat and enjoyed yet another glorious sunset while consigning one or two more bottles to the graveyard.

 

Vacances en France – 2018 – Vic-sur-Cère


Saturday 8th September and after a good nights sleep we all awoke to a brilliant sunny day. With all the travelling of the previous day, nobody wanted to go too far afield. So it was decided that we would visit Vic-sur-Cère located about 11km away from the gite, about fifteen minutes drive. Vic-sur-Cère or Vic in Carladez is an old spa town in the valley of the Cère river.

Parking up in the town center we first visited Claveras Sébastien, the local boulangerie, where we purchased a couple of loaves. Stashing our fresh bread in the car we then set out to explore the town.

Le Manoir dates from the 17th Century. Since then it has been a Benedictine Convent,
a boarding school for girls. Then it became the property of the Murat-Sistrieres Family, and subsequently the De Pierre Family. Today, it is an extension of the Hotel Beauséjour.

Saint-Pierre Church of Vic sur Cère

Dating from the 11th century, the church of Saint Peter was destroyed for the first time in 1261 before being rebuilt in a Romanesque style. It remains of the Romanesque period only the intact steeple dating from 1265.
The Revolution was a test for the building and after a period when he was left abandoned, Mr. Murat de Sistrières in 1802 decided to repair the seven altars, floors, steeple stairs, the big door and part of the roof.
In 1894, the vicar of Vic, anxious to welcome more and more summer visitors, considered it necessary to enlarge the church but the dissuasive estimate was refused by the municipality. It was then that the priest opened a parish subscription

Vic-sur-Cère has many winding back streets, not obvious when you drive through on the main road.

Doing that touristy thing tends to give one both a thirst and hunger pangs. Although Vic-sur-Cère appears to have several brasseries and restaurants, catching them open must be a form of sport. We did eventually manage to get quite a nice meal at the Casino de Vic-sur-Cere.

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Casino de Vic-sur-Cere

Turns out that it is actually a casino, not just a hotel as we first thought. After lunch we returned to the gite to make the most of a beautiful sunny day. We sat outside until the sun went down behind the farm buildings. With such a clear sky, the temperature drop was quite dramatic.

Had relaxed supper of local cheeses, sausage, Friton (made from pork, a kind of course pâté) and the crusty bread purchased earlier, all washed down with some really nice red wine.

Vacances en France – 2018 – Arrival


After the dampness we encountered at Entraygues on Wednesday, Thursday started really wet and soggy. Even the cattle were looking a bit depressed by the damp.
Cow
The altitude of the gite meant that we were truly up in the clouds, with visibility changing from just a few metres, up to a kilometre and back down again. And all in the space of a few minutes.
Cow2
Given the inclement weather and with friends flying in on Friday, we thought we would take the opportunity to do a proper shop for supplies. So, we decided to head into Aurillac, and find a large supermarket.

Shopping is definitely not my thing, but I struggled manfully round the local Intermarché , the trolley laden down with essentials such as Prosecco, Beer, Fromage and assorted Charcuterie. We did also get some salad stuff and veggies as well as some coffee mugs.

You might ask why we were buying items that should have been provided as part of our rental. And you would be right, there are cups supplied. However, the ones provided were of the Pyrex glass variety and not very big. I think the French like to start their day with strong coffee, served in small quantities. Being British, we like a nice big mug of tea to start the day.

Two weeks later, when we left the gite, we donated the “large” mugs for the use of future residents.

Friday dawned, and the weather had done a 180 and the sun was shining again. A beautiful day, just perfect to welcome our imminent visitors. We had a slow start to the day, before clambering into the car and heading up to Aéroport de Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne at Aulnat.

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Massiac – Chapelle Sainte-Madeleine

The run up to the airport took about two hours and we arrived early.

Arrival

Aéroport de Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne – What a fabulous monument to flying.

The preceding photo shows a memorial for the Breguet Bre.4   From Wikipedia ….

The Breguet Bre.4, also known variously as the Type IVand BUM, was a French biplane bomber of World War I. A fighter version of it was also produced as the BUC and BLC; some of these saw service with the British Royal Navy, which called them ‘the Breguet ‘de Chasse.

We made good use of the extra time by making use of the airports free WiFi. The alleged WiFi at the gite is actually non-existent, which is why I am making these posts after our holiday has passed. Lack of WiFi also meant that we could not download Kindle books or synchronise our phones and tablets. Mobile phone signals were also virtually non existent. My phone would register full signal strength, cycle through “E”, “3G” and “4G” to no signal. All within the space of a few seconds. So use of mobile data was pretty much a non-event.

Needless to say our friends flight was delayed, then the baggage was also delayed, eventually making an appearance on the carousel.  We loaded up the car and headed back south towards the gite. Lunch was mentioned and we made a small detour having seen a Buffalo Grill alongside the motorway. Unfortunately, our human navigation skills, further confounded by the satnag, led us round in circles and back onto the motorway, just as we saw the entrance to the eatery. We decided not to deviate again and carried on our way to the gite.

This did not deter us from playing tourist and stopping to take in the views.


We were soon at the gite and relaxing with a glorious cup of cha. Once again enjoying the long view from the lawn. Then, while our friends unpacked, we prepared our evening meal.

A long day for all was brought to an end puntuated witha glass of something alcoholic.

Vacances en France – 2018 – Entraygues-sur-Truyère


 

Day 6, Wednesday, and we awoke to a dull day. Quite a transition from the bright sunny weather of the previous day. We had studied the maps after dinner, on the previous evening, and had decided to head to a small town, Entraygues-sur-Truyere, about an hours drive south from the gite.

So after a light breakfast we headed out. Every curve in the road, every hill crested, presented us with a grand vista, or another point of interest. In some cases we were presented with the plainly curious.

Like the ripples in this meadow below the road ….

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Ripples

…. or this distant tower ….

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A Distant Tower

Our route took us over the EDF hydro-electric dam at Cambeyrac.

The following was lifted directly from http://www.tourism-occitania.co.uk

This site, used by EDF, comprised a power plant and a dam built between 1954 and 1957. It was fitted out so that the visitors can freely access and enquire about the site. From the outside, it is thus possible to observe the engine room and to understand the functioning of this power plant which produces the equivalent of the consumption of 14 000 inhabitants, so 10 times that of the population living in Entraygues-sur-Truyère. Thanks to information desks, distributed around the power plant and on the belvedere located at the tip of the dam, the visitor also discovers how this site was built, its components and the local aquatic flora. Observation binoculars are available for visitors. Open and free access all year.

Just downstream from the dam is the 13th century bridge over La Truyère.

There has been a bridge here since permission was granted for its construction in 1269. It was built by the “Frères Pontifes” a lay brotherhood whose vocation was bridge building.

The bridge originally had four arches and two toll towers at each end and in the 13th century it had huts running the length of the bridge. These huts were occupied by small merchants who sold their goods to passers-by. In 1927 it was listed as an historical monument.

The bridge is currently undergoing essential works, hence the scaffolding.

Whilst exploring the dam, I spotted some movement in the water and was lucky enough to see an Otter. It was diving below the surface and, on a couple of occasions, actually surfaced with a  fish clamped between its jaws.

I was so excited at seeing an otter in the wild that I called out to a passing cyclist. I had assumed that he was French but he turned out to be  Brit. He joined me at the wall to watch the otter and we were soon joined by his wife. Turns out that they were from the north of England and were on a cycling tour, following the river route through valley. We had quite a chat during which we exchanged information about where we had been and our travel plans. I told them about our visit to Chartres and the light show at the cathedral. They told me that something similar was happening nightly, at the abbey in Conques, thru to the end of September. I added this to the mental list of possible destinations during our stay. We bid each other farewell and continued on our separate ways.

Gerry and I continued on our way to Entraygues-sur-Truyere in search of an eatery. Arriving in town we parked up alongside the Lot River.  We weren’t the only ones looking for a spot of lunch …

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Entraygues-sur-Truyere – Hungry Heron

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Entraygues-sur-Truyere – The Lot River

Just a short walk alongside the river we found our way to Le Quai West. All of the outdoor tables were occupied, so we were seated inside. This turned out to be a good thing because, when we were mid way through our meal, it started to rain. The good news is that it had stopped by the time we were ready to leave. The food here was good and filling. Gerry had the “L’Aubrac Burger” ( a burger with local meat, green salad and fries served with the house sauce)  whilst I had the “La Planchette Aveyronnaise” (a selection of regional meats and cheeses).  All washed down by the obligatory beer.

After an enjoyable repast it was time, to go walk off those calories, to explore Entraygues.

In the past, Entraygues was a strategic point at the crossroads of transportation routes, at the junction of Auvergne and the Lot Valley. Here also, the Lot and Truyere rivers meet.

The gabarre vessels (flat bottomed boats) were used to transport goods to such far away places as Bordeaux.

We decided to call it a day and head back to the gite. The road out-of-town ran alongside the Lot and we were soon presented with this bridge, Pont Notre-Dame.

Back on the road back to the gite we, once again, stopped to take some pictures as the weather was closing in and the valleys were beginning to fill with clouds.

Vacances en France – 2018 – La Calsade 2


 

Tuesday, the 5th day of our holiday, and we decided to have a slow day with absolutely no driving. Gerry laundered our four days worth of travel clothing and hung it out on the line. The fabulous, sunny weather and a gentle breeze made short work drying our stuff.

While the laundry was drying Gerry was making the most of the sun, soaking up the rays. Laying in the sun, sizzling, is not really my thing. I prefer to get my tan whilst on the move. So, I took myself off to wander the lanes around the gite and check out the views.

Immediately next door, is a building suitable for turning into another gite …

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A doer upper, perhaps a candidate for a second gite.

La Calsade, as well as being the home to a dairy herd, they are also producers of the very tasty Cantal and Salers cheeses.

LaCalsade5

GAEC stands for Groupement Agricole d’Exploitation en Commun (Agricultural Farming Association). The fromagerie, next door to our gite, is on the regional cheese tour and there were several tour coaches during our stay. Given the steep and winding nature of the access roads to this place, I give the coach drivers top marks for negotiating the many hairpin bends.

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Another building ripe for development as a gite.

This building would have near 360 degree views and, in my opinion, was another contender for conversion to a gite.

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Another view of a building ripe for development as a gite.

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A typical Cantal view

La Calsade and the village of Badailhac are about 1000 metres above sea level, hence the spectacular views.

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Winter feed for the cattle

I came across stacks of these all around the farm. Being enclosed in black plastic one can only imagine the temperature inside. I can tell you that, based on the aroma emanating from them, they probably contain silage. Many of the fields close by were growing maize which I know is used to make silage.

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Nature vs Machine

I don’t know how long this machine had been standing but nature was making a good go at reclaiming the land on which it stood.

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Another Cantal View

My wanderings had taken me around behind the main part of the farm …

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The back-side of La Calsade

… the buildings look much larger from this angle. From our gite, seen end on, they appear smaller.

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The trail back to the gite and an ice cold beer

Eventually, my thirst got the better of me. I could hear the bottles of Leffe beer calling my name from the refrigerator.
LeffeNectar

So I retraced my steps, rejoined Gerry, and we enjoyed a bottle or two of that ice-cold Nectar while we sat in the late afternoon sunshine and watched the evening parade of cattle heading in for milking.