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.
And then the village of Tournemire comes into view.
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.
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 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.