Our last day at the gite, before heading up through France to visit family in Achiete-le-Grande. Time to tie up a few loose ends.
On numerous occasions, when heading out to visit places of interest, we had passed a sign with the name “Calmejane”. We always referred to it as Call Me Jane. Never having been down that lane we decided to explore. Turns out that the sign post indicated the name of the family that lived at the end of the lane, a dead end or should I perhaps use the French cul-de-sac ?
Similarly, we had passed this field with donkeys. On this occasion we stopped to say hello. They were very friendly and curious. Sad to say they were expecting treats and we had none. They were quick to snort their disgust and soon lost interest in us. They were very cute.
Having disappointed the donkeys, by turning up without any treats, we decided to follow road past the donkey field. Just to see where it led. After a couple of kilometers, we found that it led to a small group of private houses. Another dead end, a cul-de-sac. There were some great views en-route though. Disappointed, we enjoyed the same views on the way back to the donkeys.
We then drove down to Vic-sur-Cere to get fuel and cash in preparation for our journey north, this being our last day at the gite.
We had cleaned and packed earlier, so we were basically killing time until we could go to a restaurant for an evening meal. Big mistake….
We should have found somewhere to eat at lunch time. Waiting until 19:00 before approaching our restaurant of choice was a huge fail. No only was the restaurant closed but the hotel, Hôtel Restaurant Beauséjour, seemed to be too !!! Our second choice, Casino de Vic Sur Cère, was open but there was a private function in full flow complete with live band. The restaurant itself was shut. Similarly, several other local restaurants were closed. The only viable choice seemed to be to travel into Aurillac, a thirty plus minute drive. Not far but neither of us really wanted to do that. So it was back to the gite.
In anticipation of our departure, we had run our food stocks down. We had bacon, eggs and cheese and bread. So our Sunday meal consisted of eggs and bacon on toasted french baguette. It was actually very good, but was the cheapest sunday meal and I didn’t even get a tip.
At some point, it occurred to us, that we hadn’t explored the local area surrounding La Calsade. So we decided to go off on a bit of a mystery tour, take a look at where the myriad narrow lanes would take us.
Before we set out we were treated to a pretty display of localised mists in the valleys south of the gite.
We chose to follow a road which took off at right angles to the main road through the village. This road was signposted Jou sous Monjou.
Jou sous Monjou turned out to be quite a pretty little village although the church, L’Eglise Notre Dame de L’Assomption, being built like a brick outhouse was very robust. More akin to a wartime blockhouse.
The church in Jou-sous-Monjou is a fine example of Romanesque architecture and offers an exceptional array of sculptural work that has survived the centuries. Typical of the area, the church is built in volcanic stone and has a stone slab roof and a comb bell tower.
While walking around Jou-sous-Monjou we had become aware of a loud buzzing, especially behind the church. The reason soon became apparent. Outside one of the houses, someone had placed two boxes of something sweet. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of bees. The noise was quite substantial.
The numbers of bees attracted to these two boxes was large enough to create quite a hazard to anyone wanting access to the house.
Continuing on our mystery tour, we stumbled across Chateau Cropieres
From the 13th to the 16th century, the castle was lived in by the Cropières and Montjou families. Today the castle looks very different from how it did when originally built, that is more military and feudal in design. The original fortress was completely transformed to make a main reception room. King Louis XIV had a very beautiful staircase at the front built for his loved one and this can still be admired today.
Our further perambulations brought us to the village of Saint-Martin-sous-Vigouroux. Here we explored the village and visited the church.
We had a pleasant, leisurely, lunch at the Hotel Restaurant de la Poste before heading out to further explore the region.
We arrived at Pierrefort but didn’t fancy walking around what appeared to be a fairly large town. So we decided to head back towards the gite, but not before taking a couple of photographs on the outskirts of town.
As we travelled towards the gite, I notice a sign indicating a view point. WE had to go and see what was worth a sign. And, after all, it was only a couple of kilometers …… up a very narrow road. So we made the detour to the viewpoint at Videche. Or should I say, BELVEDÈRE DE VIDÈCHE – SITE PANORAMIQUE
Panoramic view on the Valley of Brezons A bird’s eye view of the Valley of Brezons and the Monts du Cantal. 15 min. film about the fario trout swimming up to the head of the river in the Cirque of Grandval. Open from spring to autumn, depending on weather conditions. A 15 minutes video on the life of trouts in the Brezons river (english version).
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?”
Chilling in the shade
Conserving his energy
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.
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.
Badailhac – Cemeterie
Badailhac – Cemeterie
Badailhac – Views
Badailhac – Views
Badailhac – Views
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.
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.
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.
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.
The run up to the airport took about two hours and we arrived early.
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.
Just South Of Le Lioran
Just South Of Le Lioran
Just South Of Le Lioran
Just South Of Le Lioran
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.
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 …
La Calsade, as well as being the home to a dairy herd, they are also producers of the very tasty Cantal and Salers cheeses.
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.
This building would have near 360 degree views and, in my opinion, was another contender for conversion to a gite.
La Calsade and the village of Badailhac are about 1000 metres above sea level, hence the spectacular views.
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.
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.
My wanderings had taken me around behind the main part of the farm …
… the buildings look much larger from this angle. From our gite, seen end on, they appear smaller.
Eventually, my thirst got the better of me. I could hear the bottles of Leffe beer calling my name from the refrigerator.
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.
On day four of our holiday in France, our stay at Maison Volière was completed by a very nice breakfast, supplemented with fresh fruit from Ian and Anthony’s own fruit trees. Packed and once again on the road, our journey south from La Souterraine was, trouble-free. Apparently, there were no other Brits on the road, leastways, none that we observed. And, after three hours or so, we arrived in Aurillac.
The former capital of Haute-Auvergne, Aurillac‘s origins date back to Gallo-Roman times and the town nestles at the foot of the Mounts of Cantal, on the banks of the Jordanne. This small Cantal river brings a very special charm to the town, especially in the Pont Rouge area, where you can enjoy a lovely view of the picturesque old houses by the water.
The thousand-year-old town of Aurillac boasts a rich architectural heritage. There is a historical circuit which you can follow to see the old town’s attractions: the Abbey Church of St. Gerald, the remains of an old Benedictine abbey, the Romanesque façade of the Abbey Hospital of St. Gerald with its arcades and small columns, the Renaissance-style Consuls’ Mansion, featuring mullioned windows and sculptures, Aurinques Chapel, built during the reign of Henry IV in the 16th century, or the famous Place du Square, an ideal place to take a stroll and unwind, can all be admired along the way.
Aurillac is the biggest town near to our gite and so it was here that we intended to have a spot of lunch, and also obtain some basic grocery supplies before heading on to the gite. After parking, in an underground car park, we strolled around the central area that is Place du Square. Eventually settling in at Le Milk, Bar / Brasserie, for a little liquid refreshment and a bite to eat.
It seems that it was the start of the college term and there seemed to be many students and their parents shuffling along the street, loaded down with books and bits of furniture. Presumably moving into their new lodgings for the duration. Hopefully a stylish apartment and not some grotty garret.
From Wikipedia …..
Historic French capital of umbrellas with half of French production – 250,000 units in 1999 – and provides 100 jobs. After declining for several decades at the end of the 20th century, Aurillac umbrella producers decided to join their forces and created the Economic Interest Group, or GIE in 1997. They then launched their products under a single label, L’aurillac Parapluie (The Aurillac Umbrella).
We had a pleasant lunch at Le Milk and, suitably refueled, we headed out to forage for food. Locating a small eight till late style convenience store, we stocked up on the basics for the start of our three-week stay.
Supplies purchased we set of in search of Badailhac and our gite. The satnag did it’s stuff and we were soon climbing the steep serpentine roads up to Badailhac. Gerry came to consider this road, and several others, to be similar to a white knuckle ride at a theme park. Anyway the satnag directed us up, and ever upwards to and thru Badailhac, on to La Calsade.
Parking up on the driveway of our home for the next three weeks, our real adventure began.
Firstly we had to locate our host. I rang her and determined that she was at the fromagerie, next door. I met her, introduced myself, and soon realised that communication was going to be a challenge. She had no English and my command of the French language is anything but conversational. I believe the correct term is “fractured and bastardised”.
Somehow we muddled along, as she showed us our new accommodations. Taking us to each room, showing us how the cooker worked, where the BBQ and sun loungers were kept and so forth. We went through the readings on the utility meter and then she was gone, and we were left to our own devices. The next hour or so was spent unpacking, finding homes for all of our gear and newly acquired groceries.
And then it was time to sit down with a nice cup of tea and relax in the sunshine and admire the near 180 degree view.
What really helped was the knowledge that we could truly relax, knowing that we didn’t have to get up in the morning and spend another day driving. Although our daily driving rate was quite light, we had covered around 900km (550 miles) over 4 days.
Gerry was a little down when we first arrived. She thought that the gite was a bit dark inside. This was in part due to the thickness of the walls and comparative small size of the windows. The interior lighting was also not brilliant. In addition we hadn’t spotted the washing machine. It did, however, put in an appearance. It was lurking in corner of the bathroom (upstairs), not visible to us on our original tour. We should have guessed as this is not the first time we have encountered a washing machine in a bathroom.
Still, sitting outside, relaxing, admiring the view we were treated to what was to become the daily ritual. The gite, being on a working dairy farm, was ideally placed to observe the grand parade of cattle. Walking pretty much single file, the herd of just under fifty, were followed by the farmer on his quad bike and escorted by his black dog.
Sitting with our cup of tea, we came to the conclusion that life doesn’t get much better than this.
We had a beautiful breakfast in a very elegant dining room. No mention was made of the cats shenanigans during the night. In fact it was nowhere to be seen. Well not until we were ready to leave. Then it appeared to cry its farewells on the front step.
Having loaded our stuff into the car we set of again, heading south. Our destination this time was La Souterraine, which was to be our last stop, before completing our journey to Aurillac and our gite at La Calsade, Badailhac.
As we were cruising along we commented on how few foreign cars we were seeing. More to the point, how few british cars. For obvious reasons on Friday when we crossed the channel, nearly all the cars were British. On Saturday that had significantly reduced to just a few Brits interspersed with Belgian and Dutch but mainly French. Here we were on Sunday morning and we felt we were the only foreign vehicle heading south. Occasionally, we would see a Dutch motor home, but it was very apparent that we were going to be in the minority for most of our holiday and that’s just the way we like it.
A little bit about La Souterraine …..
Stopping point on the Way of St James (Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route), the medieval town of La Souterraine has a rich history and boasts a beautiful heritage, with its granite church, its fortifications and its old houses.
Built from the 11th to the 13th century by the monks of the abbey Saint-Martial de Limoges, the Notre-Dame church combines both Romanesque and Gothic styles. Its crypt, a former Gallo-Roman churchyard, can be visited in July and August.
Once again our journey was trouble-free, that is until we tried to find our lodgings. Entering La Souterraine and approaching a roundabout, the satnag clearly told us to take the 3rd exit and then, almost immediately, hang a right. We were looking for house number 23 but the house numbers on this road, a cul-de-sac, only went up to 10.
Rather than spend time trying to unravel the satnag foibles we headed into the town centre for lunch and parked up in the car park by the church in the centre of town. As with our previous visit to this town, it appeared to be shut. We had previously visited, whilst en-route to La Porcerie where we had rented a gite five or six years ago.
Saint-Jean Gateway – La Souterraine
Notre-Dame – La Souterraine
Sleepy La Souterraine
Saint-Jean Gateway dating from the 13th century, all that remains of the former ramparts.
So we headed up to the restaurant where we had lunch on that previous occasion, La Gondole sur le Toit. Thankfully it was open and still serving. Soon we were seated, our meal ordered and a nice beverage delivered.
While waiting for our meal we checked out the B&B address on Google Maps, which confirmed that the house should be in the vicinity of where the satnag took us. We decided to enjoy our meal and then drive very slowly back to see if we could spot the navigational error.
And spot it we did. There appears to be a duplicate road, behind the one that our satnag directed us too. Once, spotted, we very quickly found the B&B, Maison Volière.
What a treasure it is. Built in 1877, the Maison Volière is perfectly placed, being just a ten minute walk from the town centre. But, remaining quite an oasis, hidden in the trees as it is. Our hosts Anthony and Ian (Mancunians) made us very welcome. Nothing was too much trouble for these guys. Our room (suite) was very spacious and the en-suite was equally huge.
It was Anthony who later informed us that La Gondole is the only restaurant open on a Sunday in La Souterraine, at lunchtime, or in the evening.
Needless to say, after our drive down from Chartres, a delicious lunch and a tour round La Souterraine we were ready for our bed, which was very comfortable.
Just over a month ago we set off on holiday. And so it was that we found ourselves en-route to Badailhac in the Cantal region of France. We had rented a gite for three weeks and the intent was to spend our time exploring the countryside and sampling the local cuisine.
Although it is possible to drive down in one go, we prefer to take the leisurely route and were stopping over night at Wimereux, Chartres and La Souterraine.
Setting off, we had a trouble-free journey from home to the Eurotunnel Shuttle terminal at Folkestone. So good was our journey that we were offered a place on the 12:36 departure, almost an hour earlier than our original booking.
It was of course too good to be true. We headed towards the shuttle, arrived at the UK checkpoint and ground to a halt. The UK checkpoint was running four lanes but the French passport control were only running two.
We sat there twiddling our thumbs for some time before starting to creep up to the French booths. Then we were through, having missed the the 12:36.
Imagine what it will be like when BREXIT kicks in and us Brits are no longer considere EUropeans.
Never mind it was a nice sunny day. Nothing I like more than sitting in a queue, knowing you have thirty minutes to wait, and the twat in the car in the next lane to you is sitting there being really eco-friendly with his engine running. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that VW forgot to install an off switch in their Scirocco models. Not just that but his windows are down, just like mine, and he decides to treat everyone to some bangra dub gangsta rap crap.
Just to add to the irritation, approaching our new departure time, the passenger from the Scirocco buggers off to the toilets. Then it’s ” gentlemen start your engines” and lane after lane of cars head for the train. All except for the one next to us, which has to go before ours. They can’t move because Mr Sciroccos mate hasn’t come back.
Things had just started to look like the January sales at Harrods, with cars crossing lanes to get past the offending vehicle, when the missing passenger returns. Then they were off and, eventually, so were we.
Loading onto a shuttle always seems, to me, to be highly efficient. Before long we had been swallowed into the belly of the shuttle. It does seem like you are driving halfway to France, so long is the train. Quickly we were all loaded, engine off, hand brake on, gear stick in first and within minutes moving away from Folkestone and heading under the sea.
Just 35 minutes later our shuttle burst into the sunlight and we were in Calais, France. Once the train has stopped the efficiency continued with every vehicle regurgitated from the shuttles belly, out onto the French roads. There are no checkpoints, it’s a controlled sprint for the autoroutes, all aimed to clear you from the area as quickly as possible.
Then we really felt like our holiday had begun. Driving on the wrong side of the road, frantically trying to convert kilometre speed limits into miles per hour. (The kilometre markings on my speedo are too small for me to read whilst on the move).
The satnag did a grand job and got us to the B&B with no errors. However, we were too early to check in so we headed down to the seaside town of Wimereux.
What a pretty place …
Some of the folks, outside these beach huts, obviously had a passion for the sun. Just an observation based on the deep tan they were sporting.
Lots of folks were promenading or just sitting, absorbing the suns rays. I don’t know what the sea water temperature was. But given the weather this summer I am guessing that it would be quite warm. Many people were happily swimming about.
According to Wikipedia ……
The seaside development was started during the Second Empire, resulting in a remarkable architectural ensemble of houses and buildings typical of the Belle Époque, which are still very well maintained to this day.
While in Wimereux we had a spot of lunch at Brasserie Les Oyats. Situated right on the promenade, we had a substantial lunch with views along the seafront and out to sea.
After a gentle stroll along the prom, enjoying the sunshine and the fresh sea air, we decided to head back to the B&B to check in.
The satnag got us there in no time and we introduced ourselves to our host who showed us to our accommodation. We were gobsmacked. We had been expecting a room with en-suite.
What we actually got was a small, one bedroom cottage. All that was missing was a kitchen. We had our own front door and even had our own terrace with sun loungers , accessed through the back door.
Once we were installed, we made tea and sat out on the terrace which was benefitting from the clear skies and sunshine. Across the terrace there is an orchard and from under the trees came a flock of chickens, coming to investigate the strangers.
The cockerel kept his distance, but kept a watchful eye while the hens came in search of food around our deck chairs. One, a plump white hen, even followed me when I took a stroll across the grass to take a look out over the fields.
I jokingly said I would steal her to take to our gite, a kind of chicken dinner carry-out.
It was nice to be relaxing after our earlier drive.