Hello, and welcome back to my blog from sunny France.Â Thanks for taking the time to read it.Â Last time I blogged, I was welcoming some visitors from the UK.Â Not so absorbed with entertaining this week, Iâ€™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. Â So, I decided it was time to break my 2-decade bike veto… and buy a ‘vÃ©lo’. Â After a little pedalling practice on a friendâ€™s (just to check the old adage really is true), I invested in my own two-wheeled transportation. Â There was no stopping me now…!
The aim: to find places that pass you by in a car, places not accessible on four wheels.Â So, although I started within only a few kilometres of our house, I was immediately rewarded.Â 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.Â 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.Â And on the other, the biggest and most beautiful field of sunflowers I have ever come across!! Millions of â€˜tournesolsâ€™, 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 â€¦and that my cycling route has beenÂ a little repetitive. Â If only this little street I head past on the way home was full of shops instead of houses! Â A little retail therapy for all that pedalling perhaps? Â 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.Â This is Murat-le-Quaire.Â A village in the Puy-de-Dome region.Â If you are looking to sample quaint, then this is it.Â And with panoramic vistas thrown in.Â There is a small museum calledÂ Maison de la Toinette et JulienÂ 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.Â The next spot along â€“ Le Mont-Dore – offers cable car trips. Â So, there really is more to discover here than you would imagine. Â I think Central France has often been the poor relative for holidaymakers hopping across the Channel, but if what Iâ€™ve found in the Auvergne area so far is anything to judge by, I predict more airlines will be taking up routes here (Iâ€™m not being paid commission by the tourist office, promise!).
Finally, away from the travel sales pitch, hereâ€™s your Hank update (heâ€™s our miniature schnauzer puppy).Â Well, he’s just turned 3 months and is still a cheeky monkey!Â 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!
Thatâ€™s all for now!Â Thanks for joining us and we’ll be back soon…!