Hello again! Bonjour from me, Lee and little Hank from Clermont-Ferrand in central France. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!
Lee has made his way to the Pyrenees for a pre-season training so he’s had a week of mountaineering, commando training, zip wiresâ€¦ oh and a couple of rugby matches thrown in too for good measure!
In his absence, Iâ€™ve been welcoming some visitors from the UK and attempting to give them a taste of the Auvergne. Although, as Iâ€™m still discovering myself, itâ€™s been more an idiotâ€™s guide than Lonely Planet!Â My oldest school friend (and bridesmaid) Lisa was first to land for a sneaky weekend break before she became too pregnant to fly. Â The weekendâ€™s itinerary started with obligatory pampering at the Royatonic baths and spa in the Royat area of the town.Â Itâ€™s fuelled by the hot thermal springs of the Auvergne volcanic region and well worth a visit.Â Â We followed that with a rooftop lunch at the gorgeous Princess Flore Hotel, taking in fabulous views of the city including Clermontâ€™s iconic black gothic cathedral built from volcanic rock.
We rounded off the weekend with a drive up the mountain roads to the Puy-de-Dome, the king of the regionâ€™s chain of volcanoes which make up its unique landscape since erupting all those thousands of years ago.Â However, not feeling it was fair to drag a heavily pregnant lady to the top on foot, we settled for eating ice-cream and watching other people either hiking up to the peak or parascending down (watch this space though â€“ the latter is on my to-do list)!
Lisa flew out of Brive, which gave me an opportunity to take in another new town with beautiful views! Just a hop, skip and jump from the Dordogne, the area hosts many a Brit and their second home – and who can blame them?!
Best friendâ€™s flying visit was swiftly followed by my mumâ€™s arrival for a week.Â The â€˜ladies who lunchâ€™ theme continued and we headed to Â Clermontâ€™s beautifully groomed gardens, perfectly combining Ã la carte with a red and white pavement cafÃ© vibe atÂ Jardin Le Coq, where we enjoyed the dappled sunshine and delightful food.
Otherwise, chilling has been the order of the day.Â Often, for us Brits, itâ€™s simply too hot to do much else! With the heatwave lasting the entire summer here, temperatures touching 40 degrees and the absence of a pool at the house, we decided to invest in another cooling mechanism.Â Youâ€™re never too old for a giant paddling pool!
Finally, for those following the progress of Miniature Schnauzer Hank, he too has been feeling the heatâ€¦
And he almost stumbled upon a unique way of cooling offâ€¦
Next time, my tribute to our Brit Tour de France champ Chris Froome as I get on my bike to explore the Auvergne…!
Back soon! Love, Ax