Monday, May 05, 2014

Invisible Volcanoes

We're back from half a trip to the Parc des Volcans in Auvergne. The weather was so awful, we gave up and came home early! The forecast had got increasingly bad from the time we initially made the hotel bookings, but we were locked into a couple of the bookings so either had to turn up or lose the money.

We left on Thursday in brilliant sunshine and 20°C. By the time we'd ridden for an hour and were up on the plateau de Larzac at le Caylar service station it was 12°C and drizzling. It was also lunch time, but did we want to perch our lunch on the motorbike seat in a nasty drizzle and stand to slurp a soggy sarnie? No we did not, so we turned round and went back to Montpellier.

Wimps! Yes, we had to admit that although, in our heads, we are toughies ready to brave un-fair weather and foul in our search for adventure, in reality, we'd much rather go motorbiking in fine conditions only... So we had our picnic lunch outside on the terrace in warm sunshine, sitting at my garden table, not soggy at all.

Then we unpacked the bike, packed my car and drove to Auvergne instead!

While it was late spring in Montpellier, it was still winter in Auvergne. Even the Col du Pas de Peyrol/Puy Mary col was still closed so we had to take a lengthy detour via the north through Riom-ès-montagne to get to Salers, our first port of call. Could we see those famous volcanoes as we drove along? Not through the relentless rain and low clouds which shrouded everything in heavy mist, no. It was all too reminiscent of holidays in the Lake District...

Typical view of countryside, volcanoes somewhere about...
Salers is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, and is splendid in its dark lavastone Gothic glory. Turrets, nooks and crannies around every corner - it's one big photo opportunity.
Salers
Shame muggins here forgot to take her camera... or at least didn't look in the right pocket of her not overly huge handbag and only discovered its whereabouts once back home! Luckily my DB had his phone camera. Mine decided that its memory card was a frivolous irrelevance and refused to acknowledge its presence.


Salers


Half a view from Salers
We stayed at the Hotel Bailliage, in the centre (actually it's so small you're never far from the centre!) run by two brothers who inherited it from their parents. We were in the Audrey Hepburn room, snazzily decorated in yellow, white and black, with some nifty mood lighting. The bed was heavenly - so comfortable, and with snuggly bedlinen.
Audrey Hepburn room at Hotel Bailliage
Misty view from hotel window, temperature outside 5°C
We didn't eat in the restaurant as it was a bit pricey, so found a bar-brasserie and tried a couple of local specialties - pounti (see recipe here) and bourriol which is a buckwheat pancake with batter that's been left to rise overnight. The pounti came as a type of terrine made of pancake batter, ground pork, herbs and prunes, but no swiss chard to my knowledge even though the recipe often has it. My bourriol  was served with butter, as is traditional, and had an unusual smoky taste, presumably from being cooked over wood-smoke.

We washed it down with a red Côte d'Auvergne. Wine from Auvergne? Yes, we'd never heard of it either, but it has an interesting peppery note on the tongue, and the red was just right for the 5°C miserable weather!

Our decision to take the car was vindicated the next day too when the weather got even worse...

17 comments:

  1. I'm really glad that I visited the Auvergne in high summer.....though the hotel room looks very smart!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a bit risky, I must say, going in May. Still, we weren't totally put off, and intend to go back in better weather. :)
      They had 20°C in Aurillac yesterday! Bastards!

      Delete
  2. What a pity - the Cantal is beautiful when the weather is good. I lived there for a year, and I lived the place. I was in Salers last July!
    The bedroom is gorgeous - did it bring out the sparkly starlet in you? Did DB go all Humphry Bogart?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DB didn't realise it was the AH room until I he read the trip report! So no, no Bogey impressions, but we always have fun in nice hotel rooms. :)

      My ex-h's parents live in St Flour, so I know what it should look like when not raining and shrouded in mist and gloom. :)

      Were you on holiday in Salers? Isn't it just gorgeous there? So Goth!

      Delete
  3. "a frivolous irrelevance" lovely phrase! You definitely made the right decision to swap two wheels for four.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susie. Yes, we did not once regret our decision! Must be our age... :)

      Delete
  4. I think that taking the car was a wise decision. Just the thought of Auvergne makes me shiver. It was always so cold...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It still is, Muriel. Not a place to linger really, unless you have to.

      Delete
  5. I think it depends which bit of the Auvergne, Sarah. The Allier in the north is quite a different kettle of fish from my experience. Your photos look like much of the weather we get in the North-West Highlands, when a car is definitely the preferred mode of transport. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were definitely pleased to have the car. I expect that once out of the volanoes the weather might be better. Mountains always attract rain!

      Delete
  6. Our plan is to explore as much of Germany as possible, something my wife and I failed to do during our first stint some eight years ago. Very similar to what you're doing in France. You never know what's just a few meters beyond your front doorstep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, DD. And in Germany there is much to discover! Enjoy!

      Delete
  7. Catching up on your blog - am starting here so I don't get the trip in the wrong order. Well done on returning to get the car!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there might have been some bad temper had we not... :)

      Delete
  8. I love Auvergne and old of it's dreary, rainy days! It's like the opposite of Provence ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, must be a bit depressing to live in the rain though, unless you're used to it. :)

      Delete

Comments are bienvenue.