Polignac to Lavaudieu

There was one of those Auvergne volcanic hills not too far from us so we headed off there for a leisurely Sunday morning stroll. As almost always on our style of backroads travelling, the lanes were virtually traffic free and we enjoyed a peaceful walk to the impressive hill, then found our way back along paths as indicated on maps.me.

We came across an isolated gated house on our walk, with a warning sign, which I had to translate by looking up some of the unfamiliar words. I might have got this wrong, but it appeared to say words to the effect of “Keep out, this place is booby-trapped”. A pretty compelling deterrent I thought. I did decide though that it wouldn’t be fair to tell Sophie that the sign actually said “Free walnuts – just climb over the fence and help yourself”, but I can’t say I wasn’t tempted 😉.

Today, Sophie surprised me again after she’d done some research and had found another chateau to visit. It was actually a great drive through valleys, and fortunately for me it wasn’t somewhere that permitted a proper visit. So just the usual several dozen photos and we could get back on the road again.

I was then able to return to my very general route, but with no fixed agenda, other than to gradually be heading very roughly in a northwesterly direction. At a junction where I’d intended to take a right, Sophie’s limited research kicked in again, when she recognised a recommended place on a signpost, so off we went.

We were soon at Allègre, another lovely hilltop village, with some castle ruins to visit. After tentatively navigating our way up into the town, we found parking in the small central square. Like many villages we’ve visited in France, Spain, and Portugal, there was not a soul in sight and, as always, we agreed that it felt like some post-apocalyptic world where we were the only survivors. This is particularly noticeable between 12 and 2 in France, and, as this was a Sunday, it was even more likely.

So, as is our custom, we got the hardest bit done first by climbing to the highest point, which today took us to the castle ruins. There was not a lot left, but it was interesting nonetheless, and the two remaining large stone walls and cross-member perfectly framed the stunning distant valley views.

The rest of town, with its steep roads also made for an interesting visit. The only uncertainty then was would the motorhome actually fit through the arch which was the obvious route out after our visit. Sophie didn’t want to take any chances, but having stood underneath it I was confident it was higher than the car ferry, and the stone at the base protruded enough that if our tyres fitted through there then there’d be ample room. Sophie did have a sharp intake of breath, and it didn’t help when I suggested we fold our mirrors in, but we were never at risk and halfway through I sent her outside so that she could see just how much room we had.

Meanwhile, Jacqui had “radioed through”, via Messenger, that she’d found a great stop at Lavaudieu and was going to overnight there. As it was on our route anyway, we were grateful for the recommendation and so off we went.

On arrival, with two small carparks to choose from, we selected the opposite one to where Jacqui was. This might have seemed strange, but in our motorhome, whenever we have decided that this is us for the night, then we must go through the ritual of driving around to experience every possible angle so that Sophie can assess the quality of each view. Once she has decided on her optimal stopping place, I will each time remind her that she needs to focus, not on the view from the cab, but the view from her window, where she will shortly be lounging, in the back. I tell her where this ideal parking spot will be, by the way this is the one I would have headed to initially anyway, and she agrees. This is what I describe as “doing the dance”, and, to be fair, does not appear to be that uncommon.

We thought we’d check out the village whilst the sun was still shining. It was picture-postcard lovely, but what impressed us most is that it looked “real”, and lived in, and there were no tacky souvenir shops. In fact there was evidence that sheep and cattle weren’t strangers to these streets 😉.

A few more neighbours turned up to be with us that night, but it was very quiet.

*** Just to mention that our blogs can be up to a few weeks behind reality, as we’re always in catch-up mode ***

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