Tuesday, 23 August 2016

On tour in the Auvergne

  ** I know that the photographs and font won't be right but I'm doing this post via iPad. I'll correct them when I get back to my laptop**

We've spent a couple of lovely days in the Cantal. Tim and Tom have cycled in the footsteps (or should it be wheel tracks?) of Chris Froome et al up from Salers to the top of the Pas de Peyrol and down the other side. The Pas de Peyrol is just below Puy Mary. Yesterday we followed in our own footsteps of 22 years previous and climbed up Puy Mary. I was 38 then and found the climb easier, but knocking 60 still made it without the need for extra oxygen or a defibrillator! We missed Rhiannon, but she has her own mountains to climb, and will soon be off to even warmer climes on her honeymoon to Sri Lanka!
I provided backup in the car but unfortunately couldn't run to the Ford Mustang of Dave rails ford and Team Sky. 

I'm very proud of Tim and Tom, but livid that a Brit in a Toyota estate prevented me from behind at the summit to welcome them. It's a long story, but I was parked in the shade and two cars parked so close to me that I couldn't open the doors on either side enough to even hope to get in! It often happens on one side so I've perfected the technique of getting into the passenger side and climbing into the driving seat. This time neither door would open more than about 15cm! After about 25 minutes (and rehearsing the French for my displeasure!) the selfish Brit arrived back. To say he got a piece of my mind was an understatement! I would have still been annoyed, but less so has the car park been full. There was lots of space, but not in the shade.

So I missed being there to welcome them, photograph the occasion and pour some cold water over them. There are other photographs...

We then moved on to Le Mont Dore and the Puy de Sancy. Taking a break from cycling we decided to have a day walking in the mountains. No mean feat given the temperatures! However, a slight breeze and the altitude meant that the temperatures were moderated somewhat, but it was still HOT.
With so many people wanting to climb to the summit and the problems of erosion, the last 500m was steep and wooden steps had been created.
The views along. The way were spectacular. I haven't been able to download from my camera yetso these were taken with my mobile phone...

The Puy de Dome in the background...

It was slightly disappointing ar the summit to be plagued by thousands of flying ants. We couldn't believe it! It meant that we couldn't  stay around too long to soak up the view.

There were loads of myrtilles sauvage. In Wales we would call these whimberries or whinberries. You could be picking all afternoon to get enough for a tart!! 

And sheep...

We also found the source of the river Dordogne. It starts off as two streams in the Massive de Sancy, the Dore and the Dogne...

They join at this point...

That's it for today. Tomorrow another mountain stage of the TdF from Le Mont Dore to Super Besse.

When I've done that there will be a wedding to tell you about...


  1. Ooooo I wish I'd been there to see you telling that guy off :-) Your trip looks fab. I have mountain envy. Did you get some cheese or is it too hot? I think Tim is very brave doing all that climbing on the bike with Tom. It makes me tired just thinking about it. The blueberries (if that's what they are) are interesting. I had no idea they grew wild in France. I wonder why one never sees them in the shops in that case?

    1. Aha! Have just looked up myrtille sauvage and discovered that in British English they are Bilberries or Whortleberries (or Whinberries as you mention). Blueberries is the American name for them. I had never realised that they were all the same thing, nor that Cranberries are the same genus.

    2. Hi Susan,
      You can buy them in some shops in the mountains, but are more likely to see pies, flans and pastries made with them. The myrtilles sauvage are much, much smaller than blueberries. I find the taste a bit different to blueberries - sweeter and more intense flavour, but maybe the blueberries you buy in the supermarket aren't the most flavoursome.
      They grew on the mountains where I grew up and the mountains in the Alps and Auvergne are covered in them. It would be a real treat to go picking as a family and then make the pie or tart.

  2. We were there the next day at the Pas de Peyrol! Mr FD has cycled it a couple of times but we were in the car with my mum this time. We live about 70 km from Clermont Ferrand

    1. Isn't the Auvergne just beautiful! Eight years ago we so nearly bought a chalet just into the Allier, but it was a bit remote for me to be happy about being so isolated if I was to be there alone. Also at the time not well served by budget airlines. Has this changed? Instead as a second home we moved from the Alps to the Indre et Loire. Quite a contrast, although the area is lovely and we've made some wonderful friends.
      Which direction from Clermont do you live? I'm quite envious. :0)

  3. You have done a good job of this blog minus a computer, well done, maybe a few abnormalities but nothing that is a big problem. Well done guys for following in Froome's footsteps, no mean feat. Gaynor I would have gone berserk if I had not been able to get in my car, probably would have hit the man!! I do not understand people that have to park so close that not only can you not get in the car but they swing the door and leave a dent in side of your car as well. I always try parking at a distance from other cars, but always some idiot still has to come and park right on top of where you are. Very annoying. Glad though that apart from that it sounds like you are having a great time. Keep well Diane xx

  4. Thanks, Diane. It was frustrating as I really wanted to be at the finish. However this is a minor point compared to how we'd have managed if one or other had a fall or a bike problem. Luckily I was only waiting a relatively short time, but I could have been there all day!! My next thought was to fully empty the back and to try and climb in over the back seat. Not an elegant proposition!!
    Hope your trapped nerve is being treated xx

    1. A fall from one of the bikes would have been a disaster thankfully it did not happen. Still waiting for a rendezvous with a surgeon, August is not a good month to make things happen!!!!!!!

  5. HOW wonderful.. I want to go!!!!! flying ants or no!!!!! Lucky you all.. and such challenges for the bikers! Love the hat!