Red Wine, Baguettes & Smelly Cheese travel blog

Hanging out on a Sunday in Le Mont Dore

Locals at Chez Mimi's

Chez Mimi's

Mimi and Isabelle with one appreciative customer

Sabots - Dancing shoes

The show is about to start

A great character and a great dancer

Traditional dance

The musicians

Ian had been looking at this "lump" for a week and then...

From Puy de Dome

Summit of Puy de Donme & hang glider

Village of Lavoine with Rocher St. Vincent beyond

Horloge Wheel Clock

On the edge of a comatose village

Ruins of Chateau Montgilbert

When your feet hurt, this is great therapy

The last week has seen us finish up our hiking in the mountains of the Auvergne and head north to the D Day Beaches of Normandy for one last travel fix before heading home.

The Auvergne has really been one of the highlights of the trip with its endless hiking, challenging mountains, cooling streams and cascades, 3,000 year old caves and medieval tracks. It has been sensational. We are sorry to leave, but are planning to be back for sure.

As a break from the hiking, we spent a Sunday in the town of Le Mont Dore – the most lively hill town we have seen by far. We had lunch at Café de Paris, also known as Chez Mimi’s (second time in 3 days!) and yes, there is a Mimi and an Isabelle (see photos), watched a traditional song and dance performance by the locals and saw the end of an antique car rally – all in one day! Le Mont Dore has one of the finest old apartment buildings we have seen anywhere, with a lobby to die for and an apartment for sale……………..!?

We then hiked up the famous (and incredibly steep) Puy de Dome. An ex-Tour de France cycling route until it was closed to bikes 15 years ago; otherwise, it could have been another adventure for the fold up bike……..And ended the week in the northern Auvergne, where the landscape is much more gentle and with a lower elevation much hotter. If the tempo of life here moved any more slowly, it would be stationary. In the quaint town of Lavoine we marvelled at a true oddity – a Horloge wheel - a clock which functions by combining water and wooden “marbles.” It’s one of only 3 in the world. (see photo.)

Notable events this week:

• When you have gone around a roundabout 5 times looking for the right exit, you don’t care which exit you take, as long as it happens just before the g-force makes one of you puke in the van.

• Cheapest and one of the best campsites on the trip? Ferrieres sur Sichon in the Auvergne. Euros 8 per night. It included a village fireworks display on the Saturday, but we had to leave that day……….

• When you have a bad foot, you really don’t care what you wear in town. Ian had a sandal on one foot and a croc on the other foot. It was quite comfortable – strange looking, but comfortable!

• When the Dutch do the dishes, it takes one guy to actually do the work and 8 to stand around watching and criticize his technique……………

European trivia

Every week we will give you a trivia question, with the answer given the following week. Remember, no Googling!

Last week: Which famous French river has its origins in the mountains above Le Monte Dore?

a) Seine

b) Rhone

c) Loire

d) Dordogne

And the answer is: The Dordogne! The 2 streams named the Dore and the Dogne start in the mountains above Le Mont Dore and become the mighty Dordogne River.

This week: Which town or mountain is the geographic centre of France?

a) Puy de Dome

b) Clermont Ferrand

c) Puy de Sancy

d) Le Mont Dore

Until next week,

Liz & Ian

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