|We awake early and take a last, long sigh looking out the window on the river.
After a brief continental breakfast, we head for Le Cap d Agde and – surprise – hundreds of condominiums and boats! We were in the old city last night. It’s a lovely protected bay on the Mediterranean. Mark suggests it may be the last time we see it in our lives, so we sink into enjoying the view, and life, before moving on. It was a special time here.
Now it’s time for a big climb – high into the midi Pyrenees. The geology is nothing short of amazing – it’s a day of different and special sites. Not only are there two beautiful parks – more accurately, nature preserves. But there are miles and miles of lovely little farms with interspersed settlements, all with the neighborhood church steeple or castle rampart in view.
We decide to break for a cup of coffee in a most charming, and again a surprise for its locale, the city called Mallau. As we decided to exit from the freeway, we see this incredible bridge which spans the gorge over Mallau. One of the supports is almost as high as the Eiffel Tower – amazing.
We enter the region of the ‘Massif Central’, supposedly “one of the wildest, emptiest and least known corners of France”. We find it very beautiful as the land is rugged and the trees are changing their autumn colours.
We pass Clermont-Ferrand, the city were the Michelin Brothers started their tire company. And then we climb some more to a powerful, ancient area with a chain of extinct volcanoes and cinder cones. It is shrouded in clouds and mist so we really can’t see the drama that is out there as we’d like.
When we stop for fuel, we see many young people attracted to this region for hiking, rock climbing, gliding, and skiing.
We are virtually nowhere and it is extremely beautiful and serene. We pass by a renowned small city called Le Puy-en-Valey known for its picturesque setting and fine lace making however the weather has become quite foggy so we continue on.
We pass the area known as Le Puy de Dome, this is the volcano region and it’s quite spectacular.
We make our way on to Vichy (known for the water) and to our reliable hotel chain room. The city is quiet compared to many, and has an understated elegance that makes it very comfortable.
Mark has been driving for about eight hours and is restless so he heads out for a walk for an hour and finds it a very charming city, full of life and beautiful buildings.