France - Chassignolles to Dieppe

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May 23rd 2014
Published: May 23rd 2014
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Sunday 18thMay 2014

It was very sad leaving Chris and Lorraine – especially as they were going south and we had to head North!!! It was such a fun couple of days and we really enjoyed their company! Had a cup of coffee before we said goodbye and eventually left, and drove high above the valley we had been on the steam train yesterday, and past the cherry tree farms until we reached Lamastre! Bought some pastries in the same shop (yum yum!!) for lunch before heading towards Le Puy en Velay!

Lovely scenery with farmland and far reaching views of the old volcanic region with towers and crosses on the pointed hills! Stopped at Allegre and climbed up through the old town to the remains of the three towers of an old castle that dominated the skyline! Onwards towards La Chaise Dieu that had a huge 14thC Abbey of St Robert that contained 144 carved oak choir stalls and on the outside a 15thC wall painting of ‘Dance Macabre’ that shows that death is inevitable for rich and poor alike! There is also an ‘echo room’ which is where the monks and lepers made their confessions – pretty clever as you can whisper to the wall in one corner and hear it in the other corner!! There are also ‘some of the loveliest tapestries in France’ but we missed those!!! Lol!!

Anyway, onwards to Chassignoles that is signposted off the D588 arriving about 17.30pm! Met up with Peter, Henry – Matt the American chef, Ana – the front of house girl and her boyfriend Gaspar, and admired the field with its newly planted vegetables and met the chickens and pigs – can’t remember their names, but probably best not to get too attached!!! Had a fantastic six course meal- well worth the 25Euros and after meeting up with the ‘gang’ for a late night drink we slept in a real bed at the Auberge!!

Tuesday 19th May 2014

Up fairly early and after a very leisurely breakfast and a good chat with the Dutchman who was staying overnight, we went into Brioude to do some shopping and to look at the Basilica Church. A huge church with striped pillars and modern stain glass windows and a cobbled floor! Very different!! Had lunch overlooking the river at Vielle Broude before driving back to Auzon where we walked up into the old walled town to look at the old Roman church that unfortunately was shut.

The weather was sunny but cold with a lot of cloud so we decided to head back to the Auberge and chill out for the afternoon and catch up with Peter – who unfortunately went out shopping!! Had a wander around the village, down to the local tennis courts where you are allowed to park Campervans and also across to look at the pigs and the chickens but it was just toooo cold!!

Sat in the restaurant and met up with the Dutchman again. who was also staying another night and chatted to him for an hour or so. Ana’s boyfriends’ parents also arrived with their two spaniels, so we all ended up eating together at about 9.00pm – a good dinner party with ten of us!! Twelve if you count the dogs!! (Auberge, Chassignolles) (42 miles)

Tuesday 20th May 2014

Still cloudy and cold. Breakfast was ready when we went down at 8.30am so enjoyed a croissant, apricot, cherries and some local apple juice that is really nice!

Had a tour of the Auberge, which is absolutely massive with loads of space for renovations and extra rooms, before leaving at about 11.00am.

Peter had recommended that Ambert was a nice place to see, so we drove out of the forest, through St-Germain-l’Herme, admiring the intermittent views of the distant volcanoes and the grassy, flowered meadows with the white limousin cows and hamlets dotted over the hillsides. Stopped briefly in Ambert to admire the old town and medieval buildings, before heading north towards Vichy. Cut across country via Aigueperse to the D2124 and headed towards Montlucon before stopping about 17.00 at St-Amand-Montrond!! Had an hours walk, along a canal, past the Campervan Aire, into the town and back – nothing too special but a nice square with bars and restaurants. (ACSI Camping de la Roche) (164 miles)

Tuesday 21st May 2014

A cloudy day – it sort of brightened up for a while but soon turned into a grey day – with drizzle!! We drove up the D2144 (past another nice looking Aire the other side of St-Amand-Motrond) – long straight roads, up to and around Bourges and then headed for Orleans on the D2020. Went through some small pleasant looking towns including La Ferte St Aubin that had a very impressive Chateau (next time- maybe!)

Around Orleans and onto Chartres (missing the turning again at Artenay – Chartres is just not signed!!!) before reaching Dreux. Decided as the weather was not good to drive onto St Marcel near Vernon (via Anet - another impressive Chateau and Pacy sur Eure) and hope its better tomorrow so we can visit Monet’s garden again!

It’s not too promising at the moment as the rain has become heavier and we have had a thunderstorm!! The sky looks ominous so there could be more rain and thunder!! No wifi but we have managed to pick up some French TV channels! (Camping les Fosses Rouge, St Marcel) (211 miles)

Thursday 22nd May 2014

We were lucky that we only had rain with a thunderstorm, as there have been severe storms and damage around Clermont Ferrand, where we were yesterday! The pictures on the TV looked quite bad, with flash floods and roofs blown off! Hope the Auberge at Chassignolles was ok as the Auvergne Region was hardest hit.

Anyway, today was cloudy but it was supposed to brighten up after lunch so we went to Monet’s Garden and joined the queue to get tickets! (It must be easier to get them online as then you don’t have to queue!!) The garden was pretty bashed about after yesterdays heavy rain but still full of colour – beautiful roses and peonies, with alliums and pansies, iris of all different shades of purple, as well as the geraniums. So many different sorts of flowers – it was beautiful! Spoilt only by the coach loads of tourists and schoolchildren!! least 30 coaches parked when we left.

Decided to go the scenic route to Dieppe and avoid Rouen so we drove along the yellow roads to Gisors, where we had lunch. Didn’t really have time to stop and sightsee, but it had a huge church and castle as well as really old medieval buildings so maybe next time! Followed the D915 to Gournay to where we stopped at a garden centre. Chris had tried to buy some water lilies at Monets Garden but they were very expensive (30-60 euros each!!) so he managed find some cheaper ones to buy at the garden centre (12.95 euros each!!) .

Got to Diepppe and had a good shop in Auchen, stocking up with wine, before parking up in the well used Aire just around the corner from the Ferry Port. Dinner in our favourite restaurant, an early night, ready for the ferry at 05.30am tomorrow! Just hoping there are no more thunderstorms overnight – there seems to be one looming!!! Until next time.........

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2nd September 2014

Enjoyed the blog about Chassignolles and surrounds now that we have also done that! Having visited Brioude, Lavaudieux, Auzon and Le Puys en Valay I became fixated with the stone carvings of mermaids, men carrying sheep, donkeys playing harps and various monsters at the top of the columns. Luckily I found a lovely book at Puys en Valay which explained them. Really enjoyed the scenery in the area as well as the 5 course meals. After five of them, we've come home to fast! Definitely will go back next year to visit some of the otehr towns and take the scenic railway trip over the gorges.

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