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Published: August 21st 2013
We plan to take a drive out into the French countryside that is west of the city and find a couple of small towns and villages to stroll through and soak up the atmosphere.
Although we haven't got a balcony to sit outside on at this apartment we also can't have the double doors open as we have smokers below us and it is not just cigarettes by the smell that drifts up to us on the second floor.We think that there are a number of semi permanents living on the ground floor at the rear of the block below where our apartment is situated.The holiday resort is part of the chain that we stayed at in Aix-en-Provence and it is a shame that the level of quality here is not as good as we had there.
The plan today is to take a drive out into the countryside west of St Eteinne and see what we come across by way of scenery and villages to take a walk around.
There was a scenic road on the atlas which we started out on and soon came to the twin towns of St Just & St Rambert which were
separated by the Loire River.We were a bit surprised to find the Loire River this far east and didn't realise just how long a river it is.We are due to stay in mid September in the Loire Valley well west of where we are at present and hadn't appreciated we would find it here.
It was close to 1pm and most of the shops in the twin towns were closed for the afternoon nap except for a boulangerie which was just about to close.However,we had just enough time to buy more pastries to add to the waistline for lunch.Before we left the town we took a wander around the back streets taking in the buildings which were from the Middle Ages and had had little in the way of restoration other than a coat of paint.
We then headed out of town and got onto a road that took us to the Gorges Loire and eventually that took us down to the river where we had lunch watching a boat towing a water skier up and down to keep us amused as the person came to grief a couple of times.
Taking the road back up the
hill we came to a ridge well above the river valley and drove through a number of sleepy villages as we made our way to the larger town of St-Bonnet-le-Chateau which had a long and rich history dating back to Roman times.
The town is known for its 'boules'(used in petanque)production with over 1million sets made annually.It also had a church with a commanding position on the highest point in the town that could be seen from kilometres around.
The church had been built as part of the city walls defence in 1299 at the time of the 100 Year War between France and England.
We had planned to continue on a triangle circuit that would have taken us to Ambert before joining another scenic road back tour apartment.However, something went wrong with our direction and instead we ended up on the scenic road but well past Ambert where we had planned to start it.
As we had already been out for 5 hours and we had a long drive ahead of us heading further north tomorrow we decided not to backtrack but just keep heading for home.
As we travelled down the main road
we noted the small volcanic outcrop where the town of St Romain Le Puy is located but shot past the turnoff before we knew and ended up just taking a photo from a distance rather than getting a closer look.
We hadn't actually covered a big distance but we had seen a wide variety of scenic views and interesting historical towns in the small area we travelled around making the afternoon a very informative and enjoyable one.
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