Discovering a small part of France: Auvergne and its endless small roads...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by gagnaou, May 28, 2015.

  1. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    This all started a couple of years ago when I was helping a couple of Inmates from the UK plan a visit to the part of France where I grew up. As I was linking small towns in mapsource using very scenic backroads, I realized that I had left the place before I really got into Adventure riding and that I needed to get back to it!

    Fast forward to this spring and I emailed a couple of my riding buddies and told them that this year was the year and that I was going to make it happen! By the time the dust settled RVSparky and I were the only two who committed to the trip.

    In the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing our travel, but for now a few teaser pictures

    Food:

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    Small villages:

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    Small roads:

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    Beautiful Scenery:

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    Old Stone house:

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    Newer Stone house:

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    #1
    yamalama and Critic like this.
  2. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space Supporter

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    I'm subscribed! Beautiful... I dream of touring Europe some day.

    :lurk
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  3. OscarCharlie

    OscarCharlie Adventurer

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    Aaaah, l'Auvergne! Subscribed!

    Et vive les bougnats! :freaky
    #3
  4. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    My standard program for a vacation in France has always been: 1st week in Paris (naturalment!). The next 1-2 weeks are spent out in the countryside. So far I've explored Paris/Alsace, Paris/Burgundy, & Paris/Haute Savoy. I'm going again next spring & I'm looking for a good place to base myself & explore after Paris. I've been thinking Brittany, but your 1st pictures may have moved Auvergne up the possibles list.
    #4
  5. katbeanz

    katbeanz earthbound misfit, I

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    Cool stuff! :clap
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  6. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Allons-y mon ami :thumb

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  7. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road

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    looks good!

    :ear
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  8. dickosaurus

    dickosaurus Geezer Coalition Supporter

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    Looking forward to it!
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  9. TroyWolf

    TroyWolf Student in the art of less

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    I'm a yahoo that couldn't commit to the trip. :( Guess all I get now is this thread to watch. :)
    #9
  10. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    I did a car trip through France a few years ago.
    I love the roundabouts. I had one turn where there was a roundabout followed by a second, followed by a third, all less than a kilometer apart.

    I love the road signs in France as well. In North America we get a warning when your turn is coming up.
    In France, the sign is right there where you turn.
    #10
  11. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    The beauty of the roundabout is that if you miss the turn, you can just keep circling 'til it comes up again. I've sometimes circled 3-4 times just to read all the signs & make absolutely sure I'm taking the right route.
    #11
  12. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    A couple of weeks before our departure from the US as I was participating in the Cortez Rally, I managed to break my thumb on a small fall during the last stage of the rally.

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    For a while I thought I would be able to ride while on our trip, but finally reality set in and I realized that with a cast on my right hand there was no way I could safely ride a bike. I called RVsparky and we decided that we will still go on with the plan but rather than renting 2 bikes, we'll rent one bike and a car. The down side of that is that we did less exploration off road than what we would have done otherwise.

    So after an overnight flight to Paris, we took the TGV (train) from Paris to Tours to rent the vehicles.

    Here I am with Laurent from Ride In Tours standing in front of the 1200 GS that RVsparky was to ride.

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    From there we made good time to our destination, Boisseuges a little village near Chavaniac Lafayette.

    Our accommodation for the week

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    the garage where the bike was parked every night

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    Chavaniac Lafayette is named after Lafayette where he was born and raised, here is a small blurb from Wilkipedia about him:

    " in the U.S. often known simply as Lafayette, was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War. A close friend of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette was a key figure in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830.

    Born in Chavaniac, in the province of Auvergne in south central France, Lafayette came from a wealthy landowning family. He followed its martial tradition, and was commissioned an officer at age 13. He became convinced that the American cause in its revolutionary war was noble, and travelled to the New World seeking glory in it. There, he was made a major general, though initially the 19-year-old was not given troops to command. Wounded during the Battle of Brandywine, he still managed to organize an orderly retreat. He served with distinction in the Battle of Rhode Island. In the middle of the war, he returned home to lobby for an increase in French support. He again sailed to America in 1780, and was given senior positions in the Continental Army. In 1781, troops in Virginia under his command blocked forces led by Cornwallis until other American and French forces could position themselves for the decisive Siege of Yorktown."

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    #12
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  13. KryzHatch

    KryzHatch Been here awhile Supporter

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    Nice report Gagnaou. Can't wait for more. I think I'll get in AUVERGNE area this summer.
    For those who find interest in LAFAYETTE, a replica of his boat, HERMIONE, left LA ROCHELLE on the west coast od FRANCE, to US, several weeks ago.
    Here is a pic I made last year while the boat was coming down from BORDEAUX, on Gironde River.

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    HERMIONE arrived in BERMUDAS Island this tuesday.
    http://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/...will-be-recreated/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1
    KH
    #13
  14. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    Stunning photos! :clap
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  15. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    I may have to make a trip out East when it lands in the US, it would be kind of cool to see it!
    #15
  16. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    After a good night of rest, best night RVsparky said he had for a long time! (No wonder, we had left a day and half ago and I made him ride over 200 miles in a foreign country at speeds above 80 :evil) we went and had breakfast in a small cafe, coffee and hot chocolate hit the spot! I did not take a picture of it, but it was pretty close to this internet picture

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    Chatting with the waitress, we learnt that her son had spent 15 years in the North East of the US so she had quite a few stories to tell us about her and her husband travel to the US to go and see their grand kids.

    After a quick grocery run, we headed to the small village of Jax and the even smaller village of Loubeyrat to enjoy the view. Unfortunately the weather was foggy so we went on to explore a forest road until we had to turn around.

    We then headed to Ally to meet a couple of friends and have lunch. The village of Ally is pretty well known in the area for its windmills.

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    I was told that the roof entirely turn so that the wings can be oriented in the right direction facing the wind. Most of those have now fallen apart, but there are a few left and I believe they grind some wheat a few times year with them as a tourist attraction. If you are interested, one of them was refurbished as a love nest as per the sign in front of it ;-) and is for rent :evil

    not this one though

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    Lunch was at the Auberge Paysanne, unfortunately we were too hungry that no pictures of the food were taken there :wink: The interesting/neat thing about this place is that it is manned and run by the local farmers. Way back in the 80s, I believe, during the pork crisis, the local farmers of the area facing declining commodity prices pulled time and resources together to create that restaurant and capture some of the value added out of their product. Food was plentiful and pretty typical of the local traditional cuisine.

    Right in front of the Auberge
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    On the way back home, we made a small detour to go and visit the Mont Mouchet.

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    Because the area was so remote and rugged during world war II, there was an important resistance activity in the area. This site was the location of a battle that was pretty destructive to the locale communities. For those interested in more details, here is what wilkipedia says about it:

    "The Maquis du Mont Mouchet were a group of French resistance fighters during the Second World War. Based at Mont Mouchet, its goal was to delay the convergence of German forces in the south of France with those in Normandy, in order to aid the Allies (World War II) in the reconquest of France.

    The Germans, having discovered the maquis, made several attacks up until May 1944 with about 3,000 men and using aviation and armoured units. The maquisards fought back fiercely.

    Little information is available on the German forces. Historians have identified some units:

    The Jesser Brigade, formed from veterans of the eastern front (deployed in the Orléans-Pithiviers sector)
    1,000 men from the Sicherungs Motorisierte regiment
    1,000 men from the Aufklärungs Abteilung
    These were reinforced from:

    Regiment 2 of the 2 Ost Bataillon of the Freiwilligen Stamm:
    The Volga Tatar legion stationed at Puy-en-Velay
    The Azerbaidjan legion stationed at Rodez (former 804th battalion ?)
    The 3rd Battalion of the SS Polizei Regiment 19
    A battery of the artillery regiment 28 (189th reserve division)
    Battalion of DCA 958
    3 motorised response detachments of the Feldgendarmerie
    An armored reconnaissance platoon originating from Paris
    2 Luftwaffe squadrons from Aulnat airbase
    After several days of combat, the final German attack forced the maquisards to fall back and disperse. Out of revenge for their previous losses, the Germans pillaged several of the surrounding villages, including Clavières.

    In the course of the battles, the French Forces of the Interior sustained severe losses: 238 killed and 180 wounded as well as about 100 hostages executed by the Nazis."

    Around the monument we went for a small hike enjoying the smell and the sound of the local forest.

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    On that hike we saw some remnants of some structure put in place to collect rain fall water when the area was covered of prairies and used to raise livestock.
    #16
  17. Olirider

    Olirider Been here awhile

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    Subscribed ! :lurk
    I love riding the Massif Central and have been to Mont Mouchet : Quite a moving place !
    #17
  18. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    I agree!

    Interesting story, I remembered visiting the museum when I was an early teen and a picture that was stuck in my mind from back then was a torture helmet. just a regular military helmet to which were soldered on nuts on top of it. Through those nuts the bolts were going through all the way to the head of whoever was the person the Nazis were torturing. I went through the small museum twice as I wanted to show it to RVsparky, but I could not find it. I finally asked the lady at the front desk and she told me that when they redid the museum they removed it as whoever was the curator thought it was too graphic....
    #18
  19. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    The next day the plan was to follow the "Vallee du Haut Allier" and then meandered our way back home.

    Our first stop was Chanteuges and its Abbaye. The earliest written pieces found about the place date from 936 so it is fair to believe that it was founded sometimes before that date.

    We parked the vehicles on the main street and started walking the small street to get to the Abbaye.

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    Once to the top we quickly toured the buildings and enjoyed the view

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    RVsparky loves old doors, here is one we saw on the way up

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    #19
  20. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Following the valley, we then got to Saint Arcons d'Allier

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    In the 70s, like most of the villages in the area, after having lost so many people moving to larger cities, a lot of houses were falling apart and its future was looking pretty bleak. Under the impulsion of a few local people who wanted to turn things around, they were able to source some funds and invested a lot of time to restore the castle and buying out houses and restoring them in order to transform the village in a hotel where each room would be a small house in the village.

    As RVsparky and I walked the street of the village, we saw a few signs saying that some houses were for sale so I am not quite sure what happened to that neat idea.

    Fishermen in the river:

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    Some people did a tremendous job in transforming this old mill

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    #20