Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Our very special visitor is returning home soon, so we head to France's Massif Central region for a few days for one last road trip. Since I am the family's self-appointed tour director, and since I want to see some volcanos, dammit, our first stop is at Puy de Dôme, one of France's "Grand Sites."

Since this is just the beginning of little getaway, we take our time along the way and enjoy les vues incroyables

The Mont Dômes (or Les Puys) chain of volcanos is part of parc naturel régional des Volcans d’Auvergne, Europe's largest regional park and one of its oldest. The 40-kilometer chain has around 80 dormant volcano domes.

In researching this post, I came across an interesting notation about the Puy de Dômes département on Wikipedia:
Inhabitants were called Puydedomois until December 2005. With effect from Spring 2006, in response to a letter writing campaign, the name used for the inhabitants was changed by the departmental General Council to Puydômois, and this is the name that has since then been used in all official documents and publications. 
I'm not sure how many authentic Puydômois we meet that day, but for a major tourist attraction, there sure aren't a lot of visitors ... a sign of the dismal summer season local business owners have been lamenting.

We arrive at Puy de Dôme too late in the day for a hike to the top. Another option, is a train (cars are not allowed), and once at the top, visitors can find several nature hiking trails. In fact, there are more than 3,000 hiking trails in the area. Since thunder showers are threatening, we are content to explore the volcano's base and visitors center, where we find memorabilia from the 1964 Tour de France. Of course everyone must know that one of the most exciting moments in Tour history took place here that year when Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil raced up the mountain nearly side-by-side. (I actually had no idea; thanks again Wikipedia.) 

I have become an avid collector of tourist attraction pamphlets, and before we're even out of the parking lot, I already am planning our next trip to the Auvergne department when we can spend a week or so, hiking, enjoying the natural spas and spending some quality time on la route des fromages with some new friends: bleu d'auvergnefourme d'ambertcantal, salers, and Saint-nectaire. We'll pass on the paragliding, though.

Friday, July 25, 2014

It's raining men ... in bike shorts

The Tour de France came to our neck of the woods today. We watched from the hilltop village of Monbazillac, about 10 km before the race ended for the day in Bergerac. Maybe you saw us on TV. We were the wet ones with the cheerful dispositions.

The pre-game show: Toss some swag my way, SVP

Don't rain on my race

The main event: Allons-y!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Scenes from a market

I take advantage of my Wednesday French class being cancelled, and head (with the family plus one) to Bergerac for the morning market. We also stroll down to the banks of the Dordogne, passing the city's favorite (fictional) son, Cyrano.

Bergerac has a thriving Wednesday morning market.

Gray skies and a bit windy for July, but the market is bustling.

Bergerac's small covered market is open every day.

I hear this bar has some ambiance.

St. Jacques

Cyrano de Bergerac

Smoke on the water

Lots of bikes are on display in Bergerac: The Tour de France
is coming through (and stopping for the night)
later this month.