Nights in the Auvergne can be pretty chilly as we found out the first time we took our new tent to Mandailles St Julien. It was August but so cold at night! We wore sweatshirts and layered loads of stuff over our ‘four seasons’ sleeping bags.
Last Monday morning was almost the same. We woke up inside those same sleeping bags but in a mobile home not under canvas so we could snuggle down warmly. But contemplating a walk meant warmer clothing than we have been used to wearing recently. Picnic sorted and a Google search so I knew exactly what the road layout looked like for the starting point of the walk we set off on a bright but ‘frisquet’ day.
Past Tauves on the D922 and on the opposite side of the road to a cheese farm I told ‘i’m only the chauffeur’. I had seen on Google earth there was a turning with a patch of grass for parking and two picnic tables. It was as spotted and easy to turn off the busy road and park.
Getting out of the car we were buffeted by the wind. I opted for my padded duckdown jacket and borrowed one of Lou’s woolly hats! This was walking on a plateau after all. There were several yellow sign boards and our walk was featured. Why so much yellow? At least it was a ‘papillon’, butterfly, which made a change.
We set off along a cinder track which eventually took us up to a farm past a field of cows, one of whom walked halfway across the field just to inspect us.
Past a lot of pink marshmallow hay bales and then a long drag up to the top of the downland just past a water tank.
The wind blew strongly into our faces but the 360° views were worth it, especially of the Massif de Sancy in the distance, even if it was under cloud!
Turning right we were now on the track that featured on the ‘fiche’ of the route but not on the ign map. But exist it does and, to prove it, a car came towards us.
Later, it drove back past us…checking us out? The track turned again and we dropped a little bit out of the wind and then followed a narrow lane that twisted and turned, up and down and took us to Vivers.
While walking this part the scenery changed and different views opened up. We passed a very modern house hunkered down into the hillside with three beautiful white horses in a meadow below it.
Just before Vivers we turned for la Ribeyre and Fougeolles. We were walking on tarmac which I don’t enjoy but the scenery made up for it.
At one point a noisy goat brayed at us passing.
At Fougeolles we started to climb again and soon found ourselves back at the farm and passing the nosy cows. Just a walk back along the windy cinder track to the car.
The D922 leads to the autoroute and is busy and not conducive to a restoring picnic lunch so we consulted the map and looked for somewhere calmer. Not finding any ‘aire de repos’ symbols nearby on the map, we drove on to La Tour d’Auvergne where two were showing. The first turned out to be on top of a hill. We’d had too much wind to stop there! The second was by the plan d’eau we’d discovered on our Sunday drive so searched for the car park. One near the town still had those campers parked up and there was no sign of picnic tables on the grass below. We could see some campers further around the water so went to find their car park. We found it….full of camper vans as was the ‘aire de camping cars’ beyond it.
Still no tables on the grass under the trees so we parked on the side of the road leading from the car park with a view of the water and finally had lunch!