For many people, both French and foreign, something uncomfortable lurks in the name Vichy. Vichy calls to mind first and foremost the provisional French government...
Part 1 of a 5-part investigation in Auvergne (in the center of France) with a focus on spa towns. Part 1 includes the train ride from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand, the region's capital, some highlights in the city, and a dinner of hearty regional fare accompanied by uncommonly awful music.
In which the author visits Le Bourbonnais, a little-known area of central France in the department of Allier within the region of Auvergne, encounters local cheeses, Charolais beef and Saint Pourcain wines, and gets smart by sticking his head in a saint's tomb.
Part II of an exploration of spa towns, hot springs, Romansque churches, cattle pastures, cheese farms and villages in Auvergne. A brief history of economic developments relative to hot springs, by way of Royat.
On a typical day nothing about the remote town of Saint-Agrève (pop. 2,600) would allow the rare visitor to imagine that its inhabitants have the slightest interest in Americana. But come mid-August Equiblues transforms this town in to the rodeo capital of France.
The primacy of French gastronomy may have gone the way of the rotary phone, still the hungry traveler explores France with a desire to taste its native tang, to savor its cultural heritage and, from time to time, to experience the flavors of long-gone imperial and royal glory served at Versailles or Chantilly or… (drumroll, please)… Vichy.
Leaving Chatel-Guyon in the late afternoon I felt the call of the hill rather than the plain, in part because I’ve never associated Auvergne with the plain, in part because hills are more exotic to me than flatlands. But I also felt the call of a 5-star hotel, and Château La Canière, the only luxury hotel within many miles, stood out in the plain.
You’d be the rare traveler, French or foreign, to have heard of the Val d’Aubois, the Aubois Valley, a largely bypassed portion of Loire...
In Part III of the series "5 days in Auvergne," the author visits the spa town of Chatel-Guyon on the edge of the Regional Nature Park of the Volcanoes.
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