There are three chains of volcanos in Auvergne, called «les massifs. »
There’s Puy de Dôme. Puy (pronounced «pwee ») means volcano and is also pronounced like the French word for well (the kind with water), which is « puit. » This massif is where Volvic water comes from. It actually gushes out of its source and the world is more likely to boycott plastic bottles than it is to run out of this fresh source.
There are also les massifs Sancy and Cantal. If you are familiar with French cheeses, you will recognize Cantal as one of the five Auvergnat cheeses, along with St Nectaire, Bleu d’Auvergne, la Fourme d’Ambert and the Salers.
Auvergne is located in the centre of France, but there are times you will think you are in the Alps. This breathtaking view is the Puy de Sancy, the tallest of all central volcanos at 1880 metres above sea level. I have no idea if that means something to you, but it means nothing to me. Or I guess you can imagine 1000 tall men standing on each other’s shoulders and that’s how tall it is. We got there mainly by a cable car.
But then there was still this.
We had such a wonderful family vacation, staying in one of the many centers around France that has a kids club. What that meant is that we didn’t have to carry Petit Prince up those steps. The kids were able to stay in the kids club and have their own little adventures! With other people to watch them!
Adventures like going swimming.
Yes, they walked all the way to the pool through the lobby like this, goggles and all.
We did do stuff together though. We ate a picnic (on a golf course because we couldn’t find the trail going to the top of the widest volcano crater).
And I admit we stopped to ponder if this was the golf course where Sir’s grandparents met. They had previously met at a dinner and his grandmother thought what a charming young man his grandfather was, who had traveled as much as she had.
Then at the golf course, he fortuitously went back to get his jacket that he had forgotten and stumbled upon her party who had just arrived. They both exclaimed, “You! Here!” They exchanged numbers, or whatever you did back then, and a short while later he proposed.
She said, “But – I don’t love you.” And he responded with assurance, “You will. In time.” And she surely did.
We went to the Chateau Dauphin where we met the Count. Did you know that a Count rules over a county? You did, didn’t you? Me too (ahem).
(This is just the rampart up there, below the chateau)
We also took the kids to the Parc Fenestre in La Bourboule and saw magnificent sycamore trees,
and went on all the free rides first,
before giving in to the paid rides.
The kids had a great time!
Sir and I went to Mont Dore where I just had to go back a second time for the Café Viennois, which was so delicious
and Orcival, where they made the greatest artisanal chocolates.
In this region, a lot of old buildings are made with grey lava stone. Like this. (Oh yes! I forgot to mention that Auvergne is known for its thermal spas).
We actually loaded our trunk with these cheap lava stones for our garden, weighing 400 pounds (a fortune to buy in the Paris area).
Our poor car.
And we went to the little farm for a “gouter” (snack) of things like cheese and bread with zucchini jam. I’ll be attempting that this summer, and if it’s a success I’ll post the recipe.
And of course we visited the cows.
Can’t escape the cows, especially in Auvergne.