Marigold Says...

Random thoughts on travelling and life in general.

Very green, very hilly, very remote, that’s the Auvergne

There is a green hill far away. The volcanic peaks of the Auvergne.



Marigold Says...


It’s me today, how lucky are you? Our lovely hotel in Begur made up for yesterday’s vile weather. Gathered together some gorgeous brown crunchy bread from the breakfast bar which will  be ok with a banana for G and two yoghurts.  There was a machine that you cook your eggs in. Thought he could have one and dissect it to his liking as he’s, temporarily we hope, stuck with a restricted diet and one of the many things he can’t eat for a bit is egg yolk, but egg white is okay.

Plopped egg in said machine, but plopped it in from a bit too great a height, not keen on getting close to boiling water part, and it sent white of egg stringing in the water, so walked away from that one.  5 minutes later there was a kerfuffle as they were trying to sort it out and carry the container of boiling water away.  I sat there looking eggless but innocent.  I have got a phobia about machinery.  I shouted yesterday as we stopped at the tolls, “oh my god there is nowhere to tell you what to do, or where to put the money in”.  Then the woman opened the hatch and said “bonjour,” waiting for the dosh.  I am not meant for the open road.

G said if the weather was okay this morning we should go to the Puy de Dome, the volcanic peaks that are a feature of the countryside up the hill from Clermont-Ferrand. We went past the Michelin factory which is huge and very ‘industrial.’ Bet the workers need a good wash when they get home after working there all day. 

There’s a visitors’ centre as well where I suppose they just show you around the clean parts and talk about tyres. It didn’t seem to me to be be a ‘must see’ place and it was quite expensive as well, so we still don’t know everything there is to know about tyres. I have enough trouble with the things when G stops at a garage to check tyre pressures. He does the fiddly bits, grubbing around taking the dust caps off, which he always moans about as they are always right at the bottom of the wheel. I say, ‘don’t blame me, you’re the driver.’ When we set off for this trip we went to a different one where the pumping up is done at the pressure gauge so I had to press a button until it said 33, or 333, something like that while G was holding the hose end next to the tyre.  

I’d been pressing the button for ages until G shouted, ‘what are you doing, it’s nearly flat.’ I hadn’t realised one of the buttons took air out instead of putting it in. We sorted it out eventually and G’s mood improved after I gave him a wet wipe to clean the black marks off his hands. Aren’t wet wipes wonderful? 

We got to the Puy place at last.  G said it was historic.  I said it looked like a slag heap.  He then said I am not cultured and I said whoopy doo. There wasn’t even a coffee shop. G said, ‘there is, but it’s on the top.’

He was just reading from a notice that said something like, ‘going to the Puy de Dome and not climbing to the top is like going to Athens and not going to the Parthenon.’ Well, we went to the Parthenon and I can still remember all the hundreds of steps we had to climb up so perhaps that wasn’t the best incentive. 

While we were looking up at the Puy, three young walkers came down the path. They were wearing hiking boots, about five sweaters each and woolly hats, but were blowing on their hands as they were blue with cold. G said, ‘must be cold up there,’ bit obvious really, and said the car temperature  thingie was showing four degrees. That’s at the bottom of the Puy! I said it must be minus fifty up there and he agreed it may be best to stay in the car. We took a photo and that will have to do. The notice said the track to the top is steep in places and takes an ‘experienced walker’ about an hour and a half. I’d better not do it then as it will be dark before I get to the top. It also said the volcano was formed in an eruption about ten thousand years ago so I told G we’d better move on sharpish as it was probably due to erupt again by now. 

The sun was shiny on the Michelin factory but it still didn’t look pretty. We stopped at a motorway services at lunch time and went into the cafe part which was packed with hungry French people, all very agitated as it  was ten past twelve and their lunch was overdue! The couple at the next table were having a ‘domestic,’ but in between the arguments they said ‘Merci’ when one of them passed the salt or topped up the other’s wine glasses. Very polite. 

We end the day in Chartres. I always know when Chartres is getting close as the land around is very flat so we see the huge cathedral looking as if it is suspended in air and we don’t even see the city around it until we get much closer. We’ve been inside before – lots and lots of stained glass windows – but we just get close enough to have a good look at it this time from the outside. It was built in the twelfth century, but by the look of it, the builders who added bits over the years mustn’t have thought much of the builders who did the previous job as the two big spires are so mis matched. One is much bigger than the other, one is very plain, the other is very fancy, maybe they just didn’t notice at the time or were afraid if they upset the builder he’d walk off the job! 

We’re  in a cheap chain hotel tonight, a B and B if you want to know everything, but it is brand new and very nice with a fancy lift and even armchairs in the lobby for those customers who sulk if there isn’t anywhere to sit in comfort and read a book. Yes, they do exist and one of them is sitting next to me as I write this! A couple with a screaming baby have just come in. I ask G if he’ll go and ask the girl on reception to tell them the hotel is full, but he seems reluctant. When we booked in, in G’s very best French, he did it so well the girl must have thought he was either French or completely multi lingual as she started telling him a very long tale in very, very rapid French. G said afterwards he was always three sentences behind and never caught up. 

Off to bed now. The bedroom has a mural on the back wall of an open window looking out to the cathedral just down the road. Very realistic.

England tomorrow, going through the Tunnel, and hoping it won’t be raining when we get there. 


The Puy de Dome is the one in the background with the mast on the top.

This piddling little stream is the mighty Dordogne, close to its source.

Our hotel in Begur

Our room overlooking the garden

Chartres Cathedral, with mis matched spires

Right next to the cathedral? Not quite, it’s a mural. Clever stuff.