France 2012 - Facts and Information

Day by Day 2: Cassaniouze

A week further south in Cantal

To the Loire Valley
Vienne to Indre
Ch de Chambord
Ch de Cheverny
Around Cheverny
Saint Savin
Antigny & Jouhet
Anglin & Claise
Ch de Chenonceau
Cher Valley
East of Loches 1
East of Loches 2

Truyère Valley
W of Aurillac 1
W of Aurillac 2
W of Aurillac 3
Girgols & St-Cernin
W of St-Cernin
Salers & Puy Mary
Lot Valley 1
Lot Valley 2

Puy-en-Velay 1
Puy-en-Velay 2
Around Lapte
Around Vorey
Lalouvesc & Bozas
Boucieu & Désaignes
N of the Loire 1
N of the Loire 2
N of the Loire 3
S of Yssingeaux 1
S of Yssingeaux 2
Heading home
September 9
First thing to Conques, a really atmospheric World Heritage site set on a shelf high above a valley. A bit touristy but well controlled and not intrusive. Lovely old buildings and amazing Benedictine abbey. After lunch to Bozouls, a small town set on limestone plateau overlooking an incredible incised meander (a bit like Durham on steroids). The old town is set on the peninsula created by the meander and this has a village atmosphere with a pleasant C12th church at the end of the road. Finally to Viellevie, a nice little village on banks of River Lot with old stone and timber frame houses plus a massive château with two C13th round towers with a little church tucked in beneath it.

September 10
A day spent exploring smaller villages to the west of Cassaniouze. First to the twin villages of St-Santin and St-Santin-de-Maurs whose centres are adjacent but divided by the département boundary so each has its own mairie, church and school. Next to Montmurat, a tiny hilltop village with excellent views. A larger version followed when we went to Capdenac-le-Haut, a more substantial but very quiet medieval town high on its hill above the modern Capdenac-Gare. After lunch to Peyrusse-le-Roc a fortified medieval town once famous for silver mining and with interesting buildings and a nice church. Finally to Belcastel, a charming riverside village huddling under its impressive château and with an interesting church on the other side of the river and reached by a medieval bridge.

September 11
Nice morning as we headed first to Montsalvy, a pleasant enough workaday town which has retained some of its medieval fortifications and abbey church. Next to Entraygues-sur-Truyère which has a well preserved old town between the main street and river. Then drove north along Truyère valley stopping first at Rouens for a walk to the belvedere which gives a superb view of Vallon. Bars also has a viewpoint which is a waste of time unless you're into power stations. Brief stop at Lacoix Barrez to look at Chaos de Boules and La Coulée de lave, large areas of boulders which are the remains of a lava flow four million years ago. Weather looking threatening and eventually turned to torrential rain and an impressive thunderstorm so we parked up and sat it out for a while. Weather soon improved so on to Château de Vallon in its little village perched on a ridge. The château is perhaps better seen from the outside, but the views from the top of its C12th donjon were worth the climb. Finally to Bez Bedène, a tiny village with impressive C12th church set on a vertiginous ridge (unfortunately we got there too late for the church).

September 12
Much cooler after previous day's rain so headed for hills around Puy Mary but turned back as getting cloudier and wetter and went first to Laroquebrou, a small town overshadowed by its château and with interesting medieval streets and C13th church. Next to Sousceyrac which looked uninspiring on arrival but has a charming, tiny fortified medieval core well worth visiting. On to St-Céré which was bigger and busier than expected, medieval part of some interest but did not really appeal to us. Headed on towards Autoire and stopped in the gorge above the village to climb up to the (lower) viewpoint. Then to Loubressac, quite busy as it's a honeypot but nonetheless interesting medieval core and good C13th church with Baroque interior. Back to Autoire, another honeypot but getting late so the tourists had gone. Delightful village with C11th church fortified during Hundred Years War. Beautiful evening now for drive back to Cassanouize.

September 13
Headed for the hills again but looking murky as we got nearer so followed sign to an Église Romaine and ended up well off the beaten track in the tiny hamlet of Girgols. The church looked interesting but was closed, however it transpired a key could be obtained from the house next to it which led to a very worthwhile inspection of the little building. Headed west to St-Cernin, pleasantly ordinary village with impressive C12th church. Good bakers and weather improving. On to St-Illide which has excellent late C11th church (key from shop opposite). Parked up for lunch in hamlet of St-Martin-Cantalès where church looked very shut from outside but was open and fascinating. Next to Salers on lovely afternoon. Significant fortified, hilltop town likely to be a bit touristy but well worth visit. Church shut for repairs, excellent cheese shop, good views over valleys. Finally on to Puy Mary (didn't go up) but parked at Pas de Peyrol (busy) for views before dropping down through nice countryside of Jordanne Valley to Aurillac where signs gave out so ended up groping our way round town centre until we saw something familiar to follow.

September 14
Started off in our local village of Cassaniouze having a nose round. Amazed by C14/15th frescoes in church which don't get a mention in guide books.Then to La Vinzelle, a lovely, tiny hamlet where you park in the lane. Church is C11th with Baroque interior and detached bell tower at a higher level. On to St-Parthem on a hot day and parked off lane to river. Interesting church. Called at Montarnal, pleasant hamlet at end of the road dominated by its château. Brief stop at Pomiès. Spent some time in Sénergues, small and quiet but good church and château interesting to look at. Ended up in Espeyrac which has retained its circular street pattern around a big square with the church.

September 15
Left Cantal for fast drive into hills past Aurillac. Stopped at Bredons, a small hamlet where there is an interesting fortified church which was originally part of an C11th Benedictine priory and has interesting Baroque work inside. Next to Blesle an old town which was a bit spooky on a grey Saturday lunchtime with nobody around. Interesting abbey church and streets with remains of huge C11th donjon tucked away in the centre. Final call was at Brioude, quite a big town with excellent signing to car parks. Main purpose was to visit very impressive Romanesque Basilica of St Julien with excellent frescoes.

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