Saturday, 28 July 2007

Lac D’Aydat and Clermont-Ferrand

This post covers our journey towards the biggest city in the Massif Central, Clermont-Ferrand, home of Michelin tyres.

On the afternoon of Thursday 19 July we headed north from our farm stay. After an hour storm clouds loomed darkly above us and a few kilometres away rain lashed the hills. We turned off the road, following the GPS, towards our next stop - an aire de service at Lac D’Aydat. This small country road, barely wide enough for Ace, twisted and turned upwards into the foggy hills. I even had to put Ace’s fog lights on for 10 minutes it was that bad! After 20 minutes we arrived at the tiny bourg of Aydat and parked up in the pleasant aire de service.

Above: Ace in the rain
Below: Eee-always calls me that! Very old joke...

There was some kind of complicated entry system where you were supposed to pull past one bollard, pay €6 then the next bollard would lower and let you in. This was not in service however as there was no payment machine in the hole where it was supposed to be! With the bollards down we got in for free! We chose a nice pitch and hooked up to the electric. As usual Ace got a fair bit of attention, us being the only GB motorhome, the only other non-French vehicle was a Belgian van.

We walked around the village which seemed to be doing a lot of renovation work with a new bridge being built. We finally found the lake but as it turns out it was right behind where the aire de service was! We walked down to the lake sinking in the mud, passing a couple drinking and smoking in a playground, classy! The lake was no particularly attractive so we left it to the ducks and headed back for dinner. After watching Zoolander on DVD we headed to be but once again the peace was shattered by the sound… donkeys eeee-awing!

During the night the rain came down in buckets and lightning lit up our motorhome. We counted the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, 15 seconds, 7 seconds, 1 second! We disconnected the electricity until it had stopped and slowly drifted off back to sleep after hearing the church bells chime 5am. We had a lazy morning, yet again, and just before we set off Sarah gave me a haircut with our clippers. It wasn’t a bad cut, thought she ain’t ready for Toni & Guy just yet! When it started to rain she rushed the job a bit and now a chunk of hair is missing near my ear! To appease me she filled it in with a brown eye pencil… shame! Just as we were leaving a new payment machine was being installed.

We drove 20 minutes north into the largest city in the region, Clermont-Ferrand. We bundled up our dirty washing in two huge bags and traipsed through the streets, getting strange looks as usual. We had the location of a laundrymat from our guide book and it was conveniently located near the post office. We walked around to the post office, which was undergoing renovations, to collect some mail. My Mum had posted me something here and my mate Kev had very kindly posted us some magazines and DVDs. Unfortunately there was no mail for us, we got the lady to check twice, both letters and parcels. The room looked pretty disorganised with stuff everywhere. Let’s hope it arrives soon I told Sarah who bleated on about how stupid the concept of poste restante was, despite my assurances that I’d used them in a number of countries from India to Spain.

Above: Anyone need a haircut? Sarah Coiff!
Below: Faded glamour of Chatelguyon

We headed back to Ace under the strain of our heavy washing. I then hurriedly chose an aire de service for the night 20 minutes away. We drove there up huge hills as usual, only to get there and realise I hadn’t read the book properly, it was only a service point for fresh water and electric, you couldn’t park there the night! We leafed through the book again and since we would have to call back to Clermont-Ferrand early the next week, decided to head north into the departement of Allier before heading south west to the Dordogne.

Ace thundered along the country roads through the town of Volvic and on to the spa resort of Chatelguyon. Sarah and I got dressed up as we had spied a number of restaurants in the main street and we hadn’t had a meal out for ages. On the way we searched for a hotel that was listed in our GPS as having WiFi. The hotel didn’t exist at this location, this is the 3rd time this has happened to us! In defence of the GPS, these WiFi hotspots were downloaded off the net from JiWire, so they’re to blame! We saw a sign for the hotel we’d been searching for, it was on the other side of town! We walked up a hilly road only to discover it had closed down… None of the restaurants took our fancy so we headed back to Ace for Sarah’s carbonara.

What a day, I was shorn like a sheep, our mail hadn’t arrived, we went to the wrong aire de service, walked for miles looking for a non-existent WiFi hotspot, and no restaurant took our fancy. It was one of those days!

1 comment:


ACE - what a name for an old friend - I guess that it reminds me a little of Ace Ventura - but that is more of Raymond's territory.
Thanks for the huge effort in continuing this - we really enjoy the news and the pics - keep it up