Saturday, September 15, 2012

Summer Vacation 2012

So much for updating more often. Hmph.

When I last left you, I'd just been hired for my new job and I'd given my notice to my old job. I'm glad to report that my last weeks at my old job were relatively painless (boring!), with the director even offering up a glass or three of champagne on my last day. I brought cupcakes, which according to one of my colleagues that I'm still in touch with, are still being talked about. I'm no foodie, but it's pretty hard to mess up chocolate cupcakes and cream cheese frosting.

I had already scheduled our family vacation before I gave my notice, so we headed off to the Puy de Dôme for the first week of August. For the first time, we invited my goddaughter to join us. M is a year and a half older than Fry and they get on like a house on fire, and it was an interesting experience for us to double our parental responsibilities.

We stayed in a fantastic, completely isolated, rural gîte about a half hour west of Issoire. What it lacked in amenities was more than enough compensated by the space, the garden, and the fact that the kids could make all the noise their little hearts desired.

Home sweet home for one week - our gîte was on the top two floors.
The bad news is that we found ourselves quite far away from most of the area's touristy attractions. The good news is that the roads in this mountainous area are extremely well maintained, which meant that descending our mountain by hairpin roads, crossing the valley, and crossing the next mountain to get where we wanted to go took a while but we never felt like we were going to drive off a cliff.

Some highlights were visiting Volcania (link in French), taking the funicular train up the Puy de Dôme, the highest point in the area, and doing a bit of mountain wandering with the kids around our gîte.

The view from our bedroom
With two preschoolers, we found that our best plan of attack was to get out the door relatively early, so our main activity was before lunch, and either hang out in a park and play after a picnic lunch or head back to the gîte and play in the garden. There was even a makeshift barbecue set up in a corner of the garden, and a nice big table where we were able to eat outside a couple of nights - though as soon as the sun sank below the next mountain, it was quite chilly, despite the fact that it was the first week of August!

Les grottes de Jonas - we climbed all the way to the top inside!
At one random stop looking for bread on the way home, I grabbed a couple of local beers and we enjoyed them so much, I ended up buying enough to have one every night with dinner. We're not big drinkers, but I think we both really enjoyed those beers!

Lac Chambon
 Fry absolutely fell in love with the beach last year, so I really wanted to find some kind of water activity for our vacation. We went to the lac Chambon, which was certainly very pretty,  but a bit too cold to swim in, and of course the pebble "beach" doesn't hold a candle to the fine sandy beaches that we love in the north (or even Cocoa Beach, which we visited last November!). They did, however, have a great big bouncy house and slide and the kids went bonkers on that.
Chateau de Murol. Most of the chateau is restored but I love this view of a  still  ruined corner.
Overall, it was a fantastic week, much more relaxed than our vacation last year (when we stayed in cramped hotel rooms - I wouldn't say we slept in them, ha!! - and had to eat out all the time) and I loved discovering a new corner of France. I can definitely see us returning to the Auvergne in a few years when Fry will be able to do a bit more hiking!

1 comment:

gite holiday in france said...

Hi Vivi,

This is a lovely post. Really enjoyed reading about your vacation!

Best wishes, Alex.