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Report 2030: France 2012 Part 2 - The Cantal and Aveyron

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2012

Trip Description: A week based near the tiny settlement of Cassaniouze in the Canal region of the Auvergne and covering parts of Aveyron.

Destinations: Countries - France; Regions/Cities - Other France Region

Categories: Vacation Rentals; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 28: Background

photo by MAW

The view from the gîte

We enjoyed Brittany so much last year that we decided we wanted to see more of France. We decided on a week in the Loire Valley (Trip report 2029) followed by the Auvergne. This is mountainous country with many narrow winding roads. I soon realized that this covered a large area and looking at the maps, driving times would be slow. We decided to spend two weeks based in two different areas, Cantal and the Haute-Loire. This report covers the first week in Cantal. Trip Report 2031 covers the week in the Haute-Loire.

We wanted to use Brittany Ferries to book ferry crossings and accommodation. There were only a few properties in the area we wanted to stay. I dismissed those that would entail a long drive along narrow roads at the start and finish of the day. This reduced the choice to one; L’Oustalou de Vernusse, just outside the small village of Cassaniouze, about 25 miles south of Aurillac. This proved to be an excellent choice as it gave us a wide range of different scenery covering the volcanics of the Massif Central, the Lot valley and the limestone of the Midi-Pyrenees to the south.

The gîte was about five minutes drive from the village, on top of the plateau with a superb view across rolling countryside with wooded valleys. There was no light pollution and on a clear night the stars were amazing. There were a few isolated farms and the only sounds were cow bells, crickets and the occasional donkey.

It was a typical Auvergne building of dark volcanic stone with a flared stone roof to throw off the winter snows and shutters. There was a small garden and terrace where we ate our evening meal. Inside there was a large open plan kitchen, dining room and sitting area. It was comfortable and well furnished. There were several folders full of information about the area. Upstairs were two bedrooms; a double and two singles, and a small bathroom with excellent shower. This was a delightful place and we really enjoyed it.

It was also a good base. Cassaniouze has a baker and a small but well stocked Utile supermarket. There is also plenty to do within one to two hours drive. This is an area which gets few foreign tourists and hardly features in the guide books. Apart from the larger towns there is often little information on the web. I had planned out itineraries for each day but soon found this is an area to throw away the guide book and my itineraries and use the map to explore. Driving times were slow and we frequently didn’t achieve as much in a day as expected. It didn’t matter as we found many delightful small villages well off the tourist beat.

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