Posted by: Stevie D | August 5, 2012

Back into France.

We left Spain and headed into France after having had one of the best weeks of the trip so far in the Picos. We knew France would be a completely different experience,however. Where Spain is about spectacular, France is more about an ambience. Where many of Spains attractions are natural (despite their array of lovely old towns), much of France’s beauty is derived from the way the French people themselves treat their land and their towns and villages. It’s striking as you drive through, how much care and civic pride goes into the innumerate displays of flowers which adorn almost all French communities.Lawns all freshly mown. Hardly a hair out of place. The same applies to the countryside. All the crops appear to be in perfectly straight rows. All neat and tidy, with no unsightly hedges to get in the way. It’s almost as though, when a farmer chooses what to grow, not only must it be useful, it has to look good in his field too. Hillsides carpeted by vineyards. Huge fields of sunflowers with their faces turned at just the right angle for best effect.The roads lined on either side with tall, straight, identical trees. These are the images which stick in my mind as we travel up through this lush land from our border crossing point near Biarritz.

The signs on the motorway show French and Spanish names and also Basque versions.

We headed first to Seignosse, a holiday town on the Atlantic coast, not far north of Biarritz. We stayed only two days as it was very busy and quite expensive. I think if you can stay in the town you can have a good time here for a few days but we were well out of town and soon got bored with the walk into the centre.

The beach at Seignosse, busy, but not unbearably so.

Surfers make up a good proportion of the tourists on this coast.

We decided to head over to eastern France, which neither of us had seen much of before.

A typical French road, with typical French trees lining either side.

The villages we pass through are all tended with lots of loving care.

The roads in France are great for riding. They seem to like long, long straights, and the surfaces, away from the towns, are generally very good. I often think it’s worth riding in France, even if you’ve nowhere to go. Just for the ‘joie de vivre’, so to speak.

Our next days travelling bought us to St Sylvestre-sur-Lot, a small town on the banks of the River Lot. Unfortunately, it was Sunday, so everything was closed down, so despite the attractiveness of our surroundings, it was a rather quiet, uneventful overnight stop.

A fishing competition added a little life to a sleepy Sunday afternoon.

Next morning we were off again through some lovely countryside and fine towns.

Passing through the lovely old city of Cahors.

That night we stayed in another deserted village in the middle of nowhere, Cayrols. It’s setting was idyllic and you could touch the silence as the evening drew on. Next morning, we breakfasted under the trees with the morning sun breaking through, and we contemplated the wonders of nature.

Our overnight in Cayrols was as quiet and peaceful as one could wish for.

Next day, off again. We headed into the Livradois Forest, as we’d seen a campsite in the guide which we thought would suit us. The Livradois is a huge area of forest which covers the area to the east and south-east of Clermont Ferrand.  Almost mountainous too, and it was heavy going reaching our site at Vollure-Ville. The site was perched high on a hill, and seemed to overlook the whole of France. It was owned and run by a Dutchman, Jan, and we had a very pleasant couple of days surrounded by seemingly half of Holland, who must have made the trip to support their countryman in his enterprise.

The views across the Livradois Forest were spectacular.

Looking down on Vollure-Ville from our campsite.

After a couple of days though, and bearing in mind our previous two stops, we decided to leave and find a bit of life and, perhaps, a little French culture. More next time.



  1. This is the area of France I love, we often stay on the Lot and are going to Puy L’eveque this September. Cahors is lovely, so tranquil wandering around the market there.
    Funnily we stayed in a B&B SE of Clermont on the way north from Milleau and they were Dutch with extended family in the area….lovely part of France also.
    Enjoy the next part of your trip.

    • Yeah Ian. We’d never been to the Livradois before, and it is certainly one of the loveliest parts of France we’ve seen.

  2. Hey Steve, Ron just gave me this blog address, lots happened since we last met. Congrats to you and Jayney on the wedding. Like what you’ve done with the van. Travel safe mate, regards to Jayney. Topsy & Marie.

  3. Great to hear from you again Tops. Yeah, things are good all round at the minute. All our best to Marie and keep checking out the blog for more of our exciting adventures. 🙂

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