Apologies for the delay in posting this, but yesterday ended up being quite a day… In a good way
After a relatively decent night’s sleep in Aurillac we grabbed supplies from the local Boulangerie, hopped into Fifi and set off.
We’d decided during our evening walk around the pretty town to just settle down and enjoy the drive, accepting that it may take a couple more days to get back to Provence. Having had such an upset in the middle and a tiring day after the early start to collect her, we felt we just needed to relax a bit and potter our way gently back to The Luberon.
The day started with me driving, and after leaving Aurillac we headed out onto the open road, which immediately started heading upwards, which really set the scene for the day. Fifi though wasn’t deterred and with her new clutch was changing gear happily as she ambled up the hills out of The Cantal into The Corrèze.
In fact she tackled the hills like an energetic little Jack Russell Terrier, happily taking a run up, but then slowing up as she reached the top, just accepting the other cars and lorries overtaking her, although we could almost hear her cheer as she passed a tractor with ease.
We quickly settled into the drive and were able to just enjoy the scenery as we continued deeper and deeper into the middle of France.
It was an area we hadn’t visited before, but as we had found the day before, the villages and houses seemed to have been plucked from the pages of a child’s story book with their pretty stone walls and ‘scallop-shaped’ roof tiles.
The roads were quiet and after passing through the beautiful village of Montsalvy we started to drop down towards The Lot Gorges. The descent was incredible, winding steeply down the hill until we reached the Riverside town of Entraygues-sur-Truyère, where we came out by its stunning old bridge and decided to stop for a little walk and a coffee.
The bridge, now understandably closed to traffic was originally built as a toll bridge in 1269 and although its original towers are no longer standing, its an incredible piece of engineering that was declared a National Monument in 1927.
The little town too was a nice place for a walk and as we sat over a coffee, we decided that we will have to come back to explore the area à bit further, in fact talk turned to a cycle ride across the region. (Something else to plan for the future)
From here we headed on through the Gorges du Lot, where the road runs beside the river, with beautiful views across the water and to the hills beyond, by now just enjoying being in the moment, with Fifi purring along, seemingly happy and refreshed after her ‘enforced’ stay in the Dordogne.
As we approached Espalion we came up behind another 2CV and we travelled along in convoy for a few miles… It was as if Fifi had found a friend.
Once we left Espalion we started to head across country towards the small town of La Canorgue, taking small back roads, coloured white on our trusty old map, which took us up a road lined with trees and bracken. The road climbed continuously, winding up the side of the hill through woodland, which was more akin to the roads around Devon and Dartmoor to the roads we know in Provence.
I couldn’t even tell you if we passed any cars at all along this part of the route, but the landscape was beautiful, the hamlets peaceful and the cows seemed rather surprised to see us, as did the chickens that were standing in the road at one point, only moving after a friendly peep on Fifi’s horn.
Then on towards Sainte Enimie and the spectacular Gorges Du Tarn, although as we started heading up onto the Causses, the rain started to fall and for the first time on the trip we were forced to stop and close the roof, although not for long.
A few kilomètres further on the sun was out and it seemed hotter than ever as we pulled into a viewpoint, high above The Gorge for lunch. I know I use the words stunning and spectacular a lot, but the view from this spot hundreds of feet above the river, with dramatic views in every direction can’t be described in any other way.
We sat on the low wall, watching the little clusters of kayaks making their way gently down the river and just enjoyed the moment. Its been nearly 30 years since we last visited The Tarn and it’s just as beautiful now as we remember it to be then, with its striking limestone pillars and rocks high above the river and the attractive little town of Sainte Enimie nestled on a bend far below.
Dragging ourselves away from the view we gently drove down the steep and winding road to the town, limestone banks to one side and a vertical drop over a low wall to the other… Happy to see the town draw ever nearer as we eased our way through the bends.
Sainte Enimie was bustling, filled with visitors enjoying the river so we headed on along the road towards Castelbouc, just enjoying the views as the Gorges started to widen towards Florac.
We had been chatting all along, just relaxed and enjoying the day, looking at where we could stop for the night, but by now it was only still early afternoon and we started thinking Uzès could be in our sights for the night.
Taking the still quiet main road we drove on to Alès, taking the road towards Uzès and then we seemed to find all the cars we hadn’t seen during the rest of the day. The road towards the town was busy and it felt as if we had entered a different country after the peace of the last couple of days. But the skies were blue, the Cicadas were screaming from the trees and home was all of a sudden in reach.
Uzès is a beautiful town, with its golden stone buildings, Plane Tree lined streets and wonderful traffic-free historic centre. We happily found a parking spot and headed into the Place des Herbes for an ice cream, sitting under a tree, listening to a musician playing a ‘Hang’ or ‘handpan’ with the soft notes drifting across the square, simply just enjoying being in the moment and what a moment it was.
It was 5.30pm and Uzès is less than 2 hours from home (even in Fifi) so in that moment we decided that after a little wander we would continue on and back to The Luberon, rather than staying in a hotel so close to home.
As the clock ticked towards 7.30 we turned onto the road through the valley, roof open, sun shining and with us grinning like little Cheshire Cats.
As we passed Pont Julien, with Bonnieux and Lacoste facing each other across the valley we finally accepted that we would shortly be driving up the hill to the house, which is no mean feat as the incline on the last few hundred yards is over 20%.
Stories are told that in the Tour de France cycle race the climbs are categorised according to the gear that a 2CV needed to use to get up it. In that case the climb back up to our house is a Category 1 climb, but Fifi popped into gear and slowly made her way up it without a moan (unlike me at the end of a cycle ride)
So now she’s here, the first chapter of Fifi’s French Adventure has been written, but it is just the start of what we think will be lots of adventures to come.
You can take a look at a short video of our trip back Here on YouTube
I doubt we’ll be driving her over 600km in 2 days again in the near future, but for now she will be popping to the shops, heading out for breakfast and bimbling to Brocante Markets with us….
What fun were going to have.