We took my parents back to the airport at Limoges today after they had spent a week with us at our home in the Charente. As we are planning to sell up and move to another part of France we have started researching other areas. One of our possible destinations is the Creuse. After dropping my folks off we decided to head to the south of the Creuse and check out the area around Lac Vassiviere and then up to Felletin and Aubusson and the surrounding areas. After leaving Aubusson on the road back towards Limoges, we left the main route onto the D7 towards Vallieres. Shortly after joining the D7 we noticed a spectacular view over in the east of snowcapped mountains. We pulled over and I took a few photos. Unfortunately only one came out well enough to see the mountains which were a fair distance away. I thought that it was Puy De Dome near Clermont Ferrand, but I now think we may have been looking at Le Monts Dore? Does anyone know from my photo below (looking south east from above Aubusson). I was very chuffed to see this view and it made my day. Having lived in North Wales and the Scottish Highlands I have a real affinity for mountains and they are in short supply in the Charente!
Paul, you have moaned about the weather in the north Charente - the weather in the Creuse is even worse. If you want mountains in your vista at a fair price with decent weather then try somewhere like the Gers.
Hi Peter. It's not all about weather as being surrounded by natural beauty, wildlife and a feeling of isolation is very important to us. I still cannot get my head around why we chose the Charente? However I understand what you are saying about the Creuse weather being worse than the Charente. The altitude is much higher and the vegetation is evidence of the fact it is a wetter climate. I may have moaned about the weather this winter/spring in the Charente, but it has been terrible and very different to last winter/spring. I don't think we have had more than two days of warmth and sun in succession since November and we are now nearing the end of April!! We have also had many, many days of rain and grey skies!
We are not 100% set on moving to the Creuse however and plan to check out other Departments too! I have my reservations about the climate over in La Creuse, but it is beguilingly, beautiful in our opinion compared to where we are. Horses for course though!
Yep, La Creuse sounds perfect.
If I was looking for tranquility with nice views I would seriously consider parts of the Cantal, Corrèze near to Tulle, the Lot and the Averyron. the Cantal is beautiful, esecially near the volcanos etc
Hi Peter, thank you for the suggestions. Cantal was definitley on our list of places to check out but property with land does seem more costly down there compared to where we are. We hadn't considered Correze, but will check the area you suggested. I think the Lot will be too expensive for us but Aveyron is also an area we want to check out. I guess a lot of it will come down to time/money available to find the right place. We cannot go on for ever without earning, but once our house is sold we will rent or borrow some British friend's house out here for a few months. France is SO big and even just yesterday we covered around 240 miles checking out the southern Creuse and driving from the Charente and back!!
The range is called "la chaîne des Puys". They are former volcanoes and the Mont Dore is one of them (family ski resort in winter and hiking in summer).
This is the Auvergne region, sometimes quite mountainous. Worth considering.
When I was a wee lass of 17 I lived in Auvergne in the winter and it was beautiful :-)
Hi Christian. Thank you for identifying the mountain range. I didn't get a photo of it, but I think we also saw Puy de Dome, which was to the left of "la chaine de Puys", as a stand alone mountain. I certainly didn't expect to see snowcapped mountains on our day out in La Creuse. Mind you, it has been unseasonably cool lately! Cantal is also one of the areas we want to check out!
It is the chaine de Puys as has been said above & having lived in the Auvergne for the past 10 years I can testify as to what a wonderful region it is. We live looking at the end of those Puys( Sancy) & I love it. Try having a look at the Livradois Forez side...it is beautiful here, snow in winter(but we live at 750m altitude), hot in summer & we have found the locals very welcoming indeed.Property here is still very reasonable too. Feel free to contact us if you want more info.
Hi Paul, yes you are right. The Puy de Dôme (don't forget the ^please, it's a threatened species ;-) is the one standing alone eastward from the range.
To me, all the places that were mentioned (Cantal, Creuse, Auvergne and especially Livradois where I "hiked" once when I was in the forces) are attractive because they are closed spaces. Each hamlet is a completely different environment from the next one while open spaces are lookalike.
They are also quite remote and in winter one must love living on one's own.
You should see it this morning, after a fresh snow fall, absolutely gorgeous ! I have, like Christine, a view from the other (eastern) side of this mountain range, it makes for very distracted driving on the way into work and a brilliant breakfast panorama.
I second Christine's comments, there are still some fairly accessible (pricewise) properties in the Livradois-Forez, and although prices did drop quite a lot over recent years, they are starting to pick up again. Generally, the further from Clermont Ferrand you go, the cheaper the property. The general consensus about the weather by the locals around us here in the Auvergne is that spring and autumn are afterthoughts in the grand scheme of things - you can go from minus 5 in the morning to plus 25 degrees Celsius in the day, and snow to glorious sunshine in the same stretch. Winters can seem too long to some, especially if you live at altitude, and the air can be cold and crisp, which is actually pretty good if you suffer from respiratory problems - it is not for nothing that Super Besse (one of the local ski resorts) has a school dedicated to children who suffer from respiratory disorders, as the air is supposedly so pure that they suffer far less up there. The scenery is certainly reminiscent of some parts of Scotland or Wales, and the big benefit is most notably that there is just about enough rain, certainly on the eastern side - the western edge of the Chaîne gets all the rain as the first major relief terrain coming from the west coast of France. So, if you're used to living in the Central Belt of Scotland or somewhere up one of the Swansea valleys, then living in the Auvergne will be a doddle weatherwise in comparison.
I have been told by the locals, but never measured it, that we get as much sunshine here south of Clermont as they do in Gap, which is quite a feat if true, although I have my doubts.
As for fitting in, well, rural Auvergne is like pretty much any other rural place in France - if you speak or attempt to speak French with the neighbours and don't try and overturn centuries of "we've always done it this way" mentality with a UK imperialist "hail the conquering hero" attitude, you should generally fit in pretty well, at least that has been my experience, and I've been living in the Auvergne in various places since 1998.
Very good description Alex! We certainly don`t regret moving here at all. I can`t believe my luck most mornings when I see that view :) Where are you exactly? We live not far from Issoire...up in the hills above Sauxillanges.
We live just northwards across the hills from you in a hamlet above Sugères, and before that I lived in Brenat for 15 years, closer to Issoire, we are, to all intents and purposes neighbours !
Hi Paul: I live in the northwest but have good French friends for almost 30 years who live in the Bourbonnais Mountaiains not too far from Vichy (03 Allier - Auvergne). If you want isolation and beautiful scenery, this is a good place for it. Going to the grocery store is an adventure! My friends tell me the Dutch and Irish have driven up property prices somewhat but I don't have any firm info about that. Good luck!
Indeed we are! We are part of the commune of St Etienne sur Usson. The bar/restaurant at Brenat is one of my son`s fav eating places when he comes to visit. He can`t believe the value for money there...he likes his food!
We too have a holiday house in the Auvergne - and rarely bump into other English speaking people, just how we like it!
We are North, and a drive to Mont Dore or the Puy is an hour and a half or so - but we love it. The lakes, mountains - it reminds me of Wales where we are.
You have endless walking - and the neighbours and locals couldn't be any nicer to us. If you send me a pm I could try and share some photo's of our part of France there.
Not being surrounded by English speaking people was one of our criteria too & another reason why we love it here. We find the local people are very friendly & helpful ...so long as you make a bit of effort. Its lovely to see the Auvergne being "talked up" a bit on here :)
Christine: I had to chuckle when I saw your post about the Auvergne being "talked up". It is a hidden treasure here in France! I'm from a state in the US that is in the center, not many people have heard of it and know little about it When I tell people here its the US's Auvergne, they know what I'm talking about right away...sort of in the middle, kind of wild but a great place if you know it.
I in turn had a little smile about your description of the Auvergne...very tue! I love the place & am very keen for others to discover it - I have a B&B & gite here so need people to come & visit. But much of what I love about it, is its "unspoilt Frenchness" so I wouldn`t want too many English people to invade! Bit of a mixed message really.
I think those of us who have 'found' it tend to keep quiet for those very reasons - I know that I don't respond in too much detail when people see our photo's and ask where it is - I wave generally about the middle. Don't want too many coming!
The airport is 112 miles away (Limoges), and it's real, proper French were we are. We visit Aubusson (40 minute) and Claremont (an hour or so) but are rural and lovely........ I am really really pleased we picked it. It also has the distinction of house prices rising where other areas didn't.