To Meymac - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

May 10, 2022

To Meymac

Today’s ride crossed the Parc naturel régional de Millevaches en Limousin, which I interpret as the park of a thousand cows in Limousin, or perhaps a thousand Limousin cattle. Though I saw plenty of cows, the section of the park through which I traveled was remote and wooded, a series of tree-line ridges with an occasional farm with sheep or cattle grazing in small hillside pastures. It is the kind of terrain I love, reminding me a bit rural New England, where small roads twist through woods and suddenly open to views of open meadows on distant slopes. It's not the most spectacular scenery, but it is familiar and fits like a well-worn flannel shirt.

It was an idyllic ride, across one ridge after another, alone with sheep, cattle, occasional wildlife and a multitude of birds. The climbs were often long, but were not too steep, with gradients of 4-5% topping out at 13%.  And the descents ranged from delightful to thrilling to scary. What more could you want!

It was to be a long and challenging day so just before nine I pointed Vivien George downhill and left Masserat without taking a proper look about town, just a single photo on my way to the next ridge.  It was a pleasant ride to Meilhards along D20, through mostly rolling farm and pastureland. And Meilhards itself seemed like a quite friendly town, with a cheery “Bonjour” from everyone I passed.

Saying good-bye to Masserat on another fine morning in Central France
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White horse by a pond
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Small barn in a field
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The friendly folks of Meilhards
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Even the buildings in Meilhards are tipping their cap to me
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Scott AndersonCute! It gives it a very jaunty look.
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2 months ago
An old mural for Dubonet in Meilhards
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Shortly after Meilhards, I entered the Parc naturel régional de Millevaches en Limousin, again without fanfare or a sign of welcome.  The road to Chamberet climbed up through open pastures and wound through the forested slopes and meadows along the ridge. Along the way, I was greeted by sheep and cattle, but few cars. There was a wonderful downhill swoop to the commune of Chamberet, where I enjoyed a coffee and croissant whilst basking in the sun. An old man in a sporty chapeau seemed to take a curious interest in me, willing to offer lots of advice that I failed to understand. Refreshed and invigorated, I was ready to tackle the next ridge – a bit higher and steeper.

Over the fields to Chamberet
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Over the fields to Chamberet
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Through the woods to Chamberet
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Wait until you climb the ridge behind me!
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Looking back toward the ridge I'd just descended on the way to Chamberet
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Elevenses break in Chamberet
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I like your hat, but you're a little wierd
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I’d been a bit nervous about the climb past Chamberet - 4.6 mi with a gain of over 1000 ft. My fears were unfounded however as I found this section to be one of my favorite of the day. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely within my wheelhouse – something that gave me confidence and satisfaction. Each curve in the road offered a new viewpoint - to look back on where I’d been and/or to appreciate the park environs. It all seemed more like a State or National park in the US – a largely unpopulated expanse of meadows and forest. After reaching the top of the climb, the road continued undulating before taking me on a fabulous descent through the woods. I was elated, but a bit tired and ready to eat. Finding only an old building to support Vivien George, I sat in the grass and enjoyed some bread and cheese while reliving the wonderful morning I’d just experienced.

Looking ahead
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Baling hay on a distant hillside
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Looking down at the road travelled
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Looking up at the road ahead
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Looking down at the road I've travelled
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Looking back toward Masserat - over the far ridge
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Views to the southeast and the peaks of the Massif Central
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Heading downhill through the woods
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A rest stop for Vivien George and yours truly
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I stayed on the smaller roads for next seven miles to Bugeat, a small town where I’d considered an overnight. Today, however, the town seemed in need of the multiple ongoing construction projects scattered throughout the town. I stopped for an Orangina and ice cream, sitting on the small outside terrace with the proprietor and other customers as they were tearing down a building across the street – a friendly but not relaxing break. 

On the way to Bugeat
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Someone else also thought it was time for lunch
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On the road to Bugeat
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Passing through Viam on the way to Bugeat
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Lakeside in Viam
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In Bugeat
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Afternoon break in the "not quiet" town of Bugeat
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Trying to put on a happy face in Bugeat
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After Bugeat I took to the highway, in this case the larger D979, which I followed the remaining miles to Meymac. It was the most direct route as well as the least difficult, smoothing out the remaining ~1500 ft gain in elevation before dropping down to Meymac. Traffic was light and there was a hint of a shoulder, so I felt safe but a bit bored as the road offered few views or interesting sights. I was therefore delighted to see an elevation marker on the opposite side of the road, one denoting that I’d reached 970 meters, the highest elevation on the departmental roads of Corréze. Not exactly a Col marker, but it’ll do. The descent into Meymac was steep and quick, made a little more harrowing by my least favorite companion – crosswinds.

I found my hotel at the very bottom of the town, arriving about 45 minutes before the 5 pm check-in. When the proprietor arrived, he informed me that all the restaurants in town were closed, except one down at the lake, about 3 km distant. I opted to walk to the nearby bakery where I picked up a green salad, ham baguette, and a piece of flan –  I was so hungry that I deemed it to be was one of the best meals of the trip! I went to sleep that night a satisfied and happy biker.

The larger and less interesting road to Meymac
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My trophy selfie
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Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 698 miles (1,123 km)

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Christiane PeratoHow emotional Susan. When I was young I did a survey on the life of peasants in Corr├Ęze. In particular to ToyViam whose indication can be seen on the photo of Bugeat. We were told that the name Mille vaches actually came from the dialect "Mille vatz" which means a thousand springs. There are indeed a lot of sources on the set. Have a good trip.
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2 months ago
Kathleen JonesWhat a great day. Your photos of the roads are so evocative of what cycle touring is about - look how wonderful it is right here and where does it lead to next.
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2 months ago