To Puy-Guillaume - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

May 13, 2022

To Puy-Guillaume

When I originally conceived of this “pre-Burgundy” tour, I thought it would be fun to design a route that included as many of the Parcs naturel regional of central France as possible. It was clear that I could not give each of the Parcs their due, given the limited number of days I had between leaving Paris and my rendezvous in Beaune. And so, Parc naturel regional Livradois-Forez got the short straw. Today’s destination, Puy-Guillaume, sits at the western edge of the Parc naturel regional Livradois-Forez, making it an ideal overnight for a quick visit to notch another Parc. As I learned today, however, my preferred mode of touring is not very compatible with “notching”, which tends to emphasize the destination and not the journey. Today’s route was designed to get from point A, a Logis hotel in the middle of Parc naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne, to point B, Puy-Guillaume in Parc naturel regional Livradois-Forez - also with the proviso to bypass as much of Clermont-Ferrand as possible.

The day started with a not insignificant climb, then it was down, down, down, and down. Although RWGPS recorded it as a single descent, dropping almost 2500 ft over 11.2 miles, it seemed to me more like a series of drops, each with a different score on the “Susan scale of scary descents”. Two sections were particularly memorable; the first where I had to make a left hand turn in the middle of a downhill switchback; the second was after I made the turn and descended on a narrow, twisting road to the town of Durtol. After braking the entire way into town, I needed a break - coffee and a croissant from the local boulangerie.

Climbing up from the middle of nowhere Logis hotel
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Sheep in the meadow
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I think this one took a shine to me, or maybe it was Vivien George that caught her eye
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Almost to the top
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A look back after having safely executed a left hand turn at high speed in the middle of a switchback
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Heading slowly down to Durtol, with Clermont-Ferrand in the distance
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Welcome to Durtol
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Break time in Durtol
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The descent continued for another four miles beyond Durtol, passing through the northern suburbs of Clermont-Ferrand. It was not a very interesting ride, mostly on busy roads that usually had a sufficient shoulder or a designated bike lane. Traffic eased beyond Chappes as I turned onto smaller roads through farm fields. At one point, RWGPS had directed me onto a gravel section shortcut, something I usually try to avoid. I am not adverse to gravel roads per se, so today I decided to give the gravel option a chance. It was an excellent decision – a mostly packed surface, not too rocky or wet, flat, and, best of all, serene and calming. It was just what I needed after a morning of harrowing downhills and traffic. After a couple of miles, I routed myself back to pavement and continued on, in a much better state of mind.

Passing through Cébazat, one of the small perimeter suburbs of Clermont-Ferrand
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Lunch stop near Chappes
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Down in the flats, bidding farewell to Parc naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne
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Centering myself on a gravel road through fields of emerging corn
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A little Iowa nostalgia
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Leaving the gravel and heading toward pavement and Saint-Laure
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The route continued to parallel the small La Morge River through a rural landscape of crop fields and pastures. I took a small detour for a brief look at the town of Maringues, but mostly kept pedaling on the small roads through the small communes of rural France. I was still in the Auvergne, but it seemed a faraway world from the volcanic formations I’d biked through yesterday. I crossed into the Parc naturel regional Livradois-Forez and shortly thereafter cycled into Puy-Guillaume, a much smaller town than I expected. I had trouble finding my lodging, which surprisingly turned out to be a room in the house of a delightful couple, Franny and Didier. I felt a bit awkward sharing their home, but their warmth and generosity made everything easier. I spent the rest of the afternoon on their terrace, catching up on the journal while my clothes spun in their washer. 

Sometimes, it’s not the place but the people you meet that make your journey so rewarding. In this case, Franny and Didier made my trip to Puy-Guillaume very worthwhile.

Maringues
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Hanging out on the banks of La Morge in Maringues
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On the road to Puy-Guillaume
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Another notch for me and Vivien George
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Entering Puy-Guillaume
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In Puy-Guillaume
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In Puy-Guillaume
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Franny and Didier
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Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 801 miles (1,289 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Scott AndersonYou’re still pretty far off. Are you going to make it, or should we save leftovers for you?
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonI’m closer than you think, it’s the journal that’s a little behind. Hopefully we’ll both arrive in Beaune on schedule
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2 months ago
Rachael AndersonYou sure are tough!
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2 months ago
Lucy MartinAre the notches going on your lipstick case? Asking for Pat Benetar.
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2 months ago