To Savennes - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

May 11, 2022

To Savennes

Today I would leave Parc naturel régional de Millevaches en Limousin and head toward the Parc naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne for what promised to be a couple of days of challenging climbs, some amazing scenery and, as it turned out, very spotty internet that has left me a little behind in the journal. Today’s ride to Sevennes was short on distance but made up for it in elevation gain. Before leaving Meymac, I made a stop at the nearby bakery for an almond croissant and sandwich, anticipating there would be few opportunities to purchase food on the road.

The first climb of the day began almost immediately after leaving Meymac and for the next six miles the route undulated through woodlands and open meadows before descending toward Ussel. It was a bit mesmerizing and it took me a while to realize that the road was gradually widening and vehicles were more frequent. Before I knew it, what had been my nice quiet road merged with a heavily trafficked road coming from the south, with everyone climbing into Ussel on a two-lane road with no shoulder, but a curb. Cars and trucks lined up behind me and, as there was nowhere to go, I took to the sidewalk on footE. I made an attempt to skirt the traffic by going through Voltaire College, thinking the campus may have some nice paths or open spaces where I could stop for a snack. However, this was not a college in the US sense, but more of a middle school or high school. I did find my way to Voltaire plaza where there was a bench for a snack spot. But Voltaire was nowhere to be found. I’m not sure what, if any, connection Ussel has to Voltaire the French writer, but I do know that I couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

Leaving Meymac
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Sporting the Lucille Ball look, but should lose the flies
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The horse spotted me in the distance but could get no closer to the road - I had an apple, but he was too far away
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Climbing through the woods
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One of the few residents of Roumignac came out to say Bonjour
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Gentle descents were typical of the morning ride
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An Italian balcony in Ussel, France
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Vivien George is wondering where in Voltaire Plaza we might find Voltaire -
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No mention of Voltaire on this monument
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For the next ten miles past Ussel, I climbed, and climbed, and climbed – yes, there were some descents, but it was mostly climbing on a well-maintained but isolated road through the forest. When I got hungry, I laid Vivien George by the side of the road while I sat on a stump to eat my sandwich. Two cars passed by, one stopping to make sure I was okay. You bet I am! But truth be told, I was starting to get a little concerned about my water supply as in my haste to leave Ussel I had foolishly neglected to refill my spare bottle. I had enough, but was not sure if I would find a water source before the final climb of the day. My hopes were raised when I rode into Saint-Étienne-aux-Clos, a small commune that sits on the eastern edge of Corrèze, just above the Chavanon Gorges. I thought they might have a fountain at the church, or perhaps a cemetery where I could get potable water – if not, I would go ask at the town hall. As I rolled up to the church, I met two teenage boys leaving one of the church buildings who responded favorably to my request for water – yeah! And I passed a cemetery on the way out of town, a place you can always find potable water in France – it’s the law!

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Lunch spot on a stump along the road
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Yes, there might be someone else out here in the forest
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The peaks of Massif Central - the highest is Puy de Sancy
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Life is good
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The sign said no swimming and fishing by permit only. They didn't say anything about napping on the picnic table, so that's what I did
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Église in Saint-Étienne-aux-Clos
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My water knights
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Public service announcement - potable water is available in all cemeteries in France, by law
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Scott AndersonGood to know!
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2 months ago

My ride through the Chavanon Gorges began just after leaving Saint-Étienne-aux-Clos, a 2.6 mile descent on a narrow road devoid of any guardrails. I tried not to get spooked by the steep drops into the gorge, and was comforted by the fact that there was no traffic to run me off the road. And I might have been a bit overly cautious, not wanting to hurt myself before the Cycle Blaze Burgundy Rendezvous next week. No surprise, I made it safely to the bottom, crossed the Chavanon River and entered Auvergne and the Department of Puy-de-Dôme. It was all uphill from here – the most challenging but doable climb of the day - though there is no way it was as steep as my RWGPS recorded.

I arrived at my lodging, the Château de Sevennes, hot, sweaty, tired and happy. My room lacked internet, but had a nice view of both Puy-de-Dôme and Puy-de-Sancy, the highest peak of the Massif Central. Dinner was an excellent five course group meal provided to guests by our hosts Jacques and Rob. Despite the varied languages – English, French and German – we all enjoyed some lively conversations about cheese, wine, retirement, and plans for the coming week. Another great day on the bike.

Leaving Saint-Étienne-aux-Clos
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Downward through the Chavanon Georges
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Gare de Savenne
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Crossing the Chavanon River
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It's all uphill now
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On the way to Savenne
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Château de Savennes
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View from my room - Puy de Dôme on the left, just above the white house; the Massif Central and Puy de Sancy on the right
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Our international dinner group - Swiss couple René and Christiane in the rear; French couple Josiane and Patric in the foreground
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Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 726 miles (1,168 km)

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