Sunday, March 10, 2019

A week away from home

We've just returned from a week-long stay in the Auvergne region. We rented a gîte (vacation rental house, pronounced zheet) just outside of the small city of le Puy-en-Velay in the département de la Haute-Loire, not far from the source of the Loire River. The occasion was Ken's birthday.

The gîte is an old farmhouse, lovingly restored. The owners are a brother and sister who grew up in the house. The attached barn on the left is home to about a dozen chickens and roosters. We enjoyed some of their eggs during the week.

The place we rented is a four hour drive south from home, mostly on autoroutes, with the last hour on smaller highways. We had heavy winds and rain during the first couple of hours, but then things calmed down the further south we got. The region around le Puy is mountainous, formed by volcanoes that are long extinct. In fact, the word puy (pronounced pwee) refers to a mountain or other formation of volcanic origin. The mountains and volcanic "chimneys" make for some pretty scenery, very different from what we're used to in our region.

The entrance to the gîte's closed courtyard and the ruins of some the farm buildings attached. The round tower was pretty cool!

There is some local wine around le Puy, but the area is more known for its cheese, two in particular: Saint-Nectaire and Fourme d'Ambert. We didn't visit either of the cheese towns, but we certainly ate some of the cheese. And brought some home with us.


  1. That's a lovely dovecot needing restoration. My daughter has a low dovecot on her property, in worse condition. First, they have to finish the buildings that will be inhabitable some time in the future. I no longer say "near" future because it's been 6 years already! Then, empty the dovecot of the trees growing inside and rebuilding the walls, and so on. Some day, I hope before Ken turns 80, we'll all go down there. The region around her place is gorgeous.

  2. Wow, so beautiful! I hope we'll see some interior photos of the gîte, too?
    I remember my au pair family making a big point of talking about us getting le bleu d'Auvergne, and how there is no real blue cheese from anywhere else, etc. etc. :) I loved traveling with them to places like this (we did an Easter vacation trip to the Auvergne).

  3. What a nice escape. Your gîte holidays look so much more relaxing than the trips we take. I'm still trying to recover from my jet lag. This gîte is especially beautiful. (Oh, and thanks for the pronunciation lessons; I'll been reading it as a hard "G", and I won't tell you where I went with "puy"! Oh, and happy birthday to Ken!

  4. How lovely! Happy birthday! I am looking up the cheese after I finish this

  5. ellen, it never occurred to me that it was a dovecote. Thanks!

    judy, coming right up!

    mitch, no jet lag on this trip, thankfully. But it's always good to come home again.

    michael, St. Nectaire is a nice cow's milk cheese. Fourme d'Ambert is a blue.


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