Our beautiful tabby cat Jess died this week, which has been a huge loss for myself and Caroline. Together with her sister Sophie they have brightened our lives the past 18 months. She was only 2 years old and died from natural causes. We had rushed her to the vet but she died on the way there. She was a lovely affectionate, placid cat and will be greatly missed here in Grahy.

I posted about our  life with the cats earlier.

And here are some recent pictures of them both.





Le Tour de l’Avenir – Stage 2


The second stage through the Haute Loire.

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:


As planned, we drove over to La Chaise-Dieu to catch part of stage 2 of the Tour de l’Avenir yesterday afternoon. The last few kms of the drive were along the route of the race, so we were able to scout out a good place to stand and watch, and we walked back there once we’d parked the car. Then we just had to wait for a while… but it was a sunny day, we had a flask of coffee, the scenery was beautiful, and once again there was a cheerful small crowd, including several people on bikes. Chapeau to them; there is no easy route up to La Chaise-Dieu, which is at an altitude of 1082m.

We had a great vantage point when the race came through, as they came along the road below us, turned through a hairpin bend, then climbed past us, at a slightly slower pace…

View original 86 more words

Le Tour de l’Avenir 2014 – Stage 1


A lovely afternoon watching the arrival of the young riders with La Petite Maison Bijoux.

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

For people who enjoy cycling and follow it fairly closely, we’ve had very little luck with the Tour de France. We’ve been in many places which have featured in the race, just not at the right time. Notably, there was the year a stage started from Brioude a few days after we left, and the year we just missed it passing through Normandy. The Grand Départ in Yorkshire this year topped it all off. Stage 1 left from outside the Leeds Central Library, where I used to work. It passed the end of our road in Harewood. It went all over the Dales, where we used to walk most weekends. It finished up in Harrogate, where I used to work. And there we were, watching it on the television in France. Still, it’s an annual event, so the chances are it’ll come within striking distance of us at some point in…

View original 453 more words

A visit to St Flour and the Garabit Viaduct

St Flour

Yesterday we went on a visit to Saint Flour, an hours drive from us and most of the way via the  (free) A75 autoroute. We had often seen the town in the distance while on the motorway and it had always looked an inviting place to visit up on its basalt platform. However on reflection it would seem its best view is from a distance. There are two parts to the town, one below the cliff and one above. The new town is fairly vibrant with many shops and restaurants and a pretty bridge over the river. However the old town is very run down, with many empty shops that have closed down completely or moved to the community below. There are a couple of fairly touristy streets with hotels and restaurants, these lead up to the main square that has views of the surrounding countryside.

The panorama is somewhat spoilt by an enormous development on the hillside opposite, seemingly modelled on a UK 1930s housing estate. Luckily the views to the right are over the town and the river below.

However there was a boulangerie selling excellent ice cream, so all was not lost!



Viaduc de Garabit

As we still had plenty of time we headed off to visit the Viaduc de Garabit a rail bridge built by Gustave Eiffel over the Truyère river. Again we had glimpsed this from the autoroute and wanted to get a closer look. There is a handy rest area near junction 30, the Aire du Garabit , this directly overlooks the bridge and has a small cafe with informative panels on its construction. It is very well worth a visit and a closer look is obtained by leaving the autoroute and descending to the car park directly below the bridge on the banks of the Truyère.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Walk PR 30 (Brioude) – Des Mines à la Fontaine Saint-Eutrope (11km)


This is a walk we have done once before and is a fairly flat circular route visiting the villages of Fontannes – Frugerolles – Billanges – Buze – Fontannes. The highlight of the walk was the profusion of wild flowers on the verges.

We also had a brief encounter with an inquisitive lizard!


The route gives you distant views of both Brioude and the Puys.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other interesting features were this old cross outside Billanges, and the Maison Rouge at Buze.

A lovely walk in warm though not hot conditions, on good paths throughout.




August Calendar

The weather is settling down this week, but for most of the month – as July – we have had lots of rain and storms. So much so that we have not had to water the garden at all this summer. So some things have flourished, shallots, squash, potatoes, while others have struggled, climbing beans, tomatoes (half got blight).

freshly dug desiree potatoes

freshly dug desiree potatoes

Looking North


Looking South


The herbs and flower garden have flourished in the rainy weather with the star being the Hyssop plant, which is always covered in bees and butterflies.

Some flowers are now setting spectacular seed pods, including this Honesty.


We will collect the seed and sow next year.

St Didier sur Doulon and Lugeastre by velo


It’s excellent country around our way for cycling. The roads are well surfaced and traffic is light. La Petite Maisom Bijoux has done all the heavy duty blogging on this one!

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

Since the Tour de France finished, we’ve been spending less time watching other people ride their bikes, and a bit more time actually getting out on ours.

We usually head south out of the village and pick up the main road to Brioude, but we’ve been experimenting with turning the other way in the direction of La Chaise Dieu. It’s a very pretty route, along the course of the River Doulon. The road is quiet, with a good surface, and it’s lined with trees, which is a plus on a hot day.

It’s mostly uphill on the way out, but you do get to drop down into the village of St Didier sur Doulon, where the Auberge du Doulon serves great coffee, and you can plan the rest of your route. Or just have a bit of a breather. The Tour de France tattoo is just a temporary one, by the way!


View original 102 more words