Road Trip, Day 10

The lovely Viaduc de Garabit, with contrails that seem to be celebrating something.

Today was a travel day, as I moved from Le Mont Dore in the Puy-de-Dôme region to Aubrac in the Aveyron. I drove through both the Cantal and the Lozère to get here.

Aubrac, as you can see by the red dot, is right at the point where three départements meet: the Cantal, the Lozère and the Aveyron. And keen eyes will note that I’ve come nearly full-circle since the start of the trip in Saint-Geniez-d’Olt.

I didn’t drive directly here, and along the way I found myself on more than one very tiny country road (which I adore), and I also found myself waiting in traffic stops for road construction. Thus, there wasn’t much exploring being done, and there aren’t a lot of photographs.

My first stop was to visit the lovely Viaduc de Garabit, for which Gustav Eiffel was the construction engineer. This bridge came several years before its famous cousin, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This was not a straightforward construction project, and it involved some top-notch engineering by the Eiffel team.

The resulting span was used regularly until 2009, when an inspection showed some cracks. They were repaired, and the bridge reopened, with a 10-kilometer per hour speed limit.

I wasn’t sure if I’d manage to see this, and then suddenly, there was a sign for the turnoff. I took it. This is the Viaduc de Garabit, built by Gustav Eiffel in 1882-1884.
Looking straight up one of the towers that supports the flat span, also one end of the bridge’s lone arch. Eiffel’s company had already established itself as among the best engineering firms in the world, so it was easy to reward the company with this project. I spoke with one fellow who said there are only six bridges in Europe with this single-arch design.
This is a view through one of the short tunnels in the heavy footings of the bridge. I made this photograph because the shadow looks a lot like what I imagine a collapsing Eiffel Tower would look like.

The rich green countryside of the Aveyron. This scene is near the town of Nasbinals.
Another view of the countryside, plus the biggest cowbell I’ve ever seen.
This is one part of the old hospital, built in the 15th century.
A lovely old house in Aubrac. It has the lauzes roof that is so common in this region.

Road Trip, Day 3

A very intriguing flight of stone steps in Le Trou de Bozouls (The Hole of Bozouls).

Today was a transition day. We made a couple of visits in the area near Saint Geniez, and then drove three hours to get to our home for the next three days. To arrive in the town of Égletons, we drove through the Aveyron, then through the Cantal, and then into the Corrèze. As you’ll see, the landscape became even greener as we made our way north.

We are now in the town of Égletons in the Corrèze.

The semicircular canyon called Le Trou de Bozouls appears suddenly and dramatically in the otherwise rather flat landscape. The main part of the town of Bozouls is seen on the right-hand side of this photograph. The medieval Église Sainte-Fauste is opposite, perched on the rocky strip that sits inside the circle of the canyon. Photograph from the mairie of Bozouls.

We drove to the picturesque village of Bozouls, which clings to the cliffs on either side of a remarkable circular canyon that’s about 330 feet deep. After a stop in the visitor center, we walked down, down, down, across the Dourdou River, and then up, up, up to visit the medieval church that’s placed on the spit of land “inside” the circle.

This lovely street formed part of our walk down, down, down into the canyon. The round tower is one of two medieval towers in this part of the town. The lovely stone steps at the top of the page formed part of our walk up, up, up toward the church.
Sunlight streams through a stained glass window and lands on a column inside l’Église Sainte-Fauste, built in the 12th century using the local red sandstone.
Left, Église Sainte-Fauste in Bozouls. Right, Église Saint-Pierre in Bessuéjouls. Both date from the 12th century, both are built of the beautiful red sandstone of the region; they look like sisters.

We ate lunch on the very edge of the cliffs, then drove on to the hamlet of Bessuéjouls to visit another 12th century church built of the gorgeous red sandstone of the region. This church is l’Église Saint-Pierre in the hamlet of Bessuéjouls, and it’s a popular stop with people who are walking the Chemin de Compostelle. Interesting to all three of us was the magnificent giant sequoia tree that stands next to the church and completely dwarfs it.

The bell tower at Saint-Pierre is the oldest part of the church, and it contains a stunning collection of carvings, nearly all of which are close enough to eye level to make good photographs. Oh, and they’re in remarkable condition for their age!

And then it was time to hit the road. Our three-hour journey took us north, passing out of the Aveyron, through the Cantal, and into the Corrèze. We drove through the Lot River basin and some lovely villages, and then found a little rain as we made our way north through some forested canyons. The Cantal, famous for its namesake cheese, is rolling hills of velvety green, plus a lot of cows. As we crossed into the Corrèze, we were suddenly pelted with extremely heavy rain—the kind it’s hard to drive in—and there were a few thin washes of mud across the road. Thankfully, it ended just as quickly as it had arrived, and we continued to make our way through more intriguing towns and rolling green countryside. We passed a restaurant named Colorado, and an exquisite castle on the edge of a lake. Whole hillsides were covered with heather in full pink bloom, and we had a double rainbow to color our world as we drove into Égletons. There was definitely magic in the air today!

We stopped for a little break as we passed through the Cantal, which is green and velvety. Just after this stop, we were pelted with some of the rain that brings this kind of green.