Cycling from Tauves, France to Brioude, France
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Cycling from Tauves, France to Brioude, France

Of course a real hotel breakfast and then cycling on the D922 climbing out of the valley of the Mortagne to 988m, then down to St. Sauves d' Auvergne and the upper Dordogne again. From here, the D130 follows the river up to la Bourboule and le Mont-Dore at 991m.

Both of these towns were packed with vacationers enjoying the fresh mountain air. I blew about 2 hours at the bike shop in le Mont-Dore, trying to get my tires pumped up for climbing, ended up getting a new tube and full tires, finally.

There's a very nice hostel in le Mont-Dore, but it was full for the August weekend, so cycling onward on the D983 for 4km to climb out of town, then the big turn on to the D996. From here the climb continues 4km up to the Col de la Croix Morand at 1,401m. This was the biggest climb cycling in France so far and on the way I learned the benifits of stopping for a good wash off. It was a relais kind of bar where I downed two Oranginas and went around to the toilet. It was the traditional arrangement with separate WCs to each gender, with the wash up facilities just outside. I noticed for the first time a huge almond shaped yellow soap bar impaled on a holder just over the sink. Running the water and massaging the soap bar I was able to get all the salt off my face and hands and a good head soak in cool water. A real towel on a continuous loop completed the experience. I left there really refreshed after about 30 minutes and the rest of the climb was easy.

At the Col the D996 begins a glorious 30 km descentA View of the Volcans d'Auvergne through the Parc Regional des Volcans d'Auvergne to the Lac Chambon and then along the Chambon to Champeix, a drop of 944m! These volcanos are so old that they are now covered with grass that cows eat. All of this results in the wonderful cheese of St. Nectaire, a cheese so fine that it's forbidden in the U.S. From Champeix there's a little climb over the ridge to Issoire on the Aller. Now on the flat, the C1 through le Broc hooks up with the D909 to Vichel and then the D35, D76 and D14 across the Alagnon to Cohade.

By now it was getting late, real late. I was counting on finding a room along the N102 in Brioude, but as I left the town behind me, I began eyeing the fields alongside the road for a soft spot to sleep. It was just about dark when my despair and fatigue came to a quick end on finding the glorious Hotel du Place in the tiny village of Vieille Brioude on the Aller. There was just enough time for a shower before a delicious repas, a demi carafe and lots of St. Nectaire.


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Hotel du Place