Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mini Cooper Road Trip, Day Six to Rocamadour

French Village Diaries Mini Cooper road trip Tarn Gorges
View over River Tarn

Sleep came easy despite, or maybe because of, the thundering river outside the hotel that sounded like heavy rain and we awoke refreshed and ready for the day. Continuing our tradition of the last few mornings we enjoyed a pre-breakfast leg stretch, this time a yomp up the GR62E footpath to the Notre Dame du Rocher chapel that sits high above Meyrueis, before enjoying a coffee and croissant in the company of Gaspard the parrot who chatted away happily. Before setting off west to tackle the Tarn gorges we drove a circular 50km route from Meyrueis via Mont Aigoual as we had done three years ago. The scenery changed from dark and shady pine forests where the air was cool to flat open plaines with sunshine and fragrant yellow broom. The view was of craggy slopes of a sleeping ski station and rolling hills disappearing into the horizon.

French Village Diaries Mini Cooper road trip Tarn Gorges
Tarn Gorges

After morning coffee we crossed the impressive Tarn gorges where the ravines are almost a kilometre deep in places and where I felt very small. The rock colours had changed again to a sandy yellow and the verges were alive with Alpine type wild flowers in yellow, pink, white and purple. The other side of the river Tarn, on the high Causses we saw cereal crops again for the first time in a few days. By lunch time we had reached the river Lot once more and picnicked in the shady churchyard of Ste Eulalie d'Olt in the Aveyron, a quiet and almost forgotten gem of a Plus Beaux Village. The parking was free, the streets were quiet and we bought a delicious local goat cheese from the village epicerie for our lunch.

French Village Diaries Mini Cooper road trip Plus Beaux Villages France Ste Eulalie
Ste Eulalie d'Olt, a Plus Beaux Village

The afternoon was a hot drive through countryside where the houses were built with round pink stone, the fields contained grazing cattle or were market gardens with poly tunnels and brightly coloured rows of lettuces and the air smelt of freshly cut hay. As in Meyrueis, the houses were substantial with severe looking slate roofs. In the forty-five minutes it took to find a shady lay by to take a break in, our energy and sugar levels dropped, the outside temperature rose and the roof lines changed again to terracotta tiles. We were getting desperate, but eventually found somewhere to tuck into our patissiere from Meyrueis, called a Russe. Lots of layers of flaky pastry with raspberry jam and almond flakes that was perfection in every bite. We made it into Rocamadour l'Hospitalet ready to be wowed by our room with a view and jump into the hotel pool to cool off.

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