Auvergne – France at its best

There we are on the road again… Our target is the North of Spain near Tarragona. Ursula has a friend that owns an appartment near Tarragona. We drive to Martigny first to get the key and then we drive through France with an overnight stop.

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 Martigny is worth a visit, with the Fondation Giannada and its chapels

Ursula joins me in Zurich. We drive to Martigny in the Valais to see the exhibition of Zao Wuu Ki in the Fondation Giannada. Beautiful, I like his abstract paintings – each of them reminding us of a landscape – a sun rise, a salar lake or a sea shore with waves in the background.

Then I show Ursula the windows in the protestant chapel painted by Hans Erni, when he was 103 years old.

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We read about the other catholic chapel and the paintings of the monk Kim en Joong.  Ursula sees that he has also made the windows of the Basilica St. Julien in Brioude in the Auvergne. This is about half way to Tarragona. We decide to stay overnight at Brioude.

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On the road to Brioude

We drive along the lake of Geneva in France. This is the view of the Swiss side of the lake.

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Then we head to Bourg-en-Bresse and the Auvergne, crossing one valley after the next on the motorways… up and down… up and down.

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Brioude – a charming French town with the hotel de la Poste

Brioude is located on the St. Jacob’s pilgrimage route.

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It is one of these cosy and quiet country towns that I love France for.

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The tourist office shows us the hotels… and seems to recommend the Hotel de la Poste. “Two stars, but very good,” she says. How true. We find a friendly reception and a comfortable room in the annexe.

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The Basilika of St. Julien on the site where he was murdered

The center of Brioude is the Basilika St. Julien from the 11th century built at the place where Julien had been decapitated by Roman soldiers. The style is  Romanesque. This is the view from outside with the tower of 56m.

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The nave…

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… and one of the 37 windows made by Kim en Joong in 2008. They give a solemn atmosphere to the inside of the church. We would like to visit the catholic chapel with his windows in Martigny, when back.

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There are old frescoes on the columns and in the chapels of the choir.

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Returning to our hotel we come across a bakery with this very French foto of the fifties or sixties in the last century. Very French… and welcoming.

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The superbe dinner in the cosy restaurant of the Hotel de la Poste

The hotel is a gem. In it, we find one of these home like restaurants that I only know from France.

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Ursula feels like the menu with two main courses, and I join her. I order this local Gamay from the region of Auvergne – it is a perfect match with the regional meal.

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The first dish is poultry terrine. Our main course is beef with potatoes au gratin and a spinach pie. Delicious.

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The selection of local cheese like Bleu d’Auvergne or Saint Néctar are also a good match with the Gamay.

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A rhubarber cake – lightly made – with a ball of coconut ice cream top our meal. “This is a “trouvaille””, Ursula says, “one of the best meals I have had in France.”

We sleep well in our quiet and comfy annexe and in the morning enjoy breakfast buffet prepared with care and love – all fresh regional products of the Auvergne.

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