Monday, May 21, 2012

Saint Etienne to Moulins

We've been on the road from Saint Remy two days now and as you may have read in yesterday's post (the addition by Sue) we had a very interesting day - read that as stressful. Saint Etienne didn't turn us on a great deal and that might be due to our tiredness and the rush to get there on the motorway.
There was some colour in Saint Etienne but mostly in the attractive square
Looking across the square with fountains that reminded us of Dijon.
Not the Bistrot we went to, but it was colourful.
Saint Etienne has trams just like we do in Melbourne.
Today however was in great contrast. We told Tommy (our GPS) to take us from Saint Etienne to Moulins by the back roads - and we are so pleased he did. Several surprises were ahead of us.
Just as we came to the village of Montrand les Bains we were confronted by the ruins of a castle on the slight hill to the left of us. A stop was in order as our time was all ours today.
Since leaving Saint Etienne, the mood of the country seemed to change.
The countryside seemed to soften - villages seemed cleaner and well kept. There seemed to be a sense of pride by the residents. The greys and browns of Saint Etienne changed to greens of the fields and forests, wild flowers lined the roadside and the villages had colour to them. We are in the Loire.
Why does McDonald's need to spoil great signs?
The ruined castle of Montrand les Bains

Our second surprise was a village not far from Roanne. There was a Trash and Treasure market set-up in the village square so we turned around and went for a look. Glad we did as Sue and I both picked up a bargain each.
Sue bought a set of original Laguiole knives still in the box for 5 euro and I bought a well preserved original Brooks leather bicycle saddle for the same price. I'd actually been looking for such a saddle for a restoration I'm doing but most in Australia were going for outlandish prices.
We left the Flea Market with our goodies and set off for Moulins.

The fellow bending down rides a Mercier Tour de France special - a real gem in its day.
The leather saddle on the bike is similar to the one sitting on the blue box. I tried to bid on these at home but they were in the $70 plus range. This one was around $8.50 or 5 euro. Worth the plane fare from Australia - oui?
Again we were were on the back roads until we found ourselves on a new motorway that Tommy didn't have knowledge of. Our GPS is four years old!
We decided to pull off the motorway and make our own direction and found the most wonderful restored medieval village called "Le Crozet" in the foothills above the motorway.

As we drove closer to Le Crozet up the winding steep incline
 Sue took a photo from the car when this church emerged from the trees.
This drawing shows how the village may have looked in the middle ages.
It's history is very unknown to us as there was no one around to offer information and we were left to our own devises to discover the village. Again there was a sense of pride with the village houses and streets.
Several of the cottages were Gites but many were lived in by locals.

The dog says to the cat on there bench - "More tourists but I can't be bothered chasing you around the yard again".

I would have liked to posted more pics but the internet is so slow here that it takes for ages. (Yes I know Diane - you did warn me didn't you?)
We have arrived at our B and B which has quick Internet and added some more pics since posting this morning.
We are now in Moulins ready to move on to Bellac as we want to see Oradour sur Glane which is near fellow blogger Diane and her husband Nigel. We hope to meet them for a coffee before moving on to our four nights in the Loire. The first two are at Chinon in the same B and B we stayed at in 2008.


  1. Wow, that saddle is a real bargain, if we had been with you I think there may have been some hard bargaining..... Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you tomorrow. Yep the internet is slow, but it does depend on where you are it varies a lot. A bientot. Diane Oops I seem to be logged into the other blog!!

    1. There was another man on his bike giving the saddle a serious look - don't know why he didn't get it before me.

  2. I have seen your FB post about the saddle and reading this today it certainly sounds like you are having a good time in France. I will look forward to reading about you meeting up with D and N.

    1. Great to hear from you LLM - getting some feedback of the sad news from Italy despite being on holiday. Yes it will be good to make personal contact tomorrow with D and N but we realise that it is in a very sad place to meet at Oradour sur Glane but if only once, we need to be reminded of senselessness of war.

  3. Ooh! Ooh! You passed quite close to us then...we live near Roanne and I almost think that if you went through Montrond les Bains you may possibly have passed through our village. I live in St Just En Chevalet. I was busy at a craft fair on Sunday, but I wonder where you were!

    1. We were quite close when I look at the map.


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