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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Through France to the Pyrenees Two: French Presidents and Health and Safety

Narrow streets in Lormes
The Morvan National Park was where President Mitterand learnt his political trade as a local Mayor.  This is a rural area that has struggled with depopulation and little economic opportunities and when he became President provision of employment and support for the area was high on Mitterand’s to-do-list to show his gratitude.

We spent a couple of nights in Lormes, a small town with an excellent Dutch-run camp site by the Etang Du Goulot, a popular swimming spot.  There are walking routes from the town, including through the Gorges de Navau.  The town was celebrating Pentecost with a fun fair and fireworks and we walked up to the church at 23.00 on the Monday to see these.  We joined a small selection of town dwellers sitting on the cemetery wall to watch the firework spectacular; the pyrotechnic experts were behind their red and white tape organising the show.  It was soon apparent that small pieces of burning firework were landing on to the crowd; some of us became alarmed at this and moved further in to the cemetery.  At the end everyone clapped and we left crunching over glowing pieces of fireworks.

Walking near Lormes

We drove further south in to the Auvergne Region and the amazing landscape around Clermont-Ferrand and the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne, dotted with puys, the steep-sided hills that are extinct volcanoes.  We drove through Orcival, a small village south of Clermont-Ferrand which we were surprised to find featured in our Rough Guide or Guide to churches as we like to call it.  Before giving the detail of the Romanesque church, the Rough Guide did tell us that Orcival was the birthplace of President Valery Giscard D’Estaing.  Two Presidential connections in a couple of days has got us wondering how many French Presidents there have been.

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