I’m back with the armchair travel. In Le Puy. A stop on our return through France in October.
And at first I wasn’t sure whether I did like it.
Actually it was strange and beautiful on first sight. Approaching from the hills we could see its stripy cathedral, and weird volcanic toadstools, those topped with churches and statues instead of pixies. Then as we spiralled down towards the town, it looked a bit sad, and more than a little rough around the edges.
It didn’t help that I missed the entrance to the hotel parking on my first two, was it three? passes. But it is best that I’m driving in these circumstances. I’m much less law-abiding than MrS, and happy to simply stop in the street. And MrS, has far better language skills. So off he went to the hotel and got directions. And in fairness he was told that no-one ever found their way into the carpark without help.
So we set off for a little explore, and gradually my opinion and spirits improved.
Le Puy sits not quite in the centre*of France, but feels as if it is. It’s roughly equidistant from Clermont Ferrand and Lyon, just under two hours by road from either. And it isn’t on a major motorway route. Because of all that volcanic activity the approach roads are scenic but not the easiest drive. And like many provincial towns in France its economy is a bit depressed. It used to make money from tanning and lacemaking. There’s no tanning any more, but you can buy and watch lace being made by hand in the traditional ways.
It’s gorgeous but sadly not as fashionable as it once was.
Le Puy is known for its green lentils, but less so for another green “foodstuff” – Verveine. Nope I hadn’t heard of it either but it was everywhere. It used to be made in a beautiful distillery** in the centre of the town. It’s still distilled locally but out of the centre.
It did seem to be a popular digestif, and not only in the more touristy restaurants.
We ate well in Le Puy; dinner at the traditional and historic Tournayre, lunch at a friendly bistro near the cathedral, and dinner again at Brasserie 912 which had great vegetarian options. And yes, that is a lentil burger.
And of course, we visited that amazing stripy cathedral the top of the town.
So yes, I did like Le Puy.
*that’s a service area with a fantastic view, this was taken in February on a different trip.
**I haven’t many photos from Le Puy although I ‘m sure I took lots. You can find out more about Verveine here.