So after two and a half days of running around Paris, we met up with our Dutch friend Annette and her two year-old, Thomas, to travel to central France for the more relaxed part of our summer holiday. Leaving Paris behind, we drove about 380 km south into the Guéret department (= province in the French system) to the little village of La Semnadisse. We were at the La Semnadisse camping area, a lovely place run by Thomas’s great-aunt and -uncle. It was a great place to unwind – totally relaxed, with lots of space for sitting under trees and reading a book (for us) and an assortment of amusements for kids (for Thomas).
In addition to enjoying lots of good local food, we dipped into the camping site dam, walked around the village, and learnt how to play badminton, Carcassonne and Yahtzee. We also went on a horse-carriage tour of the village and surrounds.
We travelled around the area a bit during our stay, first visiting the town of Jarnages to see their annual potato fair. It was a very festive event, with a nice market selling fresh produce, wines, cheeses, restored (or at least partly restored) antiques, as well as the usual flea market odds and ends. Because it was the potato festival we had some frittes (french fries) with Camembert dip (very strong!), and bought some potato pie to take home for lunch. We saw the march of the town’s guilds down the main street – men in blue robes carrying banners announcing them as members of “The Brotherhood of the Potato”. They were then followed by smaller groups, including the brotherhood of the pig (established 2002, if I remember correctly, so not quite traditional yet…). Jarnages itself was a nice little village (population 508 according to Wikipedia), and it was interesting to get a first look at France outside of the main cities.
We also had a walk near the village of Toulx-Sainte-Croix to the Pierres Jaumâtres, an unusual rock outcrop on the top of one of the larger hills in the area. It was only a short walk, but I greatly enjoyed the lush oak forest. The rock formations were interesting – not spectacular – but great fun for exploring.
Wide-angel image at the Pierres Jaumâtres:
We also visited a market at Boussac, a larger village north of La Semnadisse. While the market was not as good as that of Jarnages (since we were not interested in buying socks, t-shirts or mattresses), the town contained lots of interesting buildings. We were hoping to visit the Chateau, but unfortunately arrived just as they were closing for their (long…) lunch break. Nonetheless, a worthwhile drive.
We were very reluctant to leave La Semnadisse… if you’d like to experience French village life then I’d really recommend visiting there.