At the beginning of May for the Ascension bank holiday weekend, Valérie and Xavier, both keen motorbikers, came for a short break at the Auberge des Montagnes in Pailherols. They popped in to the Tourist Information Centre while they were here and we enjoyed chatting with them about their love of Cantal. They willingly agreed to answer a few questions and to pass on some of their favourite spots and tips for bikers coming to visit the area.
Virginie: Can you tell me a bit about yourself ?
Xavier: We are both Parisiens from Boulogne, 92. I’m Xavier and I’m 57 years old and this is my wife Valérie who is 49. I work as a journalist at Moto Journal and Valérie is the manager of a call centre of the website lacentrale.fr. We love getting away from the capital and discovering new and charming destinations. We always treat ourselves to a short break exploring a lovely region at this time of year over the Ascension bank holiday weekend. This is our second consecutive year in Auvergne and this time we’re here with some friends from Nantes.
Why choose Cantal for a motorbiking holiday?
We’re real fans of Auvergne and we know the region well, particularly the Puy de Dôme where we have a house that we enjoy going to in the Summer. For us, the region is the perfect place to explore by motorbike because it offers such diversity and the natural scenery is simply breathtaking. It’s also peaceful and unspoilt and then there’s the local cuisine of course! When you love motorbiking, you’re always on the lookout for winding roads, hills and valleys, marvellous landscapes with not too much traffic. Auvergne offers all this.
You clearly love Auvergne… If I were to ask you to choose your favourite area, what would that be?
We’ve fallen in love with Salers and its wonderful medieval architecture, but the village of Jou-sous-Monjou has a real charm and Grandval dam is extremely impressive. We would also have loved to have had time to go to the spa in Chaudes-Aigues …
And what about places to stay. Do you have a particular favourite?
It has to be, without a doubt, the Auberge des Montagnes in Pailherols. Xavier discovered it in 2017 while away for work with the team from Moto Journal. The hotel had been recommended to him by a friend who provides the Auvergne Tourist Board with motorbiking itineraries. He fell in love with it instantly. The Auberge des Montagnes has been run by the same family for four generations now and the owners are really friendly, sharing their passion for their village and work with such enthusiasm. The hotel, with its different parts to it, is absolutely charming. The cuisine is of a rare finesse, the service excellent and the staff wonderful. The Auberge of course stands out for the superb menus created by a chef who once worked with Régis Marcon (in St Bonnet le Froid and with 3 Michelin stars!). But that isn’t all. The cherry on the cake has got to be the Buron de Bâne, a stone farm shelter at 1,400 metres, and literally in the middle of nowhere. It has been remarkably restored and the decor, shabby-chic style, is lovely. It’s a two hour walk from the village and an extraordinary spot for an overnight stay. On your return to the Auberge, take a well-deserved moment to relax, making use of the facilities in the well-being area and spa in a beautiful converted barn. Hammam, Jacuzzi, outdoor and indoor pool and there’s also the chance to enjoy a massage and body care treatments. Oh yes, and if you’re staying here with friends, the Chalet de Jean, just next to the Auberge, can be privately booked offering a total of four bedrooms.
And on a last note, do you have any special recommendations or tips for motorbikers who could be reading this?
There’s no end of places to recommend in this part of Cantal: the Pas de Peyrol and the Puy Mary of course with its winding road and breathtaking views are real hotspots for both motorbiking and cycling enthusiasts. Then there’s Mur de Barrez with the famous charcuterie Chez Chabert, Murat and its cheese market hall, and also Le Lioran resort and the winding road leading up to it… Great spots to visit on roads that are simply perfect for motorbikers. I will say though that you do have to be particularly careful in the spring when there can be gravel on the roads.
A big thank you to Valérie and Xavier for taking the time to share their experiences with us. We look forward to seeing them back in Cantal very soon!
If you’re a motorbike enthusiast, we hope that their story has made you want to come and explore the area.
le 20 February 2019