Jess and Theresa's Account
ST ANTHEME (Route de MONTBRISON) 63660 Auvergne
This was our fifth adventure (Varad'Oc, VaraDahu, VaraMedoc, VaraVeyron, VaraForez) with our Varaderomania friends in France.
We would like to share our account with you. This year it was not possible for us to follow this adventure with a later visit to the international meeting, as that was in June, and we are never available due to our medieval archery (tir d'arc medievale) contest commitments in Colchester.
This Varaderomania meeting was being held at Saint-Anthème, a commune in the Puy-de-Dôme department in Auvergne in central France.
7th May 2014 Wednesday
The dogs sensed what was coming. Theresa and I loaded up the Varadero and we set off at 0820 bound for Dover to get the Eurotunnel at 1050. The bike had 7816 miles on the clock but we set the odo to zero to log our great adventure. Arrived in good time, onto the train and soon in Calais. Weather fine. On to Arras, petrol at 190 miles, did the first bit by autoroute but changed to RN, the A644, a while later, stopping at the American Bellicourt first world war memorial.
As we went on, we spotted a discrete sign for a German first world war cemetery and thought that we would visit it.
The road up to it was very potholed and water filled, but we persevered. We were particularly struck by the simplicity of the iron crosses, with perhaps four that, on inspection, turned out to be jewish German soldier grave markers.
As we continued on our way we enjoyed the beauty of France and its distinct architecture.
For the first leg of our journey we decided to stay at a village called Arcis-sur-Aube. We didn't want to stay at an Ibis, with the usual Buffalo Grill, as we usually do. We wanted to try something different, a true French bed and breakfast (auberge). At 351 miles odo we found our delightful Villa Primerose. Truly a beautiful building that we discovered dated from 1886. The patron spoke no English but that was not a problem. She spoke very clearly and I was able to understand her - and she me.
Our hostess suggested a restaurant a short walk away, which we took her up on. She rang ahead to make a reservation, whilst we got settled in, washed and dressed. A walk towards the river and there we found our restaurant, the St Haubert. We enjoyed an excellent entrecote meal with some proper French wine. A good day!
8th May 2014 Thursday
Up and to breakfast in the magnificent breakfast room (with its false doors), with coffee and the typical French breakfast of bread, croissants, meat and cheese, etc. Then to loading up the bike, saying our goodbyes, taking some photographs of the building and then off at 1020 headed for St-Antheme. Our route was to take us via Arcis, Reims, Auxerre, Vichy, Ambert, St-Antheme. We noticed that it was getting decidedly warmer the further south we went.
We filled-up at 420 miles odo, and then arriving at our destination at 1820 and filling up at 638 miles odo in St-Antheme. We saw other Varadero riders at the fuel station and followed them back to the site.
This is always an anxious moment for us, meeting and greeting our fellow Varaderomaniacs; the language difference being the big concern and we being foreigners in a strongly patriotic (and warm-heartedly anti-English) country. But we were soon parked up and being greeted by old friends and new, handshakes for the men and kisses on each cheek for the ladies in the French way. Didier, Le Chef, TinTin, Tony, Alubat, Zebulon, Les Domis, etc. We had made it. Our room was nice and a shower was very welcome - despite the lack of a good flow of hot water.
We realised that were in a hotel that caters for children, as the sign in the room suggested that parents would have to pay for any damage caused. Down to dinner and chat, preceded by a drink on the patio.
We kept on the edge as we always tend to do. We feel that people are discomfited by us, as we are nervous of them, due to the language thing. We both understand and can speak some school French and we make a good attempt, but the French are a proud people who have been subjected to a lot of English people coming here, taking over areas and creating 'Little Englands' in France, like in the Dordogne and in Provence. Sometimes humour needs no language and the French are full of fun. We chose a seat at the end of one of the tables and were soon joined by some old friends. Zebulon (Gilles) and Michelle were keen to talk with us as we are to assist them next year for the French VIM, and we had matters to discuss. Zebulon was also keen to use his English and me keen to use my French so it was a curious exchange.
Salade well tossed as the entree, saucisse with cornichons, etc. Lasagne for main dish. A huge plate of various cheeses was quickly devoured, nobody fancying the soft cheese on offer. Then apple pie. The only wine available was red wine - but plenty of it. A volonte (never ending). Le Chef (Jacques Segret) presented me with a 2014 VaraForez T shirt which I was very pleased to receive. We think that Jacques welcomes us because we try to speak French and to fit in.
Alex and Le Chef addressed the multitude, telling us about the programme, the tiroir system, safety, etc. Note the Royal Enfield T shirt. Cathymi (Michel and Cathy) brought a Bullet, as their usual BMW was out of action for this meeting.
DAY 39th May 2014 Friday
To breakfast at 0730 and on the bikes and all away by 0840 hrs. Lots of bendy roads and magnificent scenery with a long stop at what appeared to be a bird of prey centre. This was very entertaining with a horseman showing how a medieval knight would have handled a hawk when hunting. The people flew all manner of different birds across and through us, one being set up so that it took TinTin's hat off. The vulture was amazing. After the show we were led through a tunnel system, where Didier secreted himself amongst the ghostly apparatus and proceeded to frighten the ladies. After a stop for coffee on the way back we arrived at 6pm after a long day's riding, filling up at 771 miles. There was an anniversary cake, with dinner comprising salad, saucisse with pomme de terre, cheese and coffee. We sat with Tony Montiel and two Belgians. We managed to talk with Zebulon about next year's VIM17 in the Aveyron.
DAY 4 10th May 2014 Saturday
To breakfast and then all on the bikes and away on a day of surprises at 9.30am. The weather was superb. I wish that I knew the names of all thse amazingly beautiful places. We had lots of laughs as we went round the various sites that you will see below, the tiroir system of bike control working perfectly.
Le Chef always lines the bikes up like this for a group photograph. These are the Varaderos.
Some of the ladies, Boubi, Therese and ?
.....and some of the mascots.
We arrived just after a marriage party had tied the knot.
Back to base and to dinner with speechs, thanks and plans for the future.
A further duty involved the removal of a particularly untidy growth. Sebastian was brought to the front and presented with a covered tray that was to reveal a shaving kit to remove a beard, a particularly untidy one, a beard that Sebastian;s wife Sandrine had no fondness for. The room was convulsed with laughter. Sandrine was very pleased.
All thanks to the staff who had looked after us so well. This had been a lovely stay for us, yet another example of French hospitality and a toleration of 'Les deux anglais'. Thank you Jacques and friends. One day we will speak better French.
DAY 511th May 2014 Sunday
To breakfast with our friends for the last time. All packed and off at 8.25am. 929 miles on the clock. Filled up at 985 miles, took the new section of the A89, worrying about a lack of fuel stations. The GPS didn't know where we were. Refuelled at 1212 miles, lots of rain, home at 1463 miles. The end of another French adventure. Let's do it all again next year - hopefully!
To contact us please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jess or Theresa Jephcott, Fordham, near Colchester, Essex, England, CO6 3LZ
tel 07714 250949
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last updated 310515