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auvergne [2013/07/15 09:20] (current)
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 +== AUVERGNE CHEESES ==
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 +I’ve taken several holidays in the Auvergne, because (a) nobody else does and (b) the mountains suit me. They’re quite grand enough, punctuated with lakes and forest, but they lack the threatening drama of the Alps. “Mon-tagnes à vaches,​â€� they call them – and, certainly, the ruffled upland greenery does look naked if shorn of cattle. Which, in summer, it rarely is. It produces five AOC cheeses, more than any other French region, but we’re focusing on just two, bleu d’Auvergne and St Nectaire, because I like them best. The blue, created in the middle of the 19th century when a peasant injected rye-bread mould into his cheese, is sharp, creamy and less challenging than other blues, because less salted. It’s wonderful in a salad. St Nectaire, from the volcanic Monts Dore hills, is mild and nutty, and fits nicely in a farmer’s hand.
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 +Cheese strategy: bleu d’Auvergne is tricky to make, and there’s only one farm-producing outfit left. It’s run by the Vergnol brothers at Les Croix de Chazelle (00 33-4 73 21 19 28), by the gorges at Avèze, near La Bourboule – a lovely trip and visit. Meanwhile, La Ferme Bellonte, 2,700ft up in the lost hamlet of Farges, near St-Nectaire,​ has a full cheeseboard of activities. Children can also do a treasure hunt round the hamlet, though only in French. The on-site auberge has menus from £11.50 (04 73 88 52 25, www.st-nectaire.com).
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 +Stay and eat: to mix cheese and accommodation – perfect, really – head for the Ferme Randanne, at Aurières,​ east of Orcival (04 73 65 67 55, www.ferme-randanne.com;​ doubles from £38). Here, down (or rather up) on the farm, they’ll tell you all about St Nectaire, put you up simply and feed you amply for £12.50pp. Or try the mountainside Marmotte de Sancy (158 Avenue de la Bourboule, Mont-Dore; 04 73 81 15 75, www.sancy.org;​ doubles from £59), which offers light, all-wood bedrooms and sustaining food for £17pp. Le Buron de Dame Tartine (Route du Sancy, Mont-Dore; 04 73 65 28 40, www.auberge-dame-tartine.com;​ doubles from £55) has new owners, lovely rustic decor in ancient stone surroundings and a fondue with char-cuterie at £15.
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 +Getting there: the region is between Lyon and Limoges airports – about a two-hour drive from both. Fly to Lyon (see époisses),​ or Limoges, with Flybe (0871 700 2000, www.flybe.com) or Ryanair (www.ryanair.com).
  
 
auvergne.txt · Last modified: 2013/07/15 09:20 (external edit)
 
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