Sundays are typically a very slow and quiet day for us. The large majority of stores and restaurants are closed and it seems that French people in general spend a lot of time indoors during the colder days, or some type of recreational activity outside- walking, going to the park or hiking. With the long school days, activities and walking that make up much of our time each week, the boys are pretty wiped out on Saturday and Sunday.
Whereas back home, we would still typically run errands in the mornings on the weekend and then hang around the house in the afternoons, the boys would be out on the street playing with friends (oh, how we miss our street and neighborhood friends!) but it would be rare that they would be inside, on the couch, being lazy.
It seems that we’ve had a bunch of cold, rainy Sundays, so this doesn’t help to motivate us to get out and do something active. But one Sunday a week or two ago, here in March, we woke up to a beautiful, mild (60s!) morning that was completely opposite the rainy cool day that had been forecasted. As a result, we hadn’t made any crazy plans to go anywhere, but were just dying to get out and move to escape cabin fever. Here in Clermont, we are surrounded by lots of hiking trails up in the hills or out in the country, usually a 20-60 minute drive.
Gergovie plateau is 15km drive from Clermont and marks the site of the Battle of Gergovia, where Vercengetorix (a famous French king and chieftain of the Averni tribe and famous war hero here in Auvergne) who defeated Julius Caesar during Roman invasions in the year 52 BC (!) We thought it would be interesting to explore some of the area. Of course, after lunch when we were planning to leave, the sky opened up out of nowhere with the craziest thunderstorm and hail!! (both VERY rare here in this region of France). We debated going, but decided to risk it and after the rain stopped, we hopped in the car and off we went.
We drove on and on through the country and up windy roads until we finally came to it. We parked and started a hike which took us all the way across the plateau. At the start, we found this old Michelin plaque that is one of many posted throughout Auvergne marking various historic sites.
Along the way, we stopped and saw several different ruins (building foundations, cisterns) that archaeologists have dated back to as recent as 15 AD.
While some of them had been overgrown with grass, you could still walk along the general structures and with the help of guides posted along the way, imagine what they would have looked like.
The weather was touch and go- off to the right, there were black clouds and thunder and lightening way off in the distance; to the left- sun and clear skies.
The views were beautiful of the Limagne plains below and especially overlooking our city of Clermont. We could spot the big black cathedral near our apartment, which is always fun and helps us find home easily.
We decided to risk it and keep hiking the loop back to the main parking area where the monument is. And as we were walking, we saw a tiny rainbow off in the distance.
and stopped over and over again to admire the view…
The monument was erected by Napoleon III in honor of Vercingetorix. When we got to the monument, it was so much bigger than I expected.Behind it is a ridge where people come to fly kites and from this point you can see several other cities that sit out beyond Clermont.
Though the sky looked black by the time we got back to our car, it never ended up raining and we had sun the rest of the evening. What a fun day!