Subject: Le Puy en Velay and the Auvergne
Frances and others,

In May my husband and I spent five days in the Auvergne, and visited Le Puy en Velay as well as other sites. As you noted, it's a beatiful town featuring churches built high on the volcanic rocks. The Auvergne is a mostly rural area of France -- still relatively undiscovered by Americans, but an up and coming area for Brits who are tiring of the Dordogne. A puy is a volcanic cone, and there are 80 of them in the Auvergne. In addition to being known for the puys, this area is also where the green lentils (lentilles de Puy) are grown, and we had a delightful amuse-gueule of candied lentils with ginger at one of our meals.

I didn't watch this stage, so don't know if the Tour went up or down) the Puy de Dome, which is the tallest of the puys. It's been on the tour before - the road up winds around the volcano at a constant 12% grade, and is a marvel of engineering. On top is a Roman temple, a modern observatory, and a very well done visitor center. But, most importantly, you can see about 1/8 the land area of France on a clear day.

During our stay we visited old castles, restored homes, Romanesque churches, a paper mill that makes paper by hand (including the certificates for the Nobel prizes); we hiked on the trails around the Puy de Dome; and we just generally enjoyed a very relaxing vacation.

Our base of operations was a rented apartment in Chatel- Guyon, a small town just north of Clermont-Ferrand. It was in an art deco hotel that has been converted into apartments, and was a spectacular apartment that cost about 60 Euros a night.

Dot Allen in Silicon Valley