Several weeks ago, I joked about my trip to middle-of-nowhere France, which was fairly accurate description. What I didn’t know was how much fun I’d have in middle-of-nowhere France, also known as Auvergne. Located in central France, Auvergne is famous for its cheese, volcanoes, and a rather dégoutant alcoholic beverage called verveine.

We stayed in the medium-sized town of Puy-en-Velay, best known as the beginning of the famous Santiago de Composela pilgrimage.

It was a really cute town, and well organized for tourists. Although I had been worried it would be less exciting than Cognac, it appeared a lot more was going on.

The Puy-en-Velay cathedral is famous as the starting point of the pilgrimage and is gorgeous.

My favorite part of our cathedral tour was the cloisters. The colors were fabulous.

The famous Chapelle Saint-Michel atop the rock in Puy-en-Velay. We climbed to the top.

The paintings inside the chapel were also lovely.

View from the top. It was incredibly windy.

After our hike up to the chapel, we returned to the main square in town to visit the market. My friends and I bought bread, cheese, and apple juice for a picnic on the banks of the Allier river, where we were going river rafting later in the day.

This was my view during the picnic.

River rafting as more fun than I remembered it being. We had a great guide and a six-person, all-girl raft. Our program was separated into six different rafts. At one point, we all passed rapids, stopped our rafts, and threw each other into the water. It was cold, but worth it.

We had dinner after rafting. We tasted vereine and laughed a lot.

The neon does not make the drink any more enticing. It tastes pretty much like it looks.

Our final day began at Lafayette’s chateau, which was interesting, but not particularly informative.

We continued to Abbaye Saint Robert de la Chaise Dieu. They had an organ and an orb of light.

It was incredibly cold that day. We could see our breath during hour hour-and-a-half tour of the chapel. After our tour was over, we had two hours of free time, which we promptly used to find a café and warm drinks.

“The Coffee Table” Auvergne-style. And perhaps the greatest espresso cup I’ve seen so far in France.

Overall, a successful trip. I wouldn’t suggest Auvergne as a tourist destination, but it was a great way to get to know people and see some of the French countryside.

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