Thursday, September 22, 2011

Auberge des Montagnes Pailherols

The southern Auvergne is our very favorite part of France for an extended stay. Pailherols is a tiny hamlet perched atop a high plateau, the first time you drive up the winding road from Vic sur Cere down in the valley you think you'll never get there. What eventually greets you is a pretty house somewhat resembling a chalet. This is where you check in, but make sure that you've reserved your room in Les Glycines, which is their newly built annex another hundred yards down the road. Built to resemble a minicastle complete with small turrets, this overlooks a small lake with ducks and swans swimming in it. While the rooms in the main building are rather small and unpretentious, the rooms here are vast, with French doors opening upon a balcony that overlooks the lake. There is a breakfast room on the lowest level where an ample breakfast buffet is served. The evening meal is taken either in the main floor dining room or in the main house. The cuisine is Auvergnat, which translates into hearty dishes and generous portions. If someday you can get yourself to skip lunch you might try the degustation menu in the evening. This starts out with a slice of foie gras, then a whole salmoned trout, weighing at the very least three pounds, is brought to your table which Madame herself disects for you. Then only comes the main meat dish and you choose your dessert from the traditional French charriot des desserts. After that, of course, there is a cheese tray with a huge assortment of local cheeses. (General De Gaulle once observed that acountry that produced over four hundred different varieties of cheese was inherently impossible to govern and he was probably right). But if you take my advice you'll go easy on the delicious tasting, looking and smelling Auvergnat mashed potato and cheese mixture that accompanies the main meal, this will sit in your stomach like a canon ball. The place is idyllic, there are several different walks you can take that lead upward through meadows with lowing Charolais cattle to hilltops with extended views. There's both an outdoor and an indoor pool and even a small climbing wall for the kiddies. In winter the area affords excelent cross country skiing trails. At some ten minute's drive there is a castle that Louis XIV built for one of his mistresses which is nowadays part of a working farm andcan be visited. Tastes of course differ, but for both of us this region of high, isolated mountain plateaus represents the absolutely ideal setting for complete and unconditional relaxation. We spent a very happy week here.

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