Spoilt for choice for places to visit in France, we didn’t quite know which direction to head in on leaving Salbris. The day we finally left the weather was as uninspiring as it was on the day we first headed there, and this time without all the 2cvs for company.
Although ultimately heading for the South West, we headed for the Massif Central area, and the Auvergne in particular (more South East-ish of Salbris) and got to the edges of this region quite quickly. We meandered through pleasant countryside trying to ignore the fact that the van was making a knocking sound again, very similar to the one we had just paid good money and waited two days in Salbris to get fixed …
We took a detour off the main D2144 route south towards Montluçon on a smaller road down the Aumance valley. Suddenly there was a small town with ruined castle towers in front of us … it was a wow moment … there were pretty cottages along the river and a medieval archway – oh, and a campsite across the river with empty pitches by the water. We did a u-turn and headed there straightaway. After Adrian made a hasty repair to the bike rack which somehow had a close encounter with the hedge on entering our pitch, we were set to explore the town.
We fell in love with this town called Hérisson. It was after walking a couple of streets and noticing lots of houses with decorative number plaques with hedgehogs on them and a couple of business were actually called hedgehog in English or had hedgehog ornaments in their window displays, that I remembered that Hérisson is French for hedgehog.
We explored the castle and climbed up to a restored chapel and wandered down most of the streets admiring the ancient houses and could almost see ourselves living somewhere just like this found quite by chance, and not in any guidebook.
The only thing that stopped us from lingering in the town called hedgehog was the promise of more elegant towns deeper into the Auvergne.
By the way The elegance of the hedgehog or L’élégance du hérisson is a wonderful book by French writer Muriel Barbery.