Clermont Miscellanea

The Auvergne region (similar to a state in the US) has been getting a lot of good tourist press lately.  The Lonely Plant travel guide ranked it in the top 10 regions to visit for 2016.  You can read the article here.  Another article about the top 10 reasons to visit Auvergne was recently featured on The Local, an English-language news site about France.

I’m not sure whether I’m happy that the region has been “found” or not.  It was always sort of amusing to hear French natives from other parts of the country talk of it as either hickville farm country or an industrial hell.  I was chatting with a guy from Belfort, France temporarily working here in Greenville at the GE turbine plant the other evening.  I mentioned we really enjoyed our stay in Clermont-Ferrand.  His response: “what is there to do there?”

Well, one of the things we enjoyed doing was going to the village of Chamalieres (our suburb) ladies volleyball tournaments.  The turn-out was amazing and the crowd was always enthusiastic and loud.

The Chamalieres Lady Panthers

The team was fun to watch as they were all amazingly athletic.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t all Chamalieres natives though.

Lady Panthers in action

We signed Sarah up with the club beginners league so she could get some exposure to team sports and exercise.  She loved it and one of the senior players was her coach.  Not sure she’s going to grow up to be this tall though.

Volleyball girls are not short.
Volleyball girls are not short.

Other activities that were popular involved soaring around the chain of volcanoes and mountains.  Lots of hang-gliders and such on any given sunny day and often hot air balloons too.

Chain-de-Puys balloon over the Cathedral
Chain-de-Puys balloon over the Cathedral

This aeronaut took off from Parc Montjuzet in town one evening and I thought he was going to hit one of the houses in the neighborhood before he gained enough altitude.  I took this picture from the back porch.

Pink Ladies after the 5k fun run.
Pink Ladies after the 5k fun run.

Clermont also hosts a 5k charity fun run each spring called “La Clermontoise” to raise money for breast cancer charities.  This year there were almost 20,000 participants who raised over 209,000 euros!

Construction next door
Construction next door

In other news the neighbor stopped me one day and requested the name and address of our landlord.  He explained that they were going to be doing some home renovation and needed to put up some scaffolding on our driveway.  By law he had to give the property owner a certain amount of notice before putting construction equipment on our property.

Narrow driveway!
Narrow driveway!

In late April the construction began.  Apparently they were going to take the roof off and add another level to the top of the house!  I guess when the property size is limited that’s the only direction to go.  Unfortunately our garage was under the back of the house and I had to get up and down the driveway to use it.  We did manage to squeeze by the scaffolding, but without that extra meter of width the clearance was mighty tight!

Construction trailer and scrap yard on the other side.
Construction trailer and scrap yard on the other side.

The contractor brought in a construction trailer/office and scrap dumpster and put them in the empty lot on the OTHER side of us as well.  We were starting to feel a bit hemmed in.

Going up
Going up

At least they seemed to be making progress, unlike some French construction we had observed.  The house was beginning to look a bit strange though.

Wood over stucco?
Wood over stucco?

When they started putting up rough wooden boards over the top of the stucco I really began to wonder.  I had assumed the intent was to maintain the same look and style as before but perhaps not…

Oh mon Dieu!

We weren’t there long enough to see the completed project.  I think I’m glad!  Our neighbor sent us this picture.  We were rather shocked!!

French Driver's Manual
French Driver’s Manual

Speaking of leaving, this was my constant throne-room companion for three years, right up until we moved back.  Kate said my driving steadily improved as my French got better and better!

Resto name lost in translation
Resto “Eat Me”

Some things just don’t translate literally to English very well though.  This boutique restaurant down by the bus station cracked me up every time I went past it.  Bon appetite, er um, not!

A plus tard a tous.

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