Named after a hermit saint who protects horses, this town is the home of one of France's all-time cycling heroes, Raymond Poulidor. We found more good lighting opportunities in the 12th C restored collegiate church, and took photos in the square commemorating Gay-Lussac, the scientist whose name used to make Nick's classmates giggle. One the way out, we treated ourselves to some of the local specialties, Massepains, or almond cookies.
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The beautiful Vassivière lake covers 2,471 acres and was our next destination. We walked across the little footbridge to Vassivière Island, where we visited the contemporary art centre, whose image is designed like a ship flanked by a lighthouse, 89ft tall. We climbed the spiral staircase to admire the view, then went inside the long gallery, where we tried our origami skills, contributing to a current exhibit. Leaving the lake, we stopped at a little store to buy accidentally dolphin-shaped bread and cheese, which we enjoyed at a roadside picnic table.
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Aubusson has been renowned for its tapestries for the last five centuries. This was particularly interesting to us because we had been listening to Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn on tape during our journey. The novel is a fictional account of the creation of the unicorn tapestries that are now at the Cluny museum in Paris, and we learned a lot about the techniques of weaving by visiting the town. One surreal element of Aubusson (and other towns such as Argenton), is that there are loudspeakers all along the main street, blaring out pop music from a local radio station. It's like outdoor Muzak all day long and would drive me crazy if I lived there. We took some nice sunset photos here, including some lycra-clad cyclists.
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We finished our evening in Limoges, where we visited the male side of the sauna Eros followed by Turkish gyros on the pavement around 10.00 p.m. Nick drove the long journey south after that so that we could set up camp in the Dordogne area. We arrived very late at a farm campsite outside Souillac and, accompanied by the sound of a barking dog, tried to erect the tent and blow up the air mattress without waking anyone up.
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