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International Visit to Clermont-Ferrand      May 5 - 8  2016

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A group of eight members and partners travelled over to Clermont-Ferrand, in the Auvergne region of France for the 2016 “Rencontre”

between the Rotary Clubs of York, Erlangen, and Aubusson.  


Graham and Judith Todd included the weekend in an extended tour of France by car, whilst the others – Mike and Eliz Fieldsend, Sheila Weatherburn,

Nigel and Diana Naish, and Brian Joscelyne – all journeyed by train (actually four trains..) on a 12-hour marathon via Paris and Lyon!

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 International Visits Index

    (click page required)

Visit to Erlangen May 2012 Clubs Visit to York, June 2011

President Alain addresses the group at the opening dinner

Visit to Clermont-Ferrand May 2016

The first evening an informal dinner at the hotel in Clermont included welcoming speeches by Aubusson president Alain Beraud,  with English and German translations provided by Bert and Bell Gietelink, also from Aubusson but originally from Holland.  It was the first of several lengthy but very enjoyable meals with food and drink equally taken in typical French style.



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A very full programme of visits started on the Friday morning, organised through the local Clermont tourist office.  The region is known for its (extinct – we think!) volcanoes, and our tour took in beautiful mountainous scenery – and snow – as we climbed up to 1500 metres.  The first stop was at Orcival, where a splendidly-preserved Romanesque basilica, the Notre Dame d’Orcival, was the highlight, especially a beautiful statue of the Virgin and child Jesus.  This was the first of several churches on the itinerary (we saw 4 of the 5 Romanesque churches in the region, all of them of very similar design and age – keeping them separate in our minds became a challenge!!)



After viewing Lac de Guery and Murol,  a stop was made at a farm shop (GAEC de l’Oiseau) which specialises in St Nectaire cheese – made from unpaturised  milk – and jambon, which being at very reasonable prices, were snapped up by most of us. Although the cheeses can be chilled and even frozen, they did result in quite pungent luggage during our return journey to York!












Lunch (2 hours) was taken in a restaurant next to Lac Pavin, a meteoric crater lake some 100 metres deep, nestled in trees.  Then after visiting Besse en Chandesse a village with a rich architectural past, cobbled streets and walled defences – one of the fiefs of the Medicis – we visited two more Romanesque churches, recently refurbished and repainted thanks to EU grants, at St Nectaire and St Saturnin.  




After a quick one-hour refresh back at our Best Western “Hotel des Puys”, further excellent fellowship ensued at dinner.

The following day was more local, with a walking tour of the old city of Clermont, including – you guessed it – their Romanesque church and also the more recent gothic Cathedral, Basilica Notre Dame.  




We then moved, thanks to a very modern tram system, to the Michelin factory complex, including the Stadium (home to the 2010 French Champions ASM Clermont rugby union team) where even McDonalds had to change their livery colour to the blue and yellow ASM colours!


The final Gala Dinner was held at the summit of the Puy de Dome, the highest landmark just outdie Clermont, reached in 20 minutes by very comfortable cable-car trams.  The views of Clermont and the surrounding volcano area from the summit were superb, and with a 5-course dinner, exchanges of gifts and speeches from Presidents Alain and Mike, and Erlangen organiser and Past President Jurgen Vetter – even the playing of a Rotary anthem/hymn which was a novelty to all of our party (!) – the evening was a great culmination of the weekend with our international friends old and new.  



The next “Rencontre” was agreed as being in May 2018 and will be hosted by ourselves in York.


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Our three-course lunch was at the Oval Brasserie (not, thankfully, McDonalds) where the chairs bear the names of famous ASM players,  and the afternoon was taken up with an extended tour of the Michelin exhibition area – who knew there was so much to know about tyres?!


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Bert Gietelink translates!

Auvergne countryside

Outside Notre Dame d'Orcival

View from GAEC farm shop near Murol

Notre Dame d'Orcival

Lunch near Lac Pavin

Eglise de St Nectaire

Romanesque church (St Nectaire?)

Touring Basse

Basse et St Anastaise

Eglise de St Nectaire

Touring Clermont

Main square, Clermont

Romanesque Notre Dame du Port, Clermont,

Outside the hotel, ready for the "off"

Lunch at the Oval

Horst sporting a "borrowed" hat !

Lunch at the Oval

Inside the Michelin Museum

Clermont with Puy de Dome in the distance

Alain Beraud,

Jurgen Vetter

Mike Fieldsend

Saturday night's Gala Dinner

Saturday night's Gala Dinner

Click photos to enlarge


Sharing a joke at Lac Pavin

Visit to York, May 2018