With a damp and chilly Whitsun on the cards we were starting to regret our decision to spend our week away in a yurt. Yes they can keep the Mongolian hoards warm on the chilly steppes but the Limousin was experiencing its latest frosts since the ice age!
So with some trepidation we set off with the car full of jumpers and left our sun block at home. 15 hours later we were still driving! The drive to the Eurotunnel terminal was great but even by 8:30 Eurotunnel was already running one hour late and by the time we left it was two hours late. On the first really busy Saturday of the year – goodness only knows what it was like by mid afternoon!
This set us back all the way down. That and the fact that Limousin is further than you think. OK it is not as far as the Dordogne, but even once you have passed the Loire there is still a lot of driving to be done! This is right on the edge of what is “do-able” in one day, with two young kids in the back!
So to be welcomed by a carafe of wine (not local, they don’t do wine in the Limousin due to the late frosts – oh how I wished I had that nugget of information before we booked) and a warm yurt was greatly appreciated and although we were absolutely knackered we forced most of the wine down our throats before we scampered into bed.
We woke up the next morning to cows lowing, sheep baaing and a frost glistening off the yurt roof. We had managed to survive our first night… these Mongolians may be a on to a good thing!
Unfortunately we were not there for a skiing holiday. We were on a farm, with streams and woods and lakes and a swimming pool.. Ah! The pool is not up yet because of the weather and the walk down by the stream is flooded. And there are no other families booked and because the French holidays do not coincide with ours they are all back at school. So not only was the weather conspiring against us but we were also going to have to entertain our own kids.
That was before the farmers youngest lad stepped forward and took it on himself to steal away our children – whatever the weather. And what a great job he did! So we were able, on the Sunday at least, to enjoy croissants and coffee safe in the knowledge that our children were somewhere in Limousin: we had taught them “bonjour” “Au revoir”, “Merci” and “voulez vous jouer cache cache?” so we thought they should be able to manage!
Our French Yurt
So our thoughts returned to the yurt. It was a good base. We had an efficient stove inside and a fire-pit outside. Solar-powered lights helped find the toilet in the dark and futons made for a slightly less uncomfortable night’s sleep than the inflatable mattresses we use when camping. The yurt was easily big enough for four but when we go camping we take an 8-man tent so we are used to a little space… I am glad we didn’t invite Grandma and Grandad!
The yurts (2 of them with 2 tipi’s) were in a field just by a converted barn that was used as a kitchen, playroom, shower room and commonroom for the guests. The good side of being the only people there was that we had it to ourselves! This made our glamping experience even more bearable and, with croissants and bread and cakes waiting for us each morning, we sometimes didn’t even notice the rain!
Because France does not have a similar holiday, the whole area did have a slightly out of season feel to it. Which, in the sun wouldn’t have mattered but whilst desperately looking for things to do we found ourselves travelling further and further afield to find places open – 30 miles to the nearest swimming pool, 35 miles to the nearest soft play area… we had decided the porcelain museum was a no-no with two small and energetic children!
This part of France is super for outdoor pursuits – walking, biking, tree-climbing, swimming – but if the weather is against you, you have a problem!
Skinny Dipping in the Rain at lac de Saint Pardoux
Half way through the week, on our 70 mile round trip to a soft play area in Limoges (and the best Moules Frites and burgers we have had in a long time) we stopped off at Lake Saint Pardoux – it was worth a drive round and even in the rain its clear waters were inviting enough for a quick skinny dip from its deserted shoreline.
Fortunately the last day of the week afforded us the weather to return without raincoats and spend a lovely afternoon playing on its beaches and parks surrounding the lake. Of course this is what the whole week should have been like and normally it is.
Would we go back? Yes, because surely two Whitsuns in a row can’t be that bad! And the Yurt experience was great too, although maybe next time we will go in the summer: more sun, more kids – I never thought I would say that!