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2022 Excursion to Cantal region France


Well-Known Member
May 27, 2010
My wife and I had a recent trip to France curtesy of “Espace” Cantal. The organisation’s proprietor is Michel Couret.
he does a number of trips usually 3-4 days, hotels and food included. This one is called “Hivernale” or “winter” I suppose. The theme is “driving in the snow”, well there was no snow, but this didn’t stop us having a ball. My French is only menu French really but we seem to get by right enough and we were the only english entrants, but the the french people in the event were absolutely lovely, warm and friendly.
The cars were a good mix of Toyota Surf, 80 series and 100 and 105 s, Jeep wranglers and the two seater quads which they call SSV, ( side by side vehicle?) no bikes.
I think because usually the tracks selected would be difficult with snow were probably very tame in the normal weather, but the weather we had was more like a very warm spring! And day 1 was really like very nice green leaning, stops for tea and cake were the norm and the French were quick to invite us to join them , of course conversation was a bit sparse but pleasant time nonetheless .
Day 2 was a lot different, I suspect this road book was his reserve for when there was no snow as it really put the vehicles through their paces, we learnt that a number of cars leave out the difficult sections and then circumvent to the next village or identifiable location. Day 2 for me was just great, exactly the type of froading I enjoy, technical, not bash and crash, difficult enough for my Duchess to decant and walk or take pics, got the old ticker pumping I can tell you. The downside is the side of my bruiser looks like it’s been washed with a wire brush, but hey, I bought this car with the intention of froading, no dents or breakage though,
On day 3 we inadvertently went on a wrong track . It ran next to a wire fence to right which guarded a jungle and a down sloping meadow to the left, After about 150 metres the rear overtook the front and we slid down the meadow backwards totally out of control. we slewed to a stop a few metres short a ditch big enough to swallow the car, The duchess said “ why didn’t you use the brakes?” Well I did, it was so slippery it was hard to stand up, odd, because there had been no rain.
IT took 3 winch pulls to get back up the slope and the jungle provided good winch anchors in the form of mature trees to winch from. What a Palava! I got the Duchess to drive( very gently) and operate the winch, my job was to ensure the cable wound on the drum ok, which it didn’t, High priority is to change from wire rope to nylon the same as I have on my Froader,
So, after a cup of tea, a fair number of biscuits we decided that as we only had a page or so of the road book to complete to quit whist we were winning and headed for home by road (Satnav)
The event is centred at StFlour which is south of Clerment Ferrand in the centre of France. We took three days of lovely hotels and food to get there and two days of gourmet foods to return, For us, it’s a holiday and it’s all part of the excursion. But it could obviously be done on a budget.
My car, the bruiser, performed excellent, but I used an awful lot of fuel which on my return is now being addressed,
Sadly for me, bud gladly for her, the next trip is skiing, that’s her delight, she is very sporty the duchess, for an old gel of 67 she does marvellous.
I’ll try and get some pics on here, Best regards to all, Bill Westley
Hi Bill,
That sounds really interesting.
Do you have a link to their site?
Just tried but all the links I tried were hiking stuff.

Many thanks,

Hello this is his email
[email protected]
His company is called Espace decouvert based in StPoncy near StFlour , very nice man, I met him a few years ago on a 4x4 event in Corsica, best regards, Bill Westley
Sounds like a great trip, it’s a lovely area isnt it
we Spent a couples weeks driving the lanes in Massif Central - very pleasant and some great wild camp spots
Hello again , I have had the pleasure of enjoying several really good events in this area. this one, Hivernale, another one by Michel called “ Shepherds track” different hotel every night, about 100+ km every day, another by a different club called The Bouclier Auverne and another called “ Rond de Bois Nois” or circuit of the black woods ( forest?)
the toughest being the Bois Noir, tougher than the Trophy Cevenol. Remember, these ain’t the Paris Dakar, just good events for clubman level drivers, all about fun, bon amis, good food and a tipple in the evening.
As I said I don’t parle francais but anyone can get by with a good attitude and sense of humour. The French love their froading as we do and they love the fact we can modify our trucks without
“ big brother” punishing them.
Of course they have the same issues, the one that continues to puzzle me is that when you see a really great looking truck with all the kit, we all tend to attribute incredible driving skills to to the one in possession ,
Well, how many times we have seen “ all the gear, no idea” but still we go the same route and think they must be great drivers, yep we all do it. These events are really froading , not overlanding, I love both disciplines, I generally use my Hybrid for these although not on this occasion and use the bruiser for overland adventure.
The bruiser does it all with absolute aplomb.
best regards to all, Bill Westley