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Apremont is situated some 15km from Nevers and is considered to be one of les plus beaux villages de France. Eric and Sudy, the Oldtimers, told us they had discovered it but on the day they found it, on a Tuesday, everything was fermé, an occupational hazard in France. They said they intended to moor Oldtimer at the 343 metre long aquaduct over the Allier river and cycle again up to Apremont. We decided to join them, setting off on our bikes a couple of hours after they sailed from Nevers for the ride along the canal towpath.
At the end of the aquaduct is a staircase lock which drops the canal down over 9 metres from the end of the aquaduct. We then left the canal lateral but were soon cycling along a branch line, now closed, which terminated in a unique circular lock.
A little further on we arrived at Apremont, enjoying a well earned beer in the Brasserie garden while we waited for Eric and Sudy to arrive. Lunch of moules and frites was washed down with a bottle of Menetou Salon for the second day on the trot. Its about half the price of the same wine in the UK so why not!
After lunch we first visited the Parc Floral. This beautiful garden was inspired by the one created at Sissinghurst in Kent by Vita Sackville-West. This one was the lifes work of the previous owner of the adjacent chateau, one Gilles de Brissac. There are several follies throughout the garden and Eric said he was inspired to erect one on Oldtimer.
We then adjourned to the musée des Caléches located in the stables of the Chateau. A Caléche is a horse drawn carriage of which there were several interesting examples but the real interest for all of us was an exhibition of photographs taken over a period of 15 years of farm animals and their owners. Here are just a couple of examples. The photographs were all about a square metre in size so the small format here does not really do them justice.
The chateau is closed to the public but you can walk around the ramparts. It was built originally as a prison before being converted to a residence. The village of Apremont was originally the home of local quarrymen who built their homes with lots of interesting and individual features from the soft local sandstone which they quarried. We were reminded of the hamstone villages of South Somerset, our most recent home on dry land. We were all loathe to leave Apremont on this glorious summers day but we had a 15km cycle ride back to Nevers.
Tallulah the dog rides in some style in a buggy towed by Eric but the rest of us needed some small refreshment on the deck of Oldtimer, then it was back to Nevers ever so slightly knackered after a day to remember. Our visitors arrived in Nevers a day later.
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