The dead centre

This is Culan, one of the places that claims to be the geographical centre of Metropolitan France.

When I arrived here I realised that I’ve been here before, when I did the trip from Dunkirk to Perpignan. I may even have taken the same photo. During that trip I went through Bruere-Allichamps, which also claims to be the centre, but has a nice Roman milestone to mark it. Nearby Huriel, which I haven’t been to, is another contender.

This part of France is Le Grand Meaulnes country. After Culan, which has a nice castle, but is otherwise a dump, I passed through Vesdun, a pretty little place much better suited to being the centre of the country, and has a sign telling you the way to the lost world. 

Jacques Tati invented a lost world too, which is in nearby Saint-Severe-sur-Indre:

And so, probably, did George Sand, who wrote about this area. I know nothing about her, other than her fondness for Chopin, and cross-dressing. La Chatre has a nice-looking museum about her, which might have told me more, but it’s closed for the whole of 2017.

In any case, the Indre is a lovely river, and La Chatre’s a lovely town. This is the way out, where the tanneries used to be:

The first Perrier and coffee stop today was Neuvy-Saint-Sepulchre, which has a unique-in-France basilica modelled after the holy sepulchre in Jerusalem. 

It’s a stop on one of the roads to Compostela, and St. James has kindly provided cockleshell ashtrays for pilgrims who smoke:

After Vesdun I had a very exhilarating ride through country lanes down into Vallon-en-Sully. I’d hoped to arrive in time to collect my next maps from the Post Office, but it was closed… missed it by 10 minutes.
I caught the train to Montlucon where I’m holed up for two nights. Will collect the maps tomorrow and plot my next move. It’s more than 400km to Avignon, so I won’t be able cycle there, through the hills of Livradois-Forez and the Ardeche, in time for Saturday.

One thought on “The dead centre

  1. I’ve seen that first photo before too; still a good snap! No point in doing yourself a mischief; hire a car……..

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