One of the benefits of slow travel is the possibility to see or visit things that most tourists don’t see. A long time ago, in a galaxy much like ours, I had the opportunity to study French in France for about half a year. One of the benefits of participating in a language school is that they tend to have sightseeing trips. One such trip offered at my school was to Le Sidobre, a pretty random corner of France.
Le Sidobre, located in central France, essentially is a granite plateau covered with forests and littered with giant rocks. I can see the eye-roll from here. Yes, rocks. Rocks can be cool, actually – it is all about the presentation. And at Le Sidobre, Mother Nature certainly had some fun with presentation.
About 300 million years ago, molten magma became trapped under the Hercynian Range (mountains). According to geologists (I assume), much of the range has been eroded over time but there still remains the Massif Central, the Montagne Noire, and Le Sidobre. The erosion exposed the molten magma long cooled into rock composed of minerals such as quartz and mica. As you know, erosion is caused by elements such as wind and rain. These elements carved through the rock, breaking off pieces here and there. Eventually, someone realized, hey! These rocks actually look like things we know! And that is how the park at Le Sidobre was born. Okay, maybe not exactly but the rocks here were carved by erosion and some of them actually do look like things we know.
A visit to Le Sidobre pretty much consists of strolling through the forest, admiring landscape, and looking at rocks quizzically. Here are some of the rocks that I came across. Can you guess what these rocks are called?
One: Le roc de l’oie (Goose Rock)
Two: Les trois fromages (The Three Cheeses)
Three: Le fauteuil du diable (Devil’s Chair)
Four: L’elephant (Elephant)
There are also many rocks that don’t really look like anything but they still have been bestowed a name of some sort. The Wall of Death is a tall chunk of rock so I guess it can be Death if one were to run full tilt into it head first. There is also the Peyro Clabado which is 780 tons of rock balancing on 1sqm of boulder. Of course I stood under it.
The forest of Le Sidobre is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. The dearth of tourists generally means one can wander the trails in peace, admire the huge boulders littering all corners. If rock fascinates you, you can also score a tour of the nearby quarry. If not, spend some time chilling at the lake just taking in the nature around you. It does make a nice change from the usual city based sightseeing but without the full-on effort of going deep into the natural world.