No rain at all today!! I am sure there is a humourous remark to be  had about driving through Vichy on dry roads but perhaps a little contrived. In fact the bit of Vichy we saw was rather rundown and tatty and nothing like the grand spa it once was.

The sun shone as we serviced Bertie at the free services at Creuzier le Vieux and the temperature at 10am was 15c (it can’t last). The drive down the hill seemed even steeper than the drive up last night and the views were magnificent as we headed south once again. Quite a short run today, about 40 miles along the Allier valley through Vichy and around Thiers to Lezoux.

The ceramics museum here is based in an old ceramics factory from C19 but most of the displays were about its Roman pottery and it’s importance in the manufacture of samian ware. This shiny red pottery, often highly decorated, can be found all over the Roman empire from the first to the fourth century AD. There were several areas that produced it but this area was predominant in the 2nd century and much of the samian ware found throughout UK came from the kilns around Lezoux. It was made here on an industrial scale. A kiln could fire 10,000 items at a time and there were many such kilns in the region.

Recreation of a Roman kiln

In French this pottery is called sigillé because all samian ware is stamped with the makers name. This means that any piece can be traced back to the person who made it!

The museum was really interesting and the English audio guide helped although it would have been even better if we could have understood all the display panels as well. Clearly the museum is not set up for international visitors but to educate the locals and especially local children.

It was getting gloomy as we left the museum but we still had time for a short walk around the town itself. We were very struck by how different this place is from the other towns we have seen. It as though we have crossed an invisible border and are suddenly in the south! The roofs are much flatter and with rounded pantiles and just seem southern. It almost looks Italian.

One of the town gateways
Interior of Lezoux church

We are staying in the local aire tonight which is right beside the museum. Lots of space and several motorhomes have been to use the (not very good) services but only one other is staying over tonight.

Clouds gathering over Lezoux aire

As I write this at 6pm it has clouded up quite a bit but still no rain. This is our first entirely rain free day for ages. Sadly the forecast for the next few days suggests it may be our last dry day for a while. Just as long as the snow holds off long enough for us to get over the mountains to Le Puy on Tuesday.

Lezoux and the Ceramics Museum