The village, Le Vernet la Varenne is a five minute car ride or fifteen minute bike ride away and boasts a butchers, bakers, small supermarket, doctor, dentist and bar, it also has a pretty bathing lake with a life guard and pedaloes. Le Vernet has morning market every second Monday, ideal for savouring French village life.

Those of you who have seen the award winning film Être et Avoir, may find your surroundings familiar. The school which features in the film is only 3 kms from La Vachère.

Within easy striking distance of our hamlet there are numerous excellent restaurants. La Bergerie de Sarpoil is one of the best restaurants in the Auvergne and is a 10 minute drive away. Not only is the food and service excellent, the menu covers every price range. The Civadoux is a real country auberge, beautifully situated, again at most a 10 minute drive. The auberge serves excellent regional food. Worth noting is the fact that the Civadoux serves some very tasty artisan beers which are, of course, brewed in the Auvergne. The town of Sauxillanges 10 kilometres away has some fine restaurants and a Tuesday morning market. Nearby are the villages of Usson and St Genès la Tourette. Usson is a hilltop village that has been awarded the title of “one of the most beautiful villages in France”, it is worth a visit, and has a very good restaurant “Auberge de Margot (phone – 04737 19792). In nearby St Genès la Tourette is Bar St Thomas run by John Scannell, it has a very welcoming atmosphere , and an excellent well priced menu (phone – 04737 12831). It is always advisable to phone and book when eating out in France.

The principal town of the region, Issoire, is a twenty minute drive away and has a pretty pedestrian shopping centre beside the beautiful Romanesque church of St. Austremoine. Issoire has an excellent regional market every Saturday. The range and quality of local produce is superb; not surprising since the Auvergne is home to more appellation contrôlée cheeses than any other region of France.

As well as the Saturday market, Issoire has several small specialist shops dotted about the medieval town and three large and very well stocked supermarkets.