Tottie’s Tours of the Auvergne – discover central France

Tottie’s Tours of the Auvergne – discover central France

Has reading about the Auvergne in the Sell the Pig series  made you yearn to visit this unspoilt region of central France yourself? Tottie’s Tours of the Auvergne are relaunching with a totally new look for 2016. So it’s time to start planning your holiday in France.


Tottie’s Tours of the Auvergne give you the chance to discover many of the beautiful places in the Auvergne region of central France described in the four books in the Sell the Pig trilogy (you have to read Book 4 to understand the maths!) – Sell the Pig, Is That Billinge Lump?, Mother Was It Worth It? and Biff the Useless Mention.


You can also visit some of the places mentioned in the ‘chickality’ travel memoir I wrote jointly with Jill Pennington, Take Three Birds.

Where to stay in the Auvergne

What’s different with the new look Tottie’s Tours is that you set your own budget and I’ll find you the accommodation to suit. From clean, comfortable chalets and mobile homes at the nearby campsite (English spoken), or a comfortable self-catering holiday let to a delightful B&B, perhaps even one in a château.

2014 Estives Banne d'Ordanche

Fully flexible itinerary

Stay as many days as you choose and I’ll arrange an itinerary to suit, to include the best of the local sites. Why not extend your holiday in Europe by carrying on over the border into Italy after discovering the Auvergne? There you can enjoy a luxury glamping (glamorous camping) holiday in Jill Pennington’s charming Goat Cottage, in the Apennines. It’s where DI Ted Darling and his partner Trev spent their holidays recently! That way you get to meet two of the famous Three Birds.

Goat Cottage

So why not get in touch and let me help you to discover the Auvergne, whatever your budget? Simply use the contact page on this website, or email me direct at

The friendly, beautiful Auvergne is waiting to welcome you. What are you waiting for?


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Sell the Pig – this little piggy had a makeover

I absolutely love the cover for Book 3 in the #SellthePig  series, ‘Mother Was It Worth It?’ A piece of really inspired design, and the little pig in the corner seems to have won everyone’s heart.

It got me thinking that it was about time Book 1, Sell the Pig itself, had a makeover. Once I got started on that track, I decided I might as well do a few tweaks to the copy whilst I was about it.

As you know, once I start talking, I find it hard to stop, so I quickly found I’d added more than ten thousand words, including two brand new chapters. Then I had a muck about with the format, adding chapter headings to bring it more into line with Books 2 and 3.

I realised I’d not made enough of two iconic features of the Auvergne region, red cows and volcanoes, so I set about remedying that, armed with my trusty camera. I’m not much of a photographer, although the shot of the Garabit Viaduct on the cover is one of mine. But how difficult could it be to photograph cows? After all, there are loads of them about here, the beautiful mahogany red Salers which typify the region.

Huh! Cows have to be the most awkward of photographic models ever! Whenever you point a camera at them, one of them will always either stick a tongue up their nose, chew the cud so their jaws and crossed and they look goofy or turn round and flash their fanny at you.


Bums to you

If you can overcome those two problems, then you get flies photo-bombing the shot, all over the poor cow’s face. Finally, though, I managed to find a cow with not too demanding an agent who consented to stand still, the right way round, not chew the cud or do that nose trick and just generally look whimsical.

And here is the resulting brand new cover, designed by DMR Creative. I do hope you will like it.

SellThe Pig#5

Because of the amount of changes and the new Kindle rules, you cannot, unfortunately, get the updated version free as used to be the case. I certainly don’t expect people to pay the full price for the new version if they have already bought the first edition. So for one weekend only, 4/5 October 2014, it going to be at the special offer price of 99c, which is around 77p depending on the exchange rate.

I’m not advertising this special offer far and wide as I really want it to be for people who have already read and enjoyed the #SellthePig series. So make sure you snap up your bargain quick as it won’t be repeated, and please feel free to share the news amongst your friends.

As ever, would love to have your feedback! And keep watching this space for news of a very exciting new book which I’m co-authoring with two friends, which will be out in time for Christmas. Enjoy your reading!


Tottie’s Tours – discover the beautiful Auvergne

Welcome to Tottie’s Tours, your chance to discover for yourself the beautiful Auvergne and meet writer Tottie Limejuice

Starting April 2015


The purpose of these holidays is to share with you the stunning splendour of the Auvergne and to give you the opportunity to discover some of the sights and meet some of the people mentioned in the Sell the Pig series of books.


Where else could you possibly stay but at Les Hirondelles, Chabanol, with friendly and welcoming hosts Christine and Geoff, mentioned several times in the books. In a quiet setting with outstanding views you’ll find clean and comfortable accommodation for your adventure. Tottie’s Tours are principally self-catering, although certain meals are included in the price (see itinerary).


The self-contained gîte

You will stay in independent self-catering accommodation, a self-contained gîte, with all the facilities you need. There are two bedrooms, each accommodating two people. One room has a double and a single bed, the other has two single beds. Should anyone prefer to sleep on their own, there are two clic-clacs (bed settees) in the sitting room.


Sitting room with wood burner for colder evenings

There is a shower and separate toilet on the ground floor, with ample hot water for four people. The kitchen is shared, if you decide to cook together instead of going out to eat.


The main house

Group Size

To make the Tours warm and personal, the maximum group size any week is four people. You can either group yourself or the organisers will group you. Please note this may mean you sharing a room with someone you have not yet met, although we hope you would be in touch with one another before the Tour begins. It’s all part of the adventure!

A car is essential for the group. Please consider car sharing wherever possible to make the holiday as green as a Tottie’s Tour should be. Please note: no transport is provided, but we will try to arrange the groups so there is room in a car for anyone without their own transport.


Part of the spirit of a Tottie’s Tour is to have adventures! So you will have free days to go off exploring by yourself. Geoff and Christine will suggest routes and visitor attractions and I will meet up with you at the beginning of your stay, and during the week, to see how the adventure is going.

For all your self-catering needs, there is the small town of Sauxillanges just a ten-minute drive from your accommodation and there are plenty of good restaurants in the area. Eating out in the Auvergne is generally very good and not expensive. You can usually find a very good meal for anything between €12 and €30. Meals are usually four courses, starter, main, cheese board and dessert, and wine is sometimes included in the price.


Day Activity
Saturday Arrival late afternoon, meet Geoff and Christine. Settle into your accommodation then join your hosts for an evening meal
Sunday Breakfast with Geoff and Christine. A leisurely morning settling in, and a suggested trip to town for food supplies. After lunch (not included) a visit from Tottie Limejuice, armed with home made cake, to discuss the week and answer your questions. Evening meal is your responsibility, either prepared in the gîte or eaten out
Monday Free day for exploring. Note that many attractions and restaurants are closed on Mondays but the train to the summit of the Puy de Dôme is usually running. There are food outlets at the summit but they are aimed more at tourists than adventurers so you might prefer to eat nearby or take a picnic.
Tuesday Another free day for an adventure from the list of places to visit
Wednesday Meet up with Tottie in her hometown of Olliergues. Enjoy a leisurely lunch out at a typical Auvergnat restaurant on your way over, then meet Tottie for a guided tour of the town and some of its characters. A great opportunity to buy gifts and souvenirs like fabulous artisan soap, handmade pencils from a colourful craftsman character and delicious local cheese
Thursday A free day to do as you please. If you want to visit a typical French market, you’ll find a bustling one at Ambert, a pleasant drive from your accommodation
Friday Meet Tottie for lunch at the Bar le St Thomas, as mentioned in the books. Enjoy a fabulous meal, buy some boxes of excellent fudge and linger over a very long and leisurely meal. Now the ice is firmly broken, Tottie will regale you with some of the tales which didn’t make the editor’s cut of her books. You’ll be departing after breakfast on Saturday – please ensure your accommodation is in the same clean and tidy state in which you found it.

Suggested visits

The Auvergne is absolutely full of fabulous places to visit, you’ll find you simply don’t have time to see them all. Your hosts will be happy to make suggestions but here are a few:

The iconic Puy de Dôme volcano and its rack railway. Don’t worry, it’s dormant!

The Massif du Sancy which boasts the highest volcano in France.

For a wet day, there’s Vulcania to learn all about the region’s volcanoes.

The Maquis (resistance) memorial and museum at Mont Mouchet and the nearby Garabit Viaduct, as featured on the cover of ‘Mother, Was It Worth It?’

Any of the designated Most Beautiful Villages of France, notably nearby Usson and Montpeyroux.

Characterful nearby towns for shopping and sight-seeing, like Issoire, Ambert, La Chaise Dieu and, of course, the regional capital, Clermont-Ferrand.

How to get there

The Auvergne’s Puy de Dome region is more or less in the centre of France. Allow roughly 7.5 hours to get from Calais to your accommodation, mostly easy motorway driving. There are good flights into Clermont-Ferrand airport from hubs like Paris and from some UK regional airports, and you can hire a car there. You’ll find details of how to get to your accommodation here.


A word about the Auvergnat weather – it is predictable only for its unpredictability! It’s usually lovely but it has its moments and its climate can be extreme at times. Dress code for this area is casual at all times, even in smart restaurants, so your safest bet is always lots of layers, and do remember waterproofs, just in case. Your accommodation is rural and situated high up.

What’s included

Prices quoted include accommodation (bedding provided in the gîte but not towels), meals only as stipulated (dinner first night, breakfast first morning, and farewell lunch), visits by Tottie and guided tour by her around Olliergues, all gas and electricity in the gîte. Firewood is available for the gîte at €5 a panier, should the evenings turn chilly.

What’s not included

Towels in the gîte, any transport, meals other than as stipulated.

Prices (April, May, June and September – for other periods please ask)

Per person, per week, based on 4 people sharing the gîte –  €200

Please note, if you prefer not to share you can of course book your TottiesTour with the gîte exclusively for 2 people, at a cost of €300 per person, per week.

How to book

All bookings to be made direct via Tottie Limejuice Bookings to be be accompanied by a 30% deposit (non-refundable), the balance to be paid in full 4 weeks before arrival date, please. Failure to do so may result in the deposit being forfeit. Payment can be made via Paypal in sterling or euros, or by direct bank transfer in either currency. Please ask for details for your preferred payment method.

Pioneer bonus

The visitors on the very first Tottie’s Tours have the chance to be featured in Tottie’s next book! So what are you waiting for – why not book TODAY.


View from your accommodation across to the Massif du Sancy

Tottie’s Travels – Adventures in the Auvergne

Tottie takes to the road!

Just back from a short break away. I needed an enforced absence from Facebook to get on and finish editing Book III in the Sell the Pig series.

I actually ventured just outside my beloved Auvergne into the next departément, the Loire, and stayed on a delightful campsite not very far from Montbrison. I’d booked myself into a ‘chaletravane’ for four nights, basically an old caravan with two double beds in, and a spacious chalet built onto the side of it, which had a fold-away double bed settee and a kitchen/dining area. Very nice, impeccably clean, and on a working farm.

140331_ChaletravaneI opted for the bed-settee and in fact, apart from storage, didn’t use the caravan part at all as it was quite chilly at night and that was the cold part of the construction.

The dogs and I did a lot of walking, discovering the surrounding areas. We probably didn’t go all that far in actual distance, but as we managed to find old mule tracks going up and down very steep river valleys, it felt like a respectable amount of walking.

We found a beautiful walk though a very big beechwood heading towards a village called Bard

140331_Bardand then emerging into open grazing land with views back to the village


We found an amazing bird observation point for an important migratory route, with views to Mont Blanc in the distance, on a clear day, which unfortunately it wasn’t

140331_BirdsOne evening I dined en famille with the owners, which was very nice, and on Sunday I treated myself to lunch out at the excellent Auberge de Conol. Coincidentally, I had eaten there last yet when going exploring with Alex and had no idea I was going back to the same area.

After lunch I discovered a honey producer and the kind man was foolish enough to let me loose with little spoons and pots of honey to taste. I could put Winnie the Poo to shame in the honey-eating stakes! I came away with two big jars, one of honey from the local fir trees and one a mixed flowers one, heavy on the broad-leaved lime flowers, as that’s a particular fragrance of mine.

Our route back home took us over the top of the Col du Béal where there was still enough snow to block my usual route home so I took the slightly longer way down, after the dogs and I had had a nice walk over the top of the Col to look at the viewpoint. I saw a short-toed eagle close enough to count the feathers in his wings!


Really nice break, and I think, maybe, possibly, just about, I have finished tinkering about with Book III, so it should be  coming to a Kindle near you soon – watch this space!

Moving to France – why the Auvergne?

Faithful readers of Sell the Pig will already know that my decision to move to France’s Auvergne had a lot to do with a certain drinks advert.Back in the 1970s, Dubonnet was advertised with a slogan of, I think,  “Way up there” to the sound of the achingly beautiful shepherd’s song Bailero from Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne. This link is far from being the best ever version of the song but it does have the advantage of showing you some of the stunning scenery of this very green region with its hopefully extinct volcanoes.

Having listened to the music, I’d long held a desire to visit the region and as soon as I did, it captured my heart. So I was amused on a recent guided walk round a little local town, Cunlhat, (and if you think it looks hard to pronounce, I can tell you the locals pronounce it nothing like it looks!) to come across this painted gable end, advertising Dubonnet!

It’s rather ironic, as when I first began work as a cub reporter in Manchester, my editor was nicknamed Pissquick – you can guess why – and his wife was an alcoholic, whose favourite tipple was Dubonnet.

But that’s another story – perhaps for the sequel to Sell the Pig!

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