France is a Catholic country with strong links to its past. I love coming across little shrines dotted around medieval walled towns and roadsides – some quaint stone carvings, some amusingly tacky. But in Puy-en-Velay this lovely French tradition is taken to a whole new level. Huge statues and even a church perch precariously on top of volcanic pillars that jut out of the otherwise flat earth like stalagmites. Their looming presence gives the overall effect of being constantly watched over. I wouldn’t like to be a pickpocket here.