In the Allier (northern Auvergne) last week, we spent four nights in a gîte rural on the edge of the village of Neuvy (pop. 1,600, area 7 sq. mi.), which is more or less a suburb of the big town of Moulins nowadays. The house we stayed in is less than two miles from the (one and only) bridge across the river that takes you into central Moulins (pop. 20,000). You can see the towers of the cathedral in Moulins on the horizon in the photo below.
We weren't staying in a suburban subdivision, however. The gîte (pronounced "zheet") at Neuvy, very modern inside, is one wing of an old farmhouse, surrounded by land where horses, ponies, and goats are kept. A gîte rural is by definition a vacation rental located in a rural setting.
Other people in the "neighborhood" keep horses too, as you can see in the photo above. And still others keep big flocks of sheep (below). Natasha the puppy was thrilled to see the first horses, goats, and sheep she had ever seen. She also stayed for the first time ever in a house other than our house in Saint-Aignan. She was well behaved, but she seemed glad to get back home on Friday.
From the gîte it was only a short walk (500 m) up a narrow lane to the village center, where there's a church (l'église Saint-Vincent), the village hall (la mairie), and a boulangerie where you can get fresh bread and pastries. On Wednesday nights, a pizza truck parks out in front of the boulangerie and a man bakes fresh pizzas in an oven in the truck. We enjoyed the ones that we got there for our dinner.
According to local legend, Joan of Arc spent time in Neuvy back in the early 1400s. The church (above) dates back to the 11th century, with significant modifications in the 12th and 15th centuries. Modern suburban neighborhoods lie to the west and south of the village center. I drove through them one day just to see what they looked like.