Nature in Auvergne

Nature in Auvergne


The scenery
 • Although they are by far the main attraction, the Auvergne volcanoes, which are also known as "puys" in French, are only part of the diversity in the region. Around the Puy-de-Dôme (1475 m), which is perfectly conical in shape, and the Puy de Sancy (1887 m), the highest point in the Massif Central, there are many other types of landscape: the rolling hills of the Combrailles and the Bourbonnais to the north, the wooded monts du Forez to the east, the volcano ridges in Cantal and Le Velay to the south, etc. And don't miss the gorges in the Haut-Allier or the wild plateaux around Aubrac and the Cévennes... Here and there, many land-se references can be seen, such as the well-known Tronçais oak grove,  to the northwest, on the edge of the Berry region, which bears witness to environmental resource management since the time of Colbert, under the reign of Louis XIV. Or the "sucs", the typical volcanic landscape rising up between Velay and Haut-Vivarais, including the Gerbier-de-Jonc mountain, which marks out the sources of the Loire.

Gastronomy and local produce
 • The profusion of PDO cheeses (Cantal, Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d'Ambert, Salers...)  have of course made the Auvergne famous. Here, a sandwich lunch is something of an institution, and mealtimes are obviously convivial, especially when it comes to the traditional "aligot" (melted cheese in mashed potatoes) and the high quality meat: fin gras beef from Mézenc or veal from Salers. All that can be enjoyed in one of the beautiful inns to be found in the north Aveyron, or in a "jasserie" (a farm in the Livradois) near Ambert, or in an authentic "buron" in Cantal (a summer pasture house made of stone and the roofing slates known as lauzes) around Lioran.

 • But before stopping for food, there is the pleasure of hiking. The Puy mountain range, full of green peaks and perfectly round crater lakes, opens up beautiful vistas, along the GR 30 and GR 4 in the massif du Sancy, between the Mont-Dore and Besse-en-Chandesse: the Lac de Servière, Lac de Guéry and the astonishing Lac Pavin surrounded by forest. You can also walk along the crests of the Puy-Marie and the Puy du Plomb du Cantal, to examine the marks in the landscape of a giant caldera, a huge ancient crater. There is also the GR 4-41 around Volvic, where the springs abound (the region is famous for them) and the mountain streams or "couzes".

Elsewhere, themed hikes will show you the history of knife making in the region of Thiers with the Sentier des Rouets (the grinders' workshops, with their little water mills which powered the tools) or the paper-makers' route around Ambert (a local occupation since the fifteenth century).

The holy city of Puy-en-Velay, an important stage on the Santiago pilgrimage, is located at the crossroads of several major hiking trails (C): the GR 65 or Via Podiensis (the Santiago pilgrimage) which leads to the southwest and the Cantal region, the GR 70 (Stevenson's road) which goes off to the southeast and the Cévennes and the GR 3 which goes towards the Mézenc.

Le Velay also has two delightful green routes, near Dunières and Solignac-sur-Loire. And cyclotourists can have a wonderful time come the summer months on the little roads of the Hautes-Chaumes du Forez, towards the Col des Supières for example. The region is full of open-air leisure activities.


Things to see