Volcanoes in France? Discover the mesmerizing nature in Auvergne
Located in the very heart of France, Auvergne is a unique area with a well preserved natural environment offering its visitors a real treat for both body and mind.
It is one of the largest protected natural reserves in Europe, with 109 springs (including Volvic), almost a hundred volcanoes, and more than 20,000 kilometers of waterways. The Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne calls hikers onto the slopes of Plomb du Cantal, the Puy de Dôme, the Puy Mary, or the Puy de Sancy. The Livradois Forez Regional Natural Park possesses several thousand kilometers of walking trails between forests, massifs and glacial valleys.
And as the second-most-important spa area in France, Auvergne takes care of guests with natural spring water baths in dedicated wellness centers (Vichy Célestin...), and in the region’s many spas or hammams.
The Auvergne ski stations, Mont-Dore, Besse-Super Besse and Le Lioran, also offers a whole range of winter sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, snowboarding, and more. In summer, whitewater rafting, paragliding or climbing delight thrills the sport enthusiasts.
Treat yourself with Auvergnes gastronomy... and cheese
After tackling the slopes, gourmands can savor the cheeses platters: Auvergne Blue Cheese, the Fourme d'Ambert and Saint-Nectaire cheeses, the Cantal or the Salers cheese make for a proper feast. Auvergnard cooking transforms simple products into the best comfort food.
You will find the mouthwatering aromas of the traditional petit salé made with green lentils from Le Puy, stuffed cabbages, the Auvergnard hotpot, or the truffade potato cakes, waft from the kitchens of the 40 or so restaurants recognized by the Michelin Guide.
Saint-Pourçain, Côtes d'Auvergne or rosés from Chanturgue are among the enological treasures of the Auvergne.
Heritage and know-how
The Saint-Pierre de Saint-Flour Cathedral and thein Clermond-Ferrand bear marks inscribed in their very stones of pilgrims making their way to Compostelle, World Heritage of UNESCO.
Take the opportunity also to learn about Vercingétorix, chief of the Arverni and brave warrior in the Gallic Wars, at the Gergovie House (situated on the presumed site of the battle of the same name). The Medieval Ducal Fortress evokes the Bourbon dynasty.
In Clermont-Ferrand, in the Michelin headquarters, find out all about the epic tales of the company’s history accompanied by its friendly mascot Bibendum. Sharpen your mind at the Museum of Cutlery in Thiers.
Among the major sites of the region; the Puy-en-Velay (a major pilgrimage site), Issoire and its Romanesque basilica (the most decorated in France), Riom, the Chaise-Dieu. Auvergne is home to 11 sites that are labeled among the Most Beautiful Villages in France and 7 Cities and Countries of Art and History.
Arts and culture
Art and culture come out onto the streets during the Aurillac International Festival of Street Theater, or in the Pamparina in Thiers. Movie buffs are drawn to the International Short Film Festival, and music fans to the Festival of the Chaise-Dieu (classical) or the Europavox Festival (rock, électro, hip-hop, world...). And the International Hot Air Balloon Concourse ads color to the skies and the Auvergnard countryside.
The PAL – amusement and wildlife park, Vulcania, the Lemptégy Volcano, and Paléopolis also single Auvergne out as a destination for family holidays.