Usson, Auvergne: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Usson in Puy-de-Dome

Visit Usson (Auvergne, France)

PHOTO GALLERY MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

Usson is a village to the east of Issoire, in the Puy-de-Dome department on the western edge of the Parc Naturel Regional du Livradois-Forez, one of four villages in the department to be classified among the 'most beautiful villages of France'.

In the 14th century this impressive location meant that Usson was home to the most important castle in Auvergne - the castle was home to Queen Margot and her court from 1585-1605.

Exploring Usson

The village is very attractive and climbs up the side of a volcanic dome, ultimately reaching 600 metres above sea level. Driving in Usson is not permitted but there is a large car park at the bottom of the hill below the village.

View across Usson from the statue of the Virgin

Not yet firmly established on the tourist circuit, you are as likely to see a sleeping dog or a couple of chickens as another tourist. (perhaps like the Dordogne in 1955?). One or two 'artistic' type shops were open when we visited, but little else in the way of tourist traps.

Strolling through the village you will enjoy appreciating the traditional architecture and the great views across the Auvergne countryside. There are also a couple of notable highlights:

  • The Church of Saint-Maurice was built in the 12th century then expanded in the 14th century. It is very pretty, looks out across Usson and the broad sweep of coutryside of the Varennes valley below, and is a good place to stop for a moment on your way to the statue on top of the hill.
  • Although the castle can no longer be seen (it was destroyed in 1633 by Richelieu) the village still has part of the original ramparts that once defended it.

The statue of the Virgin Mary and child perhaps won't win many prizes for artistic merit but being on top of a chapel on top of the hill means it is the best place for appreciating the location, as views behind the hill suddenly also leap into view as you reach the top: on a clear day you can see across to the Massif du Sancy and the Chaine des Puys.

One other unusual feature as you climb the hill (along a small path that branches to the right) are small cliffs called 'basaltic organs' because they are made from rocks that are of the same form as organ pipes.

Basaltic organs on edge of Usson village

To visit close to Usson

Particular sites of interest in this part of the Natural Regional Parc of Livradois-Forez include the ruins of the priory at Sauxillanges, and the Chateau de Parentignat, known locally as the Auvergne Versailles.

You can also visit the town and roman church at Issoire, a town a few kilometres south-east of Usson.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Puy-de-Dome guide and the Auvergne guide.

See also:

Map of Usson and places to visit

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Tourist classifications

Usson is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)

Address: Usson, Sauxillanges, Issoire, Puy-de-Dome, Auvergne, 63490, France || GPS: latitude 45.5283, longitude 3.34

Plan your visit to Usson, Auvergne

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Eglise de Saint Austremoine d'Issoire (Issoire): religious monument (7km)
  • Jardins du ch√Ęteau d'Hauterive: remarkable garden (7km)
  • Issoire: recommended detour (7km)
  • Eglise de Notre Dame de Mailhat (Lamontgie): religious monument (9km)
  • Villeneuve-Lembron Chateau: national monument (13km)
  • Montpeyroux: most beautiful village (15km)
  • Livradois-Forez: regional natural parc (22km)
  • Bois Noirs: site of natural beauty (23km)
  • Saint-Saturnin: most beautiful village (24km)
  • Eglise Notre Dame (Saint-Saturnin): religious monument (25km)

The French version of this page is at Usson (Francais)