Visit Auvergne, France
With volcanic landscapes and mountains, the Auvergne region has a very distinctive - and appealing - character that grows on you the more you explore and each time you visit. Among other highlights don't miss the pilgrimage town at le Puy en Velay...
Four random places to explore: discover somewhere new in Auvergne!
Auvergne - an introduction
The Auvergne is situated in central-southern France, in the centre of the Massif Central. It is largely an isolated region of mountains, and dramatically rugged countryside and rocky gorges. Clermont-Ferrand is the capital of the region, and the departments in Auvergne are: Puy de Dome, Haute Loire, Cantal, Allier
The countryside is perhaps best known for the forested volcanic landscape, within the Natural Regional Park of the Volcanoes of the Auvergne (Cantal and Puy-de-Dome departments). The scenic Parc Naturel Regional Livradois-Forez also falls within the Auvergne (in the Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dome departments). Among other Auvergne scenic highlights - the Allier river crosses much of the region, and visitors can follow the Allier gorges as the river passes through some magnificent scenery.
Explore Auvergne by department
Cantal (south-west Auvergne)
Cantal is a peaceful, slow-moving department of Auvergne with traditional unspoiled towns and attractive scenery to discover
Highlights include the towns of Aurillac and the cathedral town of Saint-Flour. 42 km north of Aurillac is a 'most beautiful village' at Salers, while another is at Tournemire, 15 km to the north of Aurillac.
See travel guide for Cantal department for more information
Puy de Dome (central Auvergne)
Best known for its natural highlights, especially the volcanoes around Puy-de-Dome itself, this Auvergne department also has an interesting selection of villages and towns to discover.
Highlights of the natural park of Auvergne volcanoes include the Monts-Dome, Monts-Dore and Cantal mountains. See also Chaine des Puys and the central volcano of the Natural Regional Park of the Volcanoes of the Auvergne - also the very popular visitor attraction at Puy-de-Dome. To the east of the volcanoes is the Parc Naturel Regional Livradois-Forez.
The important regional centre of Clermont-Ferrand is in the Puy-de-Dome department. Visit also the town of Ambert, and the workaday town of Issoire, then visit perhaps the Chateau de Murol and Saint Nectaire.
A little way from Clermont-Ferrand is Riom (and the neighbouring spa town at Volvic and the abbey at Mozac). Also in Puy-de-Dome are Montpeyroux, Saint-Saturnin, Saint-Floret and Usson, each classified as most beautiful villages in France. The village of Chateldon is also a very attractive destination, and Thiers (famous for Thiers knives and cutlery) has an attractive historical centre.
See travel guide for Puy-de-Dome department for more information.
Haute-Loire (south-east Auvergne)
The Haute-Loire department of Auergne is especially well known for the attractive pilgrimage town of Le Puy-en-Velay.
Le Puy en Velay itself is a lovely town to explore in the heart of the Auvergne region - as a long-standing starting point for an important pilgrim route, Le Puy has an impressive selection of interesting historical monuments. Perhaps the 'most unmissable' town of the Auvergne!
While at Le-Puy-en-Velay take the time for side trips to Polignac, and also the Cascade de la Beaume (near Solignac). Visit also the town at Brioude to see the basilica, and the abbey at La Chaise-Dieu.
See travel guide for Haute Loire department for more information.
Allier (north Auvergne)
The Allier department is less visited than some parts of the Auvergne but contains some noteworthy destinations if you are in the region, and is a taste of a France unchanged over the decades..
- the classified village at Charroux is located 20km north-west of Vichy
- the Chateau des Ducs de Bourbon and medieval centre of Montlucon (west of the Allier department)
See travel guide for Allier department for more information
General Auvergne information
Because of the mountainous rugged nature of the region you are unlikely to visit all the highlights of the Auvergne during one two week holiday - roads between two places that look quite close on the map can be much further apart by road than you expect!
Much of the region is difficult to get to during the winter - there is a lot of snow, due to its altitude. The region has in recent years starting to gain popularity as a year around destination, based on river and mountain activities, and helped by improved communication and transport links to the region.
Cuisine in the Auvergne is rich and flavoursome and based on local ingredients. Lots of game from the hills and forests; lots of products based on the abundant chestnut trees. Beef and milk from the beautiful Salers cattle which are deep red in colour with long horns. And, of course, the delicious cheeses of the Auvergne: large round Cantal and Salars cheeses; lovely soft and creamy Saint-Nectaire and the delicious blue cheeses, Fourme d'Ambert and Bleu d'Auvergne.
Follow the 'Route des Fromages AOC d'Auvergne' and you can not only taste the delicious local cheeses you can often visit the farm and cheese cellars. Plus the route takes you through lots of beautiful countryside.
There are lots of auberges offering good local food and regional specialities and quite a number of very good restaurants offering fine dining at prices considerably lower than many parts of France.
See more ideas at Auvergne tourist information, with more towns, national monuments, national parks, towns in bloom etc across the Auvergne region.
Map of Auvergne
French version: Auvergne (Francais)