Visit Massif Central, France
One of the most fascinating and scenic regions of France, this extensive high-altitude region encompasses scenic landscapes of enormous diversity from the volcanoes of Puy de Dome to the Gorges de l'Ardeche, and many attractive hamlets and villages, often tucked away in remote locations. One of our personal favourites!
Selected places to visit in Massif Central
The Massif Central is not an 'official' French region, it is an area of south-central France that encompasses much of Limousin and Auvergne (see separate travel guides for these regions for details), and parts of Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrenees and Rhone-Alpes (see below).
Although high altitude, there are few 'high mountains' in the Massif Central of the 'alpine' style - rather the landscape simply becomes more barren at the high altitides. The most recognisable 'mountains' in the massif central are the volcanic domes of the Auvergne in and around Puy-de-Dome.
Massif Central - Languedoc Roussillon
This southern part of the Massif central is exceptionally scenic, nowhere more so than along the Gorges du Tarn
It includes the National Parc des Cevennes, which falls largely in the northern part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, in the Lozere department). This region includes the towns and villages of Mende and Marvejols to the north, with the Gorges du Tarn, the deepest gorges in Europe, a little way south.
The gorges include several attractive towns and villages such as Sainte Enimie (a classified most beautiful village), Florac, La-Garde-Guerin and Castelbouc. Pont-de-Montvert is centrally located in this region, and see also Vigan and Anduze towards the south.
Another scenic highlight is found to the west of Clermont l'Herault - the Cirque de Moureze
For a more modern attraction to see in the south-west of the region, be sure to pass by the dramatic Millau Bridge (the highest road bridge in the world).
See Lozere for more visitor information.
Massif Central - Midi-Pyrenees
The attractive countryside to the south-west of the Massif Central - not mountainous yet never flat, has deep green valleys falling between forested hillsides.
This part of the Massif central falls in the northern Midi-Pyrenees region and includes several particularly attractive villages in easy reach of Rodez classified among the 'most beautiful villages in France'. These include:
Other popular places to visit include the village of La Couvertoirade, north of Lodève in the Aveyron department and the town of Najac (also in the Aveyron), in the southern Massif Central along with nearby Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and also the town of Villefranche de Rouergue.
See Aveyron for more visitor information.
Massif Central - Rhone Alpes
The Ardeche department of the south-west Rhone-Alpes contains several places of great natural beauty. and some lovely traditional villages
Best known among them perhaps is the Gorges de l'Ardeche - a very beautiful gorge 40 km long - you can drive (or cycle) along the road above the gorges, or canoe along the Ardeche River itself.
Another highlight is the villages that are classified as 'Ardeche villages of character' - there are 17 listed, each has its own particular charm, and many are in very scenic locations.
See Ardeche for more visitor information.
Map of Massif Central
French version: Massif Central (Francais)