Along with the natural beauty that can be enjoyed at places such as the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park, the region also boasts some of France’s most beautiful Romanesque Churches, untouched medieval castles, Renaissance palaces and ancient towns. Don’t miss the world heritage Notre-Dame-du-Port Basilica in Clermont-Ferrand, renown for its fine example of Romanesque architecture. Each January Clermont-Ferrand also hosts an International Short Film Festival where across the genres more than 50 films are shown each year (www.clermont-filmfest.com).
With the orientation of a nature lover’s paradise and range of outdoor activities, Auvergne is also proud of its local grand chefs and restaurateurs, renowned for their innovative cuisine using the best of its regional produce. You can reserve your table at www.toques-auvergne.com and don’t forget to try the local cheeses such as Fourme d’Ambert and Bleu d’Avergene.
Auvergne comprises 4 departments – Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dome.
- Allier at the very north of Auvergne can most easily be reached by motorway from Paris and is home to the Spa town of Vichy. Situated on the Allier River it has many mineral springs and is considered to be one of the most important spas of Europe. You can white water raft and kayak through the gorges of the Allier and Sioule rivers and are also relatively close to the ski slopes of Puy de Dome.
- Cantal situated in the south west corner of Auvergne is dominated by its volcanic mountain range, with its highest peek, Plomb du Cantal, reaching 6096ft. On the pastureland at the base of these peeks the famous Salers cattle produce Cantal the areas best loved cheese.
- Haute-Loire named after the Loire River, boasts some of the most stunning medieval villages. The capital Le Puy is a fine example, with a very beautiful preserved medieval city centre and renowned cathedral. Le Puy is surrounded by valleys and is famous for its top quality green lentils.
- Puy-de-Dome named after the famous dormant volcano, also boasts thick forests, rivers and lakes, ideal for the many outdoor activities available here. It is home to the capital of the Auvergne region, Clermont-Ferrand, which sits on top of a long extinct volcano. This dynamic university town with its distinctive black houses made from the surrounding volcanic rock is also home to the Michelin tyre.
Clermont-Ferrand (located in the centre of the Auvergne region) has a sizeable airport with good connections from Paris Orly or Charles de Gaulle and other regional European locations. The nearest airports with a regular flight service to and from the UK are Lyon (connect to motorway A72), Limoges (connect to motorway A89) or Rodez. Lyon and Limoges are also accessible via TGV trains.
The average annual temperature is 12°C (53°F). The summers are long and warm, with temperatures often reaching 30°C (86°F). The mountainous areas are cooler and the snow frequently lasts until May at altitudes of over 1000m.