Auvergne

General Info

Regional Map
Conseil Régional
Tourism: Auvergne Tourisme
Capital: Clermont-Ferrand
Departments: Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme
Arrondissements: 14, Cantons: 158, Communes: 1,310
Population: 1,340,680 (2008 est.)
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france auvergne map

Overview

Puy de Dome
Auvergne resides on the rugged granite and crystalline rock plateaus of the Massif Central (map) in central France halfway between Paris and the Mediterranean. It is defined by the many dome-shaped and extinct volcanoes or Puys (pronounced pwee), that cover the region. Much of the region is very hilly and features undeveloped land at a high altitude, much of it above 3,000 feet (914 m). Populations are thin here and old traditions prevail as many young people have moved away and into the larger cities.

Half of the mineral water in France comes from springs in this region which provide Volvic and other mineral waters which have been filtered by the extinct volcanoes. There are two large environmentally-protected natural parks in Auvergne including the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne and the Parc Naturel Régional du Livradois-Forez. It is probable that the Celts lived here as early as 400 b.c.

Auvergne Departmental Information

Notable Towns and Sights in Auvergne

Arboretum de Balaine (Allier) was created in 1804 and is the oldest botanical and floral park in France. It has remained the property of the same family for seven generations. france arboretum de balaine
Augerolles (Puy-de-Dôme) is located in the middle of the Parc Naturel du Livradois-Forez reserve and was built around an imposing church from the 14th-century. The town is bordered by a river and the streams Faye and Couzon. Its geographical situation makes it possible to offer a large variety of outdoor leisure and vacation activities. France Auvergne Augerolles
Brioude (Haute-Loire) resides on the banks of the Allier River. The town centers around the impressive 11th-12th century Basilique St-Julien which is the largest Romanesque edifice in Auvergne. france auvergne brioude st julien
Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme) is the capital of Auvergne and has a large university with nearly 35,000 students as well as the headquarters for the well-known Michelin tire and travel-guide company. It was originally two distinct cities which were united in 1650. Clermont is a bustling commercial center and nearby old Montferrand has retained its bastide style layout, Renaissance houses, and quiet streets. The first Cathedral (photo) to be built in present-day Clermont-Ferrand was erected by Saint Namace in 450 A.D. and rebuilt in the Gothic style beginning in the thirteenth century. It appears dark in color due to the volcanic stones used in its construction which originated from nearby Volvic. france auvergne clermont ferrand
Le Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire) is a spectacular town which lies along the southern end of the Loire in the center of a volcanic cone. This industrial town has three peaks each of which has a church or statue- Notre Dame de France (photo) and the Cathédral de Notre-Dame (photo) on top. The 12th century Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe Chapel (photo) is built on a tall pedestal of lava rock. Office de Tourisme france auvergne le puy en velay
Montluçon (Alliers) is situated on the Cher River about 31 miles (50 km) southwest of Moulins. The haut-ville (upper town), on the right bank, consists of steep and narrow winding streets, and has several buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries. The lower town, traversed by the Cher, is more an industrial area. Overlooking the town is a castle rebuilt by Louis II, Duke of Bourbon, and then taken by Henry IV during the French Wars of Religion (1562 to 1598). There are three main churches: Notre-Dame is from the 14th-century, Saint Pierre partly from the 12th, and Saint Paul is modern. The town-hall, with a library, occupies the site of an old Ursuline convent, and two other convents are used as a college and a hospital. France Auvergne Montlucon Castle
Moulins (Alliers) evolved in the 10th-century and flourished during the Renaissance. The Gothic Cathédrale de Notre Dame (photo) here is the main attraction with the inclusion of Saints, along with members of the Bourbon Court, depicted in the 15th and 16th- century stained glass windows. Moulins was the capital of the Bourbonnais and seat of the Bourbon Dukes in the 14th-century. Its name comes the fact that there were so many mills along the Allier River. france auvergne moulins
Néris-les-Bains (Alliers) is located at the border of the four French areas: Bourbonnais, Auvergne, Berry, and Limousin. At an elevation of around 1000 feet on the foothills of the Massif Central range, it enjoys a mild climate. france auvergne neris-les-bains
Parc Regional des Volcans d'Auvergne (Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme) was created by an agreement between its 88,000 inhabitants and the Conseil Régional d'Auvergne (Regional Council) in 1977. It stretches between 1,312 (400 m) and 6,188 feet (1886 m) in altitude. It is composed of 153 territorial communes and 19 common partners. france auvergne parc
                            regional des volcans d’auvergne
Plomb du Cantal (Cantal) is located in the Parc Regional des Volcans d'Auvergne. Along with Puy Mary, it is one of the highest peaks in the region at 6,086 feet (1,855 m) high. france auvergne plomb du cantal
Puy de Sancy (Puy-de-Dôme) is the highest peak in Auvergne and the Massif Central at 6,1888 feet (1866 m). It can be reached via several cablecars and ski-lifts. france auvergne puy de sancy
Puy-de-Dôme (Puy-de-Dôme) is one of the highest points in the Massif Central at 4,806 ft (1465 m). On clear days it is reported that one can see nearly seventy volcanoes from here as well as a panoramic view of Clermont Ferrand. The summit may be reached by mule or by car 2.5 miles (4 km). View france auvergne puy de dome

Puy Mary (Cantal) is one of the most visited places in the region due to its incredible altitude at 5,863 feet (1787 m) considered like one of the prettiest panoramas of Europe. (photo) france auvergne puy mary
Rochebaron Castle (Haute-Loire) is located North-West of Bas-en-Basset and to the East the castle dominates the Loire river on a crystalline peak at a height of 2,142 feet (653 m) and is surrounded by mountains. france auvergne rochebaron castle
Saint Flour (Cantal), on the Ander river, has been designated as an art and history region since 2004. Highlights include Saint Peter's Cathedral (15th century) which was proclaimed the religious capital of the High Auvergne in 1317. Nearby Valuéjols is situated on the center of the Planèze volcanic basalt plateau at 3,281 feet (1000 m) high. france auvergne saint flour
Saint Nectaire (Puy-de-Dôme) is a sleepy little town on the slopes of Mont Cornadore. The lower village, St-Nectaire-le-Bas, has at least forty hot and cold springs some of which run under the city's streets in conduits. Overlooking the town and dominating the landscape is a beautiful 12th-century Romanesque church (photo) with over a hundred capitals depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament. There is a cheese bearing the name of this town which has been made in Auvergne since at least the 17th-century. france auvergne saint nectaire
Salers (Cantal) is a beautiful town which sits atop the Cantal Mountains and has kept its Renaissance identity intact. It has also given its name to a breed of cow, a cheese, and an apéritif. As early as the 11th-century, the Lords of Salers were mentioned as noble knights and participants of the First and Seventh Crusades. Only under the protection of their castle did the town of Salers start to grow and develop. france auvergne salers cow
Vichy (Allier) is on the Allier River and is best known for its hot and cold springs which are reputed to provide cures for rheumatism, arthritis, and digestive problems. Visits by Napoleon III in 1860's put this town on the map and made the spa experience fashionable. france auvergne vichy
Volvic (Puy-de-Dôme) is 8 miles (14 km) north of Clermont-Ferrand. Sights include the 12th-century abbey dedicated to Saint Priest (7th-century), bishop of Clermont, and has a façade built of Vovic stone. Also, the 12th-century Château de Tournoël (photo) is situated on a rocky outcrop and dominates the Limagne plain. The large keep, 105 feet (32 m) high, offers a superb view of more than 60 miles (100 km) above Limagne to the Mounts Drill. All the roofs as well as the grounds have been restored. Also here is the Musée Marcel Sahut who is a local painter, illustrator, and theatrical decorator, donated all the works in this museum, which is located in the Bosredon Castle. This extensive collection includes works by many famous artists including Rodin and Foujita. Also noteworthy is the collection of objects from the Far East. Volvic is also a well-known brand of mineral water first bottled here in 1938. Its source lies in the Parc Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne in the Massif Central. The water's distinctive mineral content is due to the nearby volcano which last erupted in 5760 B.C. Tourisme and Volvic Spring Water France Auvergne Volvic Eglise Saint Priest
Vulcania (Puy-de-Dôme) is an educational and multimedia park inaugurated in 2002 near Clermont Ferrand in the heart of the Auvergne region. A relief film in 70mm and seismic simulator will show you how volcanoes work and helped develop our planet. france auvergne vulcania park

Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Auvergne Region

Natural Parks in the Auvergne Region

Additional Resources for the Auvergne Region

Regional Specialties and Features

Cheeses here come in several forms. Fourme d'Ambert (with a thin round wooden case) is a creamy bleu-veined cheese and Bleu d'Auvergne, fourme d'Rochefort, Cantal, Salers, and Saint Nectaire. All are made from the milk of cows that graze the volcanic slopes, but which is processed in regulated dairies.

Local dishes include pounti, a soufflé-like creation composed of ham, eggs, vegetables, and cream. The Auvergne region has a strong peasant cuisine, which has spread to the rest of France, often served in the small Paris cafés. Often-used ingredients include potatoes and cabbage call potée Auvergnate (pork with stuffed cabbage). The Auvergne is also noted for its salted hams and dried sausages, and Le Puy is famous for its superior green lentils.

Average Monthly Temperatures in the Auvergne Region

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