Why Auvergne is a hot destination…
and it’s nothing to do with the volcanoes!
It was noted for having reinvented itself, retaining its rural charm, yet offering a variety of wilderness adventures.
So is Auvergne all it’s cracked up to be? It’s not been known for its tourist destinations, but that’s not to say that there’s not some hidden secrets waiting to be discovered.
It lends itself to the pursuit of outdoor activities, in particular camping and hiking, and is beginning to make a name for itself for outdoor pursuit enthusiasts.
What’s Auvergne known for? The spa resorts of Vichy (yes, the water does come from here!), Le Mont Dore and Chatel Guyon are probably some destinations you’ve heard of, and probably the ski resorts of Besse and Super Lioran, too.
But there’s more to the region than just ski and spa, here’s why Auvergne is such a perfect destination for a Belle France holiday.
Auvergne is known for its dormant volcanoes and fertile valleys, which of course, have then led to the spa resorts which have sprung up (sorry!) throughout the region.
One of the most famous is the Puy de Dôme, reaching almost 1,500 metres. If you’re brave enough to hike to the top, then you’ll see one of the most breathtaking scenes, possibly across all of France (we don’t say that lightly!) of the Chaîne des Puys and the Sancy Mountains. There’s over 5000km of hiking trails for you to choose from, so definitely a favourite amongst walkers.
But it’s not just about the natural scenery, but the ancient heritage too, of which there is an abundance in this region. For example, situated in the Puy de Dôme region, Busséol Castle sits atop a volcanic summit. The medieval castle once owned by Catherine de Médici has a huge cylindrical tower, and within its walls sits the Garden of the Crusades, reputedly the oldest continuously worked garden in France.
Other sights to see in the region include Le Puy-en-Velay, It’s a starting point on the Santiage de Compostela pilgrimage route, therefore, it’s been visited by tourists for hundreds of years, not only to celebrate the history, but also for pilgrims seeking spiritual inspiration. It has numerous well-preserved architecture and buildings; you will feel as though you have been transported back hundreds of years. The cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy is a UNESCO Heritage site with monuments such as a statue of the Black Virgin and a 12th Century cloister.
Or how about a trip to Clermont-Ferrand, its cathedral, is constructed of lava stone. The town has numerous references to volcanoes, even down to the amusement park called Vulcania, found just north of the city!
However, it’s also built a reputation for its culture, and it plays host to an International Short Film Festival, which is known as the second ‘Cannes’, it also has a theatre which attracts some of the world’s best performances and acts.
And, of course, you can’t fail to mention Clermont-Ferrand without Michelin, as this is home to the Michelin brothers. There is a huge museum dedicated to the legendary tyre maker, all you ever needed to know!
We have an amazing array of holidays to the region, with its undulating climate it’s not one for the faint hearted looking for a leisurely stroll, but requires slightly more exertion!
Three of our Compostela pilgrimage routes occur in this region, as does our Stevenson trail, following Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Travels with a Donkey’ route. Also featured is our Volcanoes of the Auvergne walking holiday and our Valleys of the Rugged South tour, which was featured in the Daily Telegraph’s Top 10 Activity Holidays for 2015, and who are we to argue!
So if you are looking for a chance to brush off the cobwebs, experience some dramatic scenery and immerse yourself in medieval history, then Auvergne is definitely an option for you.
As always, we would LOVE to help you create the holiday of your dreams, so please get in touch, and we’ll get working on your itinerary!
Explore the area
Main article images:
Autumn view of the puy de Dôme - By Alain Rigaïl - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr