A land of volcanic peaks, fertile valleys and hot mineral springs, the Auvergne offers stunning scenery and ancient heritage in abundance. The Chaîne des Puys, a series of rounded volcanoes, stretches out over the landscape in a display of wild beauty, while Romanesque churches stand in regal sophistication in the region’s towns. The most notable of these include the cathedral at Le Puy-en-Velay, a starting point on the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage route, and the basilica of Notre Dame du Port in Clermont-Ferrand.
It is a sparsely populated region with an extensive history that reveals itself in the Occitan language, Auvergnat, which is still spoken there, and the wealth of medieval castles scattered over the terrain. Once owned by Catherine de Médici, Busséol Castle is a typical example, standing atop a volcanic summit in the Puy de Dôme. It is characterised by a large cylindrical tower, and within the castle walls is housed the Garden of the Crusades, the oldest known continuously worked garden in France.
The Auvergne’s beautiful countryside and attractive villages make it a great location for walking or cycling; the terrain, although undulating, rewards visitors with some unforgettable views.