Nestled among the slumbering volcanic peaks of central France, the towns of villages of the Auvergne lay still and humble to the majestic vistas that are present at every turn. Home to Europe’s largest regional nature park – the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park – the area is blessed with plush valleys and flowing waterways, but it is the rugged, barren summits that are truly awe-inspiring and leave an indelible mark on the memory.
Regardless of the time of year, the Auvergne’s volcanic landscapes are a sight to behold. Throughout the spring and summer months, visitors can gaze down on the colourful flora cradled in the valleys below, while the cooler months offer an enhanced sense of drama with clouds descending and the region washed in deep and rich autumnal hues.
Puy de Dôme
Climbing to a peak of some 1,465m, the Puy de Dôme represents one of the most famous volcanoes among the Massif Central range, with its fascinating history as a site for pre-Christian spiritual ceremonies drawing thousands of tourists each year. It was here that ruins of an ancient Roman temple to the god Mercury were discovered in the late 19th century, and which are accessible by a pedestrian path that was once itself a Roman road.
The views across Clermont-Ferrand and the Chaîne des Puys volcanic region stretching some 30km across the land are stunning spectacles for even the most seasoned traveller. Picturesque lakes lie within craters dotted about the region, a demonstration of nature’s propensity to turn one form of natural wonder into another simply through the passage of time.
Culture and community
Life among these dormant giants has been documented for millennia, with communities built and developed among the foothills, and where local produce is crafted into luxurious delicacies. The rural setting of such towns and villages ensures that experiencing a quintessential taste of traditional France is all but assured, while more modern attractions – such as the Vulcania Park just a few kilometres from the Puy de Dôme – offers an exciting and educational insight in to the geology of the Auvergne.