Charming and characterful Auvergne

Charming and characterful Auvergne

A native of Normandy, Fabrice Nobili has run the three-star INTER-HOTEL de l’Univers in Montluçon for eight years. Fabrice was adopted by Auvergne and fell in love with the region. "In Auvergne, I love the peacefulness and nature, the historic towns, the forests and discovering hidden places. Auvergne is a natural, green region and a place to breathe in fresh air amongst the high plateaux and mountains. My favourite places are the MUPOP (the Montluçon pop music museum), the Tronçais forest—recognised as Europe's most beautiful oak grove, the medieval town of Montluçon with its many restaurants and night bars, Auvergne's lakes and volcanoes and the Le Pal animal theme park." 

Lakes and mountains make Auvergne a colourful region with landscapes of mesmerising beauty, the Auvergne regional volcano park a notable example. Culture and nature blend harmoniously, giving this beautiful region its authenticity.

Culture and nature in Auvergne

Each part of Auvergne has its distinct charm. Situated at the foot of the Cantal mountains, the magnificent town of Aurillac  immerses you in its Gallo-Roman history and its many attractions: the street theatre international festival, the art museum and the volcano museum. 

Stay a little longer in Cantal and explore the Pays de Salers, situated to the west of the Cantal volcanic complex. Formed of several hamlets, the village of Salers, with the "most beautiful villages in France" label, is renowned for its famous cows whose milk is used to produce the cheese. Salers is also has a rich historical and architectural heritage with the Saint-Matthieu Church, the Tyssandier d’Escous square, Ronade house and the famous Notre-Dame-de-Lorette chapel.

Finally, Cantal town Saint-Flour, "capital of Haute Auvergne" is "separated into two levels", with its "upper town" and "lower town". Located on the Planèze, a large volcanic plateau, and in the Ander Valley, Saint-Flour is abundant in Gallo-Roman remains with its collection of dolmens and religious places and monuments dating from the Gothic era.

Puy-en-Velay is also part of Auvergne, in the Haute-Loire department. Surrounded by mountains, the town is the point of departure for the "La Via Podiensis" (the Le Puy route), one of the pilgrimage routes towards Santiago de Compostela. A medieval town, it has inspired artists and was the backdrop to famous French television series, Kaamelott, based on King Arthur. The town is also known for its specialities such as Puy lace and the famous Puy green lentils (AOC/AOP label).

Auvergne volcano park

Continuing north, you will arrive in volcano country, more specifically in Clermont-Ferrand, the administrative centre of Puy-de-Dôme

Situated at the heart of the Massif Central, the town is the historic capital of "the Gauls" under Vercingetorix. Overflowing with history dating back to the Gallo-Roman era, don't miss the Notre-Dame-du-Port Roman Basilica (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Gothic cathedral in Volvic lava stone which will delight fans of handsome buildings. Clermont-Ferrand is also home to the headquarters of famous company, Michelin.
And, of course, in close proximity to the city lies the Vulcania theme and leisure park where you will be entertained while learning the secrets of volcanoes. Appeals to young and old. 

Travel a few miles further afield and stop in Vichy to view the city's diverse architecture. A place for wellness, Vichy is the perfect spot to rediscover your energy and recharge your batteries with the healing properties of the spa treatments. Famous throughout the world for its water, the city has become a name in the health and beauty sector. Finally, a little further to the east, you can take a stroll down the cobbled lanes of the medieval town of Montluçon and admire the Ducs de Bourbon castle. 

A visit to Auvergne is the chance to inhale a breath of fresh air, savour regional specialities such as truffade (potatoes and Cantal tome fraiche), the famous aligot, one of the five AOC cheeses (Saint-Nectaire, Cantal, Salers, Fourme d'Ambert and Bleu d'Auvergne), Auvergne ham, sausage and dry sausage, Puy green lentils (AOC) and Verveine du Velay liqueur.  
But that's not all, as in the closing words of Fabrice Nobili: "This region is little known but full of surprises. You have to visit and you will come back!"  A word to the wise...

But that's not all, as in the closing words of Fabrice Nobili: "This region is little known but full of surprises. You have to visit and you will come back!"  A word to the wise...

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