If there’s one word that rhymes with Auvergne, it’s oxygen! Whether skiing in winter or hiking in summer, its chain of volcanoes is a vast playground for lovers of open spaces. Between lakes, forests and mountains, there is a unique biodiversity. And in the folds of their curves, a real cabinet of curiosities is offered to the traveler who loves unusual discoveries: city dedicated to street art, Buddhist monastery or Orthodox hermitage… Not to mention the castles, fortresses and perched churches, jewels of Romanesque art posted on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
Your holiday in Auvergne: the volcanoes of Auvergne
Covering nearly 400,000 hectares and no less than five natural regions, the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park displays an unparalleled biodiversity in France with its vast middle mountain spaces lined with forests, grasslands, bogs and natural lakes. A vast territory that is explored through countless hiking trails.
Panoramic view of the Domes
As a starting point, you can climb aboard the Panoramique des Dômes, an electric rack-and-pinion train that reaches the top of the Puy-du-Dôme in 15 minutes. At 1,465 metres, the most emblematic of Auvergne’s volcanoes offers a dazzling panorama on the Puys range: 80 volcanoes that have been dormant for more than 8,000 years and whose curves are classified by Unesco!
To better understand the world of volcanoes and the planet Earth, Vulcania, a fabulous immersive park, invites young and old to experience experiences as amazing as a hurricane, a dive in the underwater abyss or an earthquake. In the Vulcania Crater, whose galleries are set up in successive 30,000-year-old lava flows, Vulcanism is discovered amid rumbling, smoke bubbles and other pyrotechnic effects. Something to whet your appetite to explore other volcanoes, the Puy du Pariou and its photogenic crater or the Velay volcanoes.
At the Puy-en-Velay, strange volcanic pitons emerge, one topped by a monumental statue of Notre-Dame-de-France, the other from a Romanesque chapel: Saint-Michel d'Anguilhe. This beautiful city of art and history is the starting point of one of the major pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela since the Middle Ages. Its magnificent cathedral, which forms with its cloister one of the most beautiful Romanesque ensembles in Europe, as well as the Hotel Dieu, are its landmarks.
Discover the region of the volcanoes of Auvergne
During your stay in Auvergne, there are a thousand and one ways to gain height! Just a stone’s throw from the Puy-en-Velay, the medieval fortress of Polignac dominates the region, offering extraordinary views of the Velay basin. Between dungeons, round paths, wells and fortified gates, 14 major sites of interest give as many reasons to explore the basaltic plateau of 3 hectares on which it is perched.
In Lanobre in the Cantal, the Val castle no longer points its turrets over the park: since the creation of the Bort-les-Orgues dam, this 14th and 15th century building has been mired in the waters of the lake. In Grignan, in the Drôme provençale, it is a Renaissance castle on a rocky promontory, to visit for its beautiful collection of paintings and decorative objects.
What to do in summer in Auvergne?
Summer in Auvergne is also an opportunity to explore the Jordanne Gorge from one side to the other. From June to September, a landscaped course allows you to dive to a depth of 60 meters in this extraordinary wild landscape of rocks and water punctuated by waterfalls.
Winter in Auvergne
In winter, there is a place for skiing: in Prat-de-Bbouc, there are nine cross-country ski runs and two connecting routes for lovers of skiing. And in all seasons, you can enjoy a rejuvenation bath in Vichy, the spa resort launched by Napoleon III, whose buildings – villas, chalets, thermal baths or casino- offer as a bonus an incredible walk through the styles, from the neo-classical to the English colonial, through Art Deco…
All about Auvergne cheeses
No holiday in Auvergne without a cheese tray! Among the five Pdos (controlled designations of origin), we will be seduced by the light nutty taste of Saint-Nectaire, the rustic flavor of Auvergne blue and the sweetness of Cantal. And we will taste the culinary specialties based on cheese: aligot, mashed potatoes with garlic, fresh cream and tomme, and the cheese soup, based on stale country bread, onions and cantal tomme…