Auvergne: what to do, what to see...


AuvergneNatural Parks

De groene hellingen van een vulkaan in de Auvergne: de Puy Mary.
© Lucien Mollard / Istockphoto - De groene hellingen van een vulkaan in de Auvergne: de Puy Mary.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 17 April 2023, updated on 22 May 2024

France’s oldest region lies deep in a land of volcanoes. It cannot help but amaze with the purity of its spring waters, its landscapes described by some as sacred, and the exquisite quality of its produce, embodied perhaps by one of its speciality cheeses: Saint-Nectaire. And these are just some of the magical experiences that await you... Are you ready? 

Visits you cannot miss in Auvergne

Avec son patrimoine naturel et architectural, l'Auvergne séduira tous les curieux, amoureux de nature. Ici au Parc Vulcania.
© Img85h - AdobeStock - Avec son patrimoine naturel et architectural, l'Auvergne séduira tous les curieux, amoureux de nature. Ici au Parc Vulcania.

• The Vulcania Park Vulcania is more than an amusement park. Adults and children alike can learn about the volcanoes of our planet to understand how it works and its mysteries. The main challenge of Vulcania is essentially educational. We find ourselves with family around attractions and rewarding workshops and the scenography of places becomes a vector of knowledge to better share and understand the major natural issues of the 21st century.

• Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand With its two arrows of 90 meters, this emblematic construction of the sites and historic monuments of Auvergne which stands on the central hill of Clermont is the largest building entirely built in Volvic lava. It is the famous architect Viollet-le-Duc who directed the construction, from the middle of the thirteenth century to the nineteenth century. The cathedral contains a unique collection of murals and stained glass windows from different periods, including rare Romanesque stained glass windows.

• The ancient theater of Vienna Built at the very beginning of the Christian era (40-50 AD), this theater, considered to be one of the most important in Roman antiquity, has a capacity of 13,000 spectators. Its restoration has resuscitated its original vocation. You can enjoy opera, variety and dance, and since 1981, a jazz festival (Jazz à Vienne) fills up every year.

• The Puy-de-Dôme With its lakes, its flows on the Sancy Massif, the plain of Limagne and Clermont-Ferrand, this jewel of the dormant volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys offers a unique panorama. Born of successive eruptions that began 11,000 years ago, it has no crater and culminates 1,465 meters, dominating a set of 80 volcanoes. True heart of the Regional Natural Park of Auvergne Volcanoes, Puy de Dome is classified as a "Grand Site of France".

• The Le Corbusier site from Firminy to Saint-Étienne A true symbol of modern architecture, the Le Corbusier site in Firminy-Vert is the largest ensemble realized by the architect in Europe. Its House of Culture has recently been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. With the Stadium, the church and the swimming pool, this "Center of re-creation of the Body and the Spirit" (sic) built in the heart of the district of Firminy Green embodies, with the Unit of Housing, one major work by Le Corbusier.

• The castle of Val, in Lanobre Built in the fifteenth century, this historic monument hung on a rock more than 30 meters, found "feet in the water" following the impoundment of the valley it overlooked. It now sits on a peninsula along the lake. It is one of the best preserved and most remarkable historical monuments in Haute-Auvergne. It hosts exhibitions each year from mid-March to mid-October, as well as musical or theatrical activities. Notice to lovers of unforgettable experiences: it is possible to sleep in the Royal suite ...

• Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park Created in 1977, straddling the departments of Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme, the Auvergne Volcanoes Park stretches 120 km from north to south. It is the largest Regional Natural Park in France and consists of five natural regions: Artense, Cézallier, Monts du Cantal, Monts Dômes and Monts Dore. The geological diversity, the reliefs and the climate of the Park explain the exceptional variety of fauna, flora and natural environments. This biodiversity and its state of preservation unequaled in France make this territory a museum of nature. Preserved, shaped and inhabited by Man, its mountain landscapes, volcanoes, ridges, summer pastures, lakes, forests ... are remarkable.

• The Estables village on Mount Mézenc In winter, to discover the region and take full advantage of it, you can indulge in the joys of skiing close to Mont Gerbier de Jonc, in the Estables family ski resort and the Nordic areas of Mézenc and Meygal. From cross-country skiing to downhill skiing to snowboarding or paragliding, young and old alike will appreciate the many fun and very accessible activities!

• The Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Park Stamped "Regional Natural Park", the Livradois-Forez brings together a great diversity of natural environments in a vast mid-mountain landscape: high-altitude heaths of Hautes Chaumes du Forez, peat bogs, alluvial forests, beech and shrubbery, mounds and dry slopes without forgetting the grove and the nature which is discovered even in, the private gardens.

• The castle of Grignan in the Drôme Overlooking plains and mountains, Grignan Castle is built in the heart of the Drôme Provençale, on a rocky promontory overlooking the village of the same name. This building is a witness of Renaissance architecture and French classicism. Classified as a historical monument in 1993 and labeled Musée de France, Grignan Castle benefits from an ambitious program of restoration and acquisitions, offering visitors precious testimonials on the art of living of time.

Essential activities in Auvergne

Parmi les activités incontournables de l'Auvergne, testez une cure thermale , comme ici au Hall des Sources des thermes Callou.
© PhotosZam - AdobeStock - Parmi les activités incontournables de l'Auvergne, testez une cure thermale , comme ici au Hall des Sources des thermes Callou.

• Skiing the emblematic tracks of the Prat-de-Bouc In Cantal, cross-country skiing is a hobby that is trendy again. The pass of Prat de Bouc and Ché offer 9 cross-country ski trails and 2 routes of link are drawn on 50 km. At Lioran, 1 track and 1 shared route offer a sheltered proximity line. For children or beginners, it’s an ideal learning space to learn with confidence.

• Treat yourself to Saint-Nectaire The name Saint Nectaire encompasses two localities: the spa town of Saint-Nectaire (the Low), which stretches for 2 km in a green valley, and the old village of Saint-Nectaire (the Haut). Mount Cornadore, home to Saint-Nectaire and whose name means "reservoir of water", was inhabited since Celtic times and the Romans established baths. Dairy or farmer, the name "Saint-Nectaire" also applies to a cheese made for centuries in a specific area of the departments of Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme.

• Make a pilgrimage to Puy-en-Velay No less than 30 days of walking on average are necessary to survey the 750 kilometers of the Puy-en-Velay route (via Podiensis), going to Santiago de Compostela, and enjoy its rich architectural and religious heritage. The Puy-en-Velay, with its Notre-Dame du Puy cathedral and the sanctuary of Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe, is a very important place of pilgrimage. But you will have to attend the Pilgrim Mass in the cathedral before committing yourself to this famous GR 65.

• Horse riding on the heights of Cantal "Puys" Aubrac, through the Gevaudan and Mézenc, the great spaces of the Massif Central and Auvergne are a paradise for lovers of equestrian adventures. Cantal, Puy de Dome, Haute Loire, Lozère and Ardèche form an intact and preserved territory with multiple riches with the Causses lozériens, the volcanoes of Auvergne, the mountains of Ardèche and the Cevennes will make your horseback riding an unforgettable experience.

• Admire the view from Polignac Fortress A stone's throw from Puy-en-Velay, with its twenty hamlets, Polignac has a rich heritage including its majestic fortress, an exceptional historical monument. Perched on a volcanic hill, the Fortress of Polignac offers an unparalleled panorama of the region. A fascinating circuit travels through her remains in the footsteps of those she inspired, such as Georges Sand, the Marquis de Villemer, and Prosper Mérimée.

• Discovering the legends of Saint-Floret While climbing the main lane of this village appears a feudal castle of XIIIème century which was dismantled by Richelieu. Remains of the building, the dungeon and the main building erected a century later can only be visited in summer. Time has ensured the destruction of the murals of the main building, but there remains nevertheless a set of 13 frescoes which illustrate the novel of Tristan and Yseult. We find King Marc, Tristan de Leonois, Palamede, Helis and the fairy Morgane ...

• Be tempted by a kayak trip over the Allier Kayakers will enjoy the descent of the Allier, one of the last wild rivers in Europe with a rich fauna and flora. The Val d'Allier Nature Reserve, France's second ornithological reserve, which stretches from Vichy to Moulins, is home to remarkable flora and fauna along its wide meanders. Note to the amateurs!

• Treat yourself to a rejuvenating bath in Vichy The "Queen of the Water Towns" is awe-inspiring because of the beauty of its buildings and its majestic past due to the presence of many crowned heads during the golden age of the spa. Famous thanks to its natural mineral waters from the Chaîne des Puys, Vichy benefits from two establishments dedicated to medical spa treatments: the Thermes des Domes, inaugurated in 1903 and the Thermes Callou, more modern and very spacious. For the evening, you can attend an opera or play casino.


• Cheese soup • Aligot • Truffade • Pâté de pommes de terre • Tripoux • Saint-nectaire • Cantal • Bleu d’Auvergne cheese • Fougnarde or Flognarde • Velay verbena


• A piece of volcanic rock • Gaperon cheese • Avèze Gentian liqueur • Green Verveine du Velay liqueur • Rose petal syrup • A bottle of Saint-Pourçain wine • Bière de Lave “Noire” • Green Puy lentils • An ASM (Clermont-Ferrand rugby club) shirt

By Redazione

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…