Famous for the volcanic landscape, Roquefort blue cheese and spring water. Vercingétorix and the marquis de La Fayette and even skiing, the region offers varied and striking contrasts, the grass topped dormant volcanoes at almost 2000 metres above sea level descend to rich green forest and deep river gorges which curve and cut their way downstream. The buildings change colour from village to village as the black lava gives way to various tones of limestone.




Famous people from Auvergne include Vercingétorix (-80 – -46) the Marquis de Lafayette (1757 – 1834), George Pompidou (1911 – 1974), Président de la République and prior to this a close aide to General De Gaulle.



The region is composed of 4 departments

Puy de Dôme (63), Capital: Clermont-Ferrand

This area is part of the region of the Auvergne and is named after the volcano (now dormant) the Puy de Dôme. The Puy de Dôme itself (1464m) is one of the youngest in the chain of volcanoes and is one of the most visited sights in the Auvergne region. You can choose to ascend it on foot (about an hour's walk) or by car; although at busy times a bus must be taken. There are also many Romanesque churches and medieval castles. The area is also renowned for its spring water. Many attractive villages nestle amongst stunning scenery throughout the department. The area is home to one of France's oldest cheeses: Fourme d'Ambert, which has been produced since Roman times.



Haute Loire (43), Capital: Le Puy

The highlands of the Massif Central, where the Loire begins to accumulate importance, before its long journey north and then westwards through the heart of France. Tourism is important, there is still much cattle and sheep farming, as the land is not suitable for cereal crops.The inhabitants of the department are called Altiligériens.



Cantal (15), Capital: Aurillac

A beautiful county in the heart of the volcano region. Not only famous for the cheese which is also called Cantal, but also for a stunning landscape of high rolling hills and steep rocky valleys and gorges crafted by rivers.

The Cantal has a low population density, with small farms dotted on the step hillsides, valleys, rivers and small country roads winding their way over the sleeping volcanoes..



Allier (3), Capital: Vichy

Named after the river Allier which flows into the Loire. The most productive agricultural area of the Auvergne, with a limited wine production.

The river Allier has always played an important role in the history of the department, the house of the Bourbonais keeping a firm hand for many years. The tourism is also important economically with towns such as Vichy, famous for the thermal baths, and the very picturesque Moulins.





The Auvergne Region lists 11 "most beautiful villages of France", among which:


Arlempdes (Haute-Loire)



Blesle (Haute-Loire)



Charroux (Allier)



Montpeyroux (Puy de Dôme)



Salers (Cantal)





What to Do?

The areas great attraction is the terrain and this is perfect for mountain climbing and walking. The gorges of the rivers such as the Allier and Sioule are used for white water rafting and kayaking. The many lakes are perfect for swimming, sailing and wind-surfing. It is an Angler's paradisse also with many opportunities for fishing in the rivers and lakes. Otherwise there are many equestrian activities. For the less adventurous there are many golf courses.


Climbing the Puy de Dôme (1464m): choose your moment – early in the morning or late in the evening – to avoid the worst of the crowds.
The result of a volcanic explosion about 10,000 years ago, the Puy is an abrupt 400m from base to summit. Clearly signposted from place de Jaude, it's about 15km from the city centre by the D941. The last 6.5km is a private road and costs €1.50; when this is closed (July & Aug 10am–6pm) there's a shuttle service from the bottom (€5).



Carpet and Textile Arts Museum (Musée Bargoin): in Clermont-Ferrand



Electrodrome museum: it is an educational museum, focusing on the experiment of rural electrification that took place between 1936 and 1939 and restarted in 1952. It is located in the village of Magnet, in the beautiful Auvergne region.


Vulcania: a voyage through the ages of the planet earth to discover everything about Volcanoes. Using the latest multimedia and 3D techniques, you will have the thrills and sensations of being in earthquakes, volcanic explosions and even flying on the back of a dragon.



Chapelle St. Michel d'Aiguilhe in the town of Le Puy-en Velay, it is a fascinating little pilgrimage chapel perched atop a needle (aiguilhe). Jutting dramatically towards heaven, the rock needle has been a sacred place for thousands of years: a prehistoric dolmen was built there and the Romans dedicated it to Mercury before the Christians built a chapel to St. Michael.




Auvergne Traditional Costume (XIXth century)

cost1 cost2 cost3 cost4

From left to right:

Traditional costume from Lezoux, Foutanges, Volvic and Davayat.



Festivals and Traditional Events

International Festival of Dance and World Music: in Pays de Murat, Cantal. Takes place every August. From New Orleans Dixie to traditional Bulgarian harmonies and Himalayan dance, Murat's International Festival of Dance and World Music (Mondes Croisés) unites the city for five days of colourful and varied workshops, performances and exhibitions.


Pierrefort Heritage Fair: in August. The Pierrefort Heritage Fair, or Fête des Traditions, is a celebration of traditional Auvergnat painting, arts and farming techniques in the centre of Pierrefort. Markets feature farmyard animals, lace, basketwork, jewellery, local instruments and gourmet specialties.

Monastier Brass Music Festival: in August. The Monastier Brass Music Festival is known locally as La Musique des Cuivres. Concerts take place in the Eglise Abbatiale (Abbey Church) and across town. Some 3000 musicians attend this annual jamboree, from beginners to masters of the art.



Clermont International Expo: in September, Grande Halle d'Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand. More than 200,000 visitors and over 600 different exhibitors cram into Clermont-Ferrand's Grande Halle d'Auvergne each year for the Clermont International Expo. The annual global village is a highlight of the biggest expo on the Massif Central's calendar.


Hot Air Balloon Festival: in November, in Le Puy-en-Velay. Le Puy-en-Velay region's Rassemblement de Montgolfières unites balloonists from the UK, USA and Italy for the great spectacle of the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival. Around 40 balloonists participate and, although not competitive, there is a friendly rivalry between teams.

The town, famous for its volcanic rocks and located 600 metres above sea level, is a great site for ballooning, since the volcanic activity generates powerful air currents. The event is liberally lubricated with delicious local wine and cheese (particularly on the Sunday night).



For more festivals:



Markets Days


Monday to Saturday: covered food market with local produce: cheese, cured meats, chestnut liqueur and pink garlic, Place du Marché St Pierre

First Sunday of the month: giant flea market on Place du Premier Mai.


Le Puy

Wednesday and Saturday: local produce market on Place du Plot

Thursday: evening market, mid July to August only, on Place du Plot



Wednesday and Saturday: general and food market on Place de l'Hôtel de Ville

First Sunday of the month: antiques market and brocante at Place de l'Hôtel de Ville



Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: general market located in the covered market hall in the town centre

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: food market at Carreau des Célestins, near the Parc des Sources

Friday: food market by St-Blaise's old church

Flea market every second Saturday of the month at Place Charles de Gaulle


More markets:




The Gastronomy of Auvergne

The food

Auvergnat Cooking is like many regional dishes a way of making use of local produce to create cheap meals which proved delicious and classic.

There is Tripoux which is a sort of sausage or faggot made of veal, bacon, seasonings, herbs and onions in a skin made from veal which is stewed for some hours with vegetables.


La Potée Auvergnate is a stew made from loin of pork, bacon, sausages, cabbage and potatoes (see recipe below).


Truffade is a potato dish with the addition of Tome de Cantal (the first pressing of Cantal).


For dessert there is Tarte aux Myrtilles.The bilberries are combined with Creme Fraiche to make a tart




The cheese which was produced in ‘jasseries’ which are stone buildings with slated roofs is something of which the Auvergne should be justifiably proud. Five of the A.O.C. cheese in France actually originate from the Auvergne - which is proportionally a high percentage.

The A.O.C. cheeses are Cantal, St.Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert and Salers.



This hard cheese is considered one of the oldest in the world and Pliny the Elder mentioned it in the 1st Century AD and Iit originates from the Cantal mountains. Cantal is made from pasteurised cow's milk and is salted and pressed up to four times. A young Cantal is ready in one month, a medium any time up to six months and the tangy, strongest Cantal is over six months old.

St. Nectaire


Softer cheese and round like a Camembert and quite gentle tasting.

Bleu d'Auvergne


Tangy, blue cheese - not as salty as Rocquefort but still strong and distinctly blue.

Fourme d'Ambert


Softer, milder blue cheese which is made in a long roll and you see it cut into round slices about three quarters of an inch deep which are packaged and sold as such in the shops.


Produced under special conditions regarding the time the milk was collected. It is a hard cheese like Cantal but much milder and gentler on the palette. It is also rarer.


The area produces some of the best known mineral waters such as Vichy, Volvic and Saint-Yorre.Wines

The wines are light as the area is not perfect for the type of grapes for heavy, rich red wine. The wines of Saint-Pourcain are becoming better known.



Recette de la Potée
Braised Cabbage and Meats Auvergne-Style Recipe

Ingredients (serve 8)
- 1 large head of green cabbage
- 1 uncooked sausage, about 500 g / 18 oz.
- 1 piece of pork shoulder
- 1 kg (2 1/4 lb.) salted pork loin chops
- 500 g (18 oz.) salted pork belly, desalted by soaking overnight in cold water
- 500 g (18 oz.) carrots, in short lengths
- 500 g (18 oz.) leeks
- 500 g (18 oz.) turnip
- 1 onions, each stuck with a clove
- 1 kg (2 1/4 lb.) medium potatoes, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1/2 stalk of celery
- 1 bouquet garni
- 5 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper


Total time: more than 2 hours
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: About 2 1/2 hours



* Tie the garlic and bouquet garni into a piece of cheesecloth

* Place all the meat except the sausage into a large pot or Dutch oven; cover with cold water; bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes, skimming often

*Remove the fat from the broth, add the carrots, turnip, onions, celery and leeks, all coarsely chopped, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, skim the fat again if necessary

* Meanwhile cut the cabbage into quarters, blanch for 5 minutes in boiling water in a separate pot

* Rinse under cold water, drain and place in the pot with the other vegetables and the meat

* Cook 30 minutes longer; check the doneness of the meat with a fork, when cooked, remove from the pot and keep warm in a bowl of broth

* 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the potatoes and sausage, pricked with a fork, to the pot, cook at a bare simmer.


Serve everything very hot

Choose a full-bodied red wine such as a Cahors or Madiran to match the dish


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Catherine Castelain
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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