Quick Guide to Auvergne

Departments in Auvergne:

Allier · Cantal · Haute Loire · Puy de Dome

Popular towns in Auvergne:

Clermond-Ferrand · Moulins · Montlucon · Vichy

Despite being nestled in the heart of France, the Auvergne region has remained off the beaten track for decades, and only now is this rugged region starting to make its presence known. The Auvergne which is emerging is a rough-and-tumble playground for adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts - Cantal is home to untamed routes cutting through the mountains; Puy-de-dôme is famed for paragliding and cycling over its towering peaks; and the rapids of the Haute-Loire could have been tailor-made for kayaking. But aside from France's version of the Outback, the Auvergne also offers visitors a chance to get some well deserved rest and relaxation in the sun soaked valleys and spas of Alliers. Bring it all together, and it's easy to understand why the Auvergne is one of the hottest up-and-coming destinations in Europe.

Whether it's the world renowned food grown here, the enviable climate or just the great waves for surfing, Aquitaine is clearly blessed with more than its fair share of natural assets. But there's more to this region than its outstanding natural beauty - chic coastal cities, imposing fortresses, and busy port towns are set against the backdrop of the towering mountains and the bright white coastline. The result is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a holiday in France.

Top things to see...

  • A 10th century skyscraper
  • The Chapelle St. Michel d'Aiguilhe, a chapel balanced precariously atop an incredibly steep 88m-high lava plume overlooking Le Puy-en-Velay.
  • The ravines between some of the high peaks of the Puy de Sancy beneath your feet courtesy of the see-through bottoms of the cable-cars.
  • The view from the top of at least some of the 200 volcanoes of Puy de Dôme, Europe's largest chain of volcanoes.
  • Crumbling sheer rock faces up-close from the comfort of your train window from the banks of the Allier gorges.
  • A world-class performance at the lavishly ornate belle époque Opéra hall in Vichy..

Top things to do...

  • Follow in the arduous footsteps of 12th century pilgrims by hiking the famous "Compostella way" over mountains, round lakes, and through gorges.
  • Get a truly birds-eye view of the stunning local geography by paragliding around volcanoes, lava domes and cinder cones.
  • Work up a sweat whilst attempting the main cycle route through the region, widely known as one of the most gruelling stages of the Tour de France.
  • Sail, raft, canoe and kayak down the wet and wild waters of the upper reaches of the Loire River.
  • Take a break at one of Vichy's luxurious spas and rest your aching bones in thermal baths filled with the local mineral water.

Famous for...

Michelin, volcanoes, Massif Central, Vichy France, water, hiking, Tour de France.

Did you know...?

It was on the top of Puy de Dôme in the Auvergne that Pascal proved the air has different pressures at different altitudes.

Getting there

By road... Being at the centre of France, Auvergne's location means it is easily reached by car from all corners of the country. Equidistant from Paris and Marseille, (420km - around 4 ½ hours in normal traffic), driving to the Auvergne couldn't be more simple.

By air... The only main airport in the Auvergne region is situated in Clermont Ferrand, but given that the city is in the centre of the region this doesn't pose much of a problem. Flying from the UK involves a change at Paris, with most flights run by AirFrance, but budget airlines such as Flybe do operate on this route as well.

By public transport... Getting to the Auvergne area by train is very quick and easy. From London there are regular departures to Paris from where there are high speed trains departing to Clermont Ferrand throughout the day (3-4 hours). From there, there is a local train service which offers access to more remote areas of the region.