Auvergne region of France

Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 09:59 AM
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Auvergne region of France

Hello all:

I recently read an article on the Auvergne region of France:

I am planning a short trip there for early next year.

I would appreciate if any of you that have visited there could provide some early guidance, such as resources (books or Internet sites), home base, hotels, Inns, small towns, driving routes etc.

So far, I have purchased Michelin?s Green Guide for the region.

Many thanks for your assistance.

Regards ?Ger

P.S. I have done a search ont the site, but there is little available
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:13 AM
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Hi Ger. There's an ex-pat American living in Paris named Earl Evleth who used to post on the Usenet newsgroup. I met him when I was in Paris in the fall of '98 and, as I recall, he and his wife had just returned from a trip to to the Auvergne region. If I still have his email address (we corresponded a few times), I'll email him to see if he might be able to be of any assistance.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:30 AM
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This is the most unspoiled, non touristy area of France. I loved it! Thiers and Laguiole are famous for making knives. The Laguiole is the one with the bee on the handle. This area has beautiful national parcs. Laguiole is where Michel Bras, one of the most famous chefs in france has his relais chateau that looks like a space ship.
plants are actually growig in the rooms(not in pots)
This is the area where Truffaut film, "The Savage Child" was filmed, a true story. I answered you on another forum also. You will love this area if you love nature. Try the wild boar when you dine.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:22 AM
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There aren't that many websites with good info on the Auvergne. Here's one I found helpful when doing some research on it:

I haven't ever planned a trip through the Auvergne, though I've ended up in several towns and villages within its borders on several occasions. It's true that it's geographically fascinating. Also a great destination for a cheese lover.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:35 AM
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beautiful villages are Conque, La Couvertoirade, and Sauveterre-de-Rouergue whose main square is typical of the bastides, Salers, Ussan(alot of artisans)The volcanoes are no inactive
Passing by Le Puy is the Peak Puy Mary. Her statue dwarfs the village.
If you are into hiking, these volcanoes allow you to go high without much effort and if you want. The book "Village France"has walks you can take(AA publishing)
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:57 AM
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Not many folks on here visit the Auvergne that I've seen, so posts will be slim. There was a guy who mentioned not too long ago about going there but I can't find his post now. I had suggested someone visit Puy-en- Velay and I think it was a trip report by that same guy, after he did go there. Anyway, here is an excellent web site for that small place:

I've wanted to go there after I because interested in the place from studying the music of the French composer and musician Joseph Canteloube. He arranged/orchestrated a lot of folk songs from that area and they've been recorded by some very well-known singers. He did a project of collecting the folk songs from the region (where he was from) and then arranged them. If you really want to immerse yourself into this region, I'd suggest you buy a CD of these as they are beautiful. The best CDs will have liner notes that also will give you some information on the history and culture of the area. The full set (two CDs) with Natania Davrath singing are my preference and I think considered the best. You can get that cheap now on Vanguard Classics. However, there are one disc sets of the best and those are enjoyable, also--I'd recommend the disc by Frederica von Stade (Sony Essential Classics) or that of Jill Gomez with Vernon Handley as conductor. There are some other versions by wellknown singers, also, but I am not familiar with them (eg, Dawn Upshaw, but she's usually good).

I think your Michelin Green Guide may be the best source.

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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 12:40 PM
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Ger, Let me know If you need more information. You have my email, I think.
And lend you the books if you can't find them in print.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 02:16 PM
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I have only passed through the Auvergne, spending a night here and there on my way to either the Dordogne or the Provence. But I can recommend the following villages: Besse en Chandesse, la Chaise-Dieu for its church, Sauxillanges for its view over its valley and a couple of ceramicists that do nice things with volcanic rock cut as tiles, Moudeyres for its farmhouse as a museum--it also has a hotel restaurant mentioned in the Michelin Red Guide and is strictly non-smoking, perhaps because of its thatch roof. Le Puy en Velay is a must. About Laguiole knives: originally from the village of Laguiole, now the large scale production is around Thiers. If you buy one, make sure that it has a stainless steel blade because the carbon steel rust easily and impart a flavor on items such as apples. Horn is the traditional material for handles, but it is susceptible to water damage and the one I had started flaking. I would go with a wooden handle.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2003, 05:22 PM
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I was through the Auvergne region this past April/May. My Dad and I went from Lyon to Le Puy-en-Velay by train. We drove to Ales which is a bit further south in Languedoc in the Cevennes area. From Ales we took the train through the incredible, scenic Allier gorge to Clermont-Ferrand. A day-trip from C-F to Le Mont Dore, and stayed 3 nights in Montlucon a little north of the region and day tripped to Gueret.

The drive through the rolling mountains on a rainy, misty day had stunning views. We drove in a loop from Le Puy-en-Velay to Ambert, Issoire, Briode and back to Le Puy. We'd be driving along in a light mist and see sun bursting onto the low green mountains a few miles away. We had an excellent lunch at a Logis-de-France property that was across the street from the round town hall. It was one of the few places I was able to get the seared foie gras as opposed to the pate. It was exquisite.

Driving from Le Puy to Ales the terrain became dryer and the flora became more scrub-like. We drove some winding secondary roads and around several of the curves would be another abandoned castle ruin.

I agree with previous posters. Le Puy-en-Velay is a must see. Three volcanic stumps: the biggest has the town spread out around it with the cathedral on top. The tallest has the raspberry-colored statue of Mary upon it. This statue is made from cannons captured and melted down after the Crimean war. The steepest plug is capped by a 13th century chapel that looks as if it's floating in the sky. I'd read the walk up the narrow cobbled street to the cathedral is one of the most scenic village streets in France. As you climbed the scenic street towards the cathedral it felt like you were walking up towards the gaping mouth of a giant, stone monster to be swallowed into the cathedral.

The train ride from Clermont-Ferrand to Le Mont Dore was another really pretty one. Le Mont Dore is a winter skiing, summer hiking kind of town. I rode the 100 year old inclined rail up a mountain side. Drinking a beer on the terrace of a restaurant I could look over and just make out the tiny bodies of hikers who were on the top of Puy Sancy.

StCirq is right about the cheeses. The Forme Ambert bleu was amazingly good. I don't usually care for blue cheese, but I loved this one. The Cantal cheese was excellent as was the St. Nectaire. If you get a chance try the Cantal doux, meaning soft. It was like butter. St. Nectaire looks like a beautiful, little medieval town perched on a hill side. If I'd have known about their cheese while planning, I'd have stayed there a night.

Other towns I researched and rejected (for no real reasons other than time constraint) were Aurillac, Aubusson, Thiers, Vichy, Murat, Riom, Chaise Dieu & Bort-les-Orgues. This was a trip centered on rail travel for my Dad, so some of my choices were merely for rail connections.

For example Ales is a fair-sized, mostly modern town, but it was the jumping off point for the train to C-F. Anduze with an old, coal-fired steam train ride was near by. Clermont-Ferrand was the same way. Though it has a beautiful cathedral made of black volcanic stone and a pretty main square, it's not exactly a Mecca for tourists as much of it is a bit modern.

Here are links I used as I was looking. Since I read French some of them are French only.


Le Mont-Dore:

Le Puy-en-Velay: (hotel I stayed at)





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Old Oct 24th, 2003, 03:28 AM
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Many thanks to all for the great responses.

Mimi, I'll e-mail you, and Capo, I'll try to make contact with the gentleman.

You've given me some great suggestions. I'll have fun this weekend making a virtual trip to the Auvergne via all these websites you suggested.

Once again, many thanks for your help.

Best regards ...Ger
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Old Oct 24th, 2003, 07:22 AM
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Too bad the link does not show the entire article...I guess for subscribers only ?

Auvergne is such a will love it !

The best web site to use would be the Comite Regional du Tourisme d'Auvergne at

They have a "Main Tours" section that outlines the major highlights of the region.

They also have a published itinerary with a map that is quite good:

- 8 days - 700 km
- Day 1
- Souvigny

- Day 2 - 68km
- Moulins
- Lapalisse : La Palice château
- Vichy

- Day 3 - 103km
- The summit of the puy de Dôme, Orcival : Romanesque basilica
- VULCANIA, Parc Européen du Volcanisme
- Tuilière and Sanadoire rocks - 'Lac de Guéry'
- Le Mont-Dore

- Day 4 - 151km
- La Bourboule
- Lanobre - Val château - radio and phonography museum
- Salers
- Tournemire : Anjony château
- Aurillac

- Day 5 - 125km
- Gorges de la Truyère - Garabit viaduct
- Alleuze château
- Saint-Flour

- Day 6 - 119 km
- Brioude : basilica, Lace museum
- Lavaudieu : Lavaudieu (stained-glass windows workshop, cloisters)
- Chavaniac-Lafayette château
- Le Puy-en-Velay
- Day 7 - 137 km
- La Chaise-Dieu : abbey
- Ambert : Richard-de-Bas paper mill
- Clermont-Ferrand

- Day 8
- Clermont-Ferrand

However, I would change it as follows (the map on their site will help to view new itinerary):

From Day 3 (Mont D'Ore) I would inverse the itinerary and would go to Brioude then Chaise Dieu then Puy en Velay (I would skip Clermont Ferrand which has no interest), and then drive west Saint Flour, Garabit viaduc, follow the Gorges de la Truyere river, then up to Salers (A MUST SEE), and then down to Aurillac.

Aurillac itself is not so interesting, but the route between Salers and Aurillac is very scenic, and it would enable you to go further to the South part of the Cantal with a stop in the little towns of Maurs and St Etienne de Maurs (just 20 minutes from Aurillac) which are very typical.

Maurs is on the border of the Cantal and the you could even extend your Auvergne itinerary towards the lot valley (Figeac).

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