"Auvergne" Auvergne by andrewwhite

Auvergne Travel Guide: 324 reviews and 1,228 photos

At the very centre of France lies the mountainous region of the Massif Central (central mountain mass). At its core lies Auvergne, an historic region and former province of central France, which today makes up of the departments of Allier (03), Cantal (15), Haute-Loire (43), and Puy-de-Dôme (63). Its name is derived from the Arverni, a Celtic people whose leader VERCINGETORIX defied and was defeated by Julius Caesar. In fact, this region has been settled by humans probably longer than anywhere else in France.


In the northern part of Auvergne one finds the fertile tertiary basin of the Limagne, where dairying and beef cattle diversify the traditional wheat economy. For the most part, however, the region is known for its breathtaking mountain ranges and volcanic peaks, offering views of a lunar landscape pitted with huge craters and outcroppings. The Puy de Dôme (1,463 m/4,800 ft) is the highest of a chain of recent volcanic peaks (the Monts Dôme, which became extinct some 4000 years ago) overlooking Clermont-Ferrand from the west. The Celts considered it a royal mountain, on which they worshiped their god of war.

In the bleak, depopulated southern part of the Auvergne, the volcanic Plomb du Cantal reaches 1,858 m (6,096 ft). The highest point in central France is claimed by the Puy de Sancy in the Monts Dore chain, rising 1,886 m (6,188 ft) and serving as the source of the Dordogne River. Visitors can reach the peak by cable car from the town of Le Mont-Dore, followed by a walk.

The history of the Massif Central, so ancient that it can only be appreciated on a geological timescale, is explained in a number of museums, including a major new museum of vulcanology planned near Clermont-Ferrand.

Salers cattle

Salers cattle are native to the Auvergne region. This isolated, mountainous area noted for its rough, rocky terrain and harsh, damp climate is characterized by poor soil and a wide range of temperatures throughout the summer and long winter. As the topography allowed for little cereal grain production, the Salers cattle were forced to become foragers with the ability to utilize, almost entirely, native grasses in summer and hay in winter.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Wonderful, glorious scenery & people.
  • Cons:Careful about the winter - Brrrrrrrrrrrrr !!
  • In a nutshell:Refreshing air, natural beauty
  • Last visit to Auvergne: Jun 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (5)

Comments (4)

  • Adagio1's Profile Photo
    Feb 2, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    Thanks Andrew for the Auvergne historical notes. We will be there in Mid May

  • cnango's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2008 at 9:33 PM

    Hi Andrew, Your pictures of Conques & Belcastel are awesome.We are going to France in the Spring, can’t wait to see some of those amazing historical villages in person Thanhks for the virtual tour. Nancy : )

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Mar 7, 2006 at 2:57 PM

    Lovely part of the world, your page takes me back.

  • Gwynethart's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2005 at 3:04 PM

    Enjoying your photos of la belle France...cheers, Gwyneth


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