Thursday, 11 April 2013

Auvergne tourism and attractions

Train touristique des gorges de l'Allier

Things to see and do, places to stay in the Auvergne

The Auvergne has plenty to offer in terms of tourist attractions; and while its countryside and scenery are perhaps the greatest attraction for most visitors, tourists and visitors will find plenty of specific sites and sights to ensure a richly varied and interesting holiday in the Auvergne for all discerning travellers. Here are some of the Auvergne's best ....

Monuments and Culture:  

 The old city, St Michel's chapel and cathedral of Le Puy en Velay (UNESCO world heritage site)

 The Romanesque churches of Auvergne.
    The Auvergne is rich in remarkable mediaeval churches, the most famous of which are: 
  • Notre Dame du Port (Clermont Ferrand) (63)
  • Eglise Saint Austremoine at Issoire (63)
  • Notre Dame d'Orcival (63)
  • Eglise de Saint Nectaire (63)
  • Basilique Saint Julien, Brioude (43)
  • Abbey and cloisters at Lavaudieu (43)
  • Cathedrale Notre Dame, le Puy en Velay (43)
  • Chapelle Saint Michel de l'Aiguilhe , Le Puy en Velay
  • Mauriac (Cantal, 15)

 Historic churches and chapels with frescoes and murals:
  • The Abbey at La Chaise Dieu (43), with world famous Dance of Death fresco.
  • The small churches and chapels of the Haut Allier (Blassac, Saint Cirgues, Peyrusse, etc) , many decorated with murals and frescoes.

 Dungeons and chateaux.
    There are many famous castles to visit in Auvergne; the following are among the more interesting:
  •     Allier:  Bourbon l'Archambault,  Busset,  Lapalisse
  •     Puy de Dome: Pontgibaud, La Batisse,  Saint Saturnin,  Tournoël,  Effiat,
  •     Haute Loire: Valprivas, Domeyrat (near Brioude),  Chaviniac Lafayette, Polignac., Saint Vidal.
  •     Cantal: Val (on the Lac de Bort),  Pesteils (near Vic sur Cère)

 Clermont Ferrand
     The old city, the Cathedral, the church of Notre Dame du Port, the Roger Quillot Art Gallery, trip to the top of the Puy de Dome mountain.

 Other historic monuments
  •  Jonas, near Saint Nectaire. Remains of the mediaeval trogloditic cave dwellings, guided visits.

 Concerts, events and festivals
  •  Zenith de l'Auvergne - Clermont Ferrand - one of France's large auditoriums.
  •  World "Cultures and Traditions"  festival, Gannat - Puy de Dome.  July
  •  Festival de la Chaise Dieu, Haute Loire, one of France's most prestigeous classical music festivals. August
  •  "Musique en la Vallée" a season of concerts in small churches in the Haut Allier
  •  International street theatre festival, Aurillac, Cantal . August.
  •  "Bird King" Renaissance festival in the streets of Le Puy en Velay, mid September.

Outdoor activities:  

  •  Kayaking on the Haut Allier and the Loire.
  •  Hot air ballooning over the volcanoes
  •  Hiking   The Massif-Central lies at the hub of France's  network of long-distance hiking trails. Numerous hiking trails cross the region, including the start of the great historic Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella, that starts in Le Puy, and the new GR 700 Regordane Way, a historic mediaeval pilgrimage route to from Le Puy to St. Gilles du Gard    The GR 4  hiking train, crossing France from the Atlantic to the Mediteranean, traverses the Auvergne and neighbouring Lozere from Bort les Orgues (63) to Langogne(43); and the GR3, the Loire Valley route, and oldest long-distance trail in France, runs through the region from north to south.
  •  Mountain bike trails
  •  Via ferrata at Orbeil, near Issoire (63) or at Le Pertuis (43)
  •  Sailing on several of the region's lakes, and notably at the lake of Bort les Orgues  (63)  or on Lake Lavalette near Yssingeaux. (43)
  •  Velorail du Cézallier, near Allanches (15).  Pedal carts on an abandoned railway line.
  •  Velorail du Velay, at Dunières (43). More pedal carts on another old railway line
  •  Skiing. The region's main downhill skiing areas are at the Puy de Sancy (63), with the resort of Super Besse, and at the Plomb du Cantal, with the resort of Super Lioran.

Parks, sights and attractions:  

  •   Vulcania theme park, near Clermont Ferrand; Volcano theme park, with 3-D cinemas, IMAX, and a discovery of the world of volcanoes, earthquakes and earth forces. (63)
  •   The volcanoes themselves
  •   Le Pal amusement park. (03)
  •   The monthly Biron cattle fair,  in the wilds of the Cézallier (63). Starts very early in the morning !
  •   Historic working paper mill, the Moulin Richard de Bas, at Ambert (63) making paper since the 14th century.
  •   Allier gorges scenic train trip (43), departs from Langeac.(train station, SNCF).
  •   Ally wind farm, windmills and mine visit. (near Lavoute Chilhac 43)
  •    Petrifying fountains of Saint Nectaire  Discover an age-old handicraft in an unusual underground environment
  •   Living history presentations: Chateaux de La Batisse (63) ,  de Domeyrat (43),  de Murol (63).
  •   Museum of the Resistance, Mont Mouchet, near Saint Flour (15)
  •   The Pont de Garabit, designed by Gustave Eiffel (visitor centre on  A75 motorway south of St Flour)
  •  Salers, traditional old town of the Auvergne uplands (15)