Located in central France, you’ll find Auvergne, a historical region with a rich history and an absolutely gorgeous landscape perfect for travelers looking for adventure and culture. Let’s embark on a tour of this wonderful destination!

The Natural Beauty of the Auvergne Region

Auvergne is part of the Massif Central—a mountain range that covers a large portion of south-central France. Adventurous travelers will love the rugged terrain, deep gorges, and extensive plateaus for cycling, hiking, and climbing.

Volcanoes: The Auvergne region of France is home to a unique volcanic landscape, which includes active and dormant peaks. The most popular of these volcanoes is the Puy de Dôme—you can hike or take a train to the summit, where you’ll find restaurants, shops, and a visitor center. Other notable volcanoes throughout this region include the Puy de Sancy, Puy de Côme, and Puy Marie.

Gorges: The steep gorges in this region can be found along the Allier River—take some time to kayak or embark on a river cruise to see the cliffs and dense forests of the Gorges de l’Allier.

Plateaus: In addition to mountains, volcanoes, and gorges, Auvergne hosts plateaus with bucolic meadows, charming villages, and traditional stone architecture perfect for travelers interested in less intense nature walks, and enjoying the countryside.

Auvergne’s Cultural Treasures and Towns

Auvergne’s rich history and heritage are highlighted by its beautiful towns and cities, incredible architecture, and other attractions. Here are a few you should add to your itinerary:

Clermont-Ferrand: One of the oldest French cities, Clermont-Ferrand is known for its distinctive black volcanic stone architecture. Its skyline is dominated by the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, a Gothic cathedral built with dark lava stone. Clermont-Ferrand is also home to the Michelin headquarters and the renowned Musée d’Art Roger-Quilliot, which houses a diverse collection of art and artifacts.

Le Puy-en-Velay: Le Puy-en-Velay is a picturesque town famous for iconic landmarks such as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a stop along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The town is also known for its ancient streets, charming squares, and the statue Notre-Dame de France, a monumental sculpture overlooking the city.

Saint-Nectaire: This small village is renowned for its namesake cheese—the town features traditional stone houses and picturesque streets. Visitors can explore the cheese-making process, visit local farms, and taste the famous Saint-Nectaire.

Salers: Salers is a charming medieval town known for its well-preserved historic center and traditional architecture. It is famous for its local breed of cows, from which the renowned Salers cheese is made. The town’s picturesque streets, ancient buildings, and scenic views make it a popular destination for visitors.

Montpeyroux: Montpeyroux is a picturesque village based in the vineyards of the Auvergne region. It is considered by many to be among the country’s most beautiful villages and is known for its medieval streets, Romanesque church, and the ruins of its castle.

Best Activities for Tourists in the Auvergne Region of France

Should you have the opportunity to visit the Auvergne region, there are plenty of activities and sights, no matter your travel style! A few favorites:

Hiking and nature exploration: The Auvergne region’s diverse landscapes are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Numerous hiking trails traverse volcanic peaks, gorges, forests, and plateaus, offering breathtaking views and opportunities to connect with nature. The Puy de Dôme and the Monts-Dore Massif are particularly popular for hiking and exploring.

Water sports: The rivers, lakes, and gorges of the Auvergne region provide ample opportunities for water sports. Kayaking, canoeing, and rafting are popular activities in the canyons of the Allier River. Lac Chambon and Lac d’Aydat are ideal for swimming, boating, and fishing.

Winter sports: During the winter season, the Auvergne region offers several options for enthusiasts. Ski resorts like Super-Besse, Mont-Dore, and Le Lioran provide excellent downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding are also popular activities in the region.

Visiting volcanic sites: The Auvergne region is known for its volcanic landscapes, and exploring volcanic areas is a must-do activity. Visitors can hike to the top of Puy de Dôme for panoramic views, explore volcanic craters such as Puy Pariou and Puy de Côme, or visit Vulcania—a combination amusement park and museum—to learn about volcanoes and earth sciences.

Cultural exploration: The Auvergne region is rich in cultural heritage, and there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in local traditions and history. Visitors can explore historic towns like Le Puy-en-Velay, Clermont-Ferrand, and Saint-Nectaire, visit medieval castles such as Château de Murol, and discover local arts and crafts in artisan villages.

Wine tasting: The Auvergne region has a growing wine industry, particularly in areas like Saint-Pourçain and Boudes. Visitors can indulge in wine tastings, visit vineyards, and learn about the local wine production methods.

Thermal spas: The Auvergne region is known for its thermal waters and spa towns like Vichy and La Bourboule. Tourists can relax and rejuvenate in thermal spas, enjoy spa treatments, and take advantage of wellness facilities.

Related: 12 Must-Visit Hot Springs for a Rejuvenating Retreat: Iceland, Italy, Japan & Beyond

Culinary delights: Food lovers will find plenty to savor in the Auvergne region. The local cuisine is known for its hearty dishes such as potée auvergnate (a traditional stew), truffade (a cheese and potato dish), and charcuterie. Visitors can sample local specialties, visit farmers’ markets, and even participate in cooking classes.

Ready to Travel?

A visit to the Auvergne region of France is a must if you’re interested in French culture, cuisine, and diverse landscapes—travel to this beautiful area in the center of the country and you won’t leave disappointed!

Have you had the chance to visit Auvergne or other historic regions around Europe? Share your stories with the Frayed Passport community!

Featured image by PHILIPPE SERRAND on Pexels.

Want to connect with fellow travelers? Join our NEW Facebook community and share your insights and questions with nomads, expats, and other travel lovers worldwide!
Frayed Passport is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to