A region of mountains and forests, hills and valleys, the Auvergne region is one of France’s best-kept secrets. The area is known for its volcanos, the Chaîne des Puys, which make up part of the Massif Central mountain range. These volcanos make up the largest volcanic area in the whole of Europe. Safe to explore, they are dormant, but not extinct, as their bubbling hot springs prove. The area is full of volcanic springs of mineral water such as the Volvic Spring. In the National Regional Park of the volcanos, you can get up close and personal with one of these sleeping giants, the Puy-de-Dôme Volcano, for example.
In the Auvergne, relax and take advantage of the more leisurely pace of life. Enjoy the beautiful landscape on foot or on horseback, by mountain bike or from the air – try hang-gliding over a volcano for a life changing experience. On the rivers you’ll find fishing, kayaking and other watersports, whilst in winter you can ski from the two ski resorts Puy de Sancy and Plomb du Cantal. Or just hop in the Plomb du Cantal cable car to get a breathtaking view without toiling up the mountain yourself.
For an ideal day trip with the family, you’ll find that Vulcania, a volcano themed park with IMAX cinemas, is a fun and informative experience for all.
Clermont-Ferrand, in contrast to the sleepy surrounding area, is a hub of culture and the arts: both ancient and contemporary. The city hosts an International Short Film Festival, the largest of its kind in the world. The city also boasts great shopping and a burgeoning nightlife.
The city of Limoges is famous for its porcelain: even now more than 50% of all French porcelain is made from Limoges clay. The National Museum of Porcelain has some beautiful examples.
The region is also well known for its cheeses, which include Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal, and the one of the oldest cheeses of France, Fourme d’Ambert: it’s not quite as old as the volcanos, but does date back to Roman times.