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Discovering the Auvergne in Central France

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Out of all the regions, Auvergne is the one where authenticity is preserved and well taken care of. Some old houses and traditional farm cottages are still available in stunning sceneries. Everywhere you will find a fine blend of tradition and modernity.

Auvergne is a great place to holiday and live

The Auvergne area is in central France. From here you can enjoy easy access to major towns and social activities. At the same time it’s a place to live your life at a better pace, with greater time for well-being, and there’s loads to do. Hailed as the ‘Unknown Jewel of France’ by The Lonely Planet, the Auvergne is generally attributed with having a relaxed pace of life. It is a remote region of natural wonders and a strong cultural legacy that can be found in the architecture, cuisine, and dialect. Auvergne is home to beautiful medieval villages, magnificent frescoed Romanesque churches and the castles of the Bourbon Lords.

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The volcanoes of Auvergne

The natural spirit of the Auvergne is preserved in two of France’s largest regional nature parks: the Volcans (Volcanoes) Park and the Livradois-Forez Park. The best known destination as you head west into the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne is Puy-de-Dome itself, the volcano that gave the department its name. This is the highlight for visitors, with spectacular views stretching as far as the eye can see along the Chaine des Puys range of volcanoes that traverse the region. It is one of the most challenging climbs of the Tour de France, and you can walk or drive the spiral route to the top to be rewarded with incredible views of 70 peaks and 11 departments.

Monts Dore

In the south of the department are the Monts Dore, a much older range of mountains, which include the highest peak of the Auvergne, Puy de Sancy.  In winter there is skiing, both cross-country and downhill and dog sledding. Ballooning offers an even more dramatic way of seeing this impressive landscape.

Although less visited than the famous volcanoes to the west, the less mountainous eastern region of Puy-de-Dome, in and around the Parc du Livradois-Forez also has a great deal of attractive scenery, typically forested hills and open fields and moorland.

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South of Clermont-Ferrand is Super-Besse, one of the best resorts for skiing, located on the southern slope of the Sancy and caters for any skiers at an altitude of between 1300 and 1850m. It is a resort where you can ski right up to your front door. Whether on an activity holiday or a break with your family, Super-Besse has something for everyone, catering for both fans of skiing and those of alternative ‘sliding sports’.

Super Besse Auvergne

Gorges, forests and villages

The ‘Gorges de la Sioule’ area is as pure and peaceful as the meanders of the river which winds its way across this leafy green countryside. The forests, traditional towns and villages in which festivals, exhibitions and other activities take place, lend it added rhythm.

Pouring down from the Monts Dore, the river Sioule, which runs wild and free through the Chouvigny gorges, is an altogether different waterway when it reaches Ebreuil, before continuing on its way to Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule and the Allier. As it passes through the neighbouring villages, it reveals a peaceful and happy tourist region with colourful markets and something to see and do all year round. Canoeing and kayaking down the Gorges de la Sioule will thrill you and the breathtaking landscapes and scenery is truly awesome.

By Alison Brettell, local property expert, Auvergne, Leggett Immobillier

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