The Auverge region of France
The Auvergne is located in central France and is a sparsely populated land of volcanic plateaus and large valleys. It lies at the heart of the mountainous region of the Massif Central. The Massif Central is a rugged plateau of ancient granite and hardened lava, and is a region of natural beauty and dramatic landscapes, midway between Paris and the Mediterranean. Its four departments, Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dome, lie in the heart of France only one hour from Lyons or three from Paris.
A major natural monument in the area is Puy de Dôme, an extinct volcano rising 4,807 feet and providing breathtaking views of the Puy mountain chain and the green plains. Visitors can reach the peak by a winding road and see remains of the Roman Temple of Mercury. The highest point in central France is the Puy de Sancy in the Monts Dore chain, the source of the Dordogne River. You can reach the peak by cable car from the town of Le Mont-Dore, followed by a walk.
The area packed with opportunities for outdoor activities, including skiing, rafting, biking, golfing, hiking, and hang-gliding. Lakes Guéry, Aydat, Pavin, and Chambon provide opportunities for water sports such as canoeing, fishing, swimming, and sailing. Man of these activities take place under the eyes of local wildlife - chamois, marmots and beavers.
The scenery in the area is breathtaking. The Parc des Volcans is made up of five natural regions which are fascinating and grandiose: the chaîne des Puys, the Monts Dore, the Cézalier, the Artense and the Monts du Cantal.
The Auvergne contains Romanesque churches, medieval castles, and Renaissance palaces. In the medieval town of Montpeyroux, artisans can be found practicing their ancient crafts in the fortress tower. The history of the Massif Central, can be appreciated through visiting a number of museums.
The region has a strong peasant cuisine, of which the key ingredients are potatoes and cabbage. The Auvergne is also noted for its salted hams and dried sausages. Auvergne’s waters contribute a wide variety of freshwater fish to menus including wild salmon from the Allier River, char from the Pavin Lake and pike from the Dore River. The area is renowned for its cheeses, those widely available include the blue cheeses Fourme d'Ambert and Bleu d'Auvergne, as well as Cantal, Salers, and St-Nectaire.
There are ample opportunities for physical activities and more than enough to keep history buffs happy. Auvergne has something for everybody, but the memory most people hold strongly is that of the truly amazing scenery.