14 Best Places to Visit in Auvergne, France (with Map)

If you’re looking for a beautiful and secluded destination to visit in central France, Auvergne is a great choice. This region boasts stunning volcanic mountains, charming valleys, and unspoiled forests that are perfect for outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and skiing.

But Auvergne isn’t just about the outdoors. There are also plenty of cultural attractions to explore, including ancient castles, beautiful churches, and charming villages. And, of course, the local food is a notable highlight as well!

In addition, Auvergne is home to plenty of charming villages and towns that provide an authentic slice of French rural life – a couple even boast vibrant thermal springs. It also has a bustling and elegant capital city with a fascinating history that dates back to the Crusades.

Whether it’s hiking the rugged trails of dormant volcanoes or strolling through ancient streets, a journey to Auvergne promises a whimsical exploration of both nature and history.

Map of Places to Visit in Auvergne, France

14. Blesle

Blesle is a charming village situated along the River Voireuse. Boasting a rich history that dates back to the 9th century, it once played a significant role in trade during the Middle Ages.

The village is notable for its unique half-timbered houses that feature intricate doors and windows. Sitting alongside narrow passages and courtyards, they create a picturesque destination for you to explore, with the riverside location only adding to its beauty.

Within the village, there are several notable sights of interest, one of which is the stunning Abbey Church of Saint Peter. An impressive traditional Roman-style church, its exterior boasts intricate stone ornamentation. While the interior walls are resplendent with vivid colors.

On the other side of the river, the church Notre Dame de la Chaigne is also worth visiting. It is revered as the site of a remarkable event, where a paralyzed lady was remarkably cured after praying at its statue of the Virgin Mary.

13. St-Nectaire


If you love cheese, then you’ll want to pay a visit to Saint-Nectaire. Situated in the Puy-de-Dôme district, it is home to a divine, eponymous brand of cheese that has received a special designation of AOP (Appellation of Origin Protected).

There are several cafes, restaurants, and eateries in the area which showcase the delicious culinary treat that has a sweet flavor, fruity aroma, and rich texture. Take it from us, it is delicious!

Aside from the cheese, the village is a pleasant place to explore. It is set within two sections – Saint-Nectaire-le-Bas and Saint-Nectaire-le-Haut – and features several points of interest. They include the stunning Eglise de Saint-Nectaire, which enjoys an imperious position at the town’s highest point.

While the structure has an impressive exterior, it’s on the inside that it stands out. There you will find a cupola that stands 20 meters high and several depictions of the Old and New Testament

scenes. The church also accommodates a splendid treasury which counts a copper gilded 12th-century bust of Saint-Baudine amount its relics.

12. Volcano Park of Lemptegy

Volcano Park of Lemptegy

It’s not every day you get to visit the inside of a volcano, but that is exactly what you can do at the Volcano Park of Lemptegy. This unique natural site is located in the heart of the Chaîne des Puys, only 15 minutes away from Clermont-Ferrand, and is worth a visit.

During a 2.5-hour guided tour, you can explore a 30,000-year-old volcano by mini-train or on foot. Additionally, you can experience the dynamic 4D cinema show called ‘The Explosive Mine’ which is sure to give you goosebumps.

This adventure should interest those fascinated by volcanoes as you will learn about the different types of volcanoes, rocks, and geological layers that formed the region. You can also visit an exhibition space that showcases artifacts related to the industrial past, several research works, and various rock specimens.

11. Lavaudieu


Lavaudieu in Haute-Loire is a captivating village on the banks of the Senouire. Considered one of the more beautiful villages in France, it is the perfect place to visit if you enjoy leisurely strolling around town.

The village is renowned for its Benedictine abbey, which was founded in the 11th century by Robert de Turlande. The abbey’s Romanesque cloister is especially notable as it is remarkably well-preserved.

Another highlight of the abbey is the beautiful refectory fresco from the 12th century. Inspired by the Byzantine style, it depicts Christ in Majesty above the Virgin and the Apostles. The abbey church is topped by a Romanesque octagonal bell tower. It is also home to stunning wall paintings from the Italian School that dates back to the 14th century.

After visiting the abbey, take a stroll along the village’s narrow streets and the Senouire. You will be enchanted by the golden stone houses replete with rounded tile roofs. The two-story bell tower at the Abbey of St. Andrew and the old bridge with several arches spanning the river that are also noteworthy.

10. Murat


Murat is a charming medieval town situated at the base of the Cantal Mountains in the Alagnon glacial valley. It has been certified as a ‘green resort’ by Station Verte and is located at the crossroads of Haute-Auvergne. The town is surrounded by three volcanic mountains, including the Bredons Rock and the Chastel-sur-Murat Rock.

During the Middle Ages, Murat was a fortified town and a significant road hub, which facilitated trade.

Numerous fairs and markets were held in the town. The old town has many historic houses, some of which are listed as Historic Monuments, that serve as a reminder of its medieval and Renaissance past.

While walking through the town’s streets, you should not miss the consular house, a 15th-century gem with a stunning façade. The old 16th-century bailiwick house on Place de la Boucherie, with its statues and altarpieces from the 17th century, is also a must-see sight.

9. Arlempdes


Another village that can easily lay claim to being one of France’s most beautiful is Arlempdes. Nestled within the Haute-Loire district, about a 30-minute drive from Le Puy-en-Velay, it is a breathtaking sight.

Perched atop a rocky outcrop, the village’s ruined castle offers a stunning view of the valley below. To enter the village, you will need to pass through an 11th-century stone gateway known as the Poterne, which was once part of the castle’s defensive walls.

Arlempdes is a small village that has undergone significant renovation in recent years. It now heavily relies on tourism for its income. Despite its size, there is much to explore in Arlempdes. We recommend you arrive around lunchtime to enjoy lunch at the restaurant near the village’s entrance or picnic in the valley below.

8. Salers


Tucked away inside the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne lies the charming medieval town of Salers.

Positioned at an altitude of almost 915 meters, the town is enclosed by ancient walls and boasts houses constructed from dark lava stone that has been topped with turrets.

Visitors to Salers should not miss the central square, which is a fabulous spot for people-watching. While the Gothic and Romanesque-style Eglise Saint-Mathieu is worth a visit to see its Aubusson 17th-century tapestries.

If you are a history buff, you will also want to visit the Maison des Templiers. It houses the Musée de Salers, which is dedicated to the history of the town and the folklore and traditions of the region.

7. Vichy


Nestled on the picturesque banks of the Allier River, Vichy is a charming small town. It is famous for two things: its World War II puppet government under Marshal Pétain and its historic thermal baths that once attracted the European elite in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Even today, visitors can indulge in the therapeutic thermal waters and marvel at the exquisite Belle Époque architecture of the Vichy Thermal Spa.

Apart from the thermal baths, Vichy boasts several other significant cultural and historic landmarks. For instance, the Opéra de Vichy, built in the 19th century, is renowned for its neoclassical façade. The Hall des Sources, an impressive arcade, is home to numerous boutiques and restaurants.

Additionally, nature lovers can explore the various parks and gardens the town is known for, including the Parc des Sources and the Jardin Public, both offering breathtaking views.

6. Mont Dore

Mont Dore

If you are into skiing, you’ll want to head to Le Mont-Dore. A popular ski resort in the Puy-de-Dôme Department of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, it offers 41 km of slopes for skiing and snowboarding.

Residing at an elevation of up to 1840 meters, there are several lifts available to transport you to the slopes. Once there, you’ll find the town to be a pretty mountain village with a friendly and buzzy atmosphere and some lovely bars and restaurants.

The town is also notable for housing thermal springs, which were used by the Romans. These waters can be drunk or bathed in and are thought to be effective remedies for tuberculosis, bronchitis, asthma, and nervous and rheumatic paralysis. We certainly felt invigorated after spending some time in them!

5. Chateau de Murol

Chateau de Murol

Situated on a basaltic promontory that faces the Sancy Massif, the Chateau of Murol is a fascinating place to visit.

Located in the Puy-de-Dôme, it offers a spectacular view of the Puy de Sancy. It is open all year round and presents a fabulous program of events showcasing what life was like back in 1423 when lord Guillaume de Murol held court. They include costumed guided tours and knights’ jousts.

One of the key attractions inside the chateau is a 600-year-old account book that provides a fascinating insight into the life of the lord. There are also several other notable artworks and relics worth checking out.

4. Aurillac

Aurillac is a quaint small town surrounded by picturesque scenery and steeped in history. It’s a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts as it’s located near the Cantal Mountains, offering numerous opportunities for hiking and skiing. The town boasts two notable landmarks, the Saint-Géraud Cathedral, a stunning Romanesque structure that dates back to the 12th century, and the Château Saint-Étienne, a 15th-century castle.

Art and history buffs should not miss the chance to visit the Museum of Art and Archaeology, which houses an intriguing collection of works spanning several centuries.

If you plan your visit for August, you’ll have the chance to attend the International Festival of Aurillac, a world-renowned event that features theater, street performances, and circus acts. It’s an excellent opportunity to witness talented performers from around the globe.

3. Clermont-Ferrand


Filled with rich cultural and historical landmarks, Clermont-Ferrand is a fascinating destination to visit.

One such landmark is the Notre Dame du Port Basilica, an 11th-century Gothic-style architectural masterpiece that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Another is the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral, a Gothic-style structure that is built from black volcanic rock and features exquisite stained glass windows, perfect for photographing for Instagram.

If you are into cars, as Clermont-Ferrand is the global headquarters of the Michelin tire manufacturing company, you might want to visit the Michelin Adventure Museum. There you will learn about the company’s intriguing history in the automotive industry.

2. Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne

Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne

The Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne is a sprawling nature reserve, known for its breathtaking volcanoes, crater lakes, forests, rivers, and thermal springs.

One of the more notable volcanoes is the Puy de Dôme. It towers above the lush valleys and offers stunning views of the Chaîne des Puys, a range of ancient craters now covered in rolling grass. Another impressive peak is the Puy de Sancy, which is the tallest point in the Massif Central.

You won’t have the place to yourself as visitors flock to the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne to relax, unwind, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, the park boasts well-maintained trails that are perfect for hiking, making it easy to immerse yourself in a tranquil spot for a while.

As well as hiking, the reserve offers a wide range of activities, including rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, river rafting, and canoeing for you to enjoy.

1. Le Puy-en-Velay

Le Puy-en-Velay

Le Puy-en-Velay is a town unlike any other. Its stunning volcanic formations provide a breathtaking backdrop, and it is famous for its medieval pilgrimage churches.

One of these churches is the Chapelle Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe, which sits atop a lofty formation of lava rock and features stunning Byzantine-style mosaics within its interior.
Another must-see is the UNESCO-listed Cathédral Notre-Dame, a Romanesque masterpiece from the 12th century that is home to a revered Black Virgin Mary standing on a Baroque high altar.

If you’re in town in mid-August, don’t miss the Fêtes Mariales. A traditional Catholic celebration held in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, it features a procession of the famous Black Madonna.

And while you’re here, be sure to check out the Notre Dame du Puy or Virgin Mary. It stands atop the Rocher Corneille, a 755-meter-high volcanic chimney that offers incredible panoramic views of the valley.

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