From rugged, volcanic peaks, to forest-covered valleys. From the excitement of snow-covered slopes to the holistic tranquillity of hot-springs and soothing spa towns. The Auvergne is an un-spoiled natural playground of breathtaking beauty, dominated by vast forests, dormant volcanoes, historic villages and châteaux, all waiting to be explored. It’s no wonder why Lonely Planet has recently voted it as one of the Top 10 destinations in the world that you must see.
No other region in France can offer the diverse mix of countryside and culture that the Auvergne can boast. And here at Auberge de Chabanettes, we are fortunate to lie in the heart of the Puy-de-Dome department of the Auvergne, arguably the most stunning of the four departments that make up this region. Within Puy-de-Dome lies the Regional Natural Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes as well as the Livradois-Forez which surrounds our Auberge in lush, un-spoiled forests.
Overlooked for too long, the Auvergne is fast becoming a more desirable destination as holiday-makers seek a more natural, peaceful location away from the crowds.
Here’s some of our “Must See and Do” recommendations when visiting the Auvergne
The Chaines des Puys – a 40km long chain of craters and lava domes, which although now dormant, have left an incredible footprint on the region. The unmistakeable shape of Puy-de-Dome itself, at 1465m, towers above Clermont-Ferrand and can be easily accessed on foot by even the most sceptical of ramblers, or by a train, the Panoramique des Domes, which in just 15 scintillating minutes, can take you to its summit and the magnificent views it boasts over the region. To the east, on a clear day, even Mont Blanc can be seen from this much-loved vantage point.
Puy-de-Sancy and Mont Dore – At the heart of the Regional Park lies Puy-de-Sancy, the highest Volcano in France standing at 1886m, which towers above the Large Mountain Village and Spa-Town of Mont Dore.This is a true all-year-round destination. From Spring through to Autumn, the slopes are accessible for fell walkers and mountaineers, with miles upon miles of well-defined paths along these magnificent ridges. In Winter, the region is alive with Skiers and Winter Sport enthusiasts who have made this the capital of Skiing in the Massif Central and is among one of the many superb ski resorts in the Auvergne. The Spa Town of Mont Dore is bustling with character, shops and restaurants all celebrating the crafts and fayre of the Auvergne.
The Auvergne has long been famed across the world for its delicious cheeses, with a wide and varied selection, five of which have “Designated Protection of Origin” (AOP) status, guaranteeing their character and high quality – Bleu D’Auvergne, Saint-Nectaire, Cantal, Salers & Fourme D’Ambert. Visitors are openly encouraged to visit these small, artisan producers and sample these cheeses which now have an international following and enormous culinary respect. The “Route des Fromages” has been designed to let you discover these producers and their fayre. As well as tasting great on their own, these cheeses also form a key part of the cuisine of the Auvergne, no more so than in the dish “Truffade” which is a “Must-Eat”. Here at Chabanettes, we often make this dish for our guests, accompanied with a selection of charcuterie from the region and a fresh, green salad. If you do treat yourself to some local cheese, we’d be more than happy to store it in one of our refrigerators for you until you are ready to go home
Unlike many mountainous regions of France, the enchanting landscape of the Auvergne is more accessible than you may think. From deep in the valleys, right up to the perimeter of the volcanoes, a generous, smooth road network explores its way through the mountains and forests of our region. The D996, (which luckily for us lies on our front doorstep), is one of the more famous roads of our region. And which ever way you turn, left or right from Auberge de Chabanettes, you’ll find a great route full of amazing scenery, historic villages & towns. The Auvergne has fast become a major draw for Classic Car Clubs and Touring Motorbike Clubs, and it’s not difficult to see why
Lying about an hour south of Auberge de Chabanettes is the geologically, culturally and historically stunning city of Le Puy-En-Velay which certainly is worth a whole day out to fully appreciate this gem of the Auvergne. Three inspiring religious monuments sit high, perched on spear-like volcanic outcrops which look over the city. All are worth a visit, especially the Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you like your winter sports of a more Scandinavian nature, there are a choice of destinations within a very short drive of the Auberge, right here in the Livradois-Forez where you can participate in all kinds of Nordic Winter activities from Cross Country Skiing to Dog Sleds.
With nine villages in the Auvergneofficially listed as “Plus Beaux Villages en France” (France’s most beautiful villages) you are spoiled for choice to discover some of these stunning and historical settlements, each with their own distinctive identity and rich in culture and beauty. Usson lies just 15 minutes from the Auberge de Chabanettes and sits peacefully on a small volcanic mount with magnificent views to the Sancy Mountains.