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Auvergne

 Places to Stay in Auvergne -  Gites in Auvergne

 

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Auvergne is an undiscovered and unspoilt region of France.  It is considered beautiful - full of gorges, rivers, mountains and lakes and is the place for the really dedicated, professional walker and people seeking naturalness and no Disney type attractions.  It gets hot unless you are up in the volcanic mountains, where the volcanoes have have kept very quiet for many years - its baby volcanoes being just 5,000 years old....!  In the Cezallier hills, there are many wild flowers including rare orchids and yes carnivorous plants ... yes we did say carnivorous but if you are interested in botany, these are well worth studying.   There is evidence that Celts settled the area in 400 B.C. The region is famous for things other than its volcanic mountains. There are many natural spas and the local produce includes mineral water, cheese and lentils - all of which are first class. 

 

Departments and Main Towns

 

Departments:  Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire Puy-de-Dôme. 

The principal towns are:

Clermont Ferrand, which actually sits on top of an extinct volcano. The region once encouraged Portuguese workers and many of them have stayed there and integrated into the society.  Nowadays it is an aviation "hub" and The Michelin Tyre headquarters is in Clermont-Ferrand. It is also famous for its fountains which arrive from the many subterranean water sources.

Montluçon, a "Bourbon" city is interesting for its architecture and art-  the Church of St. Paul is made of metal, the Château de la Louvière, is said to be a copy of the Trianon in ParisWaterfall

Vichy - the natural springs have encouraged people to attend the therapeutic Spas. It is situated on the Allier River and has many mineral springs. Vichy is considered to be one of the most important spas of Europe.

There are many natural spas in the region - particularly notable out of the ten spa towns are Vichy, La Bourbole, Chatel-Guyon and Bourbon-l’Archambault.  These towns are also worth visiting for their other attractions

Famous people from Auvergne include the Marquis de Lafayette, George Pompidou, Président de la République and prior to this a close aide to General De Gaulle

 

Wines

The wines are light as the area is not perfect for the type of grapes for heavy, rich red wine. The wines of Saint-Pourcain are becoming better known.

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Cheese

The cheese which was produced in  ‘jasseries’ which are stone buildings with slated roofs is something of which the Auvergne should be justifiably proud. Five of the A.O.C. cheese in France actually originate from the Auvergne - which is proportionally a high percentage.  The  A.O.C. cheeses are Cantal, St.Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert and Salers.

Cantal is a hard cheese, which if you are a loyal Cheddar Fan is a highly passable subsitute - but in fact it is in a league of its own and really delicious.  This Cheese is considered one of the oldest in the world and Pliny the Elder mentioned it in the 1st Century AD and Iit originates from the Cantal mountains. Cantal is made from pasteurised cow's milk and is salted and pressed up to four times.  A young Cantal is ready in one month, a medium any time up to six months and the tangy, strongest Cantal is over six months old.  Cantal is traditionally used as an ingredient in fondues and gratins and also salads and soups.  It is also pretty good with Branston Pickle in a sandwich- sorry for the sacrilege!

St. Nectaire is softer and round like a Camembert and quite gentle tasting. 

Bleu d'Auvergne is a tangy, blue cheese - not as salty as Rocquefort but still strong and distinctly blue.

Fourme d'Ambert is a softer, milder blue cheese which is made in a long roll and you see it cut into round slices about three quarters of an inch deep (sorry not metric measurement) which are packaged and sold as such in the shops.

Salers is the fifth A.O.C. cheese and is produced under special conditions regarding the time the milk was collected.  It is a hard cheese like Cantal but much milder and gentler on the palette.  It is also rarer.

Less well known and not an A.O.C. s a Goat's Cheese called Gaperon.

The region is famous for its lentils - green Puy lentils which again have an A.O.C.  There are loads of recipies for the Puy lentils ranging from traditional of the area to those by Delia Smith.

 

Specialities

Auvergnat Cooking is like many regional dishes a way of making use of local produce to create cheap meals which proved delicious and classic.  There is Tripoux which is a sort of sausage or faggot made of veal, bacon, seasonings, herbs and onions in a skin made from veal which is stewed for some hours with vegetables.  La Potée Auvergnate is a stew made from loin of pork, bacon,  sausages, cabbage and potatoes. Truffade is a potato dish with the addition of Tome de Cantal (the first pressing of Cantal).  The potatoes are sliced.  The alternative to this is Aligot which is potato puree with Tome de Cantal.  For a snack there is Pounti which is a loaf made with vegetables and prunes. For dessert there is Tarte aux Myrtilles.  Myrtilles  are bilberries which grow richly in the region.  The bilberries are combined with Creme Fraiche to make a tart. Otherwise there is Fougasse, a type of brioche containing dry and crystalised frut, flavoured with brandy or orange flower water. 

The area produces some of the best known mineral waters such as Vichy, Volvic and Saint-Yorre.

 

Auvergne Events

Le Third Festival of the Ducs of Bourbon is from 2 to 4 July 2004...  Otherwise there are many brocante sales - (collectables and some antiques)

 

Auvergne Acitivities

The areas great attraction is the terrain and this is perfect for mountain climbing and walking.  The gorges of the rivers such as the Allier and Sioule are used for white water rafting and kayaking.    The many lakes are perfect for swimming, sailing and wind-surfing. It is an Angler's paradisse also with many opportunities for fishing in the rivers and lakes. Otherwise there are many equestrian activities.  For the less adventurous there are many golf courses.

 

 

Lucy Levers

Gite in Auvergne

Click here for more information

 

 

 

 

AUVERGNE

Great old house restored with taste, 128m2 of living on land 5000 m2.

Living room with fireplace, 4 bedrooms, garage, workshop.

potential for this stone house near dEchandelys. 

If you need more information

please contact me on my mobile 00 33 6 62 23 43 17