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Volcanoes, Chateaux and Sunflowers galore in Auvergne, France by saltycat

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· @saltycat · (edited)
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Volcanoes, Chateaux and Sunflowers galore in Auvergne, France
![photo_2019-07-29_21-22-33.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmNkF8XKoWGejiffRL7JJYvtHTAYRXp5U7SyuA8g6mJnQq/photo_2019-07-29_21-22-33.jpg)

We went to France this summer to soak up the fine weather and fine wine and ventured to a little known region called the Auvergne. A popular holiday destination with the French who retreat en masse to the country or the seaside in August. The Auvergne is located bang in the centre of France, the wider region is referred to as the Massif Central. The Auvergne is an agricultural power house and a region of dormant volcanoes. This gives rise to an area of outstanding beauty and rustic cooking. The area is home to Volvic and its famous natural spring water.  It is known historically for the city of Vichy capital of the collaborationist government in World War Two.

https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdDoEiJ83mLtiW8pmg41hsv5RRTVh8BYK9j5g4HkSYDd4/photo_2019-07-27_14-33-52.jpg

We stayed in the capital of Auvergne region Clermont-Ferrand which is actually two towns merged together. The city boasts a vibrant university and the location of the Michelin tyre factory that employs 20,000 workers. When this goes on holiday in August the entire town becomes very quiet indeed. Although you can still visit the Michelin Adventure museum. 

![photo_2019-07-30_17-51-06.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmfKmmY4D6oyqwa3NB68VjWpSVZ7eRnmFvqqc3iUpQqQK9/photo_2019-07-30_17-51-06.jpg)

The central attraction of Clermont-Ferrand is its Romanesque church made of black volcanic stone. Due to this summer's heat waves the church interior  actually felt warm. 


The town was also the birthplace of Blaise Pascal, famous mathematician, of Pascal's wager and whose work became the basis of the calculator and microprocessor. Mathematic fans can visit the Henri-Lecoq museum to see his early machines. 

![photo_2019-08-10_17-25-57 (2).jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmXxKwABYUJZdCXSYSqcuji1yzyWbzkkVnxLbgYzvXigok/photo_2019-08-10_17-25-57%20(2).jpg)
In the local park stands the original gates to Pascal's house

The town also has an excellent art gallery which boasts a painting by Delacroix. It's located in the other part of town the Montferrand part which is worth exploring  for the charm of the old buildings without the bustle of Clermont.

![photo_2019-08-07_15-56-14.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmPQhVwcno5mEJ7YTx1JKEjMtSHaFGHvTtgx2VSuWBDMrS/photo_2019-08-07_15-56-14.jpg)

We also visited the Bargoin museum with its exhibition of Roman remains and older. However, it was the temporary exhibition of the tie dying tradition Ikat, that proved most interesting. Which goes to show you never know what you're going to find when you visit a museum. 

![photo_2019-08-11_20-46-15.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmV5PpX7Qj4kvFYtcneQTiTQ8wtFLSgYdS3q5aQwExc2Xe/photo_2019-08-11_20-46-15.jpg)

We also took a trip into the suburbs to visit the Resistance museum. Although the exhibit was entirely in French the pictures, so to speak, told a thousand words. However no photos were allowed.


Just outside Clermont-Ferrand is the plateau Gergovie which was the site of a battle between Gaullish leader Vercingetorix and Julius Caesar in 52BC. 


![photo_2019-08-05_09-26-45.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmasb6kPAzQWkKxWMo8hE1oqbXxJvXoHC2iup2SSZF13U6/photo_2019-08-05_09-26-45.jpg)

It was Vercingetorix who united the Gauls against the Romans and is celebrated in this region as a French hero. There are numerous statues and paintings of this folk hero. Indeed it was difficult to go anywhere without seeing his representation.  Unfortunately, Caesar took his revenge at the Battle of Alesia and Vercingetorix was eventually paraded through the streets of Rome in chains.

![photo_2019-08-07_18-18-01.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmVD1YxwCkK4F3aXReDwsdM7Z5xKw8JW6QfygkZR1o75hm/photo_2019-08-07_18-18-01.jpg)

### **Volcanoes**


The area is dominated by the volcanoes. Together they make up a chain of 80 dormant volcanoes known as the Limagne Fault and became a world UNESCO heritage site in 2018

![photo_2019-07-28_22-47-39.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmP1MzZKBfb76FNZdsb8iDfgPQYHDYF2Azeeummz7AmZaF/photo_2019-07-28_22-47-39.jpg)

For those geographically minded it has a range of cinder cones, lava domes and maars. We went up the Puy de Dome, one of the youngest and highest of the volcanoes.  It reaches an elevation of 1,465m and a jacket is highly recommended. 

![photo_2019-07-28_17-53-27.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmTWj6vPwt5AfKDvna7Mnbf4VGUqL5t17JBM77bJuUyLaR/photo_2019-07-28_17-53-27.jpg)

At the summit we found the remains of a Roman temple to Mercury. You can either follow the pilgrims path up the mountain, although for those less able or energetic there is also a rack railway to take you up for the fantastic views. 

https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmcN9K5tvuZTzHKQ1VZKMLhx985iKWqJdBvGB9bCqPPKLf/photo_2019-07-28_22-53-13.jpg


### **Chateaux**

Auvergne's location shielded them from potential invaders (like the English or the Spanish) and combined with its agricultural self sufficiency has shaped the character of the area. On each hillside or rather volcanic promontory in many cases, numerous small chateaus stand reflecting the strength of the feudal land system that dominated in medieval France. We visited a range of chateaus - from the ruins of Tournoel, the fort at Montpeyroux, the castle of Murol, and the 'mini Versailles' of Parentignat.  

![photo_2019-08-02_17-35-58.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmYfYDh59fCe7pFaq57uC2xd37pgBMGBh9t4851N2JyGtT/photo_2019-08-02_17-35-58.jpg)

We were a little disappointed with Tournoel because you had to pay for a tour in French to look around some ruins. We did enjoy the cafe at the top and I enjoyed that very French dish crepes. The castle was located close by to Volvic so we visited the caves, Grotte de la Pierre. The caves were limited but the video treatment was excellent. You could feel the history of the place. The medieval monks carving stone for their churches. The quarry owner Jean Legay-Chevalier brokenheartedly carving a funeral statue in the days following his wife's death. Indeed, we went to the graveyard after to see her grave.  Just down the road is the Volvic experience. Basically, company propaganda films and a very wide selection of Volvic flavoured water to try. 

![photo_2019-08-05_11-38-49.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmZvAFkPiRW5RFPMjhgpXNbh4qm3RgRB5S3JkrJxCLW5Qd/photo_2019-08-05_11-38-49.jpg)

A trip to Montpeyroux is recommended for those who like little pretty picture postcard villages. Surrounded as it was by fields of sunflowers the village is based in an eye catching location. Voted as one the Les Plus Beaux Villages, it has cobbled streets and charming houses. There are several very good restaurants for a nice leisurely lunch in idyllic surroundings. Top this off with a climb up the fort/keep for great views over the surrounding area.  One of the joys of a country holiday is the stumbling into villages like this. One day needing a drink we found ourselves in Besson, not somewhere on the tourist map, but we enjoyed wandering the medieval quarter by ourselves. Naturally no-one spoke English.

![photo_2019-08-05_11-38-39.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmNW3HnK4MeYZQvUwb2bdrRywLvSyFuMXxvyRrzZnV2nGY/photo_2019-08-05_11-38-39.jpg)

The castle of Murol is situated 900m altitude on a lava promontory from the Tartaret volcano. It provides entertainment in summer of the jousting display kind. Expect cute French children hitting each other with wooden swords. 

![photo_2019-07-29_21-24-56.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmf5FFFSottuxEdDKysjxmoLZBhydYyRPvChujMszAhxik/photo_2019-07-29_21-24-56.jpg)

It's in fairly good condition and has an array of medieval military hardware.  Once the comfortable quarters of the feudal lord it was refortified during the Wars of Religion (1562-98). Once again as might be expected from such an elevated position the views were spectacular from the top of the Chautignat Tower where the lord could survey the entirety of his land. 

https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmbkfyUXKXZYv6HLPHBK6xDBwkwPxZZvqmAmz5j4dkromK/photo_2019-07-29_21-25-15.jpg

The chateau of Parentignat (near Issoire)was more what one might expect of a traditional chateau. Built in the early 18th century it escaped the revolution due to treating the locals well and being isolated enough from Paris to escape Robespierre's notice.  The chateau has a lovely sprawling English garden to wander in. 

![photo_2019-08-03_17-24-10.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmeYMps24ezyzbv4GAu3TDp6JpSdZRPv3Ku3wEtnV3goBR/photo_2019-08-03_17-24-10.jpg)

The tour was in French but there is classic French 18th century furniture and plenty of paintings to look at. The beautiful library is impressive with 20,000 volumes. Following the revolution the family became Bonapartists making this a rather unusual family. Strange also that this chateau became known as the little Versailles giving such different political outlooks.

![photo_2019-08-03_17-24-22.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmXdshfzGpZeaBBHodeMihQks1XfUcAxVUEdoNqTCaWawz/photo_2019-08-03_17-24-22.jpg)

### **Food and drink**

As throughout all of France food and drink is an essential experience. The best place to eat the regional food in Auvergne is to seek out the country restaurants. The food is hearty, reflecting the hard-working people of the area. Auvergne produces a quarter of all of France's cheese. Seasonality is also hugely important. A trip to a market is a must. We visited the large Saturday morning market in Issoire. When we were there courgettes of many varieties plus apricots and nectarines where in abundance. Pork is a central ingredient, and the French really know how to cook it. My husband is a vegetarian so largely missed out on the culinary side - although being British we went to a curry house and the lentil dish was extraordinary. It turns out that lentils grown on volcanic soil (Puy lentils) are very tasty indeed. 

![photo_2019-08-03_18-28-17.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmUqeoU5oD8R6HBQFR3aQRnWxyrT2Po1wdqbM1zipzPk2R/photo_2019-08-03_18-28-17.jpg)

Like most regions in France some excellent wines can be found to drink at very reasonable prices. One of France's oldest vineyards is the Auvergne Vineyard, one of the five wine-making regions of the Loire Valley. The Cotes d'Auvergne vineyard produces a white, red and rose. We all had our favourites but I found the rose most appealing . We are admittedly not wine connoisseurs but enjoyed the reasonable prices. Other wines to look out for include - Cote Roannaise, Saint-Poucain, and Cotes du Forez.

![photo_2019-08-14_18-28-45.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmYnd2txPpbHvpu4am2NZc4iSkLisTTE9Ai3uHWLEQtxnL/photo_2019-08-14_18-28-45.jpg) Lemon and courgette pizza

Of course, combined with all that eating and drinking there are a lot of excellent walks to be had in the country. We went on a hike on the trail of the Druids and found these enormous stones piled up. Historians disagree about what ceremonies were practiced there, human sacrifice maybe? We also had a map detailing thirteen cultural walks (Horizons "Arts-Nature" en Sancy). Each designed to take you through the landscape to an art installation.  We took a walk at Mont-Dore, a ski resort in the winter, and came across the source of the Dordogne river.  

![photo_2019-07-31_16-03-09.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmbCZ8s42rYQAJ4d2mJt5fdoSZwTi36qvUDg2PCt6eYvHY/photo_2019-07-31_16-03-09.jpg)
Naisaance de la Dordogne by Collectif Ma.Gy

For those fitter and more energetic there are of course numerous volcanic walks and bike rides, not to mention paragliding and such like to stretch your fitness. A picnic in a crater sounded unusual and cool, but you can't do everything.  We did go swimming though in several of the crater lakes in the area to cool off.  Now how cool is that?

![photo_2019-07-29_21-30-38.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmaGYZtQFTG4iHu6a4NcBJwmpff9VGg8iMRogriDSSRtW4/photo_2019-07-29_21-30-38.jpg)

![photo_2019-08-05_09-26-09.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmZUMZ6g1QXYJ6F8tMuLCiHBLXcJ7m1W58KkZXHePJs9kH/photo_2019-08-05_09-26-09.jpg)

![photo_2019-08-05_09-26-46.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmdMN3bZygyhLdQcv13VYgymyvoLU7GQ4Ebhnws3ZX5xXT/photo_2019-08-05_09-26-46.jpg)

Sunset behind the Puy de Dome
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@qurator · (edited)
Manually curated by the [Qurator](https://steemit.com/qurator/@qurator/qurator-registration-update-or-now-free-to-join) Team. Keep up the good work!
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@cattledog ·
Good post cat !!  I'd love to travel more.  
Not sure about that Zucchini and Lemon Pizza !!
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@saltycat ·
$0.07
It was pretty good. The French can really cook. :)
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@iamsaray ·
Hello! A pleasure β™‘

That trip must have been very fun and exciting, how pleasant your experience was, the places were very nice :)x
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@saltycat ·
$0.09
Thanks I have loads of lovely memories from the trip, I would recommend it.
πŸ‘  , , , , , ,
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@road2horizon ·
ehy dear @saltycat , great post! with your beautiful photos and your detailed descriptions you made us visit a part of france that is perhaps among the least known! how is the climate there? what time of year did you go? it also seems to me that you have really visited many places and museums: what is the time of a good visit without stress? congratulations on your curie vote
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@saltycat ·
$0.08
Hi thanks for your questions. We went in July/August and the weather was late twenties/early thirties nearly everyday and full of sunshine.  However, it was holiday time for the French too. I think June or September are probably ideal months if you can visit then for a less busy time. As for without stress - all holidays have some stress elements but I found the French countryside to be a rather laid back affair. The busiest places by far where the beaches by the crater lakes.
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@road2horizon ·
thank you very much for your advice! August is always to be avoided, this is now clear :-)) keep on travel
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@felt.buzz ·
$0.02
Hey you were only a couple of hours from where I live! :) Some great photos! :)
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@saltycat ·
$0.10
Thanks, You live in a great part of the world.
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vote details (9)
@mariita52 ·
Excellent documentary
You covered all areas. History, art, tradition, geography, tourism, gastronomy and more ...
Awesome volcanic chain.
80 volcanoes? Oh God!
Is Rapunzel in the clock tower? Wonderful!
Everything was great and the photos beautiful. Thanks for a good post. I enjoyed it a lot.
Thanks Curie for this excellent selection.
πŸ‘  
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@saltycat ·
Thanks for your kind words.
πŸ‘  
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@steemitboard ·
Congratulations @saltycat! You have completed the following achievement on the Steem blockchain and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

<table><tr><td><img src="https://steemitimages.com/60x70/http://steemitboard.com/@saltycat/voted.png?201909201826"></td><td>You received more than 5000 upvotes. Your next target is to reach 6000 upvotes.</td></tr>
</table>

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@marcybetancourt ·
You have made a beautiful walk and with this publication we all walk too. I loved the description of your tour. I have been to several cities in France but I have not visited Auvergne. I was probably very close since I stayed in Tours (I don't know if it's really close). I love sunflowers and that field looks spectacular. Thank you for the fantastic sunset photo. Kind regards @saltycat
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@saltycat ·
$0.09
Thanks for that. I'd love to visit Tours ad the Loire valley - that's where all the really fantastic chateaux are.
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vote details (7)
@bdcommunity ·
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@thp88 ·
Great pics, truly stunning!
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@innerblocks ·
<center>***Thanks for sharing your experience with us***!
<img src="https://i.postimg.cc/P5nkXgK2/Logo2-300.png" alt="TIBLogo" style="border:none;" /></center>
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@delishtreats ·
I have been to several French regions but I have never visited Auvergne. It doesn't surprise me that people there didn't speak English as I haven't met many French people speaking English :) It's challenging even in bigger cities and I didn't have good experience in Paris either.

It looks like a stunning place that is worth of visit. I like volcanic regions. They are perfect for hiking as it's not that challenging and almost everyone can manage.

Your photos are great! Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your curie vote!
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