Van trip to the Auvergne
Volcanoes, lakes, villages, castles, sports and culture, so many advantages make the Auvergne a particularly vanlife destination. Located in the heart of the Massif Central, the Auvergne is made up of four departments: the entire Cantal and Puy de Dôme and part of the Allier and Haute-Loire.
Clermont-Ferrand, the capital of the Auvergne, deserves to shed the negative preconceived idea it evokes, which is especially linked to its dark coloured buildings, such as the Cathedral Notre Dame de l'Assomption that towers over the city. This colour is not due to the buildings being dirty but to the volcanic stones used to build them, mostly the volvic lava stone. The atmosphere in Clermont-Ferrand has nothing dark and gloomy about it and its short film festival is the second film event in France.
In Clermont, you're at the foot of the Auvergne Volcanoes Natural Park, with its three chains of volcanoes: the Monts Dôme or Chaîne des Puys including the famous Puy de Dôme, the Monts Dore with the Massif Central's peak, the Puy de Sancy (1885m), and the Monts du Cantal with two summits that are classified as Grand site de France: the Plomb du Cantal and Puy Mary. A list reminiscent of geography lessons... For more info about volcanoes, check out Vulcania, a theme park for a fun way to learn how they function. Reach the summit of the Puy de Dôme by train on the cog railway or the top of the Puy de Sancy by cablecar (Puy de Sancy). Breath-taking views await you overlooking the Monts du Limousin, the Plateau de Millevaches, the Monts du Forez and the Mont Blanc in the Alps, if the weather allows it... The bravest will follow the GR30, a hiking trail between the Auvergne's mountains and lakes. It connects the three great peaks of the Massif Central: Puy de Dôme, Puy de Sancy and Plomb du Cantal. Thrill-seekers can try out hang-gliding or paragliding from the top of the Puy de Dôme. Cyclists will also be in for a treat with cols to climb and rides through the heart of the valleys. WeVan offers bike-racks for hire with its equipped campervans. Make the most the many volcanic lakes you come across to enjoy your favourite water sports: Lac Pavin in Besse, Lac Chambon, Lac de Guéry, Lac de Servières... Most of the Auvergne's towns have strong characters and are worth the visit: Riom, Issoire, Brioude, Saint Flour, Aurillac. Take advantage of these breaks to taste the numerous local food specialities such as, among others, the potée auvergnate (Auvergnat hotpot), aligot, truffade, Auvergne blue cheeses, Cabécou, Saint Nectaire, Cantal, and to end on a sweet note, the pastry specials: cornets de Murat, carrés de Salers, pompe aux pommes, Auvergne fruit jellies.
Your road trip in the Auvergne will take you to authentic villages. The Auvergne counts 11 villages that are labelled Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages of France): Arlempdes, Blesle, Charroux, Lavaudieu, Montpeyroux, Pradelles, Saint Saturnin, Saint Floret, Salers, Tournemire and Usson. All unique, all different! Let's not forget the Route Historique des Châteaux d'Auvergne with its 39 châteaux, some of which are situated in the Plus Beaux Villages de France (France's most beautiful villages). Discover another side of the Auvergne by taking the Route des Métiers, in the Livradois-Forez Nature Park, the other great nature park in the Auvergne, not far from Vichy to the north and Puy en Velay to the south. All along this route, you'll find craftsmen and farm producers with ancient know-how: cutlery-makers in Thiers, Fourme d'Ambert producers, ceramists, milliners... In winter, the Auvergne awaits you for winter sports off the beaten track. The menu includes cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the great plateaux, downhill skiing and snowboarding on the Mont Dore, Lioran, at Super Besse or Chalmazel. With the autonomous stationary heating in your campervan, you'll keep warm and toasty.
We suggest you set off on your campervan adventure to the Auvergne from our WeVan rental location in Tours.