France, Auvergne : Clermont-Ferrand, Puy de Dômes and Charroux Village



Clermont-Ferrand is the stunning capital of the Auvergne region, which is located in the centre of France. This university city was initially comprised of two separate towns called Clairmont and Montferrand before being merged by King Louis XIII. Also located centrally in Auvergne, the black lava stone buildings in Clermont-Ferrand are enclosed with dormant volcanoes on all sides.

Place de Jaude, the city’s main square, boasts a towering statue of Vercingetorix regally grasping a sword while posed on top of a horse. As with much of the city’s architecture, the Gothic Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral is made of black lava stone, and neighbours the Romanesque Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port and related mosaic sites within reach of Place de Jaude.

The Romanesque church of Notre-Dame du Port, erected during the 11th and 12th centuries with parts later rebuilt in the 19th century, was proposed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1998. It shares its recognition with the city’s premier gothic-style cathedral, also known as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Clermont-Ferrand, which was constructed sometime between the 13th and 19th centuries.

Much of the area’s economy has been dependent on the tyre manufacturer Michelin, which originated from Clermont-Ferrand and had sizeable factories located in the city during the 20th century that staffed around 30,000 people. Though the company still operates out of the city, much of its factories have now relocated to various areas across the world. Luckily, the slow-paced downsizing of Michelin’s Clermont-Ferrand factories allowed for the city to seek out other opportunities in different industries without suffering the consequences of losing such an enormous investment as many post-industrial towns often face.   We visited the Michelin’s museum with a wealth history of tyres and travel guides history.

Today, Clermont-Ferrand thrives and is home to some influential individuals. It hasn’t sacrificed any of its appeal, even attracting visitors to the Charade Circuit, a racing circuit located nearby.

Opera House in Clermont-Ferrand

Beautiful Art-Nouveau façade in pedestrian commerce street
The Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port

A visit to Marche Saint Pierre in Clermont-Ferrand

Where to eat in Clermont-Ferrand

Le Kitchen
29, Rue des Chaussetiers
t: +33(0)473368087

The dish to eat at this local eatery is “Truffade”, a typical Auvergne recipe, made of sliced potatoes, garlic and fresh local Cantal cheese.
The menu changes regularly based on seasonal produce and market purchases. This is a real sign of freshness. The food was excellent, rustic and the service attentive, the reflection of the hostess welcome. Ideally located just outside the Clermont Cathedral.  From the top – whipped goat cheese terrine, Truffade a hearty recipe of potatoes and cheese  and for dessert  local  apple pie.

L’Ostal (
In the centre of town, this place is set in modern decor serving gourmet French cuisine inspired by local produce.
I can see a  future Michelin star in Clermont-Ferrand! The very personal decoration brings a lot of modernity and intimacy.   The dishes techniques include emulsions, mousses, reductions, ice creams and unusual marshmallow flavours.  A must visit when in town.  I particularly loved my dessert of Clafoutis raisins shaved noisette, yusy sorbet crème Anglaise and crumbled biscuits. The wines were local  Saint Porcain-sur-Sioule – stunning fruity medium bodies, good acidity and smooth,velvety tannins

Puy de Dômes


Puy de Dômes is a dormant volcano located in the Massif Central, specifically the Chaîne des Puys region. It remains prominent as one of the youngest and highest of its kind in the area and is situated about 10 kilometres from the city.

Currently, the telecommunication antennas that are positioned at its peak can be viewed from quite a distance away. Visitors can enjoy an absolutely stunning view from the top of the volcano once they take the train up. The more courageous take to the skies by para jumping. Just don’t forget to bring your jacket before you make the trip, especially when the weather chills!

Charroux Village

 With only around 320 residents, Charroux is a very small and  intimate village located amongst the plains and valleys of the Allier department, Bourbonnais region. It lies 413 metres above sea level, allowing it a beautiful view of the Limagne plain and southern Auvergne mountains.

Charroux is currently the only village in Allier that has been ranked amongst France’s most charming villages. Originally a wall-enclosed town, it has been able to preserve its sophisticated and urban architecture due to it’s rich yet isolated history during the Middle Ages.

Today, it offers a variety of tourist activities and services, including catering and accommodation. Take a pleasant walk around its historic streets and admire the medieval walls, clock tower, market, the door of the East, and many more alluring landmarks such as the Prince of Conde’s residence or the “Cour des Dames.”

Festivals in Charroux: In November, a soup festival takes place where 40 different kinds of soup are made by the people of the village. In May, spring is time for the  festival of flavours.

Making Mustard  and walnut oil in Charroux

 The family business “Oils and charroux Mustard” is directed by Simone Maenner, entrepreneur, assisted by his son Olivier and his wife, Annabelle. Each year a new variety of mustard is created by Simone Maenner.  The Maenner family revived the production of mustard village of Bourbonnais and conquered the star chefs all over France in the process.

At the entrance of the store, there’s a small table dotted with different products for tasting from the classic, the Purple Saint-Pourçain- wine-  (the best in my opinion), Moutarde au Piment d’espelette – chilli,  châtaigne- chestnut and mustard chutney – All made back home with me!


 Wine tasting

Domaine des Bérioles is located in the village of Cesset at the foot of the little chapel “Saint Barthélémy”. Cultivation of wines started in 1989  on the old  “Clos de Berioles” which had been there since 1809, by  Odile and  Olivier  Teissèdre.   The small family estate began with 3 hectares of vine situated on argilo-calcareous slopes. 

In 2010, the property extended over 7 acres with the white grape varieties Chardonnay and Tressalier, a local grape variety that is typical of the white wines of Saint Pourçain area.
The Gamay,  grown on granite soil,  and the Pinot Noir on the argilo-calcareous soil, are the varieties used for the estate’s red wines.
In 2011, they opened the doors of its wine cellar in a  beautiful  Bourbonnais building where the property’s wines are vini ed and matured.  It is a very much a family business.

Products :  Vins de Saint Pourçain : blanc (Trésaille, Aurence, Intrepide), rouge (Grandes Brières, Auvernat, Intrepide) et blanc de blanc (brut).

Domaine des Bérioles
Adresse : Rue de l’Eglise 03500 CESSET
e: [email protected]
Tel: 0470459235

Cheese  – AOP  St Nectaire cheese

Located in the village of Aurières,  about 30 minutes from Clermont-Ferrrand,  the Randanne Farm is a scaled-down producer of Saint-Nectaire cheese, they also produce Tomme and Gasperon . The cows are of the Montbéliarde and Abondance breeds the entire production of Saint-Nectaire cheese is tiny. In fact,  it’s one of the smallest productions in Europe. A very personal approach to caring for their 40-strong herd.

We visited the barn and saw at first hand the dedication and hard work that goes into caring and milking for the animals. After that, we had a tasting of AOP Saint-Nectaire. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the cheese making area.

Ferme Randanne offers different cheese tasting and making programmes for groups, individuals, and even schools.

Auvergne is home to five AOP (appellation d’origine protégée) cheeses, including Blue d’AuvergneSalers, CantalSaint-Nectaire and blue Fourme d’Ambert . 

Ferme Randanne – Gaec des Violettes
Discovering the farm: 3 € /per person
Educational farm: 4,50 € half-day / 7 € full day
Snack at the farm: 6,50 € per person

Le Bourg, 63210 Aurières
Tel. +33(0)6 30 34 04 09 ‐ [email protected]

How to get to Auvergne

Lyon to Clermont-Ferrand about 2 hours drive
Auvergne is at the crossroads of three motorways
• Motorway A 71 : Paris / Clermont-Ferrand : 3-4 hours
• Motorway A 89 : Bordeaux / Clermont-Ferrand : 4 hours
Lyon / Clermont-Ferrand : 2 hours
• Motorway A 75: Free between Clermont-Ferrand and Béziers except for the Millau Viaduct toll bridge


Clermont-Ferrand is only 3 hours by train from Paris and 2 hours from Lyon. – Clermont-Ferrand is only 3.5 hours by train from Paris and 2.5 hours from Lyon.
From there, you can take one of several daily trains to the major cities in Auvergne

• Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne International airport with flights from Paris and London Luton
Londres Luton – Clermont-Ferrand, from 07/11/2016 to 25/03/2017  with FLY KISS
• Aurillac Airport with flights from Paris
• Le Puy-en-Velay airport

Bus:  FlixBus

Private Transportation in Auvergne  by AZIMUT Transport 

Disclosure:  I was hosted by ATOUT France UK PR and  Auvergne Tourisme  on this trip.  All views are my own. 



  1. Jazmin Williams
    November 3, 2016 / 2:51 am

    This is simply a stunning post – the photos are fantastic and it's very informative. It's getting my wanderlust bug excited!

  2. Nikki
    November 3, 2016 / 8:01 am

    Wow that cheese looks amazing! Looks like a beautiful part of the world too!

  3. November 3, 2016 / 9:17 am

    I love travelling in France. I've only visited this region once, but loved it. I love the architecture, the towns and the little villages, the fantastic eating… and St Nectaire is one of my favourite cheeses, especially the aged stuff! Beautiful photos, Rosana!

  4. Melanies Fab Finds
    November 3, 2016 / 9:19 am

    That is a stunning place to visit and the food in those pictures looks fabulous!

  5. Pasta Bites
    November 4, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    Auvergne is on my list of places to visit in France, hopefully next summer. Food aside, which looks amazing, their middle ages treasures are incredible… Didnt have time in the last two summer trips so will have to go just there. Stunning.

  6. November 4, 2016 / 2:11 pm

    What a stunning and quintessentially French place. Some of those buildings are just gorgeous. I have to ask…did you try the paragliding?

  7. Olivia
    November 4, 2016 / 11:35 pm

    I've visited France a bunch of times and I think it is one of the best places to visit for gorgeous photos like yours 🙂 x

  8. Gingey Bites
    November 5, 2016 / 12:22 am

    Wow, such an inclusive and useful guide! Thank you. Love the art nouveau shop fronts, there are lots like that in Tuscan cities like Lucca. Great pics.

  9. Gingey Bites
    November 5, 2016 / 12:23 am

    Wow, what a full and interesting review! Love the art nouveau shop front picture, it reminds me of shops like that in Italian places like Lucca and Siena! Beautiful.

  10. November 5, 2016 / 9:40 am

    This place looks absolutely amazing! I don't travel much but I could see myself going here. Your pics are stunning <3

  11. November 5, 2016 / 10:57 am

    Such a cute places! France is such a beautiful country 🙂