Pays d’Issoire, a base camp for visiting all Auvergne!
Pays d’Issoire, easily accessible by the A75 motorway (free), lies astride the Livradois-Forez and Auvergne Volcano Regional Nature Parks, and is just a few miles from the Massif du Sancy, the Chaîne des Puys, Clermont-Ferrand, Cantal and Haute-Loire – the ideal base camp for visiting all Auvergne during your holiday!
Here you will find, a little to the west, the Auvergne Volcano Regional Nature Park… and a little to the east, the Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Park! Do you feel like visiting Haute-Loire or Cantal? You are just 20 km and 16 minutes away from Haute-Loire, and you will see the first Cantal landscapes just 15 km and 10 minutes away!
Do you want to visit Clermont-Ferrand and the famous Chaîne des Puys nearby? 37 km and half an hour are all it takes to reach the capital of Auvergne… A few minutes further on, you will find yourself at the heart of volcanic natural landscapes: Puy-de-Dôme, Puy Pariou, Puy de la Vache and the other 77 volcanoes in the range all await you!
If you want to make some great discoveries close by, then you have plenty of options: Saint Austremoine abbey church, a masterpiece of Romanesque art in Issoire; two of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, Montpeyroux and Usson; the magnificent volcanic range of the Cézallier, with its bends and curves; hiking trips in exceptional volcanic sites; fishing spots; great restaurants, where pride of place is given to the produce of Auvergne…
And not forgetting all the rest! You’ll have so much more to discover!
What to visit near Pays d’Issoire
> Chaîne des Puys
Currently a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage site status, this is the most famous chain of volcanoes in Auvergne. To the west of Clermont-Ferrand, this geological grouping contains 80 volcanoes, and stands out for its relatively recent formation and striking shapes.
> Massif du Sancy
The result of a long history stretching over 3 million years, the Monts Dore are a fairly complex group of several volcanic mountain ranges. The best-known, but also the most recent, is the Massif du Sancy. It last erupted 6900 years ago, leading to the formation of Lake Pavin, which is located in a crater. 1886 metres high, the Puy de Sancy is the highest point in the Massif Central and the tallest summit of volcanic origin in mainland France. This is where the Dore and the Dogne meet to form the Dordogne.
> The Cantal Volcano
This is the biggest volcano in Europe: Plomb du Cantal, Puy Mary and Puy Griou form a single volcano. They resulted from a whole series of eruptions in the same emission area. Glaciers redrew these landscapes, forming a group of plateaus, cirques and valleys. Worth visiting nearby are the town of Saint-Flour, standing on its volcanic headland, and the Garabit viaduct, the work of Gustave Eiffel.
> Brioude and the Allier gorges in Haute-Loire
In tracing its path between the basalt plateaus of volcanic Velay and the granite plateaus of Margeride, the Allier sculpted these gorges that you can visit by train, in a canoe or on foot. The town of Brioude, at the edge of the Allier gorges, is known above all for the Saint-Julien basilica, the biggest Romanesque church in Auvergne.
Clermont-Ferrand is famous for its rugby team, the Michelin company and the international short-film festival, but also for its rich religious heritage. The finest examples are the Romanesque basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Port, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Notre Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral, which owes its dark colour to the Volvic lava used in building it.
> The Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Park
In the east of Auvergne, this is one of the biggest Regional Nature Parks in France. A vast rural region of mid-range mountains, the park contains a wide diversity of natural environments, which vary greatly depending on the altitude. There are many charming towns and villages in the nature park: Thiers, the capital of the cutlery industry, Ambert and its strangely rounded town hall; La Chaise Dieu and its abbey or Billom and its half-timbered houses.