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The territory known as the Gorges de l'Allier follows along the wild river in the western part of the Haute-Loire department. You can head down the clear lively waters of the Allier River by raft, canoe or kayak supervised by qualified instructors or explore the riverbanks by bicycle, mountain bike, or on foot discovering rare and protected plant and animal life. You can even discover the river on a tourist train!
This area of Southern Auvergne is a real treat for visitors seeking pure air, nature, tranquillity and exciting activities. But don't miss out on the charming villages and the unique cultural, historical and religious heritage of the Allier Gorges area.
Take a ride on the Allier Gorges tourist train, a unique and environmentally friendly form of transport that takes you where the roads don't even go. The train runs from May to September and follows the famous "Cevenol" railway, that was originally built to directly link Paris to Marseille. Winding and zigzagging its way between Langeac and Langogne following the meanders of the river, and sometimes literally hugging the rock face, this unique train offers you some unbeatable views of these gorges carved out from the rock in a spectacular manner by the fleeting and turbulent waters of the Allier.
For the more adventurous, discover first-hand the rapids of the Allier River! There are several companies offering rentals, guided outings and complete holidays for all kinds of whitewater activities: canoeing, rafting, tubing, kayaking...
There's one fish that's not to be caught, and that's the famous (and protected) salmon, coming back in great numbers in the Allier river, a testament to the quality of the water. Learn more about the history and habits of this unique fish at the Maison du Saumon in Brioude.
A stay in the Allier Gorges area also enables you to "travel through time" as you explore the past during a history-themed stop-off along the river. Examples include the chateau of Chavaniac-Lafayette, where the famous Marquis de Lafayette was born in 1757 and went on to become a key figure of the French Revolution and the American War of Independence. This fine 14th century building proposes a museum circuit focusing on the life of the illustrious marquis, and the gardens are not to be missed!
Also discover the city of Brioude, with its stunning Romanesque church, the basilica of Saint-Julien. The Allier Gorges area also has three villages listed among the Most Beautiful Villages in France: Blesle, Lavaudieu and Pradelles. These villages are perfect for an afternoon of walking cobblestone streets and discovering local artisans and crafts.