Landscaped and equipped to ensure that your family holidays are both peaceful and secure, the Allier gorges in the Haute-Loire provide an opportunity to discover this wild river from the tourist train. You can head down its clear lively waters by raft or canoe-kayak supervised by qualified instructors or explore the riverbanks by bicycle, mountain bike, or on foot although please take care not to disturb the protected flora and fauna.
Possessing its own microclimate, this area of Southern Auvergne is a real treat for visitors seeking pure air, nature, tranquillity and exciting activities.
In those places where even the roads don't go, the Haut Allier tourist train, an unusual and environmentally friendly form of transport, provides a reliable service. In the middle of this inhospitable terrain, a number of visionaries had the crazy idea a century and a half ago of creating a railway to "directly" link Marseille to Paris. 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. These views admirably convey the character of this river: young, wild and surprising.
Prepare to discover a site which will often astonish you thanks to its beauty, to the variation in its colours and lighting effects, to its steep, near-vertical rock faces, to the jumble of rocks and stones pointing skyward, to the presence of waterside Romanesque chapels and to the diversity and vitality of its flora and fauna.
Welcome to one of Europe's wildest rivers!
Come along and appreciate the sheer power of these rivers with their white water stretches. We propose a vast choice of open-air activities to be enjoyed in this luxurious natural setting, whether supervised or alone, including canoeing, rafting, tubing or kayaking, etc. A large number of service providers are at your disposal in Brioude, Chilhac, Langeac, Lavoûte-Chilhac, Monistrol-d’Allier, Prades or Villeneuve-d’Allier. Some of these combine boating downriver with adventures up in the treetops while others organise short stays.
For those seeking peace and tranquillity, the Allier gorges also include authentic and well-preserved areas for bathing and fishing.
In Prades, enjoy a dip in the water at the foot of the basalt columns towering almost 100 m (328 ft) above you. In Monistrol-d’Allier, where children can bathe under the watchful eye of a lifeguard, you can also soak up the sun and take a splash on the attractive banks alongside the river in Auzon, Alleyras and Langeac. Along the way, you will maybe encounter a fisherman preparing to pit his wits against the trout, which are particularly abundant in these cool, clean waters. All forms of fishing can be enjoyed on the river and at the pools. Numerous training courses are available, provided by fishing guides.
The return of the king salmon is the ultimate demonstration of the Allier’s purity.
As a cause for celebration for anyone interested in the environment, ever-increasing numbers of Atlantic salmon are making their way up the Haut-Allier during the autumn, as they return to spawn in the waters in which they were born. This age-old ritual remains a mystery to us even today: how are these fish able to swim from the north Atlantic coast to Iceland or Labrador after having made their way down the whole length of the Loire and afterwards find their way to the waterways in which they were born?
According to specialists, they are able to identify the taste and odour of the waters of their birth, which they somehow memorise for the rest of their lives!
A stay in the Allier 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. Often restored, this fine 14th century building proposes a museum circuit focusing on the life of the illustrious marquis.
Regardless of the method you choose to discover them, you'll certainly agree with the nature lovers and historical monument enthusiasts that as a "Pays d’Art et d’Histoire" (Region of Art and History), the Allier Gorges offer a genuine "open-air museum" for visitors, making them ideal for healthy and dynamic holidays.