Covered by the "Pays d’Art et d’Histoire" (Region of Art and History) label, the Issoire area located near the Auvergne Volcanoes and Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Parks, between the plains, gorges and mountains, offers an impressive variety of sites and activities.
Situated in the south of the département (county) of the Puy-de-Dôme, the Issoire area is always surprising, with its heritage features and lifestyle bearing a distinctive Southern French influence, coupled with the predominance of sunny colours and the ochre shade of fortified villages perched at high vantage points or stretched out along couzes (streams) of pure water surrounded by quiet vineyards and orchards.
The peaceful Romanesque churches, the powerful and imposing castles and more than fifty villages, hamlets and other unusual sites are waiting to be discovered in a landscape featuring a combination of natural terrains.
Among these, we find three of the four "Plus Beaux Villages de France" (France's Finest Villages) located in the Puy-de-Dôme: Saint-Floret, Montpeyroux and Usson.
Mareugheol and Boudes are village forts, while Villeneuve-Lembron, Moriat or Vodable grew up around their castle. Don't forget to visit Chalus, Le Broc or Saint-Gervazy with their gently sloping roofs bordered with génoise tiling.
In the Cézallier area, at Anzat-le-Luguet, Chassagne, La Godivelle or Ternant-les-Eaux, the "lauzes" (flagstone tiles) resemble large natural "scales" cladding the local rooftops.
Further afield, the Allier offers you all the tranquillity of its peaceful riverbanks where the boatmen once moored.
Visitors with a taste for impressive terrain should definitely not miss the Vallée des Saints (Valley of the Saints), a "mini-Colorado" made of red earth. History and religious architecture enthusiasts should visit the Romanesque abbey church of Saint-Austremoine in Issoire.
Wherever you go, if you make your way up to the peaks, to the Puy d’Ysson or the Perrier caves, you can admire the breathtaking views including of the Monts Dore, the Puys de la Cente or the hills of the Livradois and Cézallier areas.
Among the most popular sites with visitors, we should mention the Perrier caves and the Lac d’en haut (high lake) in La Godivelle.
However, there's nothing stopping you from aiming higher (literally) by taking a trip in a microlight aircraft or glider. Meanwhile, in Moidas, a rope slide enables you to cross the Allier gorges in style.
For motorsports enthusiasts the CEERTA track in Issoire (European vehicle test and research track) gives you a chance to brush up your skills during GT or motorbike training courses.
Gîtes, B&Bs and hotels provide plenty of opportunities to stop off or to enjoy a hearty meal, as you get the most from the area’s richness and diversity.