In 52 BC, the advancing Romans ran into Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls at the Battle of Gergovia. The Romans were soundly thrashed and were sent to bed without any tea. Retreating to the river Allier, they noticed the water’s beneficial effect on tired, aching legionnaire limbs. They immediately downed spears and built Vichy as a spa town and health resort, thereby adding the leisure industry to their already impressive portfolio of ruthless colonialism and military innovation. Vichy is now home to the laboratories of beauty behemoth and skincare juggernaut L’Oréal. L’Oréal’s famous slogan “Because I’m worth it” was changed recently to “Because you’re worth it”. L’Oréal’s net annual revenue is about £12 billion, so they probably are worth it.
The Puy-de-Dôme department is named after the enormous and hopefully extinct volcano that dominates the landscape. In about 5760 BC, just after tea-time, the top of the volcano exploded, spewing a torrent of noxious waste over the surrounding area. Now a TV transmitter stands on the summit, broadcasting a mixed schedule of lifestyle programmes, chat shows and reality tv. The Tour de France frequently takes in the Puy-de-Dôme. If you yourself should wish to pedal up a very steep volcano in extreme heat, you can do so, but only on Sundays and Wednesdays 7-9am between 1st May and 30th September.
The aforementioned noxious volcanic waste now provides the allegedly beneficial trace elements in Volvic mineral water. Volvic also produces a range of fruit drinks called Touch of Fruit. (In the USA the name was changed to Volvic Natural. I wonder why.) Volvic is now owned by food giant Danone, most famous for the probiotic Über-yoghurt Actimel. Apparently, probiotic bacterial cultures can assist the body’s naturally occurring gut flora, strengthen the immune system and even combat excessive alcohol intake. Surely worth a try. In 1987, Danone acquired European biscuit manufacturer Général Biscuit, not to be confused with the architect of Italian unification General Garibaldi.
The ancient province of Bourbonnais gave its name to the House of Bourbon, which was undisputed market leader in the supply of quality French kings from 1589-1848. The first to “grow” the Bourbon brand was Henry IV, whose stated ambition was that every one of his subjects should have a chicken in his pot on Sundays. No mention was made of stuffing. Or the remaining days of the week. The House of Bourbon also gave its name to the Bourbon Biscuit, which was invented in 1910 in Bermondsey by Peek and Freans, who had previously invented the Garibaldi Biscuit (see above. On second thoughts, don’t). Peek and Freans are now owned by Nabisco, whose European biscuit operations were acquired in 1989 by lactobacillus leviathan and Volvic parent, Danone. There. I knew it would all tie up.
© 2008 richardheacock @ mac.com
The Auvergne region is situated in central France surrounded to the North by Centre and Burgundy. On the east is the Rhone-Alpes with the Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon on its southern flanks. The Limousin region is on the Western side. The departments are: Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dôme.
A large part of the Auvergne region is covered by the volcanic Massif Central mountain range, which stretches over nearly one-sixth of France’s total area. The rural landscape is punctuated by a “lunar” landscape where the once active volcanoes have been eroded over millions of years. The Allier river runs North – South across the region.
The region is famed for its cheeses, exports of mineral waters (Volvic among others), and tires (Michelin). It is also the site of a number of major hydroelectric projects, mainly located on the Dordogne, Cère, and Truyère rivers.
With is sprinkling of lakes and forests, the Auvergne offers its visitors the largest group of extinct volcanoes in Europe – this is highlighted by Vulcania, the unique European Volcano Park. There are two Regional Nature Parks (the Auvergne Volcanoes and Livradois-Forez) plus more than 500 Romanesque churches, nearly 50 châteaux and 10 spa towns.
There are many sport and leisure activities: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hang gliding, canoeing-kayaking, swimming, cross-country and downhill skiing or snow shoeing in winter at the several ski-resorts.
Auvergne Gastronomy means delicious food and a hospitality that is so typical of the Auvergnat people.
In summer there are clear blue skies and high temperatures. However thunderstorms can occur higher up in the Massif Central usually after a spell of hot weather. Max temp in the Summer about 25°C. In the Winter – can be cold but with ave. temperatures about 7°C. Relatively high rainfall out of the Summer season.
Air Flights are available from the UK to Clermont-Ferrand
By road there is Motorway access to the region:
3 hours from PARIS on the A71 motorway
2 hours from LYON on the A72 motorway
BEZIERS, the A75 “La Méridienne” motorway (free)
BORDEAUX, the A89 motorway (under construction)
1.3 million with 250,000 people in Clermont-Ferrand.
Vichy is the best known health spa in France. It is situated on the river Allier. It is famous for its two largest hot water spa centres that face the river. They spas are separated from the town by the parks that engulf them. The town has the appearance of being modern with more than its share of hotels.
Clermont-Ferrand is the “capital” of the Auvergne and its industry is based here. The city is noted for its picturesque Renaissance houses and its Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture.
Other towns of note: Riom, Moulins, Montlucon, Le Puy-en-Velay and Aurillac.
Property prices are relatively cheap in the rural areas but prices rise steeply in the major towns particularly Vichy.
Apartments: 73,000 euros
Farmhouses: 130,000 euros (restored)
Townhouses: 120,000 euros
Villas: 145,000 euros
Land: from 13 euros per sq. m
Auvergne Property SelectionListed below are the departments in the region of Auvergne; the number of properties in each department are denoted in brackets - click on a department to see the properties available.
All the properties in Auvergne by department.
(Number in brackets = number of properties)
Allier Property (3)
Cantal Property (8)
Puy de Dôme Property (3)