Auvergne: our advice for a relaxing holiday

Few of our fellow citizens have visited Auvergne. However, this region of central France is more than a simple stop on the way to the south because it is rich in historical sites, beautiful villages and volcanic areas. Follow the leader.

Vichy or cleansing hydrotherapy

First stop: Vichy, easy to get to by train from Brussels with a short stop in Lyon. “The Queen of Spas”, as the French affectionately call it, is a spa where life is good. Our hotel is located a few steps from the “Hall des Sources”. Visitors go there several times a day to drink their daily spring water, served by “water givers”, including Coco Chanel.

the Vichy Celestins Thermal Spa, nearby, is a public area where thermal water treatments are offered for health and beauty. Treat yourself to a “Trilogy” of Signature treatments that include a hydromassage bath in hot water, a herbal-mineral scrub and the famous Vichy Shower, a massage with two or four hands on under the rain water. Paradise on Earth! For the final touch, head to the hotel’s superb patio, on the banks of the Allier, for a balanced lunch. After visiting the beautiful Opéra-Théâtre, where Sarah Bernhardt performed, it’s time to pack up.

Clermont-Ferrand, the black city

Clermont-Ferrand, the capital of Auvergne, where we left after a journey of about thirty minutes by train. Its proximity to the volcanoes is evident because the volcanic rock adorns many buildings with ebony. After passing through the beautiful – black – Gothic-style church in the historic center, we visit Notre-Dame-du-Port, a beautiful Romanesque basilica from the 12th century.would be century. Some traditional dishes from the region such as Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal and Saint-Nectaire are part of our dinner menu in the restaurant.

The Puy de Dôme is a volcanic landscape

Apart from the historical places, Auvergne has a wonderful nature. After taking the rental car, we leave the Puy de Dôme showing a unique panorama of the (dormant) volcanoes of Chaîne des Puys and Faille de Limagne. We are also happy to see dozens of paragliders flying over this beautiful land.

Puy de Dome

Montpeyroux and Lavaudieu, two gems

We continue the visit of two villages ranked among the most beautiful villages in France. Tiny, Montpeyroux is home to “Le bistro ZEN”, where chef Cyril Zen, finalist of Top Chef (the French version of MasterChef), prepares a hearty meal washed down with local wine. Lavaudieu tempts us with his Benedictine abbey of 11would be century and its narrow streets where walking is enjoyable.

Le Puy-en-Velay, home of artists

Leaving Lavaudieu at night, we take advantage, when we arrive at Puy-en-Velay, of the Puy de Lumières. Every year, from the end of April to the end of September, this top view, with pictures, nine landmarks of the city. La Demeure du Lac de Fugères, which welcomes us for the night in its beautifully decorated rooms, nestles in the maze of narrow streets that surround the church. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this beautiful monument has well-preserved ancient frescoes. A quick stop at Julie, Julie Liogier’s beauty shop, where you can drop by for one of her unique photography prints. After a quick lunch consisting of a locally caught trout tartare accompanied by the famous Le Puy lentils, we headed back to Clermont-Ferrand station. Return to Brussels in about six hours, this time with a stop in Paris. We returned home, tired but happy. Just love it!

This article was created in collaboration with Auvergne a French property.

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