Auvergne – Rhone Alpes is one of the wealthiest regions of France. It is also a favorite place among tourists for its Alpine ski areas. The location of Auvergne – Rhone Alpes is centered on France’s second city, Lyon. It is one of the larger established regions of France which comprises of eight departments. The district consists of all or a large part of different historical areas, including the Savoy and the Dauphine, as well as a small northern part of Provence, known as “Drome Provençal. It stretches from the plains of Bresse in the north to the lower reaches of Rhone. It is also interesting to note that the Auvergne – Rhone Alpes region of France also borders Switzerland. It also lies astride to the main lines of communication from central and northern France to these two nations.
The Auvergne region consists of 12 départements:the Ain (01), the Allier (03), the Ardèche (07), the Cantal (15), the Drôme (26), the Isère (38), the Loire (42), the Haute-Loire (43), the Puy-de-Dôme (63), the Rhône (69), the Savoie (73), and the Haute-Savoie (74).
It is a region that is located in the south-east of France and is renowned for having a variable environment. The summers are hot, and they stay quite humid. Due to the presence of mountains, the winters are quite cold. It is located close to The Alps and is not far from the Mediterranean Sea. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes climate is a blend of multiple influences. Certain warmth comes over the land, and in the mountains, the weather is quite harsher with snowy and long winters for the pleasure of skiing amateurs. Summers are quite hot because of some Mediterranean influences.
Auvergne – Rhone Alpes‘s many castles and châteaux are the guardians of history, witnesses to turbulent times. Some stand out proudly in the landscape, while others are tucked away out of sight. Today these architectural gems host exhibitions, concerts, re-enactments and bed and breakfasts.
A tradition of defence.
They are countless. Proudly standing on hilltops, cautiously lurking in woods, restored or in ruins, Auvergne – Rhone Alpes’s castles have a very long history. The region’s inhabitants started building fortifications to protect themselves very early on. In the 1st century AD, the Arverne tribes built fortified oppidums on strategic heights. The battle between Vercingetorix, chief of the Arvernes, and Julius Caesar is one of the best-known episodes in French history. When Caesar conquered Gaul in 52 BC, he ran afoul of Vercingeterix, who achieved the unbelievable feat of uniting the quarrelsome Gallic tribes and inflicted a stinging, historic defeat on the mighty Roman armies at the oppidum of Gergovie.
Successive ravages .
In the third century, walls protected Gallo-Roman villages, which failed to keep them from being overrun by invaders later. The feudal period’s uncertainty then led to the construction of many fortified sites on hilltops, like so many locks. In the 12th century, earthen works were turned into stone castles. Strife took a heavy toll: most were destroyed during the Hundred Years War or heavily damaged during the wars of religion. The Middle Ages witnessed the continuous expansion of Christianity in Auvergne – Rhone Alpes. Clermont-Ferrand is where Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade.
The price of insubordination.
Afterwards, Auvergne – Rhone Alpes was dominated by Bourbon sires, who set up their residences in Montluçon, Moulins and Bourbon-l’Archambault, one of France’s most imposing medieval ruins. But the nobles were a rebellious lot and Richelieu had many of their proud castles pulled down to subjugate them. Those who resisted preferred to abandon their war-like character. Many of these rugged fortresses were turned into lavish residences during the Renaissance and Romantic periods. Châteaux such as Murol, a masterpiece of medieval military architecture, and Anjony, with a proud, intact keep, still show signs of their former glory. The Château de Lapalisse features coffered Italian Renaissance ceilings that are unique in Europe.
Auvergne – Rhone Alpes hosts sacred and classical music, street theatre, film, world culture and history fêtes and festivals year-round. Some events enjoy worldwide reputations while others remain to be discovered.
Auvergne ‘s 130 museums showcase a distinguished heritage and use state-of-the-art technology to breathe life into history.
Golf, put, swing…
Those words seem to have been coined in Auvergne, which boasts 20 or so courses at the foot of the volcanoes or in huge, verdant valleys. Fresh air and a real change of pace are waiting for you.
Spas are at the heart of Auvergne – Rhone Alpes’s history and culture
They have bequeathed the region with splendid architecture and a strong tradition of welcoming visitors. These magical places, whose charm has come down to us through the ages, are dedicated to making you feel good. They offer many cultural, sports and playful activities in enchanting settings.
Cured and delicatessen meats. Auvergne – Rhone Alpes’s people have passed their age-old know–how down from one generation to the next. The quality of lean meat dried in mountain air has earned several dried sausages and hams a red label. Sausages such as andouillettes and blood sausages, pâtés, terrines and fritons, a coarse pork rillettes, also have an outstanding reputation.
Meat, poultry, fish . Auvergne – Rhone Alpes, a great region of traditional cattle–breeding, has three bovine breeds famous for their tender, tasty meat: Charolais, Salers and Aubrac.
Many red labels reward their quality. Lamb, poultry and Bourbonnais chicken, which has a label of origin, are also flavorful. Auvergne’s fish is also well-known for its authentic flavor. Local fish farms and processing companies offer fresh, dried, smoked and salted freshwater fish.
Vegetables, mushrooms and fruit. Cooking with wild mushrooms, potatoes, chestnuts, garlic and green Puy lentils (the first legume to obtain an “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée”, in 1996) marks the passage of the seasons. Apples, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and walnuts are used to make pies, ice cream, cakes and pastries.
Auvergne – Rhone Alpes has five “AOC” (a label guaranteeing the origin) cheeses and many local varieties. Cheese lovers want to visit the region for that reason alone!
- Cantal is the oldest cheese. One to two months of ageing give “jeune Cantal” a soft rind and milky flavor. After two to six months, “Entre-Deux Cantal” is more mature and lighter on the palate. Six months of ripening results in strong–tasting “Cantal Vieux”.
- Salers, France’s only exclusively farm-made AOC cheese, is produced from May to October with the best milk, when the cows are grazing. It ages in 3 to 12 months, sometimes more. The cheese is strong, potent and popular with gourmets.
- Fourme d’Ambert is a cylindrical cheese with a fruity, parsley-like taste. Its origins date back to the dawn of recording time. The Druids who celebrated their ceremonies in the Forez mountains already enjoyed its authentic flavor.
- A farmer created “Bleu d’Auvergne”, a creamy, strong-flavored blue cheese, by mistake. It has been made the same way since the mid-19th century. After four weeks of ageing, Bleu d’Auvergne is ready to melt in your mouth and delight the most discriminating palates.
- Saint-Nectaire is also very old. Henri de la Ferté–Senneterre, Maréchal de France, made it famous at the table of Louis XIV. Saint-Nectaire is dried before being matured in a cellar for 3 to 8 weeks for the farm-house (fermier) variety, and 3 to 4 weeks for the dairy (laitier) variety. Its creaminess and delicacy are due to the rich flora in the Dore Mountains’ pastures.
- The many delicious local specialities include Gaperon, Bleu de Laqueuille, Velay, Fourme de Rochefort and Chambérat.
Wines, spirits…and mineral water
Auvergne – Rhone Alpes‘s vineyards are very old and produced many outstanding wines until the 19th century. The phylloxera epidemic ravaged its vineyards in the early 19th century, but Auvergne fought back and revived its know-how. Today, the Côtes d’Auvergne and Saint-Pourçain are developing wines with a rich bouquet and character.
- Côtes d’Auvergne wines .The vineyards covering the hillsides north of Riom and south of Issoire. Côtes Auvergne (Châteaugay, Chanturgue, Corent, Boudes, Madargue) are made from Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes for the red and rosé wines and Chardonnay for the whites. Fresh, easy to drink, robust and fruity, they go perfectly with Auvergne meals.
- Saint-Pourçain wines. The Saint-Pourçain vineyard stretches out over 19 towns on either side of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule. It is one of the oldest in France. Kings prized Saint-Pourçain wines in the Middle Ages. The dry, fruity white wines are made from Tressallier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes. The light, fruity grey and rosé wines come from Gamay Noir grapes with white juice. The fruity, balanced, easy-to-drink red wines are made from Gamay grapes with white juice and Pinot Noir.
- Spirits. Several spirits made in the region are famous, including aperitifs based on gentian, such as Avèze, the green, yellow Velay verbena, or the Extra (aged in oak casks). Arbuse, le Maurin aux fruits (one of the Velay’s oldest aperitifs), and fruit and plant liqueurs round out this range of clean, fruity products.
- Mineral waters. Auvergne ‘s still and sparkling mineral waters make their way from the volcanoes’ depths to the finest restaurants in France and the world. Vichy-Célestins, Saint-Yorre, Chateldon, Sainte-Marguerite, Volvic, Châteauneuf, Arvie, Mont-Dore, Rozanna and many others have a wonderfully free, light taste.