Auvergne is a French region located in the centre south of France. It has borders with 6 other regions: Burgundy, Rhone Alpes, Languedoc Roussillon, Midi Pyrenees, Limousin and the Centre region. The administrative centre of the region is Clermont Ferrand, and the region is composed of four departments: Allier, Cantal, Haute Loire and Puy de Dome. Auvergne gathers 1,335,940 inhabitants, called the Auvergnats who live in 1,310 towns and villages.
French departments and regions were artificially created after the Revolution (1790). Some of them respect historical countries and cultural identities, and others are a mix of different provinces and cultures. Auvergne is one of the latter ones. The administrative region of Auvergne gathers actually three different historical and cultural territories: the ‘Auvergne’ country, which has given its name to the administrative region, and gathers the Cantal and Puy de Dome departments, as well as Brioude and Brivadois in Haute Loire, it is where the auvergnate culture is the strongest; the Velay country, which is basically the Haute Loire department (less Brioude and Brivadois), it has a different history and culture from Auvergne, however, both are part of the Occitanie, and as result they both speak Occitan; and finally, the Bourbonnais, which is the Allier department, and where in the south they speak Occitan, while in the north they speak ‘French’ (langue d’oïl).
As a result we can not really talk about an Auvergnat culture to refer to the administrative region. Auvergne gathers different cultures and even different languages, which makes it such a rich region with a strong identity.
Auvergne is renowned in France to have a beautiful natural environment. It is situated at the heart of the Massif Central, which is a volcanic massif that covers a sixth of the French territory. You will be amazed by the beautiful landscapes the region has on offer: between lakes, rivers, volcanoes, hills and forests, you will also enjoy the strong Occitan culture and the lovely medieval towns and villages. Owing to its location, in the middle of a volcanic massif, the region was for long isolated from the rest of France. Nowadays there are motorways going to the region, and the isolation Auvergne has suffered allows you nowadays to visit beautiful preserved and authentic villages.
|Property prices in Auvergne and its 4 departments in 2009|
|Location||Apartments € / sq m||New built apartments € / sq m||Houses €|
|Haute Loire||1,180||no data||129,700|
|Puy de Dome||1,600||2,800||149,100|
Prices in Auvergne are extremely affordable. The region, with €1,523/sq m, is the least expensive in France (with Limousin). Indeed, national average for house prices is around €3,200/sq m, in the beginning of 2009. Auvergne is not a very popular destination to set up amongst foreigners. This can be explained by different reasons: first of all the region was isolated during a long time, as a result there is not yet a habit of setting there; secondly, the local and cultural identity is very strong, and as a consequence foreigners might find difficult to be integrated. The local language, the Occitan or the langue d’oïl is actually understood by 60% of the population.
Auvergne is a very rural area, and most of the population lives in towns. For instance, one quarter of the population lives in Clermont Ferrand. As a result prices in the countryside are very low, for instance a property in Montluçon is worth only €886/ sq m! This is probably the lowest price in France! If you are looking for a cosmopolitan life, then you are probably better to forget about Auvergne. However, if you fancy living in a rural area, surrounded by a volcanic massif, lakes, rivers and forests, and if you are willing to live in an authentic and unspoiled French territory, then Auvergne is the perfect place for you!
As far as rental is concerned, the region offers great opportunities. It is definitely worth investing in a buy-to-let, as prices are very low, and as you will not have difficulties finding tenants. Tourism is rather important for the region. With the Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway, and with the beautiful natural environment and parks the region attracts many visitors.
To get updated info about property prices in Haute Loire, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Click here to have an overview of Auvergne Property Prices.
Auvergne is a very rich region that displays a large historical and cultural heritage, but also some beautiful landscapes, and not to mention a unique gastronomy.
Roman art: Massif Central and Auvergne boast the most beautiful Roman heritage in France, and one of the largest in Europe. Auvergne alone gathers more than 250 monuments, all built between the 11th and the 12th centuries. Monuments in Auvergne stand out for their purity, simplicity and beauty. Among the 250 monuments, do not miss the Notre-Dame-du-Port in Clermont Ferrand, the most discret Roman church, hidden in a lively quarter in the city; Saint-Austremoine, in Issoire, will surprised you with the quality of its details; the Roc chapel, according to the legend, Pop Clement XI's remains would have laid there for a while; etc.
Good food: food and cuisine in Auvergne are almost sacred! As already mentioned, the region has been very well preserved, and as result, the gastronomy as well is still very authentic. Auvergne also displays some AOC produces, such as 5 cheeses (Saint-Nectaire, Cantal, Salers, Fourme d’Ambert and Bleu d’Auvergne), and Puy-en-Velay green lentils. You will also love the local charcuterie, such as the Auvergne ham and different kinds of sausages. Local wines are also very good, do not forget to try the Saint Pourçain, Châteaugay, Madargues, etc. And finally you will finish your meal with a glass of lemon verbena liquor from Velay!
Volcanoes: Auvergne is situated at the heart of the Massif Central, and as a result is surrounded by volcanoes. They are one of the main assets of the region, as they attract many visitors willing to go hiking, skiing, or only sightseeing! The regional natural volcanoes Park of Auvergne is the largest park in France, and one of the oldest, as it was created in 1977. The park is composed of 5 different natural regions, which gather around 80 volcanoes, some glaciers, many lakes and rivers. In this huge park you will also discover the local preserved fauna and flora, but also authentic villages which have managed to preserve their culture, architecture and savoir faire.
Bath thermal resorts: as a result of being covered by volcanoes, the region displays many thermal bath resorts. There are ten in the region: Bourbon-l’Archambault, Néris-les-Bains, Evaux-les-Bains, Vichy, Chatel-Guyon, La Bourboule, Le Mont-Dore, Saint-Nectaire, Chaudes-Aigues, Royat/Chamalières and Chateauneuf-les-Bains. Their therapeutic virtues are well-known since the Antiquity, and Roman were already using hot water from volcanoes.
Castles: you will find in Auvergne many medieval castles, vestiges of a prosperous time when Bourbon Dukes were made Kings of France. Castles are usually in height, up a volcano, in order to see enemies coming. They are beautiful remains of the Roman style architecture. Among many others, do not miss the Chateau de Val, next by the Bort-Les-Orgues lake, the Chateau de Conros, etc.
Activities: as already mentioned, Auvergne is a great place if you enjoy hiking and sightseeing. But what you might not know is that you can also ski in Auvergne! There are few ski resorts, among them stand out Super Lioran, Super-Besse and Mont-Dore. There are also some entertainment parks, where kids and growing up persons can have fun, such as, the Vulcania which is based on volcanoes activities.
Location – transport infrastructure: the region was for a long time isolated from the rest of the country. Nowadays efforts are made in order to connect the region to the rest of France. Clermont Ferrand displays a national and international airport, mainly flying to Spain and the rest of France (Air France). 3 motorways (A71, A75 and A89) have recently been built and meet in Clermont Ferrand: the north south axis, linking Paris to Montpellier and Spain, and the east west axis linking Bordeaux, Lyon and Geneva. Moreover, the road network is excellent and enables to go to Paris in less than 3h30.
Pisé houses: rammed earth houses are traditional in the region. This method involves a process of compressing a damp mixture of earth that has suitable proportions of sand, gravel and clay (sometimes with an added stabilizer) into an externally supported frame that molds the shape of a wall section creating a solid wall of earth. Traditional stabilizers such as lime or animal blood were used to stabilize the material, but cement has been the stabilizer of choice for modern times. You will find this kind of houses mainly in the Bourbonnais area.
Half-timbered houses: these houses are actually found in almost every regions of France and in many places in Europe as well. Of course each region has its own pattern and specificity; however the general feature remains the same. In Auvergne, half timbered houses are usually 2 storey high and display beautiful facades.
Farmhouses: as Auvergne is a very rural area, it is not surprising to find many farmhouses. They usually come with a couple of outbuildings, formerly a stable, a cowshed, etc. They also come with a bread oven and a piece of land. Actually everything they needed in order to survive in autarky. Many of them in Auvergne need to be renovated, however you are also likely to find some beautifully renovated ones.
Chaumières: they are mainly found in the Mézenc area (in Haute Loire department). Locally it is called the Pailhissas. It is easily recognizable as it comes with a chimney located by the side of the house. It used to be a one room house, with a huge fireplace. Indeed, as winters are rather cold, the fireplace was very important. The roof is made of rye or broom and is sharply sloping. It also comes with outbuildings, at least one, the stable, where were to be found all kind of animals, such as pork, cows, ewes, horses, etc.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Auvergne.
|Take a closer look at the Auvergne property market:|
|Allier Property Insight|
|Cantal Property Insight|
|Haute Loire Property Insight|
|Puy de Dome Property Insight|