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This route through villages and castles in the region of Cantal in France, is the result of my journey exploring the central region of France. On that occasion, I underpinned new route ideas that I have shared with you on the blog, all in the same region.
(*) All images Matías Callone
Ideas to combine routes in this region
For example, they could start by making the route in the
Where is the Cantal region?
Cantal is a French department that serves to organize regions administratively, but at the same time these regions keep cultural identity as well as their own style in their villages, gastronomy, and so on.
In its territory are the Cantal Mountains that make up the Massif of Central France, and reaching heights of 1800 meters. Therefore it is a high region and with slightly more pleasant temperatures in summer. It is also part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
And in its undulating territory are sheltered Romanesque architectural treasures of several centuries, or as I like to explore in my travels, villages like Salers and Tournemire. These are typical examples of Auvergne architecture (they belong to the association of the most beautiful villages in France). Another of the strong points of this region are the beautiful castles.
The highlights of the route and the region of Cantal
The nine points of interest on the map are: 1. Aurillac (ideal city to make base). From there explore villages such as Laroquebrou, Tournemire, Salers, the castle of Pesteils next to Vic-Sur-Cére, the village of Murat, Saint-Flour and the thermal town of Chaudes-Aigues.
As in this case it is about a handful of points of interest that I could know and I indicate them in the map, I let to freedom to elaborate a route since it is not so necessary to follow a strict order of route. In my case I was based in Aurillac, which would be the most important city in the region.
Time to make the route.
Exploring this region has no great distances to travel. For example, going from Laroquebrou to Saint Flour (the two furthest points from each other) is only about 100 kilometres and an hour and a half by road. My estimate for this region and the proposed nine points is an ideal of four days, although of course it is also possible to make a faster pace in fewer days. I always make it clear that it is not just a matter of arriving or passing through each point, but of enjoying each place. Below I comment on the reasons for knowing each point.
Tip 101 Incredible places to rent a car: it will be very easy for you
This small village is on the border between Cantal and Corréze and only 24 km from Aurillac. To be honest, I didn’t spend much time in Laroquebrou, but it’s worth going over and walking by the river for the beautiful views on both sides. At the top of a promontory is the castle.
I dare say that it is one of the most beautiful villages in Cantal. Small, rural, located in a green valley, and whose protagonist is a castle of the most striking. It is one of the two villages in Cantal that belongs to the association Les plus Beaux Villages de France. And you can see all about my photos and visit in this
This village is a wonder, and also belongs to the association Les plus Beaux Villages de France. In fact when I arrived in this town with my rental car, I finish parking and start walking, my surprise is capital. It’s a real “treasure” lost in the countryside. And very different from anything I had seen before in terms of well-preserved villages: it is full of houses with towers built with dark lava stone adorned with slate roofs. There are also sumptuous Renaissance houses, or beautiful squares such as Tyssandier-d’Escous. All in the characteristic Haute Auvergne style.
My recommendation is to walk and walk in all its streets, because it is that at every step one is surprised with old palaces, stone houses, and precious angles. In
Pesteils Castle. Only six kilometres away in the village of Polminhac is this extremely colourful castle. It has been declared a Historical Monument and has towers 40 meters high. It can be visited in its interior and exterior with its different rooms. Outside there is also a garden with spectacular views of the Cère valley and the mountains.
In a mid-mountain environment in the Alagnon valley is Murat. It is a picturesque corner surrounded by basaltic stone promontories. Its historic centre reveals its commercial importance in medieval times: there are many old houses that can be visited on a route by asking for the map with the indications at the tourist office. Especially remarkable is the consular house with its 15th century façade.
It stands on top of a rocky promontory, and is a city that can count more than a thousand years. It was the religious capital of Upper Auvergne and hence its architectural legacy. Towards the top you can see its medieval walls and fortifications and the essential thing is to walk the streets of the historic center. Or know buildings such as the cathedral of San Pedro, a Gothic stone building of black lava.
It is a combination of heritage with attractions for its hot springs. In fact, it attracts visitors for its waters with beneficial properties for health. It is the main thermal center of Auvergne, and there are about thirty springs with very hot waters (the warmest in Europe). The main thermal center is Caleden and has several swimming pools, as well as a spa, Turkish bath, sauna, jacuzzi. Another attraction is to explore the city’s heritage and reach Geothermia, the European museum of thermalism.
Extra tip: once you’ve finished exploring the Cantal region you might as well continue through Aveyron and its villages:
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