Auvergne — the Most Isolated Region of France

I’ve been meaning to post photos for some time from Istanbul, Barcelona, and Paris–all wonderful, beautiful, and ridiculous places in their own ways. But I’ll start with a much less well-known spot of Europe: the region of Auvergne, in central France, where I spent this past weekend. Many of the towns we visited were part of the Santiago de Compostela route in France–a holy pilgrimage for Christians that links to where St. James is believed to be buried, in NW Spain. One town that we drove through even seemed to be throwing its own medieval fair–everyone in the streets and in the shops was strangely minding their own business, as if their stockings, colorful dresses, and frocks were completely expected in the 21st century.

There is some truth to my growing suspicion that most medieval towns in Western Europe are very similar… nonetheless, this region still had its own flavors:

  • lace-making (which we learned was much more complex than previously thought),
  • the bright-green, surprisingly strong liquor called Verveine,
  • black foxes running along the highways,
  • the icy-cold rapids of the Loire, and
  • plenty of extinct volcanoes (Auvergne is in the heart of the Massif Central mountain range).

I’m also starting to think that they don’t care about diets like the Parisians do; the general population in Auvergne was of a healthier weight on average–perhaps partially because they were older, and central Paris’s population is much younger… The people of Auvergne (and particularly the staff of restaurants) were also thankfully friendlier than in Paris. 🙂

Auvergne in context

On the way to Auvergne

A view of Le Puy-en-Velay

The old (medieval) part of Le Puy-en-Velay

The very Roman, Moor-inspired Cathédrale de Nôtre-Dame at Le Puy-en-Velay

A view of the dyke and St Michel d'Aiguilhe Chapel

Looking up at the Chapelle St Michel d'Aiguilhe from the stairs

The cloisters of the Abbaye Saint Georges, La Chaise-Dieu

A view of Château Lafayette from the chateau's lush gardens

Mustard fields near Clermont-Ferrand

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About Development_Tango

Every nation's refugee. But more specifically, an open-minded French- and Russian-speaking former Moldovan-Ukrainian jumping between New York and California. Who hugs trees but tries to be logical about it. And wants to heal this broken planet by helping others help themselves.

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