The Auvergne  is an extensive region of central France. A large part of the Auvergne region is covered by the volcanic Massif Central mountain range, a region of vast green open spaces, dotted with lakes, forests and extinct volcanoes, plus some of the best hiking territory to be found in France. The region is home to two Regional Natural Parks - the Livradois-Forez Park and the Auvergne Volcanoes Park, more than 500 Romanesque churches, over 50 châteaux to visit along the 'Route des Châteaux d'Auvergne' and 10 spa towns (with all the charm of the 'Belle Epoque').
One of France's hidden treasures, the Auvergne is a region of hills and mountains, valleys, forests and rivers. The mountains of Auvergne, which culminate in rocky peaks at over 7000 feet, are the backbone of France's Massif Central. Auvergne is the largest volcanic area in Europe, though the volcanoes are not active: dormant, but not - as the experts stress - extinct, even though there has not ben an eruption for over 3000 years. While the northern end of the province includes the plains of the Loire and Allier valleys towards the low-lying Centre of France, most of the southern part of the region is hilly or mountainous, with large stretches of land lying at over 1000 metres (over 3000 ft). These uplands are penetrated by the valleys of many rivers, most notably the Loire and the Allier which both rise in the south of the Auvergne. Sparsely populated, the Auvergne boasts a fine natural and cultural heritage, including beautiful valleys, large expanses of coniferous forests, and spectacular hillscapes. It is a region much appreciated by ramblers and nature lovers, as well as by people in search of a holiday far from the madding crowd. It is a region rich in history too, with a fine collection of historic dungeons and castles, as well as some of the most interesting romanesque churches in France, many with frescoes. The small city of Le Puy, famous for its lace-making, is one of the most unusual cities in France, due to the rocky pinnacles that stick up in the middle of it.
There are trains from Clermont Ferrand and Toulouse to Aurillac, which pass through the small towns and villages of the Auvergne. They are slow! For a full timetable of the two routes go to sncf Cantal