Cheese Tourism: The Auvergne Cheese Route
Auvergne is one of the least-known areas of France, with a small population spread throughout a mostly-rural area. But a visit to Auvergne packs a big punch for cheese lovers, since it’s the home to five AOP* cheeses: Cantal, Salers, Bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert, and Saint-Nectaire. There's something here for everyone to enjoy, from the strong, nutty Salers to the tangy Fourme d'Ambert.
Keep reading if you're interested in visiting Auvergne. And if you’re an armchair traveller shopping from home, try a wedge of Bleu D’Auvergne while you read about this lovely, undiscovered area of France.
*AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) is a certification of the quality, history, place of origin, and character of a cheese.
What to do
Start with Auvergne’s Cheese Route, the Route des Fromages AOP d’Auvergne. The well-marked map on this site shows nearly 40 stops along the cheese route, helping you visit the farmers, producers and dairies that bring these cheeses to the table. If you’re particularly interested in one or two of the cheeses produced in the area, choose the tabs along the top of the website that tell you more about them.
Looking for other things to do in the area? Explore the beautiful countryside in its two natural parks. The Auvergne Volcanoes Park is home to stark landscapes and a lovely volcanic lake, Gour de Tazenat. And the rolling hills of Livradois-Forez Park are perfect for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
If you’re visiting the last weekend in April, don’t miss Vichy’s annual Napoleon III Festival. Take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage, watch a parade of musicians and dancers dressed in period costume, or enjoy dinner and dancing at the Opera-Casino.
Lyon is the largest city in the area, but don’t just use it as a place to depart from. Take a tour of Vieux Lyon for a glimpse into the city’s Renaissance past. And be sure to see the Roman theatres on Fourvière Hill.
How to get there
Lyon is a 4 1/2 hour drive or 2-hour train ride from Paris. Rental cars are available at the Lyon train station, and are a must for travelling the cheese route and seeing the region.
Where to stay
Instants d'Absolu Ecolodge and Spa is located in Auvergne Volcanoes Park. With restful guests rooms and gourmet on-site dining, this is a perfect home base for exploration of the cheese route and surrounding countryside. (See photo above and at the top of the post.)
La Paresse en Douce is situated in the middle of Livradois-Forez Park. At the end of the day, enjoy dinner on the terrace and relax in the swimming pool.
If a stay in a medieval village is more your style, make Chateau Royal de Saint Saturnin your home base for the area. This lovely chateau was originally built in the 13th century and offers five unique guest rooms.
And if you've given yourself time at the beginning and end of the trip to stay in Lyon (please do!), you won't do better than a few nights at the quiet and charming Hotel Vaubecour (room pictured above).
Beth Pollock is a freelance writer and editor, who particularly enjoys writing about her twin passions of food and travel. She has had two stints writing and managing social media for Restaurants Canada, and has written articles for MENU magazine and several travel industry websites. She is also the author of three books for children.
She'd be hard-pressed to choose between staying in a medieval village and in an ecolodge, and so would probably opt for both.
Interested in reading more of what Beth has written? Check out her blog, Of Muses and Meringues.
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- Tags: AOP cheese, Auvergne Cheese Route, Auvergne tourism, Bleu d'Auvergne, Cantal, Cheese tourism, Fourme d'Ambert, Instants d'Absolu Ecolodge, Lyon tourism, Route des Fromages, Saint-Nectaire, Salers, Vichy tourism