Cantal, the best place you’ve never heard of?

Posted on 20. Jul, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, France, Press Trips

People love Paris. People love the Riviera. People love the castles.

But do people know about Cantal?

Didn’t think so.

Cantal is one of Auvergne‘s four departments. Each one of them is quite different from the others, and Cantal is all about the outdoors: mountains, volcanoes, hiking, chestnut hunting and al fresco dining. I myself knew very little about the area before I set foot there, but now that I’ve had 4 days to explore? I’m quite sold.

And considering that I only live an hour away, I can definitely say that I will be back very soon!

The scenery

That’s the one thing I knew about Cantal: it has spectacular landscape, especially as you go further south. Winding roads, 18th century houses and 2000 meters high mountains. A winning combination!

Aurillac

Pas de Peyrol

The view from Salers

Saint-Étienne Cantalès lake

The food

France is notorious for its incredibly high amount of cheeses, but did you know that Auvergne is actually the cheese capital of France? Cantal alone produces several cheeses, including two very famous ones: Cantal cheese and Salers cheese, both very firm and very tasty. Also worth noting is the (sorry vegeterians) Salers cow… they may be very cute and all, but damn, they’re delicious. And despite the popular belief that you can only get fancy food in big cities - I beg to differ!

Funky appetizer at Beau Site Garabit

Blue cheese mousse with fresh veggies at Auberge de la Tour in Marcoles

The most tasty steak I have ever eaten at Auberge de Concasty

Cheeses and sausages

The medieval villages

Europe is filled with medieval villages - that’s not big news. But every time I discover a new one, I find myself completely in awe at how well most of them have been preserved, and how easy it would be to slip back a few hundreds years if we made abstraction from cars and phones. Truly fascinating!

cantal

Salers

Aurillac

Marcoles

The wildlife

A day in the countryside wouldn’t be the same without cute, fluffy sightings.

Well hello there. Watcha’ doin’?

The famous Salers cow. They actually stop whatever they are doing to watch you. Sort of intimidating.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Atout France and Tourisme Auvergne. As always, all opinions are my own.

Have you ever been to Cantal, or Auvergne? If so, what is your favorite thing to do in the area?

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23 Responses to “Cantal, the best place you’ve never heard of?”

  1. Katherina

    21. Jul, 2012

    It’s embarrassing to admit this - but I’ve never been in central-south France. Not that I don’t believe there’s anything to see… you’ve clearly demonstrated this - it’s just never mentioned! At the same time, I think it’s good to keep it this way - it will maintain its village charm :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Jul, 2012

      Not that embarrassing ;) Most people haven’t been in the area. But you should come!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Wendi

    22. Jul, 2012

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Spencer

    25. Jul, 2012

    Looks amazing! And no I had never heard of it.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Andrea

    25. Jul, 2012

    France is so beautiful! Your post just bumped a return trip up to the top of my list for places we need to go next in Europe. I think many people just think of Paris and forget all the incredible regional towns and countryside that there is to see.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Jul, 2012

      You’d love France and especially Cantal, a region too few people know of.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Ha, that sheep nose is so cute!! It’s a sheep, right? Kinda hard to tell from that angle. :P

    Reply to this comment
  6. I’m sold!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Abby

    28. Jul, 2012

    Stunning scenery AND amazing food? I’m in! Cute animal pics. :)

    Reply to this comment
  8. Beautiful! Looking for a spot to stay for a couple of days before we stay in the Dordogne for 2 weeks. How accessible is this town without a car? For hikes and such ..

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      08. Aug, 2012

      Cantal is actually a region (département), not a town. But if you ask me, I suggest you visit Salers and Aurillac, and go to Pas de Peyrol and Puy Mary for beautiful hikes. You’d never guess there are such pretty scenery in central France! Cantal is however very hard to get to by train because of the mountains, so a car is definitely required to get there.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Nancie

    20. Aug, 2012

    Good food, and cute animals will get my vote everytime :)

    Reply to this comment
  10. Nancie

    20. Aug, 2012

    Good food, and cute animals will get my vote every time :)

    Reply to this comment
  11. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    24. Aug, 2012

    This looks amazing! I love medieval villages and winding streets. It always feels like stepping back in time! That steak does look amazing by the way and the cheese….OH THE CHEESE! Take me there now.

    Reply to this comment
  12. John Williams

    31. Aug, 2012

    Marie, your blog is living proof of why getting away from the big cities and well known sites is the secret to discovering Europe. I ‘won’ a week in a timeshare apartment in a château in the Auvergne some years back and had a whale of time. There are a few regions of France I’d like to explore, such a variety of regions in one country and cheeses!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      01. Sep, 2012

      Thanks so much John! I really enjoy living in Auvergne rather than metropolitan cities. It allows me to really discover the REAL France.

      And Auvergne is the ultimate cheese region!

      Reply to this comment

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