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Discover the Cantal

The Cantal is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790 and is named after the Cantal mountain range, a group of extinct, eroded volcanic peaks, which covers much of the department. The highest point in Cantal is Le Plomb du Cantal at 1858 metres.

Cantal is one of the most sparsely populated and geographically isolated French departments. Aurillac is the farthest removed departmental capital from a major motorway. Chaudes Aigues boasts of being the southernmost of the spas of Auvergne and at 82 ° C, is the hottest spring in Europe.

The Occitan language was historically dominant in Cantal and its residents are known as Cantaliens or Cantalous.

Situated in the Parc Regional des Volcans d'Auvergne, the Cantal is a department with little urbanization so is particularly attractive to tourists. The most visited places are Puy Mary (1787 m) where people can enjoy one of the prettiest panoramas in Europe, the Plomb du Cantal (1855 m), the village of Salers, and the gorges of the Truyère (with the Garabit viaduct, the castle of Alleuze, and the towns of Boisset, Pierrefort). The Parc Naturel des Volcans d'Auvergne features several inactive volcanoes. Cantal also has numerous castles.

Interesting buildings to visit

The department counts several remarkable buildings, among them, the Romanesque churches of Cheylade (eleventh century). Some churches are in the Gothic style like the Cathedral of St Pierre de Saint-Flour (fifteenth century). There a re a number of castles and museums wioth a visit too:
Castle of Val in Lanobre (36,500 visitors/year)
Castle of Anjony in Tournemire (20,000 visitors/year)
Castle of Pesteils in Polminhac (11,700 visitors/year)
Castle de la Vigne in Ally (6,000 visitors/year)
Castle of Clavières in Ayrens
Castle of Carbonat in Arpajon-sur-Cère
Chateau de Conros, near Aurillac
Museum of Art and Arqueologia, Aurillac (34,100 visitors/year)
The House of Fauna, Murat (23,500 visitors/year)
Museum of the Géothermia, Calores-Agudo (20,600 visitors/year)
Museum of the Volcanos, Aurillac (20,100 visitors/year)
Museum of the ray, Marcenat (11,500 visitors/year)
Museum of the "Haute Auvergne", Saint-Flour (11,100 visitors/year)
The House of the Chestnut Mourjou (5,200 visitors/year)
Museum of Georges Pompidou, Montboudif (3,500 visitors/year


Spring and summer

Among the multitude of activities on offer there are various adventure courses such as scrambler bike courses, summer luges etc. that run in Super-Lioran. The beautiful "Massif Cantalien" can be discovered in all its glory while hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking excursions (tracks are especially designed for this). Aquatic sports are also popular, thanks to numerous lakes.

The more classical activities such as mountaineering, canoeing and fishing are also availble. Free flight is a popular activity and base jumpers frequent the sector around the Puy Mary and the Brezon valley.


Thanks to its position and mountainous terrain, Cantal can count on good snow levels, which makes it popular for winter sports. The station of Le Lioran, the largest ski-resort of the Massif Central, offers alpine skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating. There are several hundred kilometres of cross-country skiing tracks to be discovered and enjoued in the department

The Cantal is also known for its cheeses

The farmers here practice mountain pasture, with the herd passing their summers high up in the mountains. The milk is traditionally used to produce Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese such as Cantal, Salers cheese and Bleu d'Auvergne. Cantal is the only French departement to be home to no fewer than five Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée cheeses.

Popular Festivals are:

International Festival of Street Theatre, Aurillac
World Music Festival, Murat
36 hours: Various little street scenes and lots of dancing