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Geography and Landscape


The French region of Auvergne occupies the eastern part of the very old Massif Central (French: Massif Central), a low and middle mountain range that has lost its high peaks over millions of years due to erosion processes.

The total area of Auvergne is approximately 26,000 km2, which is 4.8% of the national territory. Auvergne is bordered by the following regions: to the north by Bourbonnais, to the east by Lyonnais and Ardèche, to the south by Rouergue and Causses and to the west by Quercy and Limousin.


Auvergne LandscapePhoto: Photo: Fabien1309 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France no changes made

The Massif Central covers a large part of Auvergne. This plateau was formed at the end of the Paleozoïcum (600-225 million years ago) and is therefore much older than the Alps or the Jura. The originally mountainous area has deteriorated over time and was further completed in the Quaternary (2 million years ago). Then the Massif Central experienced volcanic activity and many of today's volcanoes were formed. The chain of volcanoes of the Monts Dôme is much younger, having only formed between 100,000 and 5000 BC.
The only noticeable volcanic activity at the moment is the hot springs scattered around Auvergne. The last volcanic eruption appears to be in the year 4040 BC. to have been. Special in this area are the so-called ‘cirques’, deep cirques between the volcanoes.
The volcanoes of Auvergne can be divided into dome volcanoes (craterless and round), crater volcanoes (including Puy de Pariou) and volcanoes with crater (including La Vache). The Mont Bar is special, the only one in France of the Stromboli type. A peat swamp has formed in the crater of this volcano.

Puy de Dome AuvergnePhoto: Thesupermat Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The most famous volcano in Auvergne is the Puy de Dôme (1465 m), near Clermont-Ferrand. More to the south lies the massif of Les Monts Dore with the highest peak of Auvergne and central France, the Puy de Sancy (1886 m;once 2500 m high !!), while in the extreme south lies the massif of Cantal with the Plomb du Cantal (1,858 m).

Between the volcanic massifs of the Volcans-d’ Auvergne Natural Park are the basalt plateaus of Artense and Cézallier. South of Aurillac is Châtaignerie, a region covered with chestnut trees and moors. The black soil of the Limagne is rich in alluvium and volcanic ash, and this landscape is characterized, among other things, by huge fields of corn.
The Monts du Forez is densely wooded and the granite soil of Livradois is covered with dense spruce forests. The south-east of Auvergne with its gorges and massifs is covered with congealed layers of layers that often protrude like scree cones. In the south, wild, high-lying plateaus alternate with pastures.
The ‘orgues’ (organ pipes), formed when lava masses began to shrink after solidification and broke into prism-shaped columns.
The Auvergne has several major rivers: the Allier, the Loire, the Dordogne and the Lot.

Climate and Weather

Auvergne Mont-DorePhoto: Torsade de Pointes in the public domain

Auvergne has a temperate continental climate with generally warm summers and harsh winters. In the summer season it can get very hot, especially on the plains and in the valleys. From May, the temperature quickly rises to well above twenty degrees. In summer, temperatures range from 21 to 26°C. In the mountains there is always a cool breeze. Summers are also characterized by heavy thunderstorms. In autumn the temperatures are on average about five degrees lower and in winter the average is 7°C.
It can also rain a lot in Auvergne, but especially in the spring and autumn. There is more rainfall on average than in the south of France, but there are quite large regional differences. More than 2000 mm falls per year on the western side of the Monts Dore, and only 500 mm on the eastern side. There is an average of 730 mm in Auvergne.
The number of sun hours is averaging 2,100 hours annually. Auvergne is very suitable for winter sports in winter, because there is always a lot of snow. More than 200 km of ski slopes and almost 900 km of cross-country trails are found here.
On the Puy de Dôme, temperature inversion has been observed in winter, ie it freezes in the valleys but at the top of this mountain above or around zero
Is! Differences of 20°C have even been measured.

Climate table Auvergne

day temp. in°C47121519232625221485
night temp. in°C-2-125713121053-1
solar hours p/d346677887532
rainy days p/m121191212108910111212

Plants and animals


The south of Auvergne is home to many rare flora, including common herb, heather, campanula, gentian and its poisonous cousin, the Vérâtre Blanc. The gentian is processed in the cosmetic industry and used for pharmacist purposes. The Monts Dôme volcano chain is home to two thousand species of flowers and plants, including the wild raspberry.

Myrtille AuvergnePhoto: Myrabella Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made


The plateau of the Cézallier is known for its peat soils, which are particularly rich in flora. In the meadow areas, the "nard raide", a thin tall grass, is dominant. Slightly higher grows the myrtille (bilberry), the rare swamp orchid, the common herb, the white oak and the drosera or sundew, a carnivorous plant.

Long-tailed eagle AuvergnePhoto: Bendale.Kaustubh Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The sparsely populated volcanic area has great flora and fauna. Here you will find the rare wild sheep (mouflons) that graze on the volcano slopes. Birds of prey soar through the air that are found almost nowhere else in Europe. Among other things, the snake eagle that is mainly looking for lizards, which are common here. Other birds of prey are harriers, red kites, peregrine falcons, ospreys and kestrels.
The brooks are a breeding ground for wild salmon;the Allier River is considered the largest salmon river in Western Europe. Common large mammals are deer, roe deer, wild boar, stone martens, genets and badgers;Otters and ermines are rare.

Four important migration sites are located in the valley of the Allier, in the pass of Prat de Bouc, in the Montagne de la Serre and in the Barachuchet Pass. In the valley of the Allier alone, more than 120 species of birds and more than 100 migratory birds, including the osprey, nest.
The hornet can sting viciously and the viper can deliver a painful bite.

Braque D'AuvergnePhoto: Pleple 2000 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Braque D'Auvergne is an old dog breed that has remained type-stable since the end of the eighteenth century. The breed probably descends from dogs that came from Malta to France and were then crossed with French, among others, beagles and other hunting dogs.



Gergovia AuvergnePhoto: Romary Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The many edited stones prove that the Massif Central has been inhabited for more than 14,000 years. From 7500 BC. people settled in these regions as cattle ranchers and farmers and the first crafts arose in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
From the 7th century BC. Celtic Indo-Germanic tribes moved to the Massif Central, including the Arverni, who became one of the most powerful tribes in the area. The capital was called Gergovia at the time.

Roman rule

Vercingétorix AuvergnePhoto: Marie-Lan Nguyen Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic no changes made

Arverni area belonged to the province of Aquitania during Roman rule. In 121 BC. the king of the Averni, Bituitus, rebelled against the Roman troops of Fabius Maximus. The warriors of Bituitus were defeated, but the waiting was only for the next revolt of the Averni.
This was to be led by King Vercingetorix, who made a pact with the Gabales and the Cadurci and managed to capture the capital Gergovia. take. Even the famous Caesar was unable to dislodge the Vercingetorix, who even dared to attack Caesar's army. However, this was a bit too optimistic and Vercingetorix was forced to flee and withdraw to the city of Alesia (present-day Alise in Burgundy). The city was then besieged and Vercingetorix eventually surrendered to the Romans, who killed it in 46 BC. This soon brought an end to the Averni independence efforts, Roman culture flourished and Lyons developed as the most important city in the region.

Christians and Franks

Baptism Clovis FrancePhoto: Public domain

From the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. the Catholic Church gained more and more influence in and around Auvergne. That influence had already begun with the Edict of Milan in 313, in which the Romans granted the inhabitants of France freedom of religion and ended the bloody persecution of Christians. Big names of that period were Dionysius, Gregory of Tours, Austermonius, Nectarius, and later Genesius and Florus.
As the Romans lost more and more power, other peoples had the opportunity to manifest themselves in Gaul. The very violent Alemanni and the Visigoths in particular seized their chance. The Visigoths even founded a kingdom in the area, but were soon expelled by the Franks leader Clovis (481-511) of the Merovingian dynasty. He became the founder of the Frankish Empire, which at that time covered almost all of France. By being Christianized, he received the indispensable support of the powerful bishops.
After the death of Clovis, his empire was divided into three areas: Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy. The Austrasian lineage of the Anulfingen, whose individual members often refer to each other as Carolus (Charles), are increasingly prominent, especially when the Carolingian Charles Martel managed to defeat the advancing Islamic Saracens. Under his successor Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus), a very powerful empire even arose.
After the death of Charlemagne, his empire fell apart and fell into the hands of several powerful feudal rulers. The Auvergne was an exception to this. This isolated region became prey to a number of powerful castle lords, including those of Chastel Marbac, Polignac, Mercoeur, Carlat and La Tour d'Auvergne.

Crusades and Hundred Years War

Auvergne Urban IIPhoto: Public domain

At a council in Clermont-Ferrand in 1095, Pope Urban II called on the faithful to go to war against the infidels in the Holy Land. He wanted to help the Christians in the East and thus restore unity in the church. In the period 1096-1099 the first crusade started and many poor people from the Auvergne saw hone chance and went to battle with many knights led by the bishop of Le Puy, Adhemer of Monteil. A pleasant side effect was that the small wars and internal conflict between the various rulers in France were over for a while. The Auvergne also experienced a period of relative peace in the 11th and 12th centuries, in which only the abbeys and monasteries were able to fortify themselves.

In France, the 14th century was dominated by the plague and a war between France and England. The plague took hold of all of France and the nobility did not escape it either. Declining revenues forced them to fill their treasuries with looting tactics.
Added to this was a loan dispute between Philip VI, the first Valois king, and Edward III of England would get terribly out of control. Philip confiscated the Duchy of Aquitaine, of which Edward thought he owned the property rights. Edward then crossed the Channel with a large army. Moreover, he not only wanted to conquer Aquitaine, but immediately asserted his claims to the entire French territory. Ultimately, this conflict would develop into the Hundred Years' War, in which many Auvergne fiefdoms sided with the English purely out of self-interest.
In 1360 a provisional peace treaty was signed, the Treaty of Brétigny. Edward III renounced his claims to the French throne and Jan II, imprisoned by the English, was released. However, the peace did not last long and Charles V again conquered a large part of the English territory in France. After the death of Charles V, France fell into the hands of Charles VI and England into the hands of Richard II, both still children.
In the 15th century, some decisive uprisings took place in the Auvergne. The Bourbons took the north of Auvergne, and on the plateaus of Auvergne, resistance raged against the French king. In 1435 the battle came to an end and the royal houses of Valois and Bourbon developed.

Protestantism and French Revolution

Henry III FrancePhoto: Public domain

The second half of the 16th century was dominated by a total of eight 'Wars of Religion', after the start of the Reformation in Germany by Luther. The French state was suddenly split into a Catholic and a Protestant (Calvinist) part. Protestantism found a strong resonance among the nobility and the wealthy citizens, who thereby strengthened their resistance against the ever-expanding power of the state.
The Calvinists or Huguenots, however, had a very hard time in the wars of religion. Under the reign of Henry III, a true massacre of the Huguenots was held (including during the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day in Paris). Henry III was succeeded by Henry of Navarre IV, who became a Protestant Catholic and thus Paris won over. He also introduced the Edict of Nantes in 1569, which meant that freedom of religion was introduced. The Huguenots could now also develop in freedom and even found (fortified) cities. Unfortunately, that did not last too long because in 1610 Henry IV was murdered and the war of religion flared up again in all its intensity. Auvergne was half Catholic and half Protestant at the time. In 1629, the Peace of Alès stipulated that the Huguenots were allowed to practice their religion, but no longer had the right to their fortified cities.

The French Revolution in 1789 naturally had a great influence on France and the rest of Europe, but in the Auvergne and the surrounding area it remained fairly quiet. It was still important that the industrialists of Lyon remained royalist and against the central authority. After this, Lyon was besieged by revolutionaries for months. Lyon lost the battle and became a so-called "commune affranchie", a liberated municipality.

19th century

Louis Napoleon FrancePhoto: Public domain

After the fall of Napoleon, the kingship was restored by Louis XVIII and the nobility and clergy gained much more power again. In 1824 the moderate Louis handed over power to the reactionary Charles X, after which the problems started again between the citizens and the nobility. After the July Revolution of 1830, Charles fled and Louis-Philip of Orléans came to the throne. In the European revolution year 1848, this rule came to an end and he was succeeded by the president (1848-1852, Second Republic) and the later Emperor Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III (1852-1870, Second KeEmpire).
In 1870, the short-lived Franco-Prussian War broke out, in which the French suffered a very severe defeat. In 1871 peace was signed with Germany and the Third Republic was proclaimed. During this time, middle class groups gained increasing power at the expense of the nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie. From 1900 to 1914, it is called "La Belle Epoque", a time when France prospered economically, socially and culturally. The outbreak of the First World War brought this to a sudden end. The war in France was concentrated on and behind the French northern border through trench warfare. After the interference of the United States in 1917, things moved quickly and the dispute was settled in favor of the Allies. France came out of the war reasonably because it now came into permanent possession of Alsace-Lorraine. In the 1930s, an economic world crisis broke out that did not leave France unaffected either. It was not until 1938 that the economic situation improved in France.

World War II

Petain FrancePhoto: Public domain

During the Second World War (1939-1945), France was largely occupied by the Germans. The unoccupied part, including the Auvergne, belonged to the quasi-independent collaborationist Vichy France of General Pétain. Yet there was also talk of partisan resistance (maquis) in the Auvergne. Famous was the Battle of Mont Mouchet, where 3000 maquisards managed to push the Germans back. On May 7, 1945, the unconditional surrender of Germany was signed in Reims. Auvergne had already been liberated in 1944.

After the Second World War

Charles de Gaulle FrancePhoto: Public domain

When the Fourth Republic was launched after the Second War, Charles de Gaulle, in World War II the leader of the 'Free French', got hooked because the president was given too few powers.
The Algerian crisis nevertheless brought him to power, putting an end to the Fourth Republic and himself determining the shape of the Fifth Republic. In 1969 De Gaulle stepped down after some of his proposals were voted down by referendum. Main points were the reform of the Senate and a new regional division of France. After De Gaulle, Georges Pompidou (until 1974), Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (until 1981), François Mitterand (until 1995) and Jacques Chirac (1995-) became president. The rise of the far-right National Front party in the 1980s and 1990s caused a lot of political unrest in France. The southern part of Auvergne, in particular, was not sensitive to the extreme ideas of this party over the years.
In the 1970s, the regions, including Auvergne, got more to say and there was more room for their own language. and the local culture. Meanwhile, rural exodus continued, but Auvergne retained much of its culture and traditions.
Since May 16, 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy has been president. The president has relatively great power, because he is head of state and government leader. In October 2008, the magnitude of the credit crunch becomes noticeable and in February 2009 the government is pumping billions into the economy. In March 2010, the governing parties suffered a major loss in regional elections. In June 2010, the government announced drastic cuts to reduce government debt.

Francois Hollande France Photo: Matthieu RieglerPhoto: Matthieu Riegler CC license Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

In May 2012, the socialist Francois Hollande will become the new president of France. In 2013 France will send an intervention force to the former colony of Mali. In March 2014, Manuel Valls becomes the new prime minister, after a rise of the National Front. Also in the European elections in May, the front wins nationally. 2015 was dominated by terrorist attacks on French soil by the Islamic State. In January 17 victims fell, mostly employees of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. In November, 130 people were killed in various attacks in Paris. In February 2016, the clearing of the "jungle" of Calais, a large camp with illegal immigrants who want to make the crossing to Great Britain, begins. On July 14, 2016, Islamic State strikesAgain, a truck crashes into a crowd on National Day killing more than 80 people. In May 2017, center candidate Emaunuel Macron wins the French presidential election of the ultra-right Marine Le Pen. His La Republique en Marche movement then won the absolute majority in parliamentary elections in June.

Emmanuel Macron, 25th President of France
Photo:, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International no changes made

At the end of 2018, large national "yellow vests" protests against attempts to curb the use of fossil fuels through price increases that become violent, prompting adjustments by the government. The protests will continue in 2019. In July 2020, President Macron appoints Jean Castex as prime minister, after Edouard Philippe resigned after a bad result for the ruling La République En Marche! party to local elections. In Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb to the northwest of Paris, a history teacher who recently showed caricatures of the prophet Mohammed was beheaded in the street. The eighteen-year-old Chechen perpetrator was shot by police.

 Jean Castex, Prime Minister of France since July 1, 2020
Photo: Florian DAVID, CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, no changes made


Supporters of ASM Clermont AuvergnePhoto: Zegreb63 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the 20th century, many people from Auvergne moved to the big cities. This had major consequences, especially on the high plains of Aubrac and Margeride and for regions such as Livradois, Cantal, Velay and Forez, because they now belong to the least populated and most aging regions of France. It is significant that there are currently more Auvergnats living in Paris (approx. 600,000) than in Auvergne's largest city, Clermont-Ferrand.
Repopulation is one of the priorities, and to that end about 30,000 Portuguese have already migrated to this area.
To make the area more attractive, the 'Plan Massif Central' was presented in 1975. The main goal was to improve access to the area. For example, a direct motorway connection from Paris to the Mediterranean has now been realized.

Auvergne had approx. 1,350,000 inhabitants (Auvergnats) in 2017, which is 2.3% of the French population. The population density is approximately 52 inhabitants per km2.
Auvergne has 1310 municipalities, 90% of which have less than 2000 inhabitants and only 1% with more than 10,000 inhabitants.


French Language MapPhoto: Public domain

The official language is French, in addition Breton (Brittany) is spoken by minorities, Occitan (the south), Basque (in the western Pyrenees ), German (Alsace-Lorraine), Dutch (French Flanders), Catalan (Roussillon), Italian (around Nice), Corsican (on Corsica).

French is a Romance language spoken by approximately 100 million people as their mother tongue, of which approximately 60 million in France. French is also spoken in Belgium below the line Weset-Mouscron and Brussels, in Switzerland (Suisse romande), Italy (Aosta Valley), Haiti and Canada (Quebec), which, in addition to the native language, is used as the language of government and administration in many former French colonies. French is the continuation of Vulgar Latin, which was introduced by the Roman conquerors in Gallia Transalpina (58–50 BC) and developed there.

The history of French begins when people through the Carolingian Renaissance, which revived the study of classical Latin, became aware of a gap between Latin, language of administration, jurisdiction and religion, and colloquialism. This is evidenced, among other things, by a decision of the Council of Tours (813), which henceforth had to be preached in the vernacular ("lingua romana rustica"). Broadly speaking, three periods can be distinguished in the history of French: Old French (early 9th- early 14th century), Middle French (early 14th- early 17th century) and modern French (early 17th century- present).

The French language originally consisted of Latin words introduced by the Romans, supplemented by words of Celtic and Frankish origin. From the 12th century onwards, these "folk words" are borrowed from Latin, the "learned" words. In the 16th century, many words were also borrowed from Italian. Many words have also been borrowed from Dutch and since the 18th century also from English.
Especially in recent decades, much has been borrowed from English in the field of technology, sports, fashion, etc. originated. French purists oppose this "invasion" of foreign words.


Clermond-Ferrand CathedralPhoto: Fabien1309 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The French population is approximately 80% Roman Catholic (approximately 48 million), 4.5% predominantly Sunni Islamic (approximately 4 million) and there are also small minorities of Protestants (approximately 950,000), Jews ( 700,000;the largest Jewish community in Europe) and Armenian-Christian. Since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV, Catholicism has been the state religion.
Since the separation of church and state in 1905, the state has ceased to interfere with the Church. The Roman Catholic Church has eighteen provinces and a total of 95 dioceses in France. The Archbishop of Lyon is at the head of the ecclesiastical provinces.

After Saint Bartholomew's Day (1572), the strength of Protestantism in France was broken. Protestant churches were not recognized until the law of 1802. The main Protestant denominations are: the Église Réformée de France, the Église de la Confession d'Augsburg d'Alsace et de Lorraine, the Église évangélique luthérienne and the Église réformée d'Alsace et de Lorraine.
Since 1905 a federation of Protestant churches consisting of Reformed, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists and free churches: the Fédération Protestante de France.
Protestant theological faculties for the training of pastors are located in Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Paris and Strasbourg;the last two are inter-confessional faculties. Despite the relatively small number, the influence of the Protestants in France is quite large.

The municipalities of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, St.-Jeures, Fay-sur-Lignon and Tence, located between Le-Puy-en-Velay and St.-Étienne together form a Protestant enclave within Catholic France. This area is also referred to as "La Montagne Protestante".


State structure

The Auvergne region consists of the departments of Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dôme. The region's capital is Clermont-Ferrand.

France Assemblee NationalPhoto: Freepenguin Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

According to under the 1958 constitution, France is a parliamentary republic with extensive powers of president as head of state. The president has been directly elected by the people by universal suffrage for seven years since 1962. In 2002, the President of France will be elected for a term of five years instead of the current seven years.
The President enacts laws passed by Parliament or by the people (in case of referendum), signs the decisions of the council of ministers he presides appoint the prime minister and, in case of need, can take over the whole of the legislative and executive powers and declare the dissolution of the National Assembly.
The president can even replace the prime minister if desired, except when there is a so-called "cohabitation" in the government. This only occurs when the composition of the National Assembly is such that the president is forced to appoint a prime minister of a different political color from his own. After the elections of June 1, 1997, this situation arose when the neo-Gullist president Chirac ruled the country together with a cabinet and a Prime Minister Jospin, who were of leftist nature. The cooperation between Chirac and Jospin went pretty smoothly for the first four years.
The government, headed by the prime minister, is proposed and appointed by the president. The government defines and implements the general politics of the country and is accountable to the National Assembly.

Legislative power is exercised by the bicameral parliament. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 577 members, 22 of whom are from the overseas departments and territories. The Assembly is elected for five years through a district system. The senate is mainly elected by the members of the "conseils généraux", the departmental councils, and by the municipal councils.
The senate has much less powers than the Assembly and has 321 members, 12 of whom are representatives of the French in the abroad and 13 for the overseas departments and territories. Senate members are elected for nine years and every three years the senate is renewed for a third. The president of the senate is the second highest office holder in the country after the president.
All French citizens of 18 years and older have the right to vote and to be elected to the Assembly one must be at least 23 years old and 35 years old for the Senate. . Women have only been entitled to vote since 1944.
Parliamentary and presidential elections take place in two rounds. If the candidate manages to obtain more than 50% of the vote in his constituency in the first round of the parliamentary elections, he is immediately elected. If he does not succeed, a second round follows in which a simple majority is sufficient. The prerequisite for the parliamentary elections is that the candidate has obtained at least 12.5% of the vote in the first round.
In the presidential election, only two candidates who obtained the most votes in the first round can participate in the second round.

The current political situation is described in the chapter history.

Administrative division

France FormatPhoto: Public Domain

The French state has 22 regions, which are divided into 96 departments. The country also has: four overseas departments, the "Départements d'Outre-Mer" (DOM): French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion;three overseas territories, the "Territoires d'Outre-Mer" (TOM): French Polynesia, the Wallis and Futuna Islands and New Caledonia;the two overseas 'collectivités territoriales' Mayotte and St-Pierre-en-Miquelon and some areas on the South Pole, "Les Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF). The prefet is in charge of each region and department and is the representative of the government and of each individual minister.
The departments are divided into arrondissements (325), headed by a sous-prefet, the arrondissements are divided into cantons (3714) and these in turn into 36,433 municipalities. Approximately 90% of the municipalities have less than 2000 inhabitants, the districts and cantonshave only administrative significance.
The Union of the Corsican people (Union du Peuple Corse) has been fighting for the independence of the island for years and has many hundreds of bombings to its name. The region Corsica has a separate status since 1981, a degree of self-government. The bombings then temporarily abated but in 1982 more than 800 attacks were committed.


Education system FrancePhoto: Thomas Steiner Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

Kindergarten- and primary education

France has a long tradition of pre-primary education. It is therefore not surprising that the percentage of French children attending kindergartens (écoles maternelles) is higher than in all other EC countries (with the exception of Belgium), and amounts to approx. 32% for two-year-olds and 100% for five-year-olds.
Pre-primary education is not compulsory and free in public schools (85% of all schools). The remaining 15% are schools for special or private (private) education that are subsidized by the state and/or region and/or receive contributions from families.

Education is compulsory for children from 6 to 16 years old. This obligation relates to primary education (école élémentaire) and the first cycle of secondary education (collège). Most pupils complete the four-year college at the age of 15 and then have to attend school in general technical or vocational education for at least one more year.
Primary education, organized and managed by the municipalities, lasts five years and is followed by children from 6 to 11 years old. The five grades comprise two cycles: the first cycle (cycle des apprentissages fondamentaux) starts in the highest section of the kindergarten and further includes the first two years of primary school, which includes a preparatory and a first elementary year.
The second cycle (cycle des approfondissements) covers the last three years of primary school that precede the college. These three years comprise the second year of elementary education and the first two years of further education.

Secondary education

The first cycle of secondary education lasts four years and is intended for pupils aged 11 to 15 and again divided into three cycles: the adaptation cycle, the intermediate cycle and the orientation cycle. The second cycle of secondary education comprises general, technical and vocational education provided in lycea (lycées).
General and technical secondary education prepares the pupils in three years for the examination of the general baccalaureate or the technical baccalaureate.
The vocational schools prepare pupils in two years for the "certificat d'aptitude professionelle" (CAP) and the "brevet d'études professionelles" (BEP). The CAP is more specialized than the BEP and is issued for general professional skills, not in a specific subject, but in one professional-commercial, administrative or social sector. After another two years, they can take an exam for the professional baccalaureate (baccalauréat professionnel). At the college, the study of a foreign language is compulsory from the sixth grade and from the 4th grade a second foreign or a regional language is learned. The study of a foreign language is compulsory in general and technical education.
At the end of the third year, pupils take a national exam with a view to obtaining the "diplôme national du brevet". The diploma is a general study certificate that does not determine the later choice of study.
General and/or technical education is concluded with a general or technical baccalaureate. Successful students gain access to higher education

Higher education

France SorbonnePhoto: Guilhem Vellut Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Higher education in France is very diverse settings. The organization and admission requirements differ according to the type of institution and the objective of the education provided.
Higher education institutions include:
-Universities providing short courses and long courses. France has more than 70 universities. The Sorbonne in Paris is the oldest and dates back to the twelfth century.
-Public and private schools and institutions supervised by a ministry and providing higher professional education. Here too short courses and longer courses of three years or more after the baccalaureate.
-In the "lycées d'enseignement général et technologique" post-baccalaureate courses are also possible that prepare for higher technical courses that prepare for the "brevet de technician supérieur"
-long three-year courses are given to the "grandes écoles" who are private or public. Most of the senior officials and engineers in France come from this type of educational institution.


Agriculture and Livestock

Bleu-d'AuvergnePhoto: Jon Sullivan in the public domain

In the mountainous regions, cattle breeding dominates, especially the reddish brown Salers cattle and many sheep. In Auvergne, a large portion of the milk is used to make cheese. Typical for Auvergne is the "bleu-d'auvergne", made from cow's milk. Well-known cheeses are also the "cantal", the "saint-nectaire" and the "fourme-d" ambert ".
On the flatter areas there is agriculture, especially wheat, potatoes and rye. Viticulture is less important in this region. Puy-en-Velay is known for a specialty: the "lentilles vertes de Puy", the green lentils of Le Puy. They are grown in the Velay region, in a legally defined area, an 'appellation (d'origines) contrôlée.


Traditional crafts have almost disappeared from the Auvergne, except the lace production in Le Puy-en-Velay.
Clermont-Ferrand is the center of industrial production, mainly due to its good connections and the relatively short distance to Paris. Michelin has its largest tire factory in Clermont-Ferrand (25,000 employees).
Les Ancizes-Comps has a steel mill where 1,500 employees make steel for the automotive, military, nuclear and aerospace industries.
Lezoux is already Traditionally a well-known ceramic center. Volvic has, in addition to a mineral water factory, lava quarries where andesite, a type of lava rock, has been extracted since the 13th century. Issoire is considered the capital of the machined aluminum. Thiers is known for its knife industry (as well as spoons, forks, corkscrews and surgical instruments);The town has over 300 manufacturers.
On the banks of the Dore are a luxury paper factory, a stainless steel factory and a cardboard factory. Mauriac thrives through the cheese trade and glove industry. Aurillac is the center for the umbrella and umbrella industry. Le-Puy-en-Velay has a lot of clothing and textile industry;Le Puy's fine lacework is famous.


Auvergne MineralsPhoto: Didier Descouens CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The Auvergne is very rich in minerals and still owns, for example, the only gold mine of France, located in the Montagne Noire, near Salsigne.
Silver, copper, tin and tungsten are still in the ground, but it is no longer profitable to operate these mines.
What is still being extracted from the ground is uranium, necessary for the production of nuclear energy.
Thanks to volcanism, Auvergne a paradise for mineral collectors. All kinds of elements in volcanic gases crystallized and so stones such as sanidine, beryl, offretite, amethyst, lussatite, aragonite, opal and many others were formed.

See also the chapter economy of France.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Auvergne Parc des VolcansPhoto: Heurtelions Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The region Auvergne is located in the Massif Central and is a popular, but not yet a massive holiday destination with a protected natural environment, beautiful lunar landscapes, authentic villages and volcanoes. Auvergne consists of four departments: Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dôme.
A fun thing to do is to follow the Cheese Route past about 50 farms, each producing their own cheese, often using ancient techniques. In the Massif du Sancy, located in the volcanic area, there are plenty of opportunities to relax, including lactotherapy, light therapy and cocooning. Everything about volcanoes, the earth and forces of nature can be found in the theme park Vulcania, and you can also visit a real volcano, the volcano of Lemptégy can be discovered on foot or by train.
There are plenty of sports opportunities in the Auvergne: cyclists are spoiled with 44 marked bike tours and about 4000 km of mountain bike trails. Hikers can take advantage of 80 volcanoes over a distance of 80 kilometers, with the famous Puy-de-Dôme (1465) as the highest volcano in the area of the same name. The Massif du Sancy mountain range consists of rolling hills, deep gorges and rugged cliffs, between which 650 kilometers of hiking, cycling and equestrian tours are plotted. This area has three peaks of more than 1800 meters, with the Puy de Sancy as the highest peak (1886 meters). In the department of Cantal lies the main volcanic area of Europe with mountains, forests, valleys, plateaus, glacial valleys and the Puy Mary as the highest point (1787 meters).
Water sports enthusiasts can also get their money's worth in the Auvergne, with crater lakes (including Lac Pavin, Gour de Tazenat and Lac du Bouchet), volcanic reservoirs (including Lac du Guéry, Aydat and Chambon), clear blue (mountain) lakes (including Goule, Sault, Prades and Aubusson-d'Auvergne) and pristine rivers and streams, including Gorges l'Allier, La Sioulle, Cher and Lot.

Auvergne Clermont-FerrandPhoto: Aavitus Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

A visit to the capital Clermont-Ferrand is also very worthwhile and through many festivals you can get acquainted with the musical culture of the Auvergne, especially in the field of dance music. Tourists interested in the history of the Auvergne can enjoy many churches, castles and other buildings. Six castle routes have been set out and about 40 castles are open to the public.

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Graaf, G. de / Auvergne, Ardèche

Strijbos, E. / Auvergne, Ardèche, Lyon, Beaujolais

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated October 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb