The Tour de France and the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on the move for cycling as a means of transport

On the road

KM 0 from the Vulcania amusement park

A native of Haute-Loire and a resident of Puy-de-Dôme, Romain Bardet knows Auvergne like the back of his hand, in addition to having ties to Cantal! The latter, which will host the finish of stage 10 of the Tour, is where he launched the Romain Bardet Experience (RBX), with four loops for cycling tourists who wish to discover the wonders of Cantal. Each loop can be done independently or as part of a multi-day tour. These loops range from 100 to 140 km and can be completed in a day or over several days. The variety of the routes, the quality of the tracks, the condition of the roads and the beauty of their landscapes will enchant cyclists who follow in the slipstream of the champion from Auvergne!


Departments: Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Métropole de Lyon, Savoie, Haute-Savoie.
Population: 8 million
Prefecture: Lyon
Area: 69,711 km2
Specialities: Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône and Savoie wines, Lyon specialities (quenelles, cervelles de canut, saucisson.), potée auvergnate, Savoyard specialities (raclette, fondue, tartiflettes, diots, crozets), cheeses (beaufort, reblochon, cantal, bleu d'Auvergne, Salers, saint-Nectaire...), green lentil of Le Puy, waters (Evian, Thonon, Volvic) verbena, chartreuse.
Sports clubs: Olympique Lyonnais, AS Saint-Etienne, Clermont Foot 63, Grenoble Foot 38 (football). ASM Clermont, Lyon OU, FC Grenoble, Stade Aurillacois, US Oyonnax (rugby union), ASVEL Villeurbanne (basketball), Chambéry (handball), Brûleurs de loup Grenoble, Pionniers de Chamonix (ice hockey)
Competitions: women's football world cup, ski competitions (critérium de la Première neige in Val d'Isère), Tour de France passes, Critérium du Dauphiné.
Economy: (8e European region) high-tech industries, automotive (Berliet), metallurgy, rubber, plastics, chemicals, electronics, food processing, textiles, digital, banks, universities, administrations, viticulture. tyres (Michelin). Design. New technologies (Inovallée) Winter and summer tourism. 
Festivals: Fête des Lumières in Lyon, Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon, quais du polar in Lyon, biennale du design in Saint-Etienne, classical music festival in La Chaise-Dieu
Tourist sites: old Lyon and Croix-Rousse, Puy-en-Velay cathedral, Lake Annecy, Chambéry castle, winter sports in Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie, Cantal, thermal resorts, Auvergne volcanoes. Caverne du Pont d'Arc. Castle of Grignan. Bastille of Grenoble. Vulcania. Parc des Oiseaux.
Websites and social networks:


Population: 656,643
Prefecture: Clermont-Ferrand
Sub-prefecture : Ambert, Issoire, Riom, Thiers
Area: 7,970 km2
Specialities: cheese (Bleu d'Auvergne, Cantal, Fourme d'Ambert, Salers, and Saint-nectaire), Salers beef,
Major sports clubs: ASM Clermont Auvergne (rugby), Clermont Université Club (basketball),
Major competitions: Mont-Dore hill climb (car), Volvic cross-country race.
Festivals: international short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand, Europavox, Jazz en tête, Jazz aux sources in Châtel-Guyon, international festival of world music and dance in Issoire, Coutellia in Thiers.
Tourist sites: Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park, thermal spas (La Bourboule, Châteauneuf-les-Bains, Châtel-Guyon, Mont-Dore, Royat-Chamalières and Saint-Nectaire), Notre-Dame-du-Port in Clermont-Ferrand, cutlery museum in Thiers, winter sports (Super-Besse, Le Mont-Dore)
Economy: tyres (Michelin), food industry (Limagrain, mineral water), metallurgy, thermalism, tourism.
Websites and social networks :

Km 1


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in Orcines, at the Château de Sarcenat, in 1881. A plaque in the church of Orcines recalls that he was baptised there. The tomb of the Michelin family, who owned the Bosse estate, is in the Orcines cemetery.

Km 18.9


Nestled in the Sioulot valley, Orcival is a delightful mountain village, built in a fan shape around the 12th century Notre-Dame d'Orcival basilica. The surrounding natural sites are also remarkable: the Servières (listed site) and Guéry (listed site) lakes, the Tuilières and Sanadoire rocks (listed site), the Roche Branlante, make Orcival an exceptional green resort, which also hosts the surprising Cordès castle (listed site), whose gardens, ingeniously laid out on a rocky outcrop, were designed by Le Nôtre. Singer Jean-Louis Murat lives in Orcival and has dedicated a song to his village, Lady of Orcival.  

Basilica of Orcival
Foundation: 12th century.
Style: Auvergne Romanesque.
Characteristics: it is one of the five major Romanesque churches in Auvergne, along with the Abbey of Saint-Austromoine in Issoire, the Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Port in Clermont-Ferrand, and the churches of Saint-Nectaire and Saint-Saturnin. They have a very similar plan, but the basilica of Orcival has a particularity: the Saint-Jean door, the main door of the building, is lateral, the church leaning against the mountain. Its cedar windows predate the 13th century and bear splendid ironwork and paintings ending in animal and human heads.
History: The church of Notre-Dame d'Orcival was built between 1146 and 1178. In the 11th century, a church located to the east of the village housed a highly venerated statue of the Virgin. Legend has it that it was sculpted by saint Luke. There is every reason to believe that the present basilica was built because of the growing success of a pilgrimage. Notre-Dame d'Orcival then became the new home of the famous statue, which is now kept in the sanctuary of the church and has been the object of an annual pilgrimage on Ascension Thursday.
Special features: it contains a statue of the Virgin Mary, itself a listed item since 1897. It is contemporary with the basilica and its location is such that it is struck by a ray of sunlight on August 15 at midday, coming from the stained-glass window of St John. Every year, on Ascension Day, the Virgin is carried in procession on a stretcher by the male inhabitants of Orcival who, barefoot, walk the Way of the Cross to the Calvary. Outside the basilica, chains and balls are fixed to the façade. These are ex-votos offered by liberated prisoners.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1840.  

Castle of Cordès 
Construction: 13th and 15th centuries.
Style: feudal.
History: the castle belonged to the de Chalus family, lords of Cordès (since at least 1427) and Orcival (acquired in 1503), who borrowed its coat of arms. Members of the Chalus family include Amblard de Chalus, Baron of Orcival, Lord of Cordès, Master of the Waters and Forests of Auvergne (1547) and Lieutenant-General of the Lower Auvergne, and Jean de Chalus, son of the former, Baron of Cordès and Orcival, born in 1540 at the castle of Cordès, page of honour of the Dauphin (1554) and Knight of the King's Order (1563). The castle was sold in 1659 by Gilbert de Chalus to Emmanuel d'Allègre. His son, Yves de Tourzel, Marquis of Allègre, Governor and Lieutenant-General of Metz and Marshal of France, had the magnificent French gardens designed by Le Nôtre in 1695.
Special feature: in 1984, it was used as a Frankenstein's castle during the filming of The Promise (with Sting in the role of Baron Charles Frankenstein).
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1933.

Km 44.7


The village is known for its cheese, Bleu de Laqueuille, the first bleu d’Auvergne, created in 1854.

Km 52.2


Singer Jean-Louis Murat, whose real name is Jean-Louis Bergheaud, took the name of the village where he grew up with his grandparents as his stage name. Jean-Louis Murat is a Tour de France enthusiast and has named one of his tours after the world's greatest cycling race. In the film made for this tour, he dressed up as a cyclist between each stage and dreamed of making the dates coincide with those of the 1952 Tour, the year of his birth.

Km 57.5


Located at the source of the Dordogne, at the foot of the Puy de Sancy, Mont-Dore owes its reputation to the purity of its air, its thermal waters and the quality and modernity of its ski area. The name Mont-Dore comes from the Celtic word Dur or Dor, which means fast stream, torrent. The Saint-Pardoux church pays tribute to the thermal vocation of Mont-Dore: legend attributes to Saint-Pardoux many miraculous cures of paralytics with the help of the springs and explains the presence of his cult in Mont-Dore from the 8th century. The originality of this church lies in the modernity and quality of its interior decoration, developed on the theme of water: the choir decorated by Jean Olin, whose walls painted in blue and decorated with ceramics with modern motifs evoke the biblical theme of living water. The Baths, in neo-Byzantine style, are partly listed as historical monuments. They contain remains of Roman baths, as well as frescoes from the end of the 19th century. The frameworks are by Gustave Eiffel. Throughout the resort, the old palaces also evoke, as in La Bourboule, the golden age of thermal spas. But Le Mont-Dore has also taken advantage of its other natural asset, the mountain: its cable car was built in 1936 by aviator Dieudonné Costes, who made the first non-stop air link between Paris and New York in 1930. The lift made Le Mont-Dore the third largest French winter sports resort in terms of facilities at the time. This first cable car was followed in 1962 by a second, which doubled the transport capacity. Today, the cable car is one of the most popular in the summer. After a dizzying ascent (over 450 metres in four minutes), the climb continues for about twenty minutes via a wooden staircase to the 1,886 m Puy de Sancy, the highest peak in Auvergne. Along the way, landscape reading and orientation tables present the volcanoes and the local fauna and flora.  

Le Mont-Dore thermal baths
Construction: 1817 to 1823 (architect: Louis-Charles Ledru).
History: the construction of the thermal baths of Mont-Dore, from 1817 to 1823, was entrusted to architect Louis-Charles Ledru. In neo-Byzantine style, they were enlarged and modernised in 1890 by Emile Camut. While he retained Ledru's choice of exterior and the original appearance of the buildings, simply adding two corner pavilions and an extra floor to the main façade, he completely redesigned the interior.
Characteristics: the interior decoration includes multiple references to Roman and Byzantine architecture and to Romanesque art from Auvergne. They are considered to be the largest in Europe. The hall of the Springs (whose metal framework is due to Gustave Eiffel) and the hall on the first floor are the two wonders to visit. Painter Roger Forissier painted a mural there in 1975, which was inaugurated by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
Special features: every February, the SAFE (Salon d'Art Fantastique Européen – European Fantastic Art Festival) is held within its walls, where internationally renowned painters inspired by Salvador Dali exhibit.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1986. Roman remains listed in 1989.   

Capucin Funicular
Built: 1898
Characteristics: a real cable railway climbs up the side of the valley at one metre per second. It is the oldest electric funicular in France and its machinery is listed as a historical monument. During the ten-minute climb (250 metres difference in height), the view rises over the Dordogne valley and the Grande Cascade. Following in the footsteps of the artists who came to take the waters during Belle Époque, the descent from the Salon du Capucin via the Chemin des Artistes is very easy to continue the journey back in time.
History: In 1894, a public works contractor from Perrier, Jean Giraudon, obtained a 70-year concession from the municipality of Mont-Dore for a "local interest railway with funicular and electric traction". He took on all the risks, the concession being "without subsidy or guarantee of interest", and he had to pay the municipality a fee for the first ten years of operation.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1984.

Km 66.5


At 1,451 m, it is the highest pass in the Sancy massif. The Tour de France rode it for the first time in 2011, with Tejay van Garderen in the lead. From Le Mont-Dore, the climb is 6.5-km-long with an average gradient of 6 pc. Since 1961, a hill motor race has been held here every year. The 2023 edition will take place on 4, 5 and 6 August.

Km 76.1


The commune of Chambon-sur-Lac is situated, as its name suggests, on the banks of Lake Chambon, which is of volcanic origin. The village is in the heart of the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve, managed by the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park and the Auvergne Mountains National Forestry Office. Its church, Saint-Etienne, has been a listed building since 1925.  

Funeral chapel of Chambon-sur-Lac
Construction: 10th century.
Style: Romanesque.
History: it is likely that it was built by local lords for their burial grounds. For a long time it was wrongly called a baptistery because of a bronze baptismal font that was discovered near its walls.
Characteristics: the chapel, covered with roofing stones and built of ashlar, consists of a rotunda preceded by a straight bay to the west. It has an interesting decoration very similar to that of the major churches of Lower-Auvergne such as the church of Saint-Austremoine in Issoire or the church of Saint-Nectaire. The rotunda is crowned by a widely overhanging cornice supported by modillions with sculpted chips of plant, human or animal decoration (mermaid-fish, character sticking out his tongue, griffins drinking from the same cup, eagles with spread wings...).
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1862.

Km 79.5


The castle of Murol was built in the 13th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, many painters settled there and formed the Murol School, in the impressionist style.  

Murol Castle
Construction: 12th to 16th centuries.
Style: medieval.
History: the castle is built on the remains of a basalt flow at the intersection of three ancient Roman roads (Limagne, Le Mont-Dore, Clermont-Ferrand). It was enlarged and reinforced between the 12th and 15th centuries. It then became the property of the Estaing family after the marriage of Jehanne de Murol to Gaspard d'Estaing. Their descendant François I d'Estaing built a vast enclosure at the foot of the basalt dyke, on which he erected a large Renaissance palace. During monarchy, Richelieu spared the castle because of the prestige of the Estaing family, but the site was abandoned. It was also spared during the Revolution, being used as a prison. In the 19th century, the Count of Chabrol sold it to the commune of Murol.
Characteristics: the castle has two chapels adjoining the large circular tower serving as a keep: the first, which is the largest, dates from the 12th century, then Guillaume de Murol built the keep as well as the second chapel (14th century), in Romanesque style, to serve as his funeral chapel. The inner wall is polygonal and follows the contours of the basalt base.
Trivia: the castle was used as a set for certain scenes in the film Kaamelott, the first part of Alexandre Astier's film in 2019.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1889.  

Murol School Museum
The Murol School reached its peak between 1910 and 1930, a period corresponding to the presence of Léon Boudal (1858-1934), appointed parish priest of Murol in 1890, and Victor Charreton (1864-1936), leader of the movement and co-founder of the Autumn Salon with Pierre Bonnard. The painters agreed to work together on the same motif. The artists were seduced by mountain landscapes, views, woods, streams, and especially by snow, light and mountain skies. They also used people going about their business as models for genre scenes. Different styles were practised, derived from impressionism and heralding cubism. Murol had been approached by ministers Étienne Dujardin-Beaumetz and Étienne Clémentel to become the winter school for landscape painting at the Fine Arts  de Paris, but ministerial instability did not allow the project to be carried out.  

Saint-Nectaire cheese
Murol borders Saint-Nectaire, famous for its eponymous cheese. Saint-Nectaire cheese is made from raw cow's milk and matured for at least four weeks. It was awarded the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in 1964 and the PDO in 1996, which guarantees its authenticity and quality. Saint-Nectaire cheese can be enjoyed throughout the meal, from the aperitif to the cheese platter, served by the great chefs in Auvergne or Paris, it is also very much used in cooking, as in truffade.

Km 88.9


A free town since the 13th century, Besse has since become an important commercial centre. The historic centre of Besse presents a great architectural unity. This unity comes from the numerous old buildings but also from the almost exclusive use of Besse stone. This stone, often compared to Volvic stone, is also a trachyandesite. It has a more rustic appearance than Volvic stone and has more pronounced colour nuances. The commune, whose Saint-André church has been listed since 1886, gave its name to the ski resort of Super-Besse, which was set up on its territory in 1961, and which hosted the Tour de France four times between 1978 and 2011. 

Nicolas Bourbaki
One of the most famous natives of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise is in fact fictional: an imaginary mathematician, under whose name a group of French-speaking mathematicians, formed in 1935 in Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise at the instigation of André Weil, began to write and publish mathematical texts in the late 1930s. The group became an association, the Association of Nicolas Bourbaki collaborators, on 30 August 1952. Its composition evolved with a constant renewal of generations. The surname Bourbaki was the name borrowed by Raoul Husson in 1923 during a hoax, when he was a third-year student at the École normale supérieure. In order to present the proof of a so-called Bourbaki theorem, he had taken on the appearance of a bearded mathematician, called Professor Holmgren, to give a false lecture, deliberately incomprehensible and with subtly false reasoning. The group, which wrote several key treatises, was most influential in the 1960s and 1970s, when Nicolas Bourbaki won five Fields Medals, the world's highest award for mathematics.  

Belfry of Besse
Construction: 15th century
Style: medieval.
History: the belfry and gateway probably date from the 15th century and were remodelled in the 16th century. Then in ruins, it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century.
Characteristics: it consists of a town gate and an adjoining belfry. The gate, the last of the three existing town gates, gave access to Besse via a steeply sloping road and preceded a barbican. Built on a square plan, the gate was accompanied by two other wooden gates to reinforce the defence at this point. The adjoining belfry consists of a massive square tower on top of which an octagonal tower is built, ending in a bell tower. Inside, a spiral staircase leads to several rooms, including the former lodgings and guardrooms.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1905.

Km 99.6


St. George's Church
Construction: 13th and 15th centuries.
History: the church was built in the 13th century, but the stair turret to the bell tower dates from the 15th century.
Characteristics: it is cruciform in plan, with a nave of two bays, followed by the transept and then the choir, which ends in a five-sided apse. The bell tower surmounts the transept crossing. The building has two portals, one to the west and one to the south. Also on the south side, at the corner of the nave and transept, a stair turret leads to the bell tower. The corner of this turret is decorated with a "screaming head", called "Salguebrou" (Go away,...brrr!) in the region. This type of head is quite common in Auvergne, as it can be found on the porch of the churches of Allanche, Fontanges, Sainte-Anastasie, Sauvat and Ydes-Bourg, where its function must have been to chase away demons and to defend the access of the church from evil spirits.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1904.  

Km 131.5


Former fief of the Mercoeur family, one of whose members, Saint-Odilon, became abbot of Cluny in the 11th century. All that remains of this family is a tower, the Mercœur finger, which overlooks the town. Ardes prospered thanks to sheep farming and tanning before undergoing a massive exodus of its inhabitants in the 19th century. The town also exploits its water spring, marketed until 2011 by Danone under the Arvie brand. Production resumed since 2012 under the name Ardesy. The Romanesque church of Saint-Dizaint has been a listed monument since 1920. 

Auvergne Animal Park
The Cézallier Wildlife and Leisure Park was created by Maurice Blanc in 1984, in Ardes. On the mountainside, it enjoys a privileged view of the Auvergne relief. Since its takeover in 2012, the park has tripled its attendance (110,000 visitors) and has made the protection of endangered species its raison d'être. The park financially supports the Play for Nature fund, which protects endangered species, and more than 75 pc of the animals hosted are endangered species participating in a European breeding programme, such as takins or gorals, two species that are little known to the general public.

Km 150.1


Vodable was the capital of the Dauphins of Auvergne from the 12th to the 15th century, who had their castle there. The village is also part of the Federation of Cluniac sites for its church of Saint-Mary de Colamine, built by Cistercian monks in the 11th century.  

St. Mary's Church in Colamine
Construction: 12th century.
Style: Romanesque
History: this church belonged, from the beginning of the 11th century, to the priory of Sauxillanges.
Characteristics: Isolated in the middle of the fields in the place known as Colamine-sous-Vodable, the small 11th century Romanesque church is of rustic construction. It consists of a nave with an incomplete south aisle, a transept, a bell tower rising above the transept crossing, a canted apse with a hemicycle-shaped roof and a chapel facing north. The church has five statues listed as historical monuments, four of which are medieval.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1956.

Km 151.9


Notre-Dame Church
Construction: 12th, 13th and 15th centuries.
Style: Romanesque.
History: the first oratory to be built on the Ronzières plateau was dedicated to saint Beaudime who, according to legend, rid the region of a monster that was desolating it. He had dedicated a fountain to the Virgin, which became a place of pilgrimage. As the location of the fountain was not suitable for a shrine, a baptistery was built at the foot of the hill, which later became the parish church before being abandoned for the church of Notre-Dame in the 18th century. This church was built in the Romanesque period on the site of the chapel dedicated to saint Beaudime and retains Romanesque parts amidst the Gothic additions. The building had a pyramidal bell tower which was destroyed around 1813 or 1814 and replaced at that time by the present bell tower.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1962.

Km 160.5


Perrier is known for its troglodytic caves, one of which was inhabited until 1945. Its Romanesque church has a portal whose leaves are decorated with paintings from the 12th-13th century.

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, stretching from central France to the Swiss-Italian border, combines historic cities and vast natural beauty. Amongst green national parks you can find dormant volcanoes and mountain ranges ideal for hiking and sports.   Make the most of a rest day in Clermont-Ferrand. This interesting city offers impressive attractions and architecture, not yet overrun by tourists. Take in the majestic Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption or visit one of the museums to learn about art and local industry. This is also the birthplace of the Michelin brothers, so expect fine cuisine!   Wine connoisseurs cannot miss out Beaujolais, a chance to sample the local produce among vineyards and beautiful villages. Santé!

Top 5 things to see and do:

1. Wander round Clermont-Ferrand's city centre
2. Hike up Puy-de-Dôme for epic views
3. Tour the wine-making region of Beaujolais
4. Appreciate the region's history 
5. Dine in the birthplace of the Michelin brothers


Provided by

Follow us

Receive exclusive news about the Tour