The 12 Most Charming Villages of Cantal (Hidden Gems)


Last Updated on 19/05/2022 by Alfred

Are you going to discover the Massif Central? Opt for the most preserved region of Auvergne by visiting the most charming villages of Cantal!

La Cantal is a wild department in the South-West of the Auvergne region. Its varied territory presents peaks that are part of the Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne, valleys, gorges, and villages of great beauty.

Guests can enjoy outdoor activities such as skiing, kayaking, hiking, or discovering an important cultural and historical heritage. Gastronomy is one of the department’s pride, with its eponymous cheese and many other specialties you will discover during your trip.

We present you with the most charming villages of Cantal to allow you to best prepare for your trip!

The 12 Most Charming Villages of Cantal (Hidden Gems)

1. Salers

Most Charming Villages of Cantal (Hidden Gems)

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Stefano cellai

Salers is fighting for the title of the most beautiful village in Cantal and is also one of the most beautiful villages in France. Walking through the cobbled streets, you will discover ancestral mansions made of dark stones in a remarkable state of conservation. Turrets and slates are the characteristic markers of the architecture of the region.

This small city was fortified during the Hundred Years War, and there remain the gates of the ramparts. Thanks to three itineraries prepared by the tourist office, you will discover Salers’ main points of interest on foot.

Do not miss the church of Saint-Mathieu, with a magnificent burial dating from the fifteenth century and Aubusson tapestries from the seventeenth.

Then head to the Esplanade de Barrouze for a magnificent view of the Maronne Valley and the Puy Violent.

2. Tournemire

Photo credit: Shutterstock – RYSAN

Tournemire is also one of the most beautiful French villages. It is a medieval locality with a strong historical past, characterized by the castle of Anjony. It stands at the western end of the village and has an imposing keep flanked by 4 pointed towers erected towards the sky.

The interior has several works of art: frescoes depicting the life of Christ in the chapel and tapestries of Flanders and Aubusson. As you walk through the village, observe the houses built of volcanic stones and their beautiful slate or slate roofs.

The small church contains a precious relic, a thorn of the crown of Christ brought back from the crusade in 1095 by Pierre de Tournemire.

3. Hot-Acute

Photo credit: Facebook – Chaudes-Aigues St-Urcize Tourist Office

Chaudes-Aigues is a village in Cantal that takes its name from its hot springs. The source of the Par is also the one at the highest temperature in Europe, with water gushing from the earth at 82 ° C. Fun experience, you can cook an egg in 15 minutes! A thermal establishment offers wellness and relaxing cures.

The Geothermia Museum traces the village’s history, where the inhabitants learned to use geothermal energy to their advantage. You will unravel the mysteries of the hot springs and the different uses of this natural energy that make this cantal village a unique place.

At the gates of Chaudes-Aigues, you will discover the wild nature on the Aubrac plateau or in the Truyère gorges. The city also has a two-star restaurant to enjoy local products worked by a great chef. Hot Acute is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cantal.

4. Allanche

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Petr Kovalenkov

Allanche is a quiet village nestled in a remarkable natural setting between the Dore Mountains and the Cantal Mountains. The typical Cantal architecture invites you to stroll between the houses covered with slates and the remains of the ramparts that surround the city. Take the Cézallier bike trail from the village to discover the surrounding landscapes.

You can choose between courses ranging from 6 to 24 kilometers, fun and sport for an activity with family or friends. You will pass by the Veyrines waterfall, one of the most beautiful sites in the region.

5. Marcolès

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Pliny

In the heart of the Cantal chestnut grove, Marcolès is a medieval village labeled “Small City of Character.” Surrounded by ramparts, one enters it by taking one of the two gates whose remains remain.

On the “low portal,” notice the hinges, archers, harrows, and coats of arms that testify to the city’s military past. Rue Longue is the main artery of the city, framed by Renaissance-style houses. The “carrieroux,” small adjacent alleys where it is good to get lost, once housed craftsmen’s workshops.

You can still visit a mechanical sabotage factory dating from 1925. You will discover the working techniques unchanged for a century and a forge of the 1930s in operation.

You can also admire granite houses, the Maison de la Tour built on the bases of the keep, or the Saint-Martin church.

6. Laroquebrou

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH

Along the banks of the Cère, visit the pretty village of Cantal, classified “Small City of Character.” The small streets will lead you to the heights of the village and the medieval castle.

A virgin, a replica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon, dominates the village. From this promontory, you will enjoy a view of the rooftops, the surrounding countryside, and the river below.

The Gothic church of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is also not to be missed. Many events punctuate the year in Roquebrou. Participate in the Mangona (gastronomic traditions around the pig) festival in March or the book fair in November. The month of August sees the medieval festival and the international festival of Boogie-Woogie!

7. Montsalvy

Photo credit: Facebook – Commune of Montsalvy

Montsalvy is a village in Cantal created in the eleventh century by the monk Gausbert. He founded a rescue bounded by 4 crosses, which guaranteed ecclesiastical immunity to those who came to take refuge there.

Today, you can admire a beautiful architectural ensemble formed by the Romanesque abbey, the refectory of the Monks, and the Cloister of Saint-Gausbert.

The chapter house of the abbey church contains the treasure of sacred art of the canton. The castle of Montsalvy presents a beautiful tower of the fifteenth century that we discover by following the heritage route.

8. Murat

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Grantibo

Murat is one of the most visited villages in Cantal. This medieval city of 2,000 inhabitants has a strong historical and architectural heritage. You can follow the interpretation circuit and discover 26 panels presenting the different buildings of the city.

Then go to the Maison de la Faune, which presents a collection of insects and butterflies worldwide. The giou thematic trail introduces young and old to the animals that inhabit the forests of Cantal. Then climb to the rock of Bonnevie, where sits a virgin 8 meters high. The view of the Cantal mountains is striking.

9. Saint-Urcize

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Grantibo

On the Aubrac plateau, at an altitude of 1,000 metres, Saint-Urcize stands on a basaltic rock. This village of Cantal dominates the valleys of the Hère and Bès and offers a beautiful view of the whole region. The ruins of the old fort and the remains of the fortifications attest to their medieval past.

Do not miss the Romanesque church of the twelfth century with its beautiful bell tower. Its bell from 1583 is said to be one of the oldest in France.

10. Raulhac

Castle of Courbelimagne in Raulhac

The historical and cultural heritage of Raulhac is unparalleled in the surrounding area. Built on the foothills of a volcano, it is surrounded by 6 castles! We recommend a visit to the castle of Messilhac, which dominates the Goul valley from its promontory, with a superb Renaissance façade.

Do not miss the castle of Cropières and the tower of Puechmouriez. Meanwhile, the Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre-es-Liens is nicknamed the queen of the valley.

11. Menet

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Olivier

In Menet, the 583 inhabitants will all tell you that life is good. This small village with typical Cantal architecture nestles in a basin dominated by the Puys d’Augoules and Ménoire. Trachyte, a volcanic rock that will become ashlars to construct houses in the village, is extracted.

The 14-hectare lake that borders the village is an invitation to swim and water sports. The surrounding nature allows beautiful walks: panoramas from the puys, gorges, and the Semène, village of Brocq …

12. Pleaux

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Robin Chubret

Between the Dordogne and the Maronne, Pleaux is a city steeped in history that it is good to discover during a guided tour. You will learn about the village’s past, from the Middle Ages to the present day, including the wars of religion.

You will understand why the church’s bell tower is equipped with machicolations and discover the emblematic monuments.

The church contains a treasure: the statutory. Admire the 22 wooden statues and the fifteenth-century Pieta, the relics of Pope Pius 1st, and the organ.

So, which is the most charming village in Cantal do you think?

Alfred

Alfred is the author behind the Travelvibe travel blog and is always searching for the quieter, less-visited corners of the world.

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