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Aurillac - the principal town of Cantal

The town of Aurillac is the principal town of the Cantal department which lies in southern central France, on the volcanic Massif Centrale. The countryside which surrounds the town is lush and fertile with rolling hills and the River Jordanne runs through the centre of the town. Aurillac is deservedly popular with tourists, but it is not as aggressively "touristique" as many French capital towns.

Historic centre

Aurillac itself has a quaint and historic centre, made up of mostly pedestrianised streets. There are numerous colourful shops and restaurants in this old part of town, which is located to the north of the Place du Square. Things to buy include umbrellas (Aurillac is still the European centre of the umbrella making industry even though the industry is now in a decline), lace and leather goods, which also played an important part in the traditions of the town.

Sites to see...

Aurillac has a long, rich history, and there are some places which are both attractive and interesting to visit. Take a look at the pretty square of Saint Géraud, with its beautiful 12th century fountain, and the church of the same name which has a superb Gothic ceiling. The Hotel de Ville (town hall) is also worth seeing, as it is an imposing building with an understated elegance.

Aurillac's Volcano Museum

One thing you really should do in Aurillac is go to the fascinating Volcano Museum. The Massif Centrale was a volcanic area, hence the richness of the vegetation here and the quality of the dairy produce for which the Cantal is famed. There is also an art gallery and a theatre.

Cheese country

You simply cannot visit Aurillac without trying the fabulous local cheeses. Cantal is perhaps similar to a really good Cheddar, and as with Cheddar there are many variations on the theme, ranging from young and sweet (Cantal Jeune) to strong and mature. Cheese will feature on the menus of almost all the restaurants in town in some form or another, and Aurillac is rightly proud of these delicious products. There are even "cheese bars" in town!

International festival of street theatre

Aurillac has another claim to fame, and this time it has nothing to do with cheese. The town is the venue for an International Street Festival every year, and this one is really amazing and changes the face of the town completely for its duration. Performers travel from all over Europe to showcase their talents and to entertain the crowds. Don't miss it!

How to get there

To reach Aurillac by air you can choose to fly to Limoges, Lyon, Rodez or St Etienne. There is an airport at Clermont Ferrand but this only has domestic flights at the time of writing. Limoges is served by Ryanair and flybe; Lyon by British Airways, Air France, bmibaby, easyJet and bmi; and Rodez and St Etienne both by Ryanair. Lyon and Limoges both have TGV stops, and you can link to a train to the station in Aurillac, so rail travel is also possible.

Property prices and availability in and around Aurillac

Property in Aurillac has risen considerably in price in the last few years, but still represents a really good bargain as it remains lower than much of the country.

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Aurillac AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Aurillac?

Aurillac is found in southern central France, on the Massif Centrale. It lies in the south-west of the Cantal department.

Aurillac Property Map


Auvergne Guide

Auvergne Property Map


Cantal Guide

  Cantal Map

Population: 30,000

Access: By air: Fly to Rodez, Limoges, Lyon or St Etienne. By rail: There are TGV stations at Limoges and Lyon.

Economy: The economy is based on commerce and administration, but the town was once France's greatest centre of umbrella production, and was also important for leather tanning and lace making.

Interesting fact: Many of the "Musketeer" films were shot on location here.

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