Auvergne (region)

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This article is about the French administrative région of Auvergne. For the historical county and province of Auvergne, see Auvergne (province).
Auvergne
Region of France
Auvergne in France.svg
Country  France
Prefecture Clermont-Ferrand
Departments
Government
 • President René Souchon (PS)
Area
 • Total 26,013 km2 (10,044 sq mi)
Population (2008-01-01)
 • Total 1,341,000
 • Density 52/km2 (130/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code FR-C
GDP (2012)[1] Ranked 19th
Total €33.8 billion (US$43.4 bn)
Per capita €24,920 (US$32,052)
NUTS Region FR7
Website auvergne.org

Auvergne (French pronunciation: [ovɛʁɲ] ( ); Occitan: Auvèrnhe / Auvèrnha) is one of the 27 administrative regions of France. It comprises the four departments of Allier, Puy de Dome, Cantal and Haute Loire.

The current administrative region of Auvergne is larger than the historical province of Auvergne, and includes provinces and areas that historically were not part of Auvergne. The Auvergne region is composed of the following old provinces:

  • Auvergne: departments of Puy-de-Dôme, Cantal, north-west of Haute-Loire, and extreme south of Allier. The province of Auvergne is entirely contained inside the Auvergne region
  • Bourbonnais: department of Allier. A small part of Bourbonnais is also contained inside the Centre region (south of the department of Cher)
  • Velay: centre and southeast of department of Haute-Loire. Velay is entirely contained inside the Auvergne region
  • a small part of Gévaudan: extreme southwest of Haute-Loire. Gévaudan is essentially inside the Languedoc-Roussillon region
  • a small part of Vivarais: extreme southeast of Haute-Loire. Vivarais is essentially inside the Rhône-Alpes region
  • a small part of Forez: extreme northeast of Haute-Loire. Forez is essentially inside the Rhône-Alpes region

Velay, Gévaudan, and Vivarais are often considered to be sub-provinces of the old Languedoc province. Forez is also often considered to be a sub-province of Lyonnais province. Therefore, the modern region of Auvergne is composed of the provinces of Auvergne, major part of Bourbonnais, and parts of Languedoc and Lyonnais.

The region contains many volcanoes, although the last confirmed eruption was around 6,000 years ago. They began forming some 70,000 years ago, and most have eroded away leaving plugs of unerupted hardened magma that form rounded hilltops known as puys.[2]

Geography[edit]

Auvergne terrain map

Auvergne has a surface area of 26,013 km² equivalent to 4.8% of France's total surface area. Auvergne is one of the smallest regions in France.

Auvergne is known for its mountain ranges and dormant volcanoes. Together the Monts Dore and the Chaîne des Puys include 80 volcanoes. The Puy de Dôme is the tallest volcano in the region with an altitude of 1,465 m. The Sancy Massif in the Monts Dore is the highest point in Auvergne (1,886 m).

The northern region is covered in hills while the southern portion is mountainous and dotted with pastures. The Domanial Forest of Tronçais covers nearly 11,000 hectares (27,170 acres)and is the largest oak forest in Europe.

There are two major rivers in Auvergne. The Loire, which runs through the southeast and borders the northeast, and the Allier which runs from north to south down the center of Auvergne with branches going east and west. Over many years the Allier river has created what are known as the Allier gorges. Auvergne has about 50 freshwater ponds and lakes. Some are high in the mountains and have volcanic origins. Guéry Lake is the highest lake in Auvergne.

Auvergne is bordered to the east by the Rhône-Alpes region, to the south by the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees regions, to the north by the Centre and Burgundy regions, and to the west by the Limousin region.

Climate[edit]

The average annual temperature is 12 °C (53.6 °F), and the region receives 510–1,020 mm of rainfall annually.

History[edit]

Auvergne has been settled by humans since 10,000 B.C, but around 3000 B.C. the Celts and Arverni, whom the region was named after, settled Auvergne. The leader of the Arverni was Vercingetorix who defended Gallic independence against the Romans. As the most powerful Gallic tribe at the time they resisted Roman conquest from 52 B.C. to 53 B.C. When the Arverni lost to the Romans it marked the end of Gallic independence. After the collapse of the western Roman empire the region was divided among feuding vassals. In 1213, King Philippe-Auguste added Auvergne to the royal territory. The area was hit hard by the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century and endured diseases and food shortages in the 17th century. In the 18th century the economy could not support the population so many people living in Auvergne were forced to migrate to other regions of France. In 1858 a railway was built between Clermont-Ferrand and Paris which boosted the economy tremendously. During World War II the French used the 1,497-metre (4,911 ft) peak of Mont Mouchet as a fortress against German conquest. In June 1944 there was a fierce battle around the French stronghold which lead to 4000 casualties on both sides.

Demographics[edit]

Auvergne is an underpopulated area with an aging population. Auvergne is one of the least populated regions in Europe. The main communes in Auvergne are Vichy (26,501), Clermont-Ferrand (258,541), and Montluçon (60,993).

Major communities[edit]

Economy[edit]

The region is predominantly agricultural with tourism slowly becoming more important. Cows are much in evidence and are used both for meat and for milk, which is made into a number of well-known cheeses: Bleu d'Auvergne, Cantal, Fourme d'Ambert and Saint-Nectaire.

Despite its small local market, the Auvergne region has developed many national and international companies, such as Michelin, Limagrain (seed), the group Centre France-La Montagne (regional daily press), Volvic mineral water (group Danone) and numerous dynamic SMEs around the two universities and large schools (engineers, doctors and business school) of its capital, Clermont-Ferrand.

Most of these companies are exporting more than 75% of their production in the world.

While agriculture is important, Auvergne is a relatively industrial region as well, as the share of the working population in industry is 22% (110,000 jobs), versus the national average of 18%.

The main industry in Auvergne is the tyre industry, represented by Michelin, with headquarters and history is located in Clermont-Ferrand, and Dunlop, based in Montlucon.

A diverse range of small industries also exists: metallurgical (Aubert and Duval), mechanical, pharmaceutical (Merck-Chibret), food (cereals, meat (Salers, Limousin), cheese (Saint-Nectaire, goat, blue d'Auvergne), mineral, etc..) exists in the region, particularly in the Puy-de-Dôme and the Haute-Loire.

These include the Thiers cutlery, metal Issoire, lace in Le Puy, and livestock as well as food in the Cantal.

The Auvergne is also one of the premier research areas in France with > 8,000 researchers in the fields of chemistry, tire, steel, medical and pharmaceutical sciences in agricultural research (INRA's laboratories and Limagrain's laboratories), in biotechnology, seismology, meteorology, etc.

The food industry, with its branches mineral water, dairy products, meat products, forestry, honey, jams and candied fruit, employs over 12,000 people.

Popular Culture[edit]

The 2002 film, To Be and to Have (Être et avoir), documents one year in the life of a one-teacher school in rural Saint-Étienne-sur-Usson, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne.[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Auvergne at DMOZ (English)
  • Auvergne Web Tourist and general information about the Auvergne region. (English) and (French)
  • Regordane Info Independent portal for the Regordane Way or St Gilles Trail. The Regordane Way starts in Auvergne (English) and (French)
  • Auvergne-tourism (French)

Coordinates: 45°20′N 3°00′E / 45.333°N 3.000°E / 45.333; 3.000