Why I Love the Auvergne
Since I started this blog, I’ve tried several ways to explain what the “deep heart of France” means to me. You’ve heard why I love Clermont-Ferrand and the Auvergne, and you’ve seen some of the towns officially recognized as being among “the most beautiful villages of France” – places like Blesle, Charroux, Arlempdes, and Salers.
If you’ve stuck with this blog for long, you’ve also had a taste of some of central France’s best cultural offerings – from the incredible International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand to the great MuPop Museum of Popular Music in Montlucon and the classical music festival held every August in La Chaise-Dieu.
Or maybe you’re drawn to this region, far from the touristy centers of Paris, by the richness of its history -- that day Clermont-Ferrand was capital of France, for example, or how an event in a local church launched the Crusades to the Middle East, or how a local tribe defeated Julius Caesar’s army in a famous battle. That history has left a mark on the architecture that survives in France’s “deep heart”, from the richness of its Romanesque churches to the great medieval castles and creations by Gustav Eiffel that can be found here and here.
This week, though, I want to share a second round of some of the best internet videos I’ve found about the Auvergne. Here you’ll get a flavor of the energy, the movement, and the extraordinary natural beauty behind all the words and static images you see on this blog. And you’ll get a different perspective on why I love the “deep heart of France” and keep coming back to it so often!
1. A reporter's view of the Auvergne
France 24’s English-language news service is my favorite things to watch when I’m traveling. (They are much lower-key, less breathless than CNN or FOX or MSNBC, and they don’t rely on the big panels of pundits shouting at each other to fill their air time.) This first video was produced by France 24 in English as an introduction to the Auvergne. Some of the editorial choices are a little quirky – several seconds of coverage of the gentiane plant, really? – but if you like lakes, mountains and outdoor activities you’ll likely appreciate this.
2. Eight of France's "Most Beautiful Villages"
My favorite subjects on this blog have been the little towns that are officially on the list of “most beautiful villages of France” in the deep heart of the country. This beautifully-produced video gives you a sense of what it’s like to walk through 8 of these “plus beaux villages”.
3. My favorite: "Tuscany of Auvergne"
Perhaps the best video on this list: this one (with English subtitles) is produced by a group called « Toscane d’Auvergne » (« Tuscany of Auvergne »), an association of men and women who live in the « Auvergnat Tuscany » and who love the region. It’s a beautiful look at the quality of life – food, music, culture, and recreation – in this most beautiful corner of France!
4. Rugby Champions of France!
Want to see how proud the people of Clermont-Ferrand were when their rugby team (ASM) won the French national championship? This short clip gives you a look at 100,000 people (or more?) packed into the central Place de Jaude as they watched the game play out on big-screen television. The game was nail-bitingly close, and the celebration that broke out when the result was decided is priceless!
5. A window into the past
Finally, check out this black-and-white video of “the Auvergne of Yesteryear” – a series of images of life as it might have been in this predominantly agricultural region 70 or 80 years ago. Many French people don’t know this region very well, and they harbor some stereotypes about “life in Auvergne”; this film will give you an idea where some of those stereotypes may come from. But it’s still an interesting look at a time far removed from ours in this extraordinary region of France.
Do you have a favorite video or image of France that captures how you feel about the country? Please share a link in the comments section below. And, as always, I’d really appreciate it if you would share this post with others using the social-media button(s) of your choice below.