A Review of Walking in the Auvergne - 42 walks in the Volcanic Hills of France by Rachel Crolla & Carl McKeating
Posted by Mark Armstrong 26th July 2013
Cicerone's Walking in the Auvergne pocket guide contains 42 day walks across the varied landscape of the Auvergne region. The Auvergne encompasses the major part of the Massif Central and "provides a stunning breadth of hiking and volcanic scenery." The terrain offers a variety of walking well within the scope of those accustomed to hiking in Britain, for example.
The accessible height of the volcanic peaks in the Cantal and Monts Dore means there's interesting walks, both easy and more challenging, available in these mountains, whilst the Cantal and Sancy ridges are ideal for shorter hikes.
The book splits the walks by the following areas: the Cantal, the Chaine des Puys, the Monts Dore, the Haute Loire and the Montagne Bourbonnaise. The gentler hills and vales of the latter provide a slice of quintessential rural France.
The Auvergne is a huge area, to cover its walking fully would require a huge volume of work. The 5 regions focussed on are where there's a significant area that can be covered using a convenient base, making the book useful for those considering a walking holiday. The book gives suggestions for these bases at the start of each chapter as well as useful background information including history, geology, flora and fauna, and food and drink.
The main introduction section of the book also covers all the regions with some suggestions for accommodation, with web addresses, advice on when to go and how to get there and some really good sound advice regarding equipment and maps and common sense advice regarding map reading. All the grades used for walks are explained in the introduction. This keeps all the planning and background information at the start of the book away from the walking circuits which keeps the guidebook clear and well organised.
Each walk has a clear overview of distance, ascent, grade and timings along with the sketch map and route description. The walk's overview and introduction paragraph have different coloured background to help the reader clearly pick out this information. Then in the margins and in the main section there is purple coloured writing for additional information, such as what the view is or things to look out for. This means that the walking instructions do not get bogged down with extraneous information making the instructions easier to follow.
Also at the back of the book is a route summary table, enabling the reader to pick out the length or difficulty of walk to suit and with the walks ranging from 50 minutes to 6 hours there is plenty of variety to choose from.
There are good quality photographs throughout, often with one of the authors in the photo, giving you the reassurance that the photo conveys part of the walk and is not just 'for illustration purposes.'
From just reading the walks it's pretty clear, that for someone inexperienced in walking the mountains in France, how useful a walking guidebook like this would be; I lost count of the number of instructions to 'duck under fences!'
It is not, and could not be a comprehensive guide to all of the Auvergne but what it covers it does in a clear and concise manner. Also don't expect lists of places to eat or reams of accommodation to choose from, but it does gives advice on what accommodation type you may want to look for and some alternatives. It is a really well organised book packed with useful information. This fantastic pocket guide should be a great inspiration for activity in the Auvergne amongst these thankfully inactive volcanic hills.
High Point Holidays offer a number of walking holidays in this amazing volcanic area of France:
All our independent walking holidays come with comprehensive walking notes and maps
Independent Walking Holidays
Guided Walking Holidays