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Jun 14, 2011 08:28 AM

massif central?

will be spending time driving around this wild and beautiful area - any hotels/restaurant recommendations? towns include: la popie, figeac, aurillac, mont d'or.....
open to all ideas!

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  1. South of Figeac: Vieux Pont in Belcastel. Beautiful site, sweet restaurant. You could visit for lunch (about 1 1/2 hours from Figeac each way) or stay in one of their modern rooms.

    1. Aurillac has a Cantal and St Nectaire affineur ( Maturer ) that gave me a great tour and sampled all his wares. It was great. There is also a super knife shop in the town that is far less commercial than those in Laguiole. But you must go to Laguiole for Michel Bras. Stay the night and eat, both luxurious and wonderful. If he has the peasant dish aligot, and he usually does, make sure you get it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        Hmm. About 30km from Laguiole is St. Urcize with its quirky Hotel Remiss and luxe chambre d'hote. Try the aligot at HR and compare with Bras. ;) I think dinner here was around 20€ for 4 courses. Adorable hosts, also.

        See photos and catch link here, midway down:

      2. If you like knives, and Auvergne has some of the best, go to Thiers. That's where all the knives are made. Yes, even the Laguioles (before Laguiole delocalized some of the Thiers knife industry to make the tourists believe that Laguiole knives were made in Laguiole).

        Hôtel de la Poste in Saint-Sauves = good traditional food but I haven't been there for ages.
        Ferme-Auberge du Bruel in Saint-Illide (Cantal),
        Castel Hôtel in Saint-Gervais-d'Auvergne, incredible place,
        Chez Remise in Saint-Urcize,
        Jacques Décoret (Maison Décoret) in Vichy,
        Hôtel Radio in Chamalières
        Régis Marcon in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid

        In Vichy you must visit the Source Célestins. Do not miss the village of Orcival in the Puy-de-Dôme.
        Often overlooked, Clermont-Ferrand is a fascinating city (see the old town around the cathedral) and has many good bistrots.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ptipois

          wow! thank you all three for these great ideas. there isn't a lot written about the area, so your advice is invaluable.

          1. re: Ptipois

            Does anyone else second the Castel Hotel in Saint-Gervais-d'Auvergne? We're torn between going to the Auvergne and staying there (had considered the Auberge de Chassignolles but it's closed) or to the Lozère. It's a tough choice!

            1. re: Ptipois

              "Castel Hôtel in Saint-Gervais-d'Auvergne, incredible place"

              Johannabanana forged our interest in this place. Can you give us more/some of your reasons for deeming this place "incredible"?

            2. Along with Michel Bras, which is an absolute must if it fits your budget, I concur with the above recommendations of Hôtel Radio and Régis Marcon. I also had a wonderful stay at Auberge Pre Bossu in Moudeyres. It's charming, the setting is very peaceful, the restaurant is superb, and it is well located for touring the area. We were the only foreigners staying there. It seems to be well known to the French but otherwise completely under the tourist radar.

              7 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                I have sent out the request to michel bras for lunch or dinner or any meal they're willing to feed us! and thanks for the tip on clermont-ferrand. it gets bad press, so we were trying to figure out how to skirt it even though we're driving right by.
                any recommendations in clermont ferrand if we only have time for one meal? of course after bras.....i think bras is booked for rooms. any other suggestions on where to stay after that meal that's close by?
                i LOVE these suggestions - you guys are great

                1. re: knh

                  Once more, an easy drive to or from Bras = the chambre d'hote in St. Urcize. La Fontaine de Gregoire, a property of Hotel Remiss. Huge, luxe rooms, fine baths, lovely breakfast and adorable welcome from Isabelle and Fred.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    thanks mangeur - i read and reread your long post (my only saved thread) about your trip around france and key recommendations. we will be gone 4 1/2 weeks - starting in lyon and ending at the airport, with time down the rhone valley, over to languedoc and then up into the massif central. i'm happy to write a post of my own to help others like you do!

                    1. re: mangeur

                      mangeur - totally taking your advice re: staying at the Hotel Remiss after dinner at Bras. but i can't seem to find a way to contact them on their website...perhaps it's only via phone?

                      1. re: knh

                        Phone, yes. I wrote them, then had our hotel in Paris confirm. However, they speak passable English and their daughter is totally bilingual. In the future, I will just phone.

                        (Note that we slept and breakfasted at the chambre d'hote and took two dinners at the hotel.)

                        Edited to add that I now remember that I also called to confirm and had no problem either with the reservation or communication. They are very professional hosts, but at the same time casual and trusting that you will perform your end of the bargain, i.e., no deposit or contract, etc.

                        1. re: knh

                          knh -- would love to hear your report on this trip if you have a chance!

                      2. re: knh

                        It's great that you have discovered the Auvergne. This region definitely does not get a lot of attention, which is a shame because it is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of France, and there is a lot of great food to be found. We were very pleasantly surprised by Clermont-Ferrand and environs. It is known as an industrial city, but the industry is outside the center and we did not notice it at all. The city center is really quite attractive. The restaurant at the Hotel Radio is superb, and after dinner we had a nice stroll over to Royat, a spa town with a gambling casino. The hotel was lovely. While staying in Moudeyres, we had lunch at Regis Marcon, which was nearly as good as Michel Bras.