Auvergne has 10 municipalities labeled “Most Beautiful Villages of France” and among them, more than half are in Haute-Loire. There are 6 of them: Polignac, Arlempdes, Pradelles, Lavaudieu, Blesle and the very latest Lavoûte-Chilhac.

Arlempdes and its perched castle, in the Loire gorges

Built at the top of a volcanic peak of Velay, Arlempdes offers the Loire, very close to its source, its first castle. A castle now in ruins which was nevertheless once an imposing fortress, impregnable, as if deposited there, at the top of its basalt dyke, unassailable. All that remains of this stone giant are the remains of an old wall, a Romanesque church made up of a single nave and its XNUMXth century castle chapel in red stone. At their feet, the Loire, still wild, spins, winding, in the hollow of its rocky canyon, licking without ever wearing it down, these medieval relics. Magnificent witnesses of the past.

Pradelles, at the gateway to the Midi and Languedoc

Pradelles has always been a city of passage, where pilgrims and traders mingle. Even Stevenson went there with his donkey in 1878. Located on the borders of Haute-Loire, Lozère and Ardèche, it marks the border between Velay and Margeride, at the gates of Languedoc. Protecting pilgrims and muleteers on the way to Régordane, Pradelles was the stronghold of the high meadows in the XNUMXth century. An era of which the town has preserved the vestiges: a central square surrounded by noble houses with arcades, old doors, stone fountains, towers and large gates... A labyrinth of narrow streets with the sweet scent of history.

Polignac and its fortress, not far from Puy-en-Velay

It is the latest among the most beautiful villages in France in Haute-Loire. Its advantage? It is first of all a castle and its 32 m rectangular keep visible for miles around. Colossal, imposing, it dominates the village from the top of its rocky and volcanic promontory of 3 hectares. A fortress that has belonged to the same family for centuries: the Polignac. A powerful seigniory established in the village since the XNUMXth century. It is around it that the town of Polignac and its bronze-coloured volcanic stone houses have been established.


Last of the Most Beautiful Villages of France in Haute-Loire

Lavaudieu, a high place of Auvergne religious heritage

“The Valley of the Gods” is literally the name of this charismatic little medieval village which seems, even today, touched by divine grace. Only 12 km from Brioude, Lavaudieu is indeed full of historical treasures… A Benedictine abbey from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, its abbey church and its perfectly preserved Romanesque cloister, unique in Auvergne. The village is distinguished by its cobbled streets and its undeniably characterful winegrowers' houses.

Note: the impressive Byzantine fresco from the XNUMXth century which still adorns the refectory of the abbey today.

Blesle, on the Puy-de-Dôme border

Nestled in the Voireuze valley, the small village of Blesle benefits from a position that is both central and isolated, at the gates of Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal. Established around a XNUMXth century Benedictine abbey, Blesle invites contemplation. One could still hear the prayers of the nuns resound there who, unusually, lived in private houses in the village. Visitors will not be able to overlook the beautiful abbey church with Romanesque decor and the remains of the castle of the barons of Mercoeur. A private place whose towers, keep and surrounding wall can however be admired.

Lavoute-Chilhac, in the meander of the Allier

Vaulted stone bridge, houses on the side of the rock, former Cluniac priory embedded in the loop formed by the Allier, the village surprises with its air of dolce vita.

Lavoute chilhac, heritage of haute-loire

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