Most Beautiful Villages in France, then 2e Favorite Village of the French in 2023, we tell you, in 3 reasons, why Lavoûte-Chilhac is a village in Haute-Loire that is worth the detour!

1 - For its atypical architecture, a vestige of a rich past

Nestled in the heart of the majestic Allier Gorges, Lavoute-Chilhac reveals at every street corner, an unparalleled charm whose historic past transpires in the houses, cobblestones, gardens, buildings and works of art of the village. Divided into 2 distinct districts separated by the Allier and connected by a medieval bridge with 4 arches, Lavoûte-Chilhac is definitely unlike any other.

Medieval bridge of Lavoûte-Chilhac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Left bank, the most recent district. That of the belvedere where picturesque houses are built, all high and slender to escape the violent floods of the Allier. And right bank, the oldest district and unexpected: that of BarrysWith its mysterious traboules. Narrow and characteristic side roads, which allow you to reach neighboring streets or descend to the river in record time.

The traboules of Lavoûte-Chilhac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

It is in this old quarter that stands the old Cluniac priory founded in 1025 by Father Odilon de Mercœur. A building of which nothing remains, since the oldest parts of the Sainte-Croix Priory as we see it today, date from Fifteenth century. Period in which the eponymous church was also rebuilt, this time from Gothic style.

Town hall of Lavoûte-Chilhac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Au XVIIIe century, the architect Antoine Duval finally gives it its hemicycle shape current, so particular, in adequacy with the meander of the Allier, in which the old building seems to curl up.

The cult of Our Lady Found

Legend of Lavoûte-Chilhac, Our Lady Found is a small statuette of only 1,5 cm that two little girls found while playing breaking pebbles on the banks of the Allier July 8, 1496. It was one of them, Marguerite Romeuf, who discovered the small image in one of the broken stones: a Virgin holding her child on her left arm. The Benedictines then saw in this discovery a divine blessing! Several miracles would also be linked to him. Since this date, the cult has continued.

2 - For its enchanting natural setting

Wrapped in a loop of the river, which sometimes rocks or mistreats, the village of Lavoûte-Chilhac is a jewel of the Gorges of the Allier. An emblematic tourist stage rich in wild and hilly natural setting, offering breathtaking landscapes.

This is the case for example on the PR001 which leads walkers to the heights of the village. A small family loop of 2 km offering unique points of view on the perfect volte of the river around the Cluniac priory.

Hike to Lavoûte-Chilhac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

But also of two stages of GR 470 Source and Gorges of the Allier: Villeneuve-d'Allier – Lavoûte-Chilhac (14 km – 4 hour walk) and Lavoûte-Chilhac – Langeac (19 km – 5 hour walk). A complete crossing of 210 km between Auzon and the sources of the Allier, in wild and preserved landscapes. A deep valley shaped by water and volcanoes, which gives hikers multiple playgrounds: deep gorges, moors and forests, granite or basaltic plateaus.

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The House of Birds and Nature, to discover the fauna and flora

A decidedly ideal stopover for nature lovers, since in Lavoûte-Chilhac, in the courtyard of the Priory Sainte-Croix, there is also the House of Birds and Nature, managed by PANPA Haut-Allier. An association that proposes to discover the fauna and flora of the Gorges de l'Allier through a permanent fresco exhibition sculpted on the typical birds of the valley, several temporary exhibitions (3 in the year) and multiple outdoor entertainment closer to nature.

PANPA Haut-Allier, outdoor entertainment close to nature in Haute-Loire, Auvergne
@Laurence Barruel

The House of Birds and Nature, it is indeed outings, workshops and walks for the whole family: discovery trail, gold panning, discovery snacks, nature walks, conferences… Thanks to her and Rémi Desecures, the Allier gorges and their natural treasures will soon hold no secrets for you!

Contact details:

Farm. Opens tomorrow at 14:00 p.m.
The Priory
43380 Lavoute-Chilhac
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Lavoûte-Chilhac, queen of white water sports

White water sports in Lavoûte-Chilhac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Want freshness? Lavoûte-Chilhac is also queen when it comes to white water. The Allier offers a perfect playground for lovers of paddle and thrills. With Canoe Val d'Allier, we embark in a canoe or a kayak to discover the pleasures of water but also the charming village of Lavoûte-Chilhac, this time, from the river!

3 - For his original and juicy anecdotes

Reviving the wine-growing past of the Gorges de l'Allier

Developed in the Middle Ages by local lords and abbots, the Gorges de l'Allier and their almost Mediterranean climate are ancient vineyard land. A culture that had its heyday in the XNUMXth century, before phylloxera and the rural exodus precipitated its disappearance. A Ribeyre vineyard that some would like to bring back to life in the gorges, in particular at Chilhac, Villeneuve-d'Allier and Saint-Privat-du-Dragon where some vines are reborn today from their ashes.

Ribeyre vineyard in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

The Pays de Lavoûte, land of cinema

Finally, Lavoûte-Chilhac is also the setting for several cinema films! And yes, it's here (and at Blassac) that certain scenes of the thriller were filmed behind the walls, in 2010, with Laetitia Casta. And the comedy The New Button War in 2011, with Laetitia Casta, Guillaume Canet, Gérard Jugnot and Kad Merad.

The Pays de Lavoûte in Haute-Loire, land of cinema

Most Beautiful Villages of France and now, 2e Favorite village of the French, Lavoûte-Chilhac deserves its titles, doesn't it?

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