ISSOIRE AT A GLANCE
Stay the night at…
Hôtel Le Pariou (hotel-pariou.com), named after one of the volcanoes in the Chaîne des Puys. A 3-star family-run hotel just five minutes’ walk from the town centre. Facilities include an outdoor heated pool. Double rooms from €59. Open all year.
Stop for lunch at…
Auberge le Petit Mas. Open all year, serving home-made traditional Auvergne specialities with a modern touch (from €14.90). In addition, it offers excellent pizzas for the less adventurous diners or for children. Reservations recommended. Tel: (Fr) 4 73 55 21 13. Take a stroll afterwards around the nearby lake or along the banks of the River Allier.
Stop for tea at…
Empreintes Végétales, centrally located on the Place de la République. Both a tea room and florist, this quirky establishment not only offers an amazing variety of teas, but also floral displays and giftware. Simple home-made lunches are served at midday. Open Tuesday – Saturday 8:30am until 7pm. Tel: (Fr) 4 73 54 46 62.
WHAT TO SEE
The Abbey-church of Saint-Austremoine, an important example of Romanesque architecture, dating from the late 11th and early 12th centuries. The abbey-church has been lovingly restored, the internal walls and columns being painted in the striking hues of the period. The exterior is equally impressive, with a chevet (eastern end) of considerable architectural interest. Free visits outside times of services. Centre d’art Roman Georges Duby, next to the Abbey-church of Saint-austremoine. Named after one of France’s most eminent historians, it accommodates the remains of the former Benedictine abbey that adjoined the church. One room is dedicated to temporary exhibitions, the other displays relics from the original church that were removed for restoration but subsequently found too fragile to replace. Free entry. Opening times: low season Tuesday to Sunday, 2pm to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 6pm. High season from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 12:30pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Le Tour de l’horloge – Clock Tower, 4 Rue du Ponteil. Climb the spiral staircase
for the panoramic view of the terracotta rooftops of Issoire, the surrounding hills and (on a clear day) the Puy de Sancy. €2 admission. Open low season Tuesday to Sunday 2pm to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 6pm. High season Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 6pm.
GETTING THERE Issoire is around an eight-hour drive from Calais so the northern ports are a good option. At the time of writing, Ryanair offer seasonal flights to Clermont-ferrand from London Stansted. There is a regular train service from Clermont-ferrand to and from Paris (Gare de Bercy) and bus services to the capital such as Oui Bus. TOURIST INFORMATION: Issoire Tourism, issoiretourisme.com/en Département: Puy-de-dôme (63)