IS­SOIRE AT A GLANCE

France - - Take A Stroll -

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)

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