Living France - - Where To Live -

The Mas­sif Cen­tral has an ex­plo­sive his­tory – be­ing made up of for­merly vol­canic moun­tains. One dis­tin­guished ex­am­ple of this vol­canic ge­og­ra­phy is the Chaîne des Puys – a chain of dor­mant vol­ca­noes which have re­cently been clas­si­fied by UNESCO as a World Her­itage site. The Mas­sif is a thickly forested, ex­cep­tion­ally ru­ral and sparsely pop­u­lated area. It is also one of the lower moun­tain ranges in France with the high­est moun­tain in the area, Puy de Sancy, peak­ing at 1,885m.

The me­dieval town of Murat sits in the heart of the Mas­sif Cen­tral. The three hills that sur­round Murat are formed of vol­canic rock. Bon­nevie within the north west of the me­dieval town is eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able from a wan­der through the town by the 8m high statue of Vir­gin Mary – Notre Dame de Haute Au­vergne that stands on top. This and the other two hills – Bre­don and Chas­tel – of­fer fantastic views of the Monts du Cantal. The town, de­spite its ru­ral lo­ca­tion has all the con­ve­niences you could need – sev­eral restau­rants and ho­tels, a su­per­mar­ket, a train sta­tion, a cin­ema and a swim­ming pool.

In the Mid­dle Ages, Murat was a for­ti­fied town and a trade hub that held many fairs and mar­kets. To­day, Murat has a mill that ex­ports pre­mium flour around the world and is used in some Miche­lin star es­tab­lish­ments in France. Many of the build­ings in the town are made from stone from the town’s own quarry. The town also re­tains an his­toric look with some 15th and 16th-cen­tury build­ings clas­si­fied as his­toric mon­u­ments. The House of Fauna mu­seum is set up in a 16th­cen­tury man­sion house, which con­tains col­lec­tions of both lo­cal and ex­otic fauna and has 8,000 species on show over three floors. The town’s prox­im­ity to wide open spa­ces and the Monts du Cantal, as well as the op­por­tu­ni­ties it of­fers for peo­ple to learn about vol­can­ism and lo­cal fauna and flora, and the large num­ber of pro­duc­ers and ar­ti­sans in the town who open their doors to the pub­lic, has earned the town the la­bel of a ‘ sta­tion verte’.

A view from Puy Mary, west of Murat in Mas­sif Cen­tral

The slopes of Arêches-Beau­fort

Sun­set on the Monts du Cantal

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