Fun things to do in Auvergne

  • Climbing up to the chapel.
    Climbing up to the chapel.
    by pfsmalo
  • View over Monistrol d'Allier.
    View over Monistrol d'Allier.
    by pfsmalo
  • Photo taken through the window.
    Photo taken through the window.
    by pfsmalo

Most Viewed Things to Do in Auvergne

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    Parc Naturel des Volcans, Auvergne

    by gwened Updated Dec 18, 2014

    Well natural parks and caves, volcanos are not my thing but I do pass thru it and by it many times as father in law is from the area and still with homes there. so here is the take on it, very vast, natural and great for the outdoorsman in you.

    You can reach it by air at the airport Clermont-Ferrand
    by car/auto on the autoroute A71 coming from Paris, A72 from Lyon, A75 from Montpellier.
    you have trains at Clermont-Ferrand on national and TER lines.

    The park covers heights from 400 to 1 886 meters, it is 120 km from North to South, over two French departements(puy-de-dôme and Cantal), 153 territorial towns and 19 partner towns Covering about 395 068 hectares.

    It covers four volcanic ranges such as the Monts Dômes, Monts Dore, Cézalier ,and Monts du Cantal. It has three natural reserves such as Chaudefour, Godivelle ,and rocher de la Jaquette.

    you can go on foot, bike or horse with several routes and housing on each stop such as gîtes "Panda" . They offer restaurants such as the relais du parc serving ready made meals from local produce. You can try the cheeses of the region such as Saint-Nectaire, Salers, Bleu d'Auvergne, Cantal, and Fourme de Rochefort. You can climb to old towns and take wonderful views indeed this is nice.

    And for those with time you can stop by the volcanic amusement park of Vulcania located inn the borders of the mountain range of the Puys.
    http://www.vulcania.com/?id=1763&L=2

    just hit the windows click on the left side and choose the activity you want
    http://www.parcdesvolcans.fr/La-carte-du-parc

    you can visit the boutique for purchases at "Maison du Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne - Montlosier 63970 Aydat"
    http://www.parcdesvolcans.fr/Je-suis/Visiteur/Boutique-du-Parc

    different activities for the visitor are here in French
    http://www.parcdesvolcans.fr/Je-suis/Visiteur
    Peyrol, and Veygoux are nice
    The park volcanic of the mountains of Auvergne was recognised in 1752 with the scientific work of Guettard.And it was the beginning of the science of volcanology.

    Clermont-Ferrand is the starting point here, and you can visit Puy de Dôme,the plateau de Gergovie and Vulcania. You can see huge nature at work at the volcan de Lemptégy that is a must to visit , here you discover the volcan and the ancient stone quarry of volcanic rocks. More to the south you come to Puy-en-Velay,religious site and the depart on the pilgrims route of St James of Compostela. Go up to just the rock or rocher Corneille for a wonderful panorama of the whole chain of volcans.

    really nature dependant here.

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    abbey of Saint Austremoine, Issoire

    by gwened Written Nov 12, 2014

    This is a wonderful abbey in family country. There is probably an abbey here since the 6C, it was put Under the protection of Saint Austremoine dating from the second half of the 10C its best period its probably from the 14C, but put in command of the region from the 15C weakens it. The amount of monks Under the order of Saint Benoît,passed from 24 to 20 then 6 in the 17C and before the French revolution

    .the abbey was sold during the French revolution in 1791, the building held from the mayor's office or hôtel de ville,the a college until 1969. They were change for a cultural center since 1975. Today, the west wing hold the Médiathèque municipale Georges-Pompidou or library. And the east wing, at ground level holds the Centre d'art roman Georges-Duby, roman art center, while the first floor is dedicated to comptemporay exhibitions.
    more on the religious part of the abbey next to the cultural center.
    http://www.auvergne-centrefrance.com/geotouring/patrimoi/roman/abbatiale-saint-austremoine-issoire.html

    abbey Saint Austremoine inside chapel of the Virgin
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    Cathédrale de Saint Pierre, St Flour

    by gwened Written Nov 10, 2014

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    another wonderful church especially inside. The Cathedral is at the Place St Pierre of gothic style done by end of the 15C on the site of an ancient roman basilica. The material use for its construction are typical of the area , volcanic rock, or the black lava rock of Liozargues, that gives it its somber color.

    The basilica was around 1095AD done here, and later made Cathedral. The new Cathedral is done by 1486. The French revolution destroys it and was later brought back to the cult in the pease concordia of 1802.

    The organ is from 1842 and it has four bells, in the belltower in wood on the North tower. The interior is it as told,

    The black Christ, at the entrance to the choir against the left pillar, stands a large black Christ in Walnut painted, unique in Europe and which dates from the 13C or 15C. It is known as "Beautiful black God" or Beau Dieu Noir, but the origin of this name is uncertain. Other representations idealized of Christ are designated, for example the Cathedral Notre-Dame in Amiens to Reims, or the Church Saint Nicolas of Nonette. As for the color, could see an analogy with the black Virgin of the Western middle ages.
    The chapels, stained glass windows adorn the St. Peter Chapel and the chapel Saint-Jean-Baptiste. In the latter, the altar is surmounted by a Pietà in polychrome limestone of the 15C.

    The chapel of the Tomb houses a hunting bronze gilded, which contains the relics of saint Flour (1897), but also a Christ in the Tomb (1842), Saint Vincent of Paul educating the daughters of charity, a table of the 18C, as well as a marble statue of Oliva representing Bishop Pierre - Antoine - Marie Lamouroux Pompignac, Bishop of Saint-flour from 1857 to 1877.

    The choir
    Note in particular a high altar in polychrome marble topped with a ciborium in gilded wood, as well as a lectern, both of the 18C. This is the old credenza, supported by consoles head man and Eagle, which is the altar facing the faithful.
    The chapter stalls, refitted in 1852, located in the retrochoir, overhung by the stained glass windows (1851) of Thévenot, which represent the two founders of the town, saint Flour and St. Odilon.
    Chair, was sculpted in 1868.
    The frescoes, near the entrance, under the organ loft, a wall painting dating from the 15C was yet discovered that in 1851, because it was covered with whitewash. The fresco depicts the purgatory left - a priest celebrating mass for the deliverance of souls - and hell right. In the North Tower, there is a wall painting describing a knightly joust.

    Another nice jewel of Auvergne region and Cantal dept. A nice French site with beautiful pictures as well
    http://dignois.fr/Saint-Flour/

    the Catholic site on the Cathedral
    http://egliseinfo.catholique.fr/lieu/15/saint-flour/cathedrale-saint-pierre
    the parish site
    http://www.catholique-saint-flour.cef.fr/paroisse-nouvelle-de-saint-flour-en-planeze-saint-flour,8.html

    Cathedral Saint Pierre nave of St Pierre organ of Cathedral St Pierre the sculpture over the body of Christ
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    Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation PeV

    by gwened Written Jun 23, 2014

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    A wonderful historical Cathedral, first I give you the Catholic site for it
    http://www.catholique-lepuy.cef.fr/-Cathedrale-du-Puy-.html

    Cathedral Notre-Dame - de - L'Annonciation du Puy-en-Velay is a major monument of Romanesque art in Christianity. It was elevated to Basilica minor an apostolic Brief of Pope Pius IX, February 11, 1856. A Black Madonna, subject of numerous pilgrimages over the centuries, enthroned on a baroque high altar. The current portrait replaces that would have offered by St. Louis on his return from the crusade to Egypt, and who was burned during the French Revolution.

    It has a rich decoration inside and out, and long to tell in just one tip, but you must come to see it.
    Some of the interesting things to see and know are
    The pierre a févres is at the origin of the construction of the Cathedral and comes from a dolmen which is a table.
    In 992, Bernhard, a German monk, had predicted the end of the world for March 25 of this year, the day of the Annunciation also being Friday. The number of pilgrims was so considerable in le Puy that Pope Jean XV instituted for the city a Jubilee each time that the day of the Annunciation coincides with good Friday. It is the oldest Jubilee after those of Rome and Jerusalem. The first Jubilee known of our Lady of le Puy took place in 1065.
    the Black Madonna
    The statue of the 17C who is currently on the high altar comes from the old chapel Saint-Maurice du Refuge. She was crowned by the Bishop of le Puy on behalf of Pope Pius IX, on 8 June 1856, anniversary of the destruction of the previous image, which was burned by Louis Guyardin ultra-revolutionnaires (representative of the Convention on a mission in Haute-Loire) on 8 June 1794, day of Pentecost, become one of the Supreme being.
    The chapel of the Holy Sacrament presents, on a huge 17C reliquary, the contemporary copy of the statue of the black Virgin Child.
    Statue of Notre-Dame du Puy (Black Madonna)
    Statue of saint Jacques.
    Under the porch, doors wooden carved 12C representing episodes of the life of Christ.
    The treasure of the sacristy and of religious Art over the cloister.
    The baptistery Saint-Jean, nearby, which contains summer exhibitions.
    The frescoes of byzantine and Italian influence in the close and the north transept, in particular that of saint Michel.
    In the sacristy, there is a guestbook for pilgrims.
    Also ,the cloister, and belltower.

    Cathedral Notre Dame de l'Annonciation rue des Tables going up steps to Cathedral
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    An unknown volcano in the south of Auvergne

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Mont Bard: an unknown volcano in the south of Auvergne.
    If you happen to drive between Clermont Ferrand and Le Puy en Velay, you will pass through the village of St Paulien, and from there it is easy to reach the village of Allègre where the Mt Bard is located nearby.
    It is not a very spectacular one, but it still has its original shape (Strombolian type, cinder cone and lava flows), despite being 800000 years old. (Picture 1) ; if you go up to the ruins of the castle of Allegre you may have a good overview of the cinder cone of Mont Bard (Picture2).
    Indicating signs bring the visitor to the track head leading up to the crater, the track is very easy to lead you up (Picture3) to the fringe of the crater. The crater is a flat area in the centre of the volcano now occupied by a peat bog (Picture4); the water lake which occupied the place has been filled with sediments with the time, it has later been emtied by the farmers of the vicinity and now, the grass and other plants are sedimenting, and transforming into peat. Some remaining black water holes allow to make strange reflections pictures of the little trees dying in the peat hole (Picture5).
    The walk itself going up, and around twice (the outer trail, on top of the crater fringe, and the lower trail, following the flat area (peat bog)), and coming back down, takes less than two hours, at slow pace.

    In summer there are organised tours with a guide from the area (5 Euro per person) but there is no restriction to go on your own.
    Information at the city hall: Tél. 04 71 00 72 52.

    Mont Bard seen when arriving from south Seen from the village of Allegre The track up the cinder cone The peat bog Some reflections in the peat bog
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    Learn ecology on Mont Bard

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Mont Bard also offers views and the opportunity to learn.
    A local association has laid out the tracks to the summit and on the trail there are signs with some explanation about the volcano itself or about what happened later. It is always a good thing to have a few explanations when we see something unusual, and the kids walk easier trying to find the next sign and preparing for the next questions.
    On the crater fringes, you may have some view over the Velay hills (Picture1).
    On picture 2 is an example of the signs which are to be found along the track around the crater. Again the peat bog (picture3) surrounded on the inner flanks of the crater by beech and fir woods; the little firs beginning to grow in the middle seem to indicate, the bog is in its way to dry up with the years. . . . And finally the way down (Picture4).

    The walk itself going up, and around twice (the outer trail, on top of the crater fringe, and the lower trail, following the flat area (peat bog)), and coming back down, takes less than two hours, at slow pace.

    View East over the Velay from top of Mont Bard One of the signs on the track around the peat bog Another view of the peat bog And the track down the cinder cone. . .
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    Impressive Polignac

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I do not know if the Polignac family from here has a link with the famous Cognac Brandy. . .
    This big fortress has been built between 1385 and 1424 on a high volcanic cliff by one of the most famous families of French history.
    It appears huge when you look at it from the road and arriving at the little village at the foot of the cliff it just is very impressive, dominating all around. This military building could accommodate more than 800 soldiers, who fetched water from a 83 m deep well (dug in basaltic rock!)
    The Donjon has been built during the 16th century. There is a chapel, but most of the old buildings inside have disappeared (barracks, horse stables, )
    These last years archeological work finds back the old buildings and even more, reveals that the area has been settled by Roman troops and there is a remain of a temple dedicated to Apollon.
    You access to the castle by a long 141 stairway coming from the village; don’t worry, along the stair are big ash trees give shade and gooseberry bushes provide for some sweets.

    Impressive, no? View over the plain The Donjon Ticket
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    Conques

    by andrewwhite Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The village, nestled in a wild gorge, with its narrow lanes and old, timber-frame houses, follows a hillside along the length of rue Charlemagne. This was the street travelled by the pilgrims on their way to the abbey at Conques. Built by monks from the tenth to the XIIth centuries, the church and cloisters stand among the most beautiful triumphs of Roman art.

    For twelve centuries, the village, in the heart of the Dourdou valley, has protected
    a fabulous treasure of goldsmithery. Its principal masterpiece is the venerated reliquary statue of Saint Foy.
    Each year, Conques receives approximately 600,000 visitors.

    Conques
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    St Julien de Brioude

    by kokoryko Updated May 11, 2007

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    Brioude , located in the south of Auvergne , on the high valley of the Allier river hosts the biggest roman basilica of Auvergne.
    This basilica, constructed in the 11 and 12th centuries contains some masterpieces of roman art of Auvergne. If you happen to pass by Brioude or the area , this basilica is worth a stop.
    Like many Auvergne religious buildings, it is a polychromic building, using rocks of different colours (volcanic rocks) to build walls, columns, arches.. . . Last time I visited, it was under renovation which should be finished by Summer 2007. It is located in the old city where a walk in the old street let you discover some old buildings like the Mandrin house.
    This door knocker (Main picture) in form of a lion head, which is a symbol of the Brioude city decorates the North side entrance door to the ship of the basilica.
    As it was under renovation, the south and west sides and the main entrance were covered by tarpaulin, and only a part could be seen from outside.
    second picture:: Big bell tower on the East side;
    Picture three: the roof decoration of the small western tower; not only the stones have different colours, but different coloured tiles are also used.
    Picture four:: some of the paintings inside the church (or basilica) are from the 12th century, but most date from the 14th ; it is quite amazing these paints are still not protected, as most of the churches in France have lost their paintings since ages. . . .
    Picture five: The pavement of this basilica is also unusual, made of different coloured pebbles, laid out in geometrical patterns.
    There is a wonderful website (in French) about roman art and here is its Brioude page, showing a lot I missed or did not photograph: http://www.art-roman.net/brioude/brioude.htm

    Door knocker, symbol of Brioude Big tower, East side Roof decoration Old paintings in the ship Pebble pavement
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    Early morning walks

    by kokoryko Written May 8, 2007

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    Where ever in Auvergne, if you are lucky enough to be above 800m elevation, try to go out at the same time as the sun rises. You just will see Nature awaking, getting out of its bed sheets!

    On the main picture, wake up not far from Viverols (see “tip” on Viverols chateau) .
    Picture 2: oblique sun in the “Forêt des Taillades”, not far from my “den” in the Massif Central.
    Fog coming from the Dore valley, another morning (Picture 3)
    Summer morning, spider webs will be visible for a few minutes before the dew evaporates.(Picture 4)
    Another morning in the woods with the mists (picture 5) ; ambiences I like a lot!

    Morning sun in the mist above Viverols Oblique sun in the For��t des Taillades beeches Above the Dore Valley Spider webs before the dew evaporates The sun hardly comes through some mornings. . . .
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    Mid April hike on Col des Pradeaux

    by kokoryko Written May 8, 2007

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    Spring is almost there, a few snow flakes are left in the shadowy areas of the woods, but flowers are now beginning to bloom, the birds sing loudly , . . . . etc. . . etc. . . . . I am not exactly a poetic writer. I just show you a few pictures from a hike at Col des Pradeaux mid April this year.

    There are many trails in the area, mine was a “custom” one, as I know the area quite well, and will not give a detailed itinerary, which could take several pages; just few highlights.
    Meneyrolles, Puy de Loir, Col des Pradeaux, Rocher de Pierre Dure and return, with a hot chocolate at Col des Pradeaux where there is a café open all year; 6 hours walking at slow pace. (See IGN 1/25000 map St Martin des Olmes, or Google Earth : col des Pradeaux is at : 41° 35’ 34.00”” N, 3° 50’ 44.00” E.) .
    But it is possible to park at the Cold des Pradeaux and have shorter hikes around.
    In April you see the meadows covered with daffodils like on the main picture or on picture 5.
    If you make it to Meneyrolles, do not miss the littke chapel of the village: picture2.
    Fir woods and open landscapes await you on this hike (pictures 3 and 4)

    You can't count how many daffodils bloom here . . Small Meneyrolles chapel View East from Puy du Loir Fir forest near Puy du Loir The meadows above the col des Pradeaux
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    An afternoon hike on two world famous volcanoes.

    by kokoryko Written May 8, 2007

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    Yes! World famous at least for few people: Puy de Lassolas and Puy de la Vache are two breached craters (in fact, not craters, but cinder cones, as are most of the cone shaped volcanoes), so breached cinder cones correctly, which are in most French earth sciences books.
    They are easily accessible and within 3-4 hours one can have walked on the fringes of the cones.
    These volcanoes are only 6500 years old and are among the youngest of the Chaine des Puys, and this explains their well preserved shape, not altered by weathering and erosion.
    The pictures have been taken with very bad light conditions (these are things you not always can control!!) and they look very flat, no relief..
    On the main picture taken from 2 km south Puy de la Vache on the right and Puy de Lassolas, left.
    Picture 2: at the bottom of Puy de la Vache: what the “cinder cone” is made of: the red lapilli, puzzolana, volcanic “bombs” (the big rocks, viscous or liquid ejecta, then solidified, . . . ).
    Picture3: on the fringe of the “crater” (it is not a true crater), which is horse shoe shaped, we see this fringe right and opposite.
    Picture4: the breached crater allows to have a view to the other volcanoes to the south; Puy de Montval then Puy de la Toupe on the right, Puy de Vichatel and Puy de Charmont on the left.
    Picture 5: La maison du Parc des Volcans : in this château, is now an information centre, a hut, and other facilities. http://www.parc-volcans-auvergne.com/index.php4
    Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne - Château Montlosier 63970 Aydat - Tél. : 04 73 65 64 00 -

    The two volcanoes Volcanic Fringe of the The open area of the crater
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    Top of Puy de Dôme : look at all these volcanoes

    by kokoryko Written May 8, 2007

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    When you go up the Puy de Dôme, if the weather allows it you have a view over more than eighty volcanoes!
    The Puy de Dome is located few kilometres West of Clermont Ferrand and a small road goes up quite high, then from a parking there is half an hour walk to go to the summit (1460 m); in summer with fine weather you may see more tourists than volcanoes, but it is worth to have this spectacular overview on the “Chaîne des Puys”.
    The main picture is from the summit to the North ; in the forefront is the “Petit Puy de Dôme”, with the “nid de la poule (hen’s nest) hole just before the first little wood, then left of the meadow in the middle is the “Petit suchet”, and right is the famous “Puy Pariou”.
    The second picture is a view to the south; more woods on the hills, but there are some famous (among the French vulcanologists community) volcanoes: Puy de Laschamps on the background (the third one coming from the forefront where are Puy des Grosmachaux and Puy de Montchie); then on the skyline slightly left is the Puy de Mercoeur.
    Picture 3 is another view North, taken from the meadow s at the summit of the Puy de Dôme.
    Picture 4 is an aerial view “stolen” from a website (Academide de Versailles) showing the Puy de Dôme in the background and the Puy Pariou crater in the forefront. ; I never think to make a picture from far when I arrive in Clermont Ferrand.
    Picture 5: another view to the North.
    What does “Puy” mean? The word has its origin in the latin “Podium” (hill), and puy in Occitan language designates a hill, whatever its size.
    Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne - Château Montlosier 63970 Aydat - Parc.volcans@wanadoo.fr - Tél. : 04 73 65 64 00
    The official website :http://www.parc-volcans-auvergne.com/index.php4 More touristic information (homestays, treks, horse riding, etc. . . ) in this site: http://www.auvergne-tourisme.info/uk/index2.php

    View to the north View to the south Meadows, view to the north Air photo from a website (see text) Another view to the north
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    The treasures are inside !

    by kokoryko Written May 8, 2007

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    St Austremoine Basilic is very well known for the paintings of its walls and columns.
    Some of the paintings date back to the 13th century, other are more recent.
    So, a visit inside is well worth, for the paintings, the windows and the statues.

    Main picture: red and gold around the altar in the choir. Heavily decorated pillars with chapiters representing saints or biblical characters supporting the narrow roman arches. This looks a bit too much decorated; few is known about the middle age decoration as a whole in the basilica; here the paintings are recent ones.
    Picture2: a side walk along the ship; paintings from top to bottom; most of them are recent paintings (recent means here 19th century).
    Picture3: The corn represented here gives a maximum date at least; paintings date from after the introduction of corn to Europe. . . . (coming from the new world).
    Picture4: The Madonna with her child, in the light of stained glass windows. . .
    And the guy who gave his name to this basilica is here on picture 5 ; notice the paintings behind; these are austere ones, probably old ones corresponding to the middle age , to the contrary of all other of more or less baroque style or inspired by baroque style.

    This website shows 80pictures of St Austremoine and is generally dedicated to medieval architecture: http://www.romanes.com/Issoire/

    Choir and altar Side walk Pillar Madonna and stained glass window And finally: SAINT AUSTREMOINE !
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    What do all these medaillons represent ?

    by kokoryko Written May 8, 2007

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    When you walk around St Austremoine, you will notice these small medaillons (small sculptures, applied against the walls of the basilica.
    In the previous “tip” these were twins. . . in other words Gemini. . . ! All around the basilica is an astrological “calendar”; all astrological signs are represented and here are few of them.
    Picture 1: this Cancer looks like a multi-legged frog; I have no idea what that represented in middle age, if it was a good or a bad sign. . . .
    Picture 2: Aries and Taurus: here they are not as usual one character, but there is a rider on the symbolic animal. . . .what does this mean. . . . ? ? ? I like onmy because it is different of the usual representation.
    Picture 3: An angel holds the weight scale of life. . . . .
    Picture 4: This scorpion is a fat one (I do not see myself there, haha!), and looks peaceful (there I am, I guess)
    Picture 5: Oh the lion! Scorpions and lions have sometimes misunderstandings and even very bitter words with each other. I do not know how zodiac “works” and in fact it is only interesting as a symbolic, what is in the tabloids is just crap!

    Where: city of Issoire, thirty km south of Clermont Ferrand.

    This website shows 80pictures of St Austremoine and is generally dedicated to medieval architecture: http://www.romanes.com/Issoire/

    Cancer Aries and Taurus Balance (this in French!!) Scorpion Proud Lion
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