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Staying in Aurillac? Here are the top 5 must-do activities

Located in the heart of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Aurillac is the prefecture of the Cantal département. But there's more to Aurillac than its administrative status. It embodies authenticity and charm, offering a multitude of tourist attractions ideal for a relaxing getaway in the midst of your business travels. Aurillac's lush natural surroundings and breathtaking panoramas are sure to enchant you, while you immerse yourself in the treasures of France's heritage. Are you planning a trip to Aurillac? Discover our selection of five not-to-be-missed activities.
Published on October 6, 2023

1. Aurillac's museums

The Volcano Museum

In the heart of the medieval Château Saint-Étienne in Aurillac, an entire wing is dedicated to the Muséum des Volcans. Labelled a "Musée de France", the tour takes you on an exploration of the Cantal region, with permanent and temporary exhibitions, workshops and events for all ages.

The tour covers both planetary upheavals and continental movements. The museum takes you on a journey of discovery through the earth sciences, with notions of geology and volcanology. But the tour also takes in the life sciences, with links to ecology, botany and zoology.

An invitation to unravel the mysteries of our planet and learn more about these Auvergne giants, including the Cantalien stratovolcano, Europe's largest extinct volcano.

The Museum of Art and Archaeology

The town of Aurillac also boasts another museum with the "Musée de France" label. It is currently located in the town center, in a building dating back to the 17th century, which was first the convent of the Visitandines before serving as the national stud farm from the 19th century until the 1980s.

Through a collection of paintings and sculptures, as well as a section dedicated to the fine arts, the site retraces a chronological journey. The Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie explores the history of the Cantal region from prehistoric times to the present day. A dive into the traditions of this region of France.

Good to know: with a view to enriching the museum itinerary and gradually bringing together the two museums in Aurillac, temporary closures are planned from September 2023 to June 2024. However, outside activities are planned to bridge this transitional period.

A two-hour guided tour of Aurillac's historic center and its key figures, including Gerbert, the 1st French Pope, and Geraud, founder of the town's abbey.

2. Piganiol House

Fancy some artisanal tourism during your business trip to Aurillac? La Maison Piganiol has just what you're looking for. This Aurillac-based manufacturer has been producing umbrellas since 1884, and has been awarded the "Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant" (Living Heritage Company) label.

Handed down from father to son for 5 generations, the factory opens its doors to you for a guided tour to discover the unique know-how behind its top-of-the-range products. Aurillac is Europe's umbrella capital, and Maison Piganiol continues to manufacture emblematic models such as the L'Aurillac umbrella and the Berger umbrella.

For 1 hour in the factory, discover the secrets of manufacturing, as well as various age-old trades: carcass maker, stitcher, pattern maker...

3. The Rocher des Pendus site

On the heights of Aurillac, you'll find a site with character, one of the most beautiful viewpoints over the Jordanne valley. At an altitude of 700 meters, in the Alouettes district, you'll enjoy an exceptional panorama.

The Rocher des Pendus site has an orientation table and educational tables to complement the view that stretches from Aurillac to the Cantal lead with historical, geological and botanical information.

It's a must-see during your stay. If you don't have time to take on the Auvergne castles circuit or the Route des Crêtes, you'll still get a great overview of the Aurillac countryside.

4. International Street Theatre Festival

This is Aurillac's must-see August event. Created in 1986 in the rural setting of the Auvergne, this event has established itself over the years on a European and international scale.

Bringing together some twenty companies in the official program, over 600 artists perform during the festival in a wide variety of forms. Conferences, public meetings and even professional appointments punctuate these festive days.

In August, the Cantalien region comes alive day and night with entertainment, theatrical performances, brass bands... The Aurillac International Street Theatre Festival attracts over 120,000 people every year.

5. La Fromagerie Bonal

Don't leave Aurillac without a gastronomic stop! Cheese tasting is a must in the Cantal region. Visit Jean Bonal, a cheese ripener whose specialty is raw-milk Cantal, sourced directly from the high Salers mountains.

Fromagerie Bonal is a family-run business that has been perpetuating traditional maturing methods for half a century, to offer you all types of Cantal: young, entre-deux, old or reserve. In the store on Avenue de la République, on the way to the station, you'll also find Saint-Nectaire and fresh tomme.

Book your flight from Paris with Chalair today and discover the charming town of Aurillac. On your return trip from Aurillac-Tronquières airport to Paris, take advantage of the opportunity to pack some regional products in your checked baggage.