Cantal ( ) is a department in south-central France.
is named after the Cantal mountain range, a group of extinct,
eroded volcanic peaks, which covers much of the department.
Cantal is one of the original 83 departments created during the
on March 4,
1790. It was created from a part of the former province
, called Haute-Auvergne.
The department counts several remarkable buildings. Among them, the
Romanesque religious buildings like the churches of Cheylade
(century Xi), Dieno or Massiac. Some churches are in the Gothic
style like the cathedral of St Pierre de Saint-Flour (century
- International festival of street theatre of
- Festival of the music of the world in Murat
- 36 hours : Various little scenes with dances
of Art and Arqueologia of Aurillac (
House of the fauna in Murat (
- Museum of the Géothermia in Calores-Agudo ( visitors/year)
of the Volcanos in Aurillac (
- Museum of the ray in Marcenat (
of the "Haute Auvergne" in Saint-Flour ( visitors/year)
House of the Chestnut in Mourjou (
- Museum of Georges Pompidou in Montboudif ( /year)
- Museum of the Accordion in Siran
- Museum of the Agriculture in Auvernia in
Dishes of Cantal are made of basic recipes. In origin, they were
designed to satisfiy hill farmers. They had very physical work:
Looking after cows, the manufacture of cheese, etc.
Thus, ham, cheese, vegetables are at the basis of the dishes in
this department, such as:
Aligot (also in Aveyron): Cheese (Fresh Tome) with creamed
- The Truffade: Crushed potatoes with cheese (Fresh Tome) garlic
- The Pounti: A dish made with herbs, lard and Swiss chard.
- The typical cheese Cantal, which can be chosen young,
old or "entre-deux".
Music & dance - Nature and Sport influences
The typical dance in Cantal is called La Bourée
dance with the sound of accordion, in typical costumes.
Sport has a very important influence in the culture of the
department, especially those in contact with nature. Inhabitants
enjoy cycling, excursions, hang gilding, aquatic activities
Cantaliens have naturally adapted their behaviour and activities to
their environment, made of great spaces, a bit savage.
department is part of the current region of Auvergne and is surrounded by the department of Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Loire, Aveyron, Lot, Lozère, and Corrèze.
principal towns are Aurillac, Saint-Flour, and Mauriac.
The topography of Cantal is hilly, the
highest point is Le Plomb du Cantal
, 1858 metres.
The very clerical
Cantal is an old stronghold of the right
and the old electoral base of President Georges Pompidou
. Only the area around
Aurillac, historically anti-clerical and Radical has some left-wing
The President of the General Council is Vincent Descoeur
of the Union for a Popular
The department of the Cantal has different types of climates
according to the geographical position.
The west is well watered, thanks to abundant precipitations coming
from the Atlantic. The temperatures are smooth generally, whereas
the East is much drier and cooler.
As a matter of fact, there is abundant precipitation on the central
area. To this fact, it is necessary to add the effect of the
altitude: the climate is quite cold in winter (It snows almost
every winter) but it can be very hot during the summer (especially
in the southern part of the department which has borders with
Aveyron and Lot)
In the central part of the department, that it is to say the
highest ground, the altitude surpasses m easily: It can be very
cold, The snow falls in abundance and can remains up to six months
on the tops. The temperatures can fall, in the heart of the winter,
to below -15 °C, whereas at the height of summer 25 °C is often
The weather forecast of the television networks often indicates
Aurillac as the coldest city of France in the morning. Whilst not
doubting the temperatures observed by Meteo France
, it is
helpful to explain why.The explanation is simple:
- The scientific weather station of Aurillac is at an altitude of
- The temperature diminishes at 1 °C each 150 m.
- Meteo France only puts an index of 30 cities on the
map and Aurillac is the only city at this altitude.
These low morning temperatures could indicate an inhospitable place
with a grey and low sky. The reality is totally different: In
Aurillac fog is rare and disappears quickly.
generous sun all year long and the wind is not usually strong.
well South (same latitude as Bordeaux) and the annual sunshine hours show it: We just
have to compare the annual number of hours of sunshine (average
from 1991 to 2000):
Nimes: 2590 h - Millau : 2120 h - Aurillac: 2080 h
- Toulouse: 2010 h - Bordeaux: 1990 h - Lyon: 1930 h - Limoges:
1870 h - Tours: 1800 h - Nantes: 1690 h - Paris: 1630 h.
Cantal is a mountainous department whose altitude varies between
250 m in the valley of the Lot River and 1855 m in the top of Plomb du Cantal.
The temperature variations can be very high from one place to
another. It is not colder in the Cantal than in other mountainous
regions like the Vosges or Jura. The prevailing winds and the
relief divide the Cantal into 4 climatic zones:
- The West is subject to oceanic winds which bring rains.
- The mounts of the Cantal and the Cézallier, which create a rain
shadow, have a specific climate: it rains and snows quite
- The Planèze of Saint-Flour and the region of Massiac receive
less precipitation, owing to winds coming from the North and the
- The plateaus of the Margeride and the Aubrac have harsh winters
and pleasant summers.
Communes of Cantal are regularly submitted to violent summer
storms. According to specialists, the lightning flashes in this
department are among the most spectacular in France.
- Agriculture and animal husbandry (Aubrac and Salers cows)
- Craft industry is still very prevalent: Joinery, restoration of
dwellings, small manufacturing and maintenance of private gardens
- Family, festival and winter tourism.
The inhabitants of the department are called Cantaliens
still one of the most isolated and unpopulated French departments
(with Lozère and Creuse).
capital, Aurillac, is the Departmental Capital the furthest from a
motorway in France.
Located in the Parc Regional des Volcans d’Auvergne
Cantal is a department of little urbanization. The main industry is
tourism, especially rural tourism.
visited places are Puy Mary (1787 m) considered to be one of the
prettiest panoramas in Europe, the Plomb du Cantal (1855 m), the
village of Salers, the Gorges
of the Truyère (with the Garabit viaduct, the castle of Alleuze), the town of Boisset, Pierrefort...).
The Parc naturel des Volcans
features several inactive volcanoes. Cantal also
has numerous castles. Puy Mary can be accessed by car easily. And
for those who prefer to hike up, it is a very doable hike that
doesn't require any special hiking skills. It is also possible to
hike to the near-by Puy de Peyre-Arse(1806m). Le Lioran or Super
Lioran are the best places to start the hike. Le Lioran is
accessible by rail or bus and Super-Lioran is just a km away from
Le Lioran. From Super-Lioran it is also possible to hike to Plomb
du Cantal. There is also an option of taking the cable car to Plomb
du Cantal from Super-Lioran. Super-Lioran tourist office has
various hike routes in the region. There are also various adventure
courses, dirt bikes, summer luges etc that run in Super-Lioran( see
In spring and summer
Among the various activities offered in this department, the
"Massif Cantalien" can be discovered through walking, horseback
riding or mountain biking
(tracks are especially designed for this). Aquatic sports are also
popular, thanks to numerous lakes.
The department also proposes more classical activities like
. The landscape also allows the practice of
free flight : Base jump
fans frequent the
sector around the Puy Mary or the Valley of Brezon.
Thanks to its landscape, Cantal can count on a good snow level,
which allows winter sports.The station of the Lioran (greatest
ski-resort of the Massif Central) allows alpine skiing (with
specific adaptations for snowboard) or ice-skating. Excursions in
snow shoes are also possible. The department has several hundred
kilometers of cross-country skiing tracks.