In the district known as Carmes, south of the
old town, the park on the Place du Square is a shady niche of peace and quiet,
its tiny pond populated by numerous carp and the odd terrapin. From here it is
a real pleasure to wander the adjacent streets of the old quarter wherein
timber-framed houses topped with heavy lauzes gaze on a street scene that will
have changed little over the years.
Apart from during the customary French holiday period in August, this agreeable town never seems to get really busy or overcrowded. In days gone by, they used to trawl the Jordanne with a fleece in the hope of trapping flakes of gold; they may still do, but whether anyone became rich this way is doubtful. Even so, there is an air of prosperity about Aurillac, and it serves as a delightful and welcoming base from which to explore La Chataigneraie, the region to the south-west of Aurillac, famed for its production of chestnuts, celebrated at Mourjou in an annual Festival of the Chestnut.
© ATOUT FRANCE/R Cast
Aurillac is an unusual town – in an agreeable sense; there are no outstanding sites or historical monuments, but it is a great place to unwind and soak up the easy atmosphere. The town is an important regional centre with a bustling heart, with numerous shops and boutiques to explore.
There is a fascinating old town, with narrow streets, shady squares, and plenty of cafés. A significant part of the centre of the town is pedestrianised or restricted access to cars so park just outside the centre. You’ll also find medieval half-timbered houses that underpin the advice to look round all the corners; in Aurillac you never know what you’ll discover.
When you tire of shopping and chilling out, take the 'Route des Crêtes', passing between the valleys of the Jordanne and Authre rivers, for stunning views across the mountains of Cantal; then, if you have the time, visit the pretty villages of Albinhac and Brommat. For a longer excursion, take the road to St Flour; it's a splendid drive, one that everyone will appreciate.