Located to the east of Auvergne, the Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Park covers three departments: Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Loire and Loire. Today populated by more than 103 inhabitants, it then groups together 000 municipalities, including Ambert, Billom and Lezoux, The Chaise-Dieu, Thiers. Constituting fairly compact and dynamic urban areas, these cities are only a few minutes away from hiking trails. But also ski slopes and mountain lakes. In addition, they all have magnificent historic centers that are worth your visit.
A living mid-mountain territory
Among the unmissable natural sites of the park, you will find to begin with the Hautes-Chaumes of Forez, the glacial valleys of Fossat and Reblats, the basalt organs of the montpeloux volcano, county forest, the volcano of Mount Bar and Ground floor… An exceptional natural heritage. By taking the hiking trails that cross them, very beautiful landscapes are offered to you. The Dore valley, the Forez mountains and the Livradois mountains in the foreground. The Chains of Puys – fault of Limagne, Sancy and Alpes background.
Livradois-Forez: a natural park rich in its inhabitants and its heritage
Territory without fence, the Livradois-Forez Park extends over 300 hectares. It is one of the largest regional natural parks in France. grazing Clermont-Ferrand et Vichy, it encompasses Thiers, the capital of cutlery, Billom renowned for its garlic production, Ambert and its funny round town hall in the shape of Fourme d'Ambert, as well as La Chaise Dieu, with its formerly Benedictine abbey. If the region suffered from a massive departure of its population in the past century, many new inhabitants now settle there. Coming from all walks of life, they bring their know-how, as well as their desire to settle in peace in a region where nature is everywhere. It is said that the inhabitants of Livradois-Forez are travellers. They bring back their experiences and their stories and thus form an eclectic and open population.
In Thiers and in the Thiers mountains, industrial activity has been greatly renewed. Still with cutlery as a spearhead, many companies work within the framework of diversified subcontracting: automotive, aeronautics, fittings, plastics, mechanics... In Ambert and Arlanc, the tradition of the paper and braid factory has increased tenfold at the industrial level: cardboard, stationery, insulating sheaths, electric cables, braids for sports activities, etc.
This artisanal breeding ground also brings great human and heritage value to the region. Craftsmen and craftswomen are generally installed in small towns and city centers. Ceramist and leather worker in Thiers, enameller on lava in Billom, pencil manufacturer and basket maker in Olliergues, illustrator and papermaker in Ambert, wood fretworker in Beurières, lacemaker and woodturner in Arlanc… Some have combined their efforts by creating the road of business, which present the workshops and craft sites open to visitors.
Preserved and diversified natural treasures
Livradois-Forez was born several million years ago. If it did not yet bear this name, it was already part of the Massif Central. The play of the continental plates caused collisions, foldings, giving rise to the massifs of Armorica, Bohemia, the Vosges and that of central France. Thus, in the Massif Central, the land then fractured in a generally north-south direction. The Forez massif and the Livradois massif are born of these telluric movements. Magmatic upwellings support the bulge of the Massif Central. The region is volcanic, and it retains the traces of those turbulent times. One of the most beautiful sites in France, to the south of the park, is home to a volcano hiding a peat bog in its crater: the Mhave bar, near the town of Allègre.
Through its geographical and environmental wealth, the regional natural park thus has a wide variety of natural environments. Peat bogs and lakes, mountain moors, beech and fir forests, alluvial forests, dry mounds and hillsides, natural hay meadows, rivers and torrents make up this rich landscape. Its geography is such that nature is very close. Some hiking trail departures are in the heart of towns such as the country tour in Livradois-Forez ou the Little Turluron. The main road axis between Thiers and Ambert crosses the entire Dore valley, the backbone of the park. The Forez and Livradois mountains are visible. The highest point also: Pierre-sur-Haute, which looks at you from its 1634 meters.
The Livradois-Forez natural park: a vast secret territory, and it's not for nothing
This region is rich in an extraordinary natural and cultural heritage. It also welcomes, sometimes secretly, successful economic activities carried out by men and women who take a job well done to heart. In 1986, a decree classifies it as a Regional Natural Park, thus making it possible to protect and enhance this wealth, while ensuring economic, social and cultural development, respectful of the environment.
Its inhabitants have held the secrets of papermaking since the dawn of time. Of everything that cuts and slices, braiding, the famous Fourme d'Ambert PDO. This park was a very densely populated traditional agricultural production area in the last century. Then, the rural exodus and agricultural abandonment strongly affected it. Today, half of the surface of Livradois-Forez is wooded. But its industrial pools are dynamic, and many inventions are born here. The development of industrial activities linked to water such as textiles, leather, paper, small metallurgy, cutlery from the XNUMXthe century, strongly mark Livradois-Forez. These activities shape him and forge his character. They constitute one of its wealth, both economic and cultural.
Everywhere, the presence of man is felt in the thousands of hamlets scattered across the landscape. Also discover a formidable heritage of craft, religious and peasant architecture, and a dense network of small towns. This territory without fences or opening hours is welcoming and accessible to all. It is no less fragile, hence the need to preserve it. The regulations are quite strict, in order to guarantee the attraction and the natural beauties of the park. Of the Sensitive Natural Spaces thus protect natural environments: 26 sites are classified Nature 2000. Therefore, they facilitate biodiversity taking into account human activities. Here cohabit traditional high forests and recent plantations.
You are free to try the adventure in Livradois-Forez
At your convenience, at your own pace, explore this vast natural territory. Countless trails lead to the heart of these most remarkable sites. Take care of Livradois-Forez, its fragile nature, its calm. And perhaps you will then feel this rare feeling of complicity with a region and its inhabitants. Because for nature lovers, for walkers in love with amazing encounters, for people in search of serenity, for explorers of distant lands... This territory is yours.
Welcome to Livradois-Forez!