French Farmhouse Holidays is situated in St Privat du Dragon, a tiny village of about 40 inhabitants, at the head of a picturesque valley in the Haute-Loire département in France. The general region is called the Auvergne; a large, mountainous area of central France. St Privat is about halfway between two large cities, Clermont-Ferrand and Le Puy en Velay, and the nearest towns are Brioude and Langeac (both at 15 kms). The Mediterranean is 2.5 hours by car (Montpellier), and Paris is 4.5 hours by train.
There are several interesting sites nearby including the fascinating city of Le Puy en Velay (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a gathering point on the route of the Santiago di Compostella pilgrimage route). Not far away, La Chaise Dieu with its spectacular 14th-century cathedral is surrounded by acres of forest. Each year at the end of August, there is a remarkable music festival in the cathedral, featuring some of the most well-known names in classical music. The chateau of General La Fayette is nestled at the base of the mountain of La Chaise Dieu, the birthplace of one of the most important players in both the American and French Revolutions. Numerous other sites of interest dot the landscape, little detours always turn up new surprises.
Perhaps the most welcome surprise is the warmth and hospitality of the people of the Auvergne. A straightforward people, Auvergnats are quick to share their opinions and engage you in conversation. Conversation usually leads to a drink, which often leads to a meal, and soon you are enjoying a copious communal dish of the local comfort food, truffade (made with potatoes, fresh cheese and garlic), and a convivial bottle of vin de pays. In general the local farmers are interested and astonished by the outside world; many of them have never left the region, and consider a trip to a town 15 kilometres away to be a major outing. There is a satisfaction in the way of life, an enjoyment of the simple pleasures of food, drink and company, neatly summed up in the most French of all French phrases, joie de vivre.
The Auvergne is known as an outdoorsy area of France, and there are plenty of outdoor activities available such as canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, cycling, swimming and hiking. Many of these activities can be done within 10 km of the Farmhouse.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Chaîne des Puys, a string of about 80 volcanoes near Clermont-Ferrand, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2018. You can read more about the Chaîne and the volcanoes worth visiting in this article.