Issoire - in the Auvergne

Historic small town

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 Issoire - historic small town 

On this page Location and access Old Issoire
In the area Hotels in issoire  

Brioude - Basilique Saint Julien nave
Issoire - view across the rooftops  
Lying 35 kilometers to the south of Clermont Ferrand, a couple of kilometres to the west of the river Allier, Issoire is one of the many attractive small towns of the Auvergne area. The town is located at the southern exit from the northern Allier gorge, and began life as the site of a small settlement with a church honouring Saint Austremoine, reputed as the man who converted the Arverne tribes to Christianity in the third century.
  The settlement was largely abandoned from the sixth to the ninth centuries, but grew up again in the early middle ages, notably with the creation of a major Benedictine monastery on the site. The great monastery church, the Abbey church of Saint Austremoine, was consecrated in or around the year 1130, and stands to this day.

Old Issoire

 The limits of the old town are clearly visible on the map, encircled as they are today by a boulevard. The old centre is skirted to the west by what was, until the arrival of the A75 motorway, the N9 road running from Clermont Ferrand to the Spanish border.
Map of Brioude Issoire, the old town. 
  Most of the old town dates from the seventeenth century or later, since Issoire was sacked during the wars of religion. The abbey church of Saint Austremoine was however largely spared, and although it was extensively renovated in the 19th century, it remains to this day as one of the Five Great Romanesque churches of the Auvergne, along with the nearby churches of Saint Nectaire, Orcival, St. Saturnin, and Notre Dame du Port in Clermont Ferrand.
Brioude - Basilique Saint Julien nave
Issoire - Tour de l'Horloge and Place de la République  
    These five historic churches are the classic examples of the distinctive Auvergne Romanesque style. Saint Austremoine in Issoire is noted for the exuberant murals in the choir and the apse. Though these date from the 19th century, they give an authentic impression of the way many churches were decorated  in medieval times, specially monastic churches with access to artists and funds.
    The outside of the romanesque apse of Saint Austremoine boasts fine decorative polychrome stonework in the style similar to the great medieval churches to the south, St. Julian's Basilica in Brioude, and the Cathedral of Le Puy en Velay.
    Immediately south of the abbey, on the site of the former Benedictine monastery, the Georges Duby Romanesque Art Centre has a display of early medieval artefacts.
    The focal point of the old town is the Place de la République, with its cafés, shops and restaurants; nearby stands the Tour de l'Horloge, or clock tower; originally built in the 16th century. The tower as it stands today is the a 19th century renovation, built in the signature grey Volvic basalt that has long been used for important buildings in and around Clermont Ferrand. Climb up to the terrace for a fine view of the rooftops and beyond. The fountain in the middle of the square is built with the same Volvic stone.

In the area of  Issoire

Montpeyroux, one of the prettiest villages in Francee

Further afield

How to reach Issoire

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Photo top of page : interior of St Austremoine's Abbey church, Issoire

Key tourist information for Issoire:

: the Auvergne part of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region.
Nearby cities: Clermont-Ferrand, Le Puy
Nearest airports: Clermont-Ferrand (30 minutes) Lyon (3 hours)
Population: 16,000
Main sites:  Abbey church of St Austremoine, Romanesque art centre  .
Nearby attractions and sites: The mountains of Sancy, the Puy de Dôme, La Chaise Dieu, the Auvergne wildlife park.
Location of Brioude

Where to stay

The About-France.com selection
Hotels for all budgets and all needs

Historic centre

 ★★★ The Originals Boutique, Hôtel Le Pariou
Close to the historic centre, three star hotel with pool.

Outside town (about a mile from the centre)

★★ Ace Hotel, A 75 exit 12
Generally well reviewed two-star hotel beside the motorway exit. Free parking, restaurants close by

 ★★★ Auberge le Petit Mass,  A 75 exit 12
Well reviewed independent hotel with large en-suite rooms. Restaurant.

 ★★★ Hôtel Ibis Issoire A 75 exit 12
Classic Ibis hotel. Restaurants close by . Lake close by

★★ Hotel Ibis budget, A 75 exit 12
Free parking, restaurants nearby. Lake close by.

 ★★★ Hotel Campanile, A 75 exit 12
 3-star chain hotel with restaurant, close to the motorway exit, towards town.

Gites and holiday cottages in Auvergne
see Gitelink - Auvergne

Issoire - Municipal campsite, a short distance from A75 exit 12, beside a lake

Issoire has plenty of restaurants for all tastes, from gourmet restaurants in the old town to a MacDonaldsnear the motorway exit.

There is a large Carrefour supermarket on the town side of A75 motorway exit 12. There is a Monoprix close to the town centre.

Polychrome stonework Saint Austremoine

Polychrome stonework on the apse of St Austremoine's abbey

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