The France Page - Regions
Auvergne was a province of France deriving its name from the Averni, a Gallic tribe who once occupied the area. In the 5th century the region was conquired by the Visigoths, but the inhabitants resisted strongly (recorded by Sidonius_Apollinaris). In the 6th century it was conquered by the Franks, again not without resistance (recorded by Gregory of Tours). In the year 1095, the historic Council of Clermont was held there, to rally support for the First Crusade. In 1790, the historical province was divided into the modern-day départements of Puy-de-Dôme, Cantal, Haute-Loire, and Allier, although Haute-Loire and Allier also include some land from the historical provinces of Bourbonnais, Lyonnais and Languedoc.
The largest city of Auvergne is Clermont-Ferrand (409,558 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 1999), having replaced Riom as the capital of Auvergne. A large part of the Auvergne region is covered by the volcanic Massif Central mountain range, which stretches over nearly one-sixth of France's total area.
The region is famed for its cheeses, exports of mineral waters (Volvic among others), and tires (Michelin). It is also the site of a number of major hydroelectric projects, mainly located on the Dordogne, Cère, and Truyère rivers.
The Auvergnat, a dialect of the Occitan, was historically spoken in Auvergne. It is still spoken there.
Composer Joseph Canteloube based Songs of the Auvergne (1923-55), his well-known piece for voice and orchestra, on folk music and songs from Auvergne.
Singer-songwriter Georges Brassens composed Chanson pour l'Auvergnat.
Clark Ashton Smith wrote a series of short stories based in the mythical region of Averoigne, a fictional counterpart to this region.
Novelist Anne Rice's fictional character Lestat de Lioncourt was born and raised in the Auvergne in the 1700s.
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