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In the Auvergne more than anywhere in France, water is to be found everywhere. Relaxing, invigorating and bursting with life, it can be found here in every imaginable natural form. This includes mineral water, with its 109 springs, peaceful lakes in ancient craters, river sources, pure and wild streams or spectacular waterfalls in which to bathe, to fish or to enjoy water sports such as canoeing, kayaking and rafting. Or then again simply walking!
You will find an astonishing variety of lakes and ponds in the Auvergne. Take the time to discover them, to stop off for a while and to take a dip in them. Relaxing or fishing in these calm waters can be a magical experience.
Peaceful, deep and perfectly round lakes can be found in craters formed thousands of years ago by impressive volcanic eruptions. Living monuments, where magma meets water.
Enjoy a go-as-you-please unguided visit to the region's lakes, including Servières, La Godivelle (Lac d'en Haut or upper lake), Le Bouchet, Saint Front, Pavin and the Gour de Tazenat.
These lakes can be found in the middle of valleys which have been dammed by lava flows, with an example being Lake Guéry, situated at an altitude of 1,244 m (4,081 ft) opposite Mont-Dore.
A wide selection of water sports activities is available at other sites, on Lake Chambon and Lake Aydat.
These are countless in number and open, like the famous Pirot and Saint-Bonnet-Tronçais ponds in the centre of the Tronçais Forest. A little further on, the Goule Pond straddles the forest edge. The Sault Pond and the Prades and Aubusson d’Auvergne lakes also offer a fairytale setting, perfect for relaxing and enjoying easy walks with children.
The Auvergne is a land synonymous with water, and the source of numerous rivers which merge with other rivers or waterways throughout France.
The source of the Loire can be found at Mont Gerbier de Jonc in the Ardèche, from where it flows through the narrow, well preserved gorges into the pools at Le Puy-en-Velay in the Haute-Loire and those in the Forez, before merging with the river Allier.
Rising in Lake Servières, the Sioule winds its way through to the Saint-Pourçain wine producing area before merging with the waters of the Allier. This river has carved out impressive gorges, and visitors can admire a perfectly curved meander at Queuille.
The Allier is the last great river in France on which salmon still make their way upstream to spawn after a 900 km (559 mile) journey from the Atlantic Ocean. The Allier gorges in the Haute-Loire are marvellously preserved with no roads running alongside them. These are probably the wildest gorges you will find in France. When the Allier reaches the plain, in the département (county) bearing its name, it is just as wild and authentic as it flows around its meanders and islands, creating huge alluvial plains.
Crisscrossed by brooks and rivers, the Auvergne offers a rich diversity of impressive and exciting waterfalls. The Salins waterfalll is unique for its setting. Unique for the imaginative enhancement of this natural masterpiece thanks to the railway viaduct and unique for the fact that it is lit up throughout the summer season. An impressive sight!