Set on the banks of the Allier River, Brioude is a historic town in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It has experienced a tumultuous past under the Franks, the Goths and the Burgundians before being taken by the Saracens in the 8th century. Brioude’s skyline is dominated by the octagonal tower of its monumental Romanesque basilica.
Things to do in Brioude
On the southern edge of Brioude is the Maison du Saumon et de la Riviere, which showcases many of the fish species that live in the Allier River. In addition to trout, catfish and graylings, you can get up close to Atlantic salmon and barbels. The museum also details the importance of the river in the development of the region, with exhibits dedicated to shipping and salmon fishing.
One of Brioude’s most magnificent buildings is the Basilique Saint-Julien, a Romanesque-style church built between the 11th and 14th centuries. It was established on the tomb of Saint Julien, who was martyred here in the 4th century. The basilica is particularly renowned for its sculpted capitals and polychrome frescoes, as well as the volcanic stone and wooden statues of the Virgin Mary.
Occupying the deanery is Le Doyenne, which provides an atmospheric space for the exhibition of modern and contemporary art. Comprising five galleries, it has previously hosted retrospectives featuring the work of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. While exploring the space, be sure to look up at the beautifully painted beams and ceilings.
Getting around Brioude
Brioude is around an hour’s drive from Clermont-Ferrand and Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne Airport, which has limited flights to destinations across Europe. The much larger Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport is 2.5 hours away. Trains connect to the Brioude Lycee Lafayette railway station while the town is small enough to explore on foot.