The 28 September 2015

Geographical and economic data

Auvergne is comprised of 4 departments: Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dôme.

The 1st January 2016,  Auvergne will merge with Rhône-Alpes region.


With an area of 26,000 km², this fairly mountainous region accounts for 4.8% of France’s total area (0.8% of Europe’s total area). Positioned like an amphitheatre looking northwards, Auvergne is a region with varied contours and altitudes. Its landscapes range from 250 metres to 1,886 metres in altitude (Puy-de-Sancy), which engenders significant weather and temperature differences.

As of 1st January 2009, the population of the Auvergne region was put at 1,347,387, which is 2.1% of the population of metropolitan France.

Population of four departments:

- Allier: 342,908
- Cantal: 148,162
- Haute-Loire: 224,006
- Puy-de-Dôme: 632,311

The average regional density, which is half the national average, is 51 people per km². The population is also very unevenly divided within the region: 47% of Auvergne residents live in Puy-de-Dôme, while a little less than 11% live in Cantal.


Auvergne has turned farming into a major economic sector. The number of jobs and the added value it generates shows the importance of this activity: 6.5% of the region’s employment in 2005 (the national average was 3.4%), and 3.4% of the region’s gross added value, compared with 2.2% for the country as a whole.

Around 60%, or a total of 1,530,000 hectares of Auvergne’s land area is given over to farming.

Auvergne traditionally specialises in breeding (mainly cattle and some sheep). This accounts for more than 65% of the region’s agricultural production. Large-scale growing (cereals, oil-producing plants, protein crops and sugar beet), which takes place on the fertile plains of Limagne and Allier, cover 17.3% of usable farmland. The forest, meanwhile, is responsible for the rapid expansion of the timber processing industry involving sawmills and furniture.

Finally, the potential of researchers in agronomy, breeding and farm produce comprises one of Auvergne’s biggest assets. Alongside large bodies such as the INRA and the CEMAGREF, Auvergne has a number of private laboratories including those belonging to Limagrain and Delbard. This feature has recently been recognised by the interministerial competition committee (CIACT) which has formed two farming clusters: “meat and meat products” and “innovation in cereals”.


With 25% of the region’s workforce employed in industry (compared with 20% nationwide), Auvergne is a region with a strong industrial tradition.

Its natural resources have played a major part in Auvergne’s industrial development.

Among other things, water has enabled the cutlery industry in Thiers (more than 75% of France’s cutlery currently derives from here) and paper making, which has continued to thrive due especially to the Banque de France printing works in Chamalières, to establish a firm presence and expand.

The farm produce, metallurgical processing and chemical rubber and plastics processing industries account for more than half of employees and produce more than half of the added value of industry in Auvergne.

Investors from overseas have also found the conditions required for international expansion here, which is why Bosch, Aventis Pharma and Brüggen have set up in Auvergne.

The engineering sector is also well-represented and recognised nationally through the approval in 2005 of the VIAMECA centre (engineering, automotive, aeronautics, capital goods). This cluster places Auvergne’s SMBs at the heart of a network of skills and savoir-faire between central France and Rhône-Alpes and enables them to develop innovative and competitive engineering techniques in the current economic climate.

And when it comes to France’s manufacturing groups, the largest are in Auvergne, with l’Atelier Industriel de l’Aéronautique, L’Oréal, Valeo, Peugeot, Vuitton, Sagem etc.

Finally, we should point out Clermont-Ferrand’s industrial speciality, which compels recognition as France’s rubber capital through Michelin. Founded at the end of the 19th century by André and Édouard Michelin, this multinational is the world’s second-largest car tyre company in terms of production, giving Clermont-Ferrand international standing.


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