Nestled in its valley, just a short stroll from Puy Mary, the village of Dienne offers a picture-postcard welcome with its fields of daffodils in spring and wild flowers in summer. If you look closely at the town’s elegant houses, you’ll see that they bear stone signs reminiscent of their past as inns or post houses. Dienne has a long tradition of welcoming visitors, a reminder of a time when the village was on the salt route!
The church of Saint-Cyr and Sainte-Juliette has many features of Auvergne Romanesque art. The church, which was built in the 12th century, retains its Latin cross layout and features particularly elaborated apsidioles: polychrome stone marquetry, billet stringcourses, sculpted cornice brackets (human and animal heads), etc. Inside, you can admire the vaulted ceilings and the dome of the building, and stop for a few minutes to admire the capitals, in particular that of the roped monkey. Can you work out what it means?
Cornice brackets on the church of Dienne
This path, which takes you up to the Limon plateau, provided a link between the valleys of Dienne and Cheylade, and for good reason: the inhabitants of Cheylade had to follow it to pay their taxes. This path offered 360° views over the valley and was also dangerous in bad weather. To prevent travellers from getting lost, cairns (which became Quiroux over time) were placed along the path.
Hiking on the Limon plateau
Opposite the Rocher de Limon, a pile of volcanic stones is sure to catch your eye! This rock, which is the last remnant of an ancient lava lake, is home to two high-altitude peat bogs. It is also a great place to observe the local flora and fauna. Amateur or experienced botanists may recognise St John’s wort, yarrow or wild thyme, whereas wildlife enthusiasts will be on the lookout for chamois among the rocks.
The Rocher de Laqueuille - Dienne
As you leave Dienne and head towards Lavigerie, be sure to stop off at Drils. This hamlet is home to an old watermill dating from 1807, restored by enthusiasts with the help of students from the vocational college in Murat. The mill, which has been listed as a Historic Monument, was built on the principle of a horizontal bucket wheel. It can be visited in summer, on the first Monday of the month from May to October, thanks to the Association Dienne Patrimoine.
Watermill of Drils
La Cheyrelle was originally a manor farm used as a summer home by a wealthy family from Murat. A few years later, the owner commissioned Parisian architect René Dulong and his partner, Gustave Serrurier-Bovy, a leading figure in the decorative arts at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. He changed the appearance of the manor house using an Art Nouveau style, highlighting elements that were usually hidden (brightly coloured gutters, a porch with glazed tiles, brightly coloured overhead passageways, etc.), reorganising the spaces in the house, creating a range of special furniture, etc. The château is now used as bed and breakfast.
Château de la Cheyrelle - Dienne