Survivor of the Wars of Religion
www.issoire-tourisme.com. A Protestant stronghold all but razed to the ground during the Wars of Religion, Issoire now conceals its one remaining (and redeeming) feature behind a dreary sprawl of factory suburbs. The handsomely-proportioned 12thC Eglise de Saint-Austremoine is one of the finest Romanesque buildings in the Auvergne, its interior still bizarrely impressive despite the addition of garish 19thC decoration. The sturdy simplicity of the crypt is a relief. Take time to inspect the sculpted capitals, a 15thC mural of the Last Judgement in the narthex, and the zodiacal symbols adorning the outside walls of the chapels by the car park.