ⓘ Cantal is a French department in south-central France in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. Its prefecture is Aurillac. It is named after the Mounts of Cantal, a ..


ⓘ Cantal

Cantal is a French department in south-central France in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. Its prefecture is Aurillac.

It is named after the Mounts of Cantal, a group of mountains in the Massif Central.


1. History

Cantal is one of the 83 French departments made during the French revolution, on 4 March 1790. It was created with part of the territory of the old province of Auvergne in south central France. It was divided in four districts: Aurillac, Mauriac, Murat and Saint-Flour; its capital in Saint-Flour, alternating with Aurillac.

In 1794, Saint-Flour became the only capital but, in 1795, the capital was moved to Aurillac.

In 1800, with the creation of the arrondissements in France, the districts were changed into arrondissements: Aurillac, Mauriac, Murat and Saint-Flour. On 10 September 1926, the arrondissement of Murat was eliminated.


2. Geography

Cantal is part of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, in south central France, with an area of 5.726 km 2 2.211 sq mi.

The department borders with 3 regions and 7 other departments:

  • Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region
  • Puy-de-Dome north
  • Haute-Loire northeast
  • Occitanie region
  • Lot southwest
  • Aveyron south
  • Lozere southeast
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine region
  • Correze west

Cantal is in the middle half of the central plateau Massif Central of France where is the Mounts of Cantal mountain range, a group of extinct volcanoes. The highest point in the Cantal mountains, and in the department is Plomb du Cantal 45°3′33″N 2°45′41″E that is 1.855 m 6.086 ft high. Other high mountains near Plomb du Cantal in the Cantal department are:

  • Puy du Rocher 45°4′N 2°46′E, 1.813 m 5.948 ft high;
  • Puy Mary 45°6′34″N 2°40′34″E, 1.783 m 5.850 ft high.
  • Puy de Peyre Arse 45°6′37″N 2°42′39″E, 1.806 m 5.925 ft high; and

The lowest point of the department, 250 m 820 ft, is in the valley of the Lot river where it leaves the department.

The main rivers are the Alagnon, a tributary to the Allier; the Cele and Truyere rivers, tributaries to the Lot river; and the Cere and Rhue rivers, tributaries to the Dordogne river.


2.1. Geography Climate

The climate of Cantal has with few extremes of temperature and ample precipitation in all months. It belongs to the subtype Cfb Marine West Coast Climate in the Koppen climate classification.

The average temperature for the year in Aurillac, at an altitude of 633 m 2.077 ft, is 10.2 °C 50.4 °F. The warmest month, on average, is July with an average temperature of 18.3 °C 64.9 °F. The coolest month on average is January, with an average temperature of 2.9 °C 37.2 °F.

The average amount of precipitation for the year in Aurillac is 856 mm 33.7 in. The month with the most precipitation on average is December with 109.2 mm 4.3 in of precipitation. The month with the least precipitation on average is June with an average of 45.7 mm 1.8 in.


3. Administration

Cantal is part of the region of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes. The department is managed by the Departamental Council of the Cantal in Aurillac.

Administrative divisions

There are 3 arrondissements districts, 15 cantons and 255 communes municipalities in Cantal.

The following is a list of the 15 cantons of the Cantal department with their INSEE codes, following the French canton reorganisation which came into effect in March 2015:


4. Demographics

The inhabitants of Cantal are known, in French, as Cantaliens women: Cantaliennes or Cantalous women: Cantalouses.

Cantal has a population, in 2014, of 146.618, for a population density of 25.6 inhabitants/km 2. The arrondissement of Aurillac, with 82.347 inhabitants, is by far the largest. The other two, Saint-Flour and Mauriac, have respectively 38.079 and 26.192 inhabitants.

The city with more people living in it is the capital, Aurillac 26.135. The subprefectures of Saint-Flour and Mauriac have, respectively, 6.643 and 3.682 inhabitants.

Evolution of the population in Cantal

The 10 most important cities in the department are: