The Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne, a unique jewel in the crown of Europe and home to a tectonic hotspot in the shape of the Chaîne des Puys and the Limagne fault, was recognised in July 2018 by UNESCO as an exceptional geological site. Le Puy de Dôme, the most famous of the sleeping giants and officially awarded “Grand Site de France®” status, tops out at 1465 m, with unequalled panoramic views across the 80 volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys. Its summit can be accessed in both winter and summer via the “Panoramique des Dômes” rack railway. And at an altitude of 1886 m, the Puy de Sancy is the highest point in the Massif Central. Le Puy Mary, another “Grand Site de France®” (1758 m) in the Massif du Cantal, is also a perfect example of France’s natural heritage.
The Puy de Dôme
With its iconic and distinctive landscape, the Puy de Dôme is the most well-known of the volcanoes. Atop its 1450 metres, the Puy de Dôme fascinates visitors with its power and majesty.
The jewel of the Chaîne des Puys, this Peléan volcano is a vast site for nature and discovery.
The Puy de Dôme overlooks a range of 80 volcanoes that make up the Chaîne des Puys. About 15 km from Clermont-Ferrand, activities on site include interpretive centres, the Temple of Mercury, walks around the summit, a viewpoint indicator of the landscape and a 360° panorama.
The summit of the Puy de Dôme is accessible in just 15 minutes aboard the Panoramique des Dômes rack railway train. A true journey to the heart of the volcanoes awaits visitors at the summit.
A Grand Site de France, the majestic silhouette of the pyramid-shaped Puy Mary (1787 m) offers an exceptional panoramic view all the way to Mont Blanc. Easily accessible by road, it's a pleasant climb on foot to the top along remnants of the largest volcano in Europe.
Why is it called Mary? As a tribute to one of the first evangelisers of Haute-Auvergne. Although it’s not the highest summit in the Cantal Mountains, the pyramid silhouette of the Puy Mary (1787 m) is immediately recognisable. A Grand Site de France since 2012, like Mont-Saint-Michel and the Pointe du Raz, the iconic peak is now equipped with features to help preserve its environment from an influx of visitors. Starting at the Pas de Peyrol mountain pass, it's a 30-minute climb (an elevation gain of 195 m)* on foot to the viewpoint indicator on the summit. A trail with stairs and risers leads to the extraordinary panoramic view of the stratovolcano, Europe's largest volcano with an area of 2,700 km², with bright glacial valleys, triangle-shaped plateaus of summer pastures and rocky hills. On the way back down, the Visitor's Centre features a video interpreting the landscape. In the summer, there are activities to learn more about the rich heritage of the site.
*This is a mountain site: weather changes can occur rapidly. Always check the weather ahead of time and be sure to come properly outfitted.
An open-air volcano to discover: the Volcan de Lemptégy
Uncover the secrets of volcanology on a 2 h 30 min interactive tour with 5 parts:
- A guided discovery on foot or by train inside the volcano (volcanic bombs, slag, chimneys, lava flows) and of the industrial history of the site (visit of the old mining equipment),
- New in 2019 (beginning in April): 4D experiential film. All aboard! The Volcan’Express is ready to pull out of the station and share all the secrets of the formation of the Chaîne des Puys and the Limagne Fault. A sensory and emotional experience that’s not to be missed,
- The acclaimed 4D dynamic film “Aux Origines” to relive the history of the volcano, from its eruptions to today,
- The exhibition spaces.
On site, enjoy a meal or a snack at the restaurant of the Volcan de Lemptégy, serving regional and traditional dishes: sausage/aligot, truffade, salt pork and more.
Harmonious, perfectly round and deep lakes now fill the craters unearthed long ago by violent volcanic eruptions, the result of magma mixing with shallow underground water. An enchanting discovery!