A Traveller's Guide to Puy-de-Dome, France
Both the name of a department in central France and a famous dormant volcano within it, Puy-de-Dôme lies within the Auvergne region. The Massif Central mountain range is located in the department of Puy-de-Dôme and includes the 25 mile-long Chaîne des Puys chain of dormant volcanoes. The chain includes 48 cinder cones, 15 water-filled craters and 8 lava domes. The largest of these domes is called Puy-de-Dôme which located within the chain's centre.
Getting To and Around Puy-de-Dôme
The regional airport is located in Clermont-Ferrand and is serviced by domestic routes and flights from the United Kingdom. Train services to the department run from Paris, Lyon and from southern France. By road, the A75 motorway runs directly into the heart Auvergne.
The city of Clermont-Ferrand lies just 13km from the base of the volcano. Clermont-Ferrand is located at the junction of the A71 and A72 highways. The city is a three hour train ride from Paris. On weekends and during holiday periods, a bus service links railway station to the summit, costing €5.20 for a return trip.
Things To See and Do in Puy-de-Dôme
The region is considered to be an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. During the warmer months, the area is a popular destination for cycling, hiking, rock-climbing, orienteering, fishing, kayaking and canoeing. It is also an extremely popular area for aerial sports devotees, particularly paragliders. In winter, cross country and downhill skiers flock to the region, with resort towns Le Mont Dore and Superbesse in the Sancy Mountain chain exceptionally popular.
Nature lovers will lap up the breath-taking landscape encompassing mountains, valleys, volcanoes and volcanic lakes in addition to a huge variety of flora and fauna including squirrels, stags, wild boar and majestic eagles. Some of the favourite walking trails among wildlife lovers are through The Chaudfour Valley and Saint Nectaire regions.
The volcano once provided a spiritual assembly place, with temples built at the summit. Ruins of the Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Mercury were discovered in 1873. During its prime this temple among the biggest of its kind in the entire Roman Empire.
Nowadays, the volcano plays host to around 500 000 visitors every year. Beside the temple ruins, the summit features an indoor-outdoor picnic area, interactive children’s activities about volcanology, geology and seismology as well as themed walking paths to help you explore the temple, meteorological observatory of Blaise Pascal and the native flora and fauna.