In the Auvergne and particularly in the department Puy de Dôme you will find lots of volcanoes. Everybody (or almost :)) knows the Puy de Dôme, but there are lots more ! Less known but higher in altitude we have the Puy de Sancy, the highest point of the Auvergne with 1886 meters, and the Puy Mary in the Cantal with 1787 meters.
In the world there are numerous volcanoes, and some of them are still working, like the Etna on Sicily or the Piton de la Fournaise in the island Réunion. Maybe you remember this volcano in Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull (don’t worry, nobody can pronounce that). This one caused, some years ago, a lot of trouble for air trafic because of all the dust. An eruption of a volcano is really something impressive, the earth lets go of everything she has got in her insides, lava of course but also a lot of dust…..
Here in the Puy de Dôme the volcanoes are not actively working, but they are not officially dead either. As long as the last eruption was less then 10.000 years ago a volcano is still considered ‘sleeping’. For the Puy de Dôme it was about 6000 years ago, so there you are.
The chain of volcanoes
There are different forms of volcanoes in the Puy de Dôme, flat or with a crater, with ‘dykes’ or ‘orgues’ or the crater lakes, which are formed after the eruption ; we have Lac Pavin, a mysterious and very deep lake near Besse (14 km from our house) or the Gour de Tazenat, a bit more to the north. Then there is the Chain of Volcanoes, which is registered at Unesco, near Clermont Ferrand. This chain you can easily see from the highways A75/A71 and A89, but also from our house. It is a chain of 80 volcanoes with a length of 32 km. These volcanoes could have caused a continental rupture some 35 million years ago. They are the beginning of the Central Massif in France. You can have the most beautiful hikes in and around these volcanoes. You can also climb the Puy de Dôme, or take a little train to the top.
Volcanoes around our b&b
Closer to our home we have the Sancy Massif, where nowadays you can do magnificent hikes, to the top of the Puy de Sancy. But walks on the ridges around, or going down to the Vallée de Chaudefour are really splendid. In the east and west there are no mountains, so from the Sancy you can see about 1/7 part of France. Some clear days we can even see the Alps. On the flanks of the Sancy there are two small streams, the Dore and the Dogne, that come together and are the origin of the river Dordogne that goes all the way south to the Atlantic Ocean.
In winter time there are two skiing stations on the Sancy, in Super Besse and in Mont Dore ; as long as there is snow on the tops you cannot go there for hiking !
Where to go to learn more
At about an hour distance from our house you can go visit Vulcania (attraction and theme parc) and the Volcan de Lemptegy (where you descend in a volcano by train); you will learn all about volcanoes and have a lot of fun at the same time. And below you will find a video of the Massif du Sancy with information on volcanoes (4,45 minutes); it is in French, but just looking is worth your while already!
Our b&b is a good departure point to visit the region.