Lovers of hiking and grandiose landscapes? We invite you to visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve!
The Chaudefour Nature Reserve is located in the Sancy massif, in Auvergne. Following a heavy volcanic eruption, the eponymous valley was created 600,000 years before our era. Its particular structure allowed the formation of a lake in its center.
The framework of its ridges consists of magnificent volcanic devices, including the famous Dent de la Rancune. Nowadays, the extraordinary landscapes of Chaudefour attract multiple visitors. The valley also offers many exciting activities, in addition to hiking.
Also, the fauna and flora of this particular place are most fascinating, and you will quickly be amazed. Need information about visiting the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve? So, let’s go together to discover this exceptional reserve!
Visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve: Reservations & Rates
History of the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve
Chaudefour is located in the north of the Monts Dores massif. The valley’s creation is the result of significant volcanic activity, followed by numerous glaciation eras. Even today, one can guess in the structure of the valleys of the Dores Mountains the remains of its geological evolution.
The ancient domed craters can be seen in the rounded mounds. The cliffs, however, were formed by ancient lava flows. For their part, the eruptive rocks stand in fascinating pyramids. The valley’s transformation over the millennia has also created many hot springs. And, in particular, the fountain of Saint-Anne.
These magnificent and unusual landscapes have long intrigued me. And to protect it, a nature reserve was created on May 14, 1991. Reserve that it is now possible to visit, under certain conditions as we will see.
Our tips for visiting the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve
The Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve is a real treasure of the Massif Central. The site can be visited in the high season, and many activities are offered. However, for a most enjoyable exploration, it is better to prepare. So, here are our tips for visiting the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve!
The Chaudefour reserve is located at nearly 1200 meters above sea level. Also, even when embarking on a visit in summer, it is important to dress warmly. The temperature can indeed drop very quickly in the mountains. In the same way, we can not always predict possible bad weather.
In addition, the reserve is a wild valley, although many trails have been developed. The mountainous terrain is not flat and is often perched with small obstacles. So remember to bring your best hiking shoes to visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve.
When considering exploring such an area, it is important to optimize your visit time. The reserve of the Sancy massif is a territory of almost nine hundred hectares. One day should be enough if you want to walk on its trails.
But if you were thinking of trying other activities (hiking, discovery outings…), you might need one more day. We think in particular of climbing or climbing Puy Ferrand. To visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve in its entirety, we recommend allowing 2 to 3 full days.
Chaudefour is a national nature reserve. Visits to the valley are therefore highly regulated not to disturb the fauna or flora. Before going there, remember to take some precautions, especially to consult the code of the valley.
In particular, you will need to bring a bag for your waste, which you will not be able to throw away in kind. In the same way, if you are planning to fish or hunt, be sure to follow the established guidelines.
In addition, it is forbidden to pick flowers and disturb wildlife. You can’t take a dog with you since our furry companions could disturb wild animals. In the same way, bicycles, motorized vehicles, noisy devices, and drones are prohibited.
Also, wild camping and the creation of fires are prohibited for safety reasons. But you can read our article on “best wild camping in France” to know about beautiful camping spots in the country.
What to see and do at the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve?
Flora and fauna
The Chaudefour valley is one of the most flourishing in the Massif Central. Its nature reserve is, therefore, home to exceptional fauna and flora. It is located in the mountains; it is full of deer, hares, Corsican sheep, and ermines.
One can also observe in its rocks rare specimens of birds. You can admire peregrine falcons, rock robins, and ravens when the sky is clear.
On the other hand, the valley’s flora consists of many medicinal plants. Chaudefour is also the cradle of multiple flowers such as arnica, calendula, and gentian. Therefore, visiting the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve is a must for nature lovers.
You can indulge in this enriching sport on three different sites in reserve. The Dent de la Rancune is the most popular and rises to almost 1500 meters above sea level.
It offers nearly 40 different climbing routes, varying from a level of experience to an expert sportsman. For its part, the Crête du Coq can be apprehended by climbing enthusiasts.
However, the ascent of these will offer you a breathtaking view of the magnificent Auvergne landscapes.
A naturalistic experience
Every summer, the valley organizes a unique visit for ornithology enthusiasts. They can then stroll through the reserve with hushed steps, accompanied by specialists. Musicians are then added to the ride to trilate, chirp, and whistle to the sound of the birds of the mountain.
This unusual walk-show will undoubtedly appeal to young and old alike. It will allow them to discover the extraordinary fauna of Chaudefour while having fun.
Every Wednesday during the high season, the most athletic will be able to embark on the ascent of the valley. A guide will then accompany them from the bottom of the reserve to the ridges of the highest peak, the Puy Ferrand.
At nearly 1900 meters above sea level, they will then be able to admire the extraordinary landscapes of the Massif Central. Another way to visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve. Nevertheless, they will have to book their seats for this most immersive discovery.
How much does a ticket to the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve cost?
The entrance to visit the National Nature Reserve of the Chaudefour Valley is entirely free.
However, the different activities offered by the reserve require a reservation in advance. To do this, call the Maison de la Réserve a few days before the activity to organize its arrival.
How do I book a ticket for the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve online?
Admission to visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve is free. Therefore, there is no online booking available, but you can book outdoor activities.
Opening hours of the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve
While access to the reserve is free, it is not permitted. Indeed, the valley only opens to visitors from May to August for security reasons. Outside the high season, bad weather and snow make the trails impassable.
You can visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve from 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. It is accessible every day from Friday to Sunday. On the weekends of Ascension and Pentecost, however, the opening hours are limited to the afternoon schedule.
How to access the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve?
The Chaudefour reserve is located in the Monts Dores massif, in Auvergne. Unfortunately, it is not accessible by public transport. By car, you can reach the valley by the national road 89 and the departmental road 5 from Clermont-Ferrand.
If you leave from the south of the massif, you will have to go to Besse before taking the departmental 36. The same road will allow you to reach the valley from the town of Mont-Dore. Nevertheless, you will have to go through the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert this time.
When you arrive, visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve. You can park your car at the Maison de la Réserve. From this reception, you will be able to go on the multiple marked trails of the valley.
Where to stay near the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve?
To visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve, you can easily find many accommodations nearby. In the department of Puy-de-Dôme, where the valley is located, the best accommodation options are hotels and cottages.
Thus, to visit the National Nature Reserve of the Chaudefour Valley, booking a room in a hotel in Mont-Dore or Super-Besse remains the best solution. In addition to staying near the valley, it will allow you to discover charming towns in Auvergne.
Prefer Airbnbs? So, most of them are located around the nature reserve, in the heart of the massif. They are, therefore, all the closer to Chaudefour. Also, they are often located in atypical or even unusual buildings. They are a haven of relaxation and comfort for visitors. In addition, they allow them to discover the local customs with the meals prepared by the hosts.
So, what are you waiting for to visit the Chaudefour Valley National Nature Reserve?