Last Updated on 10/05/2022 by Alfred
One might think that visiting the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne means walking between hills and ancient magmatic structures… Well, no.
In fact, since 1977, the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne has been a natural territory that extends over nearly 147 municipalities. Almost 395,000 hectares have been shaped over millennia and centuries. Today you can discover many different landscapes and do a plethora of activities. It is an Auvergne getaway, a parenthesis in life, to find yourself and connect with nature.
In the mid-1960s, the idea of creating a park was born. Favored by the departmental committees of Cantal (15) and Puy-de-Dôme (63), it will be concretized at the beginning of 1977, after many studies. Indeed, between 1967 and 1974, multiple studies and projects were set up to work on developing the final park.
The basic idea is to structure this immense natural space and raise people’s awareness of their environment. The first perimeter that was determined at the creation will evolve a lot.
In 1988, for example, the regional park expanded to 153 municipalities instead of the original 104. The common interest is always to play a primordial role in enhancing the territory.
In the 2000s, the protection policy was strengthened: the elected representatives of the territory were trained, and nature guards monitored and sensitized visitors. Hiking and equestrian trails are provided, and various educational materials are offered. The park was awarded the title of Grand Site de France® in 2007.
Today and until 2025, a territorial project has been established. It involves setting a common action among citizens, professionals, and elected officials. In other words, local actors.
This project aims to revitalize the region, manage its assets, and stimulate innovative and solidarity-based approaches. All this, with the ultimate goal of finding a balance between all current issues (preservation of the environment, sustainable development, etc.). And, of course, their solutions.
Are you coming to visit the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne? To discover them in the best conditions, here are our best tips.
The Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne can be visited all year round. However, the weather is rather gloomy at the end of the year. It is sometimes difficult to enjoy the landscape in stormy weather. Instead, we recommend visiting the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne in spring and summer. The sun is beautiful, and the temperatures remain pleasant.
The Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne can be discovered through different 8 hiking routes or various car routes. For the latter, we recommend you travel the Route of volcanoes which is done in 3 to 4 hours according to your pace. This itinerary allows you to discover the park as a whole.
Here is the route we recommend:
● Start in the town of Mont-Dore, where you can admire the Puy de Sancy.
● Continue to Rochefort-Montagne to discover the Roche Tuilière.
● Then join Pontgibaud, then the Col des Goules to see the Puy of the same name.
● Make a stop at Puy-de-Dôme to take, from the top, a photo of the entire chain of volcanoes.
● Finish in the town of Orcival, not far from the Col de Guéry.
Do not hesitate to rent a car to make this mini road-trip Auvergne.
● Lots of water, especially during the summer!
● Your picnic. You can still find restaurants around the park.
● Sunscreen and dressings, just in case.
● Events are organized punctually, such as exhibitions or “cleaning” days. All the information can be found in the “To see, to do” section.
● The brand “Valeurs Parc” has been created to promote products supporting and preserving the park. They can be found in the nearby shops.
There are many hiking trails in the heart of the park. Each of them has its particularities. We advise you to go to the site of the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne to consult the sheets and guides made available. These elements will allow you to learn everything you need to know about the hike you want to do.
Trail, fauna, flora and even unevenness, and other important elements. Generally, the hikes are not very long and are accessible to children (from 5 to 6 years old). There are many more passable trails; here are three that we have selected for you.
● Puy de Dôme, Grand Site of France ® since 2008: 5.2 kilometers, 374 meters of elevation gain, 2 hours of walking. View of the entire Chaîne des Puys and the Limagne fault. Parking is done in the parking lot of the Maison de Site.
● Puy Montenard: 5.5 kilometers, 174 meters of elevation gain, 2 hours of walking. View of the Chaîne des Puys, Massif de Sancy and the village of Saulzet-le-Froid. Park in Zanières, near Saulzet-le-Froid.
● Puy de la Vache: 1.9 kilometers, 156 meters of elevation gain, less than an hour of walking. View of the Massif de Sancy, the Puy de Dôme, the lakes of Aydat and Cassière. There is parking along the Départementale 5 to park. Be careful; it is a frequented site.
There are a lot of routes that are offered to amateur or professional cyclists. The landscapes and the relief sometimes give a hard time to the less experienced, but it is an excellent way to visit the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne.
At your own pace, cross the nature reserve and discover its landscapes. In order not to visit passively, animators can accompany you and share their anecdotes and knowledge about the region.
Moreover, why not try the “Great Crossing of the Volcano” by bike: a 150-kilometer route through the Cantal. An ideal activity to lift the veil on all cantalous faces.
The Parc des Volcans is home to four nature reserves: Chastreix Sancy, Vallée de Chaudefour, Sagnes de Godivelle, and that of the Rocher de la Jacquette. Each of them is defined by an environment that is specific to it. But in any case, the fauna and flora are unique.
Access to these reserves is free, which grants certain freedom when you visit the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne. Dedicated tourist offices allow you to discover more about each of the reserves. But above all, you will get all the information you need to go hiking.
To extend your experience in the park and learn even more about its heritage, there is the Maison du Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne. It is buried in the heart of the Chaîne des Puys. You can attend an interactive and illustrated exhibition throughout the year presenting the park and its history. Also, from time to time, temporary exhibitions are installed. On-site, a relaxation area, is accessible, in addition to a shop of local products. Admission is free, so enjoy it.
Vulcania is in essence a fun way to visit the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne. This is to learn more about magmatic formations, their evolution, and their current life within the park. Vulcania offers many activities on the theme of volcanoes: shows, visits to VolcanBul (electric glass vehicle), or outdoor exhibitions…
There is something for everyone, adult and child alike. Some activities have been designed for children to make them aware of the nature surrounding them, beyond the volcanoes. In summer, the amusement park offers special evenings from 18:00 to 22:00: pyrotechnics, presentation of raptors, unique shows…
● Access to the park is free; it’s about connecting with nature!
● Vulcania: depending on the period (green, yellow, blue), the dated ticket varies from €25 to €28.50 for adults, from €18 to €20.50 for children (6 to 16 years old), and €6 to €8 for toddlers (3 to 5 years old). Before 3 years, admission is free.
It is possible to book an unusual activity directly for the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne online. You are thus sure to discover the park in an atypical way, for example, during a hot air balloon flight. Originality is the keyword of your excursion.
● Visit the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne: accessible every day, all day. Except in exceptional cases such as shops and other establishments subject to schedules.
● La Maison du Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne: Wednesday to Monday, from 10:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 17:30. It closes at 6:30 p.m. between June and September.
● West: via the A71 from Rennes (6h05), the A85, and the A71 from Nantes (5h29).
● North: via the A28 and A71 from Caen (6h05), via the A1 and A71 from Lille (6h25), and via the A71 from Paris (4h20).
● East: via the A36 from Strasbourg (6h25), the A6, and the A89 from Dijon (3h35).
● South-east: via the A89 from Lyon (2h10), via the A8 and A7 from Nice (6h30), and the A75 from Montpellier (3h35).
● South-west: via the A20 and A89 from Toulouse (3h50), via the A89 from Bordeaux (3h45).
The largest rail access near the park is Clermont-Ferrand station (63), which is accessible from almost the entire France. Your stop will differ depending on where you want to access the park. But in general, the train will take you to Clermont-Ferrand. Then you will take a regional train.
Near the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne many villages that will seduce you with their charm. To sleep near the park, we recommend Airbnb and cottages or hotels that you will find in Mont-Dore and Aydat or Salers.