Cantal : An area with 3 Lakes. So why do not embark on peaceful waters ?

A scenery that must be seen in Auvergne! Taking its source in the Margeride, the Truyère river has dug wild and spectacular gorges. Later on, lakes of Garabit-Grandval, Lanau and Sarrans took possession of this astonishing landscape. Bordering the county on 75 kilometers and 2300 ha, these dammed lakes are blending themselves  in a remarkable natural heritage.

The site of Garabit and its Viaduct, a giant of iron built by Gustave Eiffel, is one of the entry points to this region. Completely different from the vulcanism of the Cantal Mountains, Gorges of the Truyère are offering a majestic beauty. Islands, peninsulas and green valleys will amaze you while picturesque and medieval places will make you travel.

 An epic story

Once deep, wild and impenetrable, these gorges have been the subject of an incredible and epic human achievement at the end of the 19th century. In 1884, Viaduct of Garabit, a giant of iron built by Gustave Eiffel, succeed to connect together the two banks of the river. The entire world praised that great feat which permitted to open the railway track from Paris to Béziers and to offer the country profound and significant changes.

Then, the 170 kilometers of the river did not miss to attract the interest of the engineers of the times. In a land where the resource and the strength of water were poorly exploited, construction of several dams was imperative. Besides, at that time, the electrification of the Nation was on its way. In 1934, dam of Sarrans was the 1st to be built. Construction of Grandval in 1959 and Lanau, in 1962, will follow.

All dams constructed on Lot and Truyère rivers are representing 10% of the all power of the French hydroelectric park. This industrial heritage is being developed today through a program called “the road of energy” headed by EDF (Electricity of France). In order to keep in mind the great human adventure of these buildings and powers of water, visit sites have been arranged. Some records are also mentioned.

A natural landmark site

Truyère has been tamed by Men. Now, passion has given way to piece of mind and the landscape is revealing itself in an another way. A scenery where nature always expresses itself as much. Certified “Space Natura 2000” for its biodiversity, these Gorges are one of the most interesting French sites for the conservation of raptors and especially for the one of the peregrine falcon. Showing a real significance from an ecological perspective, French Government decided to register the Gorges of the Truyère as a classified natural site.

A paradise for fishing

These gorges are pretty well enjoyed by fishermen and offer a large panel of activities to for adults and children. The better way to discover beautiful spots and what must be seen is probably to take a boat or a skiff from Garabit and have a ride on the river. To swim in Mallet during the warm seasons is very pleasant and cooling. Water bases of Garabit, Mallet and Lanau are proposing various nautical activities such as canoes, kayaks, dinghies, catamarans, paddles, rabaskas (some kind of a big Canadian canoe), and even dragon boats (long Chinese traditional boat). To go water-skiing or jet-skiing is possible too.

Must seen

  • Viaduct of Garabit, by day or by night with its great light show
  • Castle of Alleuze stuck on the top of its rocky peak
  • The multi-arch dam of Grandval and the one of Sarrans, with the 8th largest water reservoir in France
  • Typical villages of Chaliers and Saint-Just
  • The breathtaking panorama from the point of view of Mallet’s rocky circus in Fridefont
  • On the Sarrans side, the village of Sainte-Marie, the Treboul’s bridge, the Vezou’s belvedere and the Turlande’s rock, before rolling down to Laussac’s peninsula

You may also like

  • Hiking by feet through the mounts with children from the starting point of Montchanson in Faverolles (2 hours/6 kilometers) or to try the Bès Gorges hike with children over 12 of age
  • To have a picnic along the Truyère river and especially in the domain of Laval, near the village of Chaliers (a place called “Le Terran”)
  • The wonderful panorama from the village of Chaliers. Do not forget to walk through its small footbridge!
  • To make a leap into the past at the Margeride’s Eco-Museum: Saint-Martin’s garden, Clémence Fontille’s school, Pierre Allègre’s farm
  • If you like to ride a bike, take the little winding roads of the Truyère’s circuit
  • To go through “the road of energy” (editions on demand): belvedere of Sarrans, Couesques discovery space
  • Two restaurants with breathtaking overviews and featuring regional specialties: “le Beau Site”, “le Belvédère de Mallet”. Or even the “Inn of the Castle” in Alleuze.