ESCAPE TO FIND PEACE, QUIET AND EXTREME BEAUTY
Every volcano in Auvergne is unique depending on its age and type of eruption. However, the Cantal volcano is the oldest one and volcanologists estimate its age as being between 11 and 3 million years old. This stratovolcano is also the largest volcano in Europe covering a total surface area of 2,770 km2 and with a diameter of 70 kilometres. Its tempestuous past has left its mark on the natural landscape we see today. Volcanic activity has resulted in high basalt rock plateaus, cirques and glacial valleys. The land is fertile for farming and natural materials have been used in traditional architecture so well suited to the topography of the land and the climate in the area.
Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park
The Monts du Cantal, also known as the Cantal volcano, are part of the volcanic sites within the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Natural Park. For nature lovers, there are lots of animals and plant species to discover while out exploring the area. Look out for chamois, mountain sheep known as moufflons and marmots. For plant lovers, you can admire yellow gentian, yellow alpine pasqueflowers, beautiful martagon lilies or the carnivorous droseras that thrive on peatland in the area. The area is protected, unspoilt and a natural home to a vast range of wild animals and plant species. While you are here, you can also immerse yourself in the spirit of this mountain area, learn all about local life and discover the traditions and know-how passed down over generations
Shhh … the volcano is sleeping! In actual fact, volcanologists always consider that volcanoes are dormant rather than extinct. This explains why here, like in all other volcanic sites, the underground activity is closely monitored by specialists.
Outdoor sports enthusiasts will be in their element in this area and can explore the Monts du Cantal on foot, by mountain bike or on horseback. You will find a multitude of marked-out trails, the most well-known being the GR400 hiking trail that extends all around the area, the GR4 that crosses the area as well as the GTMC, Grande Traversée du Massif Central for mountain bikers, a part of which goes through Cantal.
Covered in a blanket of snow in wintertime, the Monts du Cantal offer a wide range of winter sports including downhill skiing, Nordic and cross-country skiing as well as fat biking using specially adapted mountain bikes suited to the snow.
Not to be missed while visiting the Monts du Cantal
- The breath taking panoramic view over the Massif Cantalien from the top of the Plomb du Cantal, the highest summit in Cantal at a height of 1,855 metres.
- The Prat de Bouc mountain pass (accessible by car) at an altitude of 1,392 metres. It is the ideal starting point to reach the Plomb du Cantal on foot.
- The iconic Puy Mary, Grand Site de France, a magnificent peak that looks like a huge pyramid when seen from the sky that culminates at a height of 1,787 metres. The panoramic view over the Monts du Cantal is stunning. The Visitor Information Centres (Maisons du Site) in different sites around the Puy Mary put on many displays and activities on a variety of themes that provide a fascinating insight into how the landscape was formed, the wildlife and plant species and the area’s cultural and natural heritage.
- The Brezons valley and its many beautiful waterfalls formed by volcanic lava flows.
- The Planèze plateau, a high plateau used for farming and animal breeding. The hedges, copses and wetland areas provide a haven for many species of birds. Vast open spaces lie before you and there is a wide choice of easy walks to enjoy on this stunning plateau.
Other things to enjoy
- Eat out in a buron, a traditional mountain shelter and taste local specialities such as truffade, a delicious potato and Tome cheese dish.
- Observe the seasonal migration of the birdsin autumn at the Col du Prat de Bouc.
- Head out exploring some of the many paths and trails on a walk or a longer hike. Have a look at the events calendar on our website to find out about our guided walk to look out for marmots organized during the summer season.
- Plan your visit and learn all about the area thanks to guide books published by the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park.
- Visit Malbo and discover Rissergues archeological site where there was a hamlet in the 11th century as well as the Grenier de Lili, an exhibition and collection of objects that tell the tale of local life in the mountains.
- Explore the winding mountain roads by car or motorbike along one of the area’s tourist driving itineraries.
Tourist Office of Saint-Flour – Pierrefort – +33 (0)4 71 23 38 04 or Saint-Flour – +33 (0)4 71 60 22 50