Five activities to tame the volcanoes of Auvergne

Hike on the Puys chain, visit a cave dug in a lava flow, Vulcania park… Our ideas for a family dive into these fascinating miracles of nature.

Funny reliefs agitate the ground of Auvergne. Make no mistake about it. These hollow-topped hills are not mountains but ancient volcanoes now extinct and greened by nature. As for these raised plateaus, they are ancient lava flows where nature has regained its rights and man has settled.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018, La Chaîne des Puys-Faille de Limagne is home to more than 80 volcanoes and other geological formations. The Puy de Dôme, the Puy des Gouttes, the Puy de Côme, the Puy Pariou… All once swept over Auvergne in various ways. Projections, magma and devastating explosions have shaped the landscape of the Puys chain. The last eruption took place less than 10,000 years ago: a blink of an eye on the geological scale when we know that volcanism began in Auvergne several tens of millions of years ago. Scientists assure that a new eruption could occur one day. When ? Impossible to know. It could happen in 2 years or in 2000 years… Don’t panic, if by chance the lava were to resurface, we would be warned several days in advance.

In the meantime, the Pays de Volvic, north of Clermont-Ferrand, offer an ideal playground for young and old to understand how these fascinating geological phenomena work while enjoying unspoiled nature landscapes.

Learn while having fun at Vulcania

In 20 years, the credo of the park built under the aegis of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has not changed. To amaze while helping them understand volcanism, Vulcania offers several immersive experiences. In the “Awakening of the Giants of Auvergne”, spectators experience the eruption of the volcanoes of the Puys chain thanks to a 3D film, dynamic seats and other breathtaking special effects, particularly effective on children. The only roller coaster in the park, called “Namazu”, will appeal to thrill seekers. Designed on the theme of earthquakes, they were voted the best new European attraction in 2021. We also like the more relaxing “Premier Envol” attraction. It offers a poetic immersion alongside two eagles traveling above volcanoes with a 180° screen and dynamic gondolas. The most curious can linger on the interactive “Machine Earth” tour, devoted to the functioning of our planet, and book a guided tour to understand everything about the volcanoes of Auvergne (3€50 per person for one hour of visit). From €25 per day (€20 for 6-16 year olds).

Vulcania ParkRoute de Mazayes – 63230 Saint Ours les Roches.

Examine the bowels of a volcano

Some examples of volcanic bombs, projections emitted by the volcano during its eruption that can be found on the Lemptégy site. Prod03

The site of Lemptégy is unique in the world: by digging there to extract the stone, men brought to light the volcano as one opens a history book. Now exclusively dedicated to tourism and volcanological research, the volcano is celebrating its 30th anniversary of opening to visitors. Accompanied by a guide, we go back in time to understand the different stages in the formation of the volcano, or rather the volcanoes: at the end of the sixties, a second volcano was discovered under the first! Two eruptions took place here several tens or even hundreds of years apart. After the visit, on foot accompanied by a guide or by small train, the magmatic chimneys, volcanic bombs and lava flows hold no secrets for us. The visit continues with the viewing of a dynamic 4D film which allows you to relive the history of Lemptégy, from the first eruption to the extraction of the stone. From €12.50 in high season (€9.50 for 4-12 year olds).

Lemptégy volcano, 31 route des Puys, Les Maisons Rouges, 63230 St-Ours-Les-Roches. For its 30th anniversary, the site will organize from July 12 a night tour with light structures, visual and sound effects to give visitors the impression of experiencing an eruption.

Climb into a crater

The ascent of the Puy des Gouttes and its neighbor the Puy Chopine, accessible walk with a positive elevation of 180 meters. David Frobert/Terra Volcana

The Chaînes des Puys offers a series of slopes ideal for hiking. We reach the summit without too much difficulty most of the time. Volcanoes have the particularity of being private property. However, they are open to hikers and crossed by marked paths. Their access is sometimes regulated because of their great fragility. Hikes on the Puy de Côme, which is particularly sensitive to erosion, are for example prohibited.

To start, you can climb the Puy des Gouttes and its neighbor the Puy Chopine, an accessible walk with a positive elevation of 180 meters. The summit offers a panorama of the northern chain of puys. You can even see the Puy de Dôme if the weather conditions allow it.

The Terra Volcana tourist office puts online on its website several hiking routes. You can also book a guide via the “I reserve” tab to treat yourself to a walk with explanations of the surrounding nature and geology. €10 per person (children €5).

Enter a lava flow

The Volvic Stone Cave retraces the epic of the quarryman Jean Legay-Chevalier, at the origin of the discovery of Volvic water at the beginning of the 20th century. Prod03 / Terra Volcana

Impossible to come to Auvergne without laying eyes on the stone of Volvic. From the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand to the monument of Gergovie, this dark volcanic rock is used to build the monuments of the region. An ostentatious sign of wealth, it is used to build the most beautiful residences in the surrounding towns. But extracting such a hard stone is not easy. An immersive journey with projected video films from the period, animated objects and sound and light retraces the epic of the quarryman Jean Legay-Chevalier, at the beginning of the 20th century, in a cave dug inside the lava flow of the volcano of the Nugere. Techniques and tools used, formation of the lava flow, daily life of these women and men of yesteryear, need for water which will lead to the discovery of the water of Volvic… Young and old will be unbeatable on this exploitation at the base of the regional identity. Admission: €8 (5-12 years: €6.50).

Cave of the Volvic stone, 2 route du pont Jany 65530 Volvic. Such. : 04 73 33 56 92. The temperature rarely exceeds 10°, bring warm clothing.

Admire volcanic rock sculptures

Whisperone of the five Volvic stone sculptures installed in the middle of nature by Thierry Courtadon. Henri Derus Photography / Terra Volcana

Thierry Courtadon tames the hard and massive rock that appeared during the eruptions of volcanoes. It arrives in the sculptor’s studio in imposing and rough blocks and comes out elastic, sometimes thin or thick, chiseled and stretched. Five works adorn the landscapes of the Pays de Volvic in an exhibition of land art called “Combining nature”. Whisper, at the start of the Puys de Jumes and Coquille hike, Contemplateat the exit of the village of Chanat-la-Mouteyre, To suspendat the Manoir de veygoux in Charbonnières-les-Varennes, Compressin Pulvérières and Undulate at the Bédat stream, near the Sayat mills.


ASK ABOUT

VISITOR CENTER Terra Volcana – Volvic countries. Riom Information Office, 27 place de la Fédération, 63200 Riom. Such. : 04 73 38 59 45.

HOUSING

Volvic Organic Resort

Eight small eco-designed lodges with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two separate toilets and a lounge area with equipped kitchen. All have a terrace with tables and chairs. Planchas can be made available on request. From €170 per night for four people.

Volvic Organic Resort, rue du Pont Jany 63530 Volvic – France. Such. 06 68 45 35 23.

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Five activities to tame the volcanoes of Auvergne


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