Send to a friend
Pearl of the Chaîne des Puys in central France, this volcano is a huge playground which is in the process of being awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO.
Reaching an altitude of 1,465 metres, the Puy de Dôme is not the highest peak in Auvergne, but it is the most iconic, and certainly the most famous. From time immemorial, this volcano has been subject to ardent veneration, first by the Arverne people (the ancestors of Auvergne’s inhabitants), then by the Gallo-Romans, who built a temple to the god Mercury during the first century AD.
In 1876, the Puy de Dôme became highly-prized as a hiking destination by the first tourists, and the volcano enjoyed such success that an inn was built here, followed by an hotel. In 1907, a railway was constructed, linking it to Auvergne’s largest city, Clermont-Ferrand. By 1920, it would be carrying thousands of visitors, drawn by the extraordinary views afforded from the top; a lunar landscape made up of craters and cones, interlocking and overlapping as far as the Massif du Sancy to the south and the Plaine de la Limagne to the north, whilst to the east lies Clermont–Ferrand.
In 1926, a toll road replaced the steam-powered tramway and in 1957 the Puy de Dôme acquired the look it continues to have today. Still as popular as it ever was – especially due to the Tour de France – today it sees more than 450,000 visitors every year.
Awarded the status of Grand Site de France in 2008, it is now having to meet the challenges posed by sustainable development, so to this end various refurbishment projects have been agreed to deal with problems posed by erosion and gullying.
The top can now be reached all year round via an electric rack railway, whilst cars, campervans and other motor vehicles are now prohibited. And you’ll reach the top in 20 minutes, travelling on the Panoramique des Dômes, a train with panoramic windows providing amazing views of the 80 volcanoes of Auvergne, lined up north to south over sixty or so kilometres and forming the Chaîne des Puys.
The use of bicycles is highly regulated and limited to official sporting events.
For the more intrepid traveller, you can get to the top on foot in 45 minutes via the Chemin des Muletiers (leaving from the Col de Ceyssat, which is just 5 minutes’ drive from the train station).
You also have the option of going up by train and returning on foot, for the return leg of which you should allow an hour and a half to get back to your vehicle.
Taking the Chemin des Chèvres trail will also take you towards the Puy de Pariou.
Trains leave every 40 minutes during the season, and every 20 minutes during July and August.
There is a shop and snack bar at the departure station. At the top, as well as a shop, there is a café and fine dining restaurant called the 1911, where you can stop off for some delicious food.
At the top there are also various points from which you can set off for a hike or just a walk, so you can have a look around and enjoy the view and the neighbouring volcanoes.