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The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park is Europe's largest regional park and also one of the oldest, it was established in 1977. A huge park comprised of outstanding landscapes, fauna and flora, the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park (Parc naturel régional des Volcans d’Auvergne) also owes its distinctive identity to a rural society which has successfully preserved its ancestral know-how and culture, fully aware of the richness and fragility of its environment.
Discover the five areas of the Regional Park:
Their distinctive shapes are easy to recognise even from very far away. They include more than 80 domes and craters which erupted here between 100,000 and 7,000 years ago, and which today form a chain spanning some 30 km. This series of volcanic peaks unique of its kind in Europe overlooks Clermont-Ferrand. Its highest point, the Puy de Dôme (1,465 m or 4,806 ft), can be reached by the Panoramique des Dômes rack railway for a panoramic view of the volcanoes.
The Massif du Sancy
This steep-sided range of hills strewn with volcanic lakes is the result of the complex geological activity which occurred on the site between 4 to 5 million years ago and 250,000 years ago. Today, the Puy de Sancy (1,886 m) is the tallest point in the Massif Central. The area has hundreds of kilometers of marked trails around lakes (Chambon, Guéry, Servières) or in the Chaudefour Valley Nature Reserve.
The Cantal Massif
The erosion of Europe's widest volcano led to the creation of a number of superb radiating valleys. The volcano peaks at the Plomb du Cantal (1,858 m), although the most distinctive is the pyramid shaped Puy Mary (1,787 m). The area is a hub for paragliding in the summer, and skiing in the winter at Le Lioran ski resort.
For an exciting and dramatic change of scenery, discover this high volcanic plateau peaking at 1,551 m. The rolling grassy landscape is dotted with lakes, including a pair in the town of La Godivelle, and herds of Aubrac or Salers cattle graze in the pastures.
In the west of Auvergne, on the border of the Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal regions is the granitic plateau of Artense. A diverse area, Artense is known for its water, with rivers and lakes, including the Bort-les-Orgues lake overlooked by the Chateau de Val.