Three Peaks of the Auvergne – part 1 – Puy de Sancy

The region of southern central France known as the Auvergne is the birthplace of two of the country’s best known rivers – the Loire and the Dordogne – yet the majority of the tourists who visit their illustrious wine regions to the North and West are unaware of its unique beauty. The Auvergne region is split into 4 smaller areas – Allier, Puy de Dome, Haute Loire and Cantal – and is home to the Massif Central where are to be found the highest mountains in France outside of the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Much of the country is reminiscent of the rolling wooded hills of Derbyshire but just occasionally upthrusts in these benign hills aspire to greater things and with the exception of lowland Allier the other three areas are home to peaks that echo the far off Alps or Pyrenees. This post in three parts is a tale of those three peaks of the Auvergne – the high points of Puy de Dome, Cantal and Haute Loire.

Puy de Sancy

The Massif du Sancy and the upper part of the Dordogne Valley

My objective rose impressively ahead – an abrupt end to the valley where tiers of rocky escarpments and steep grassy slopes culminated in a precipitous looking rocky tower which was crowned by the upper cable car station. The highest point of the Massif Central, Le Puy de Sancy was hidden from sight just behind that rocky peak which itself moved in and out of sight with the drifting mists that cloaked the upper crags.

We’d driven up to the car park at the end of the valley from the ramshackle charm of Le Mont-Dore – the Dordogne valley’s last town – and I’d set off up the path which was really more of a wide track that doubled as a ski piste in the winter months. Jacqui being pregnant and Josh being nine – were both going up on the cable car and I’d meet them at the top station from where we’d all walk the last bit to the summit.

Dordogne Valley

Looking back down the Dordogne Valley to Le Mont Dore at the right of the picture

The track steadily climbed the grassy slopes towards an impressive looking waterfall up ahead – probably somewhere near the actual source of the Dordogne – and was an easy uphill walk though I found the plastic mesh fencing off putting. Its purpose was to prevent out of control skiers from plummeting down the mountain and I guess if I were skiing down here I would most likely fall into that category and be reassured to see the bright orange netting but it doesn’t complement the surrounding views.
 
I followed the path towards the waterfall before it bent around to climb above it into a high misty valley from where it made a steeper and stonier ascent to approach the upper cable car station by easy slopes unseen from below. The ragged cloud which had clung to the upper slopes now surrounded me obscuring the views and as it began to rain I joined Jacqui and Josh in the oppressive warmth of the cafe until the shower had passed and we could all set out for the top. 

Puy de Sancy path

The path up to the upper gondola station with Le Mont Dore beyond

Le Puy de Sancy

The summit seen from the upper gondola station

The ascent from the cable car station to Puy de Sancy at 1886m or 6188 feet is just a case of following everyone else up the wooden steps and duck boarding to the viewing indicator on the summit. Very little effort and no route finding ability are needed but the views are worth coming up for if nothing else. I guess I’m just against the idea of constructing pathways like this up mountains as it destroys their originally wild nature. In defence of the path builders I would imagine that erosion would be a serious problem here without the wooden boards – the hazards of having a cable car almost to the top – and they are preferable to the concrete pathway built up Puy Mary in Cantal to the South of here.

Rock formations on the ridge

Rock formations on the ridge seen from the path to the summit

Massif du Sancy Gondola

The upper gondola station seen from the summit

Summit View

The view from the top of the Massif Central

To part 2 of this post >>> hiking the Plomb du Cantal

 

 

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About Pete Buckley

I'm Pete Buckley the UK based indie author of "The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk" a high speed adventure thriller in which the reader is introduced to Russian Agent Colonel Yuri Medev and Jim Bergman of the FBI who must overcome political differences and work together to defeat a dangerous enemy - perhaps some of our politicians should read it to find out how. I have just finished the next Yuri Medev adventure entitled "The Kirov Conspiracy" due for release soon, while previously I wrote a couple of travel stories about various wonderful places such as New Zealand and the Swiss Alps. Aside from writing, travel has always been a big inspiration with hiking, biking and the outdoors taking up much of my time when I'm not looking after the kids. Thanks for visiting.
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59 Responses to Three Peaks of the Auvergne – part 1 – Puy de Sancy

  1. Pingback: Three Peaks of the Auvergne – part 2 – Plomb du Cantal | Tales from the Hills

  2. Lakia Gordon says:

    These pictures are gorgeous. I would love to visit 🙂

    Like

  3. Beautiful – thank you for sharing. Gives me wanderlust.

    Like

  4. Sherri says:

    Wow! What an amazing place full of beauty and inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing these photos. What an adventure. 🙂

    Like

  5. What a stunningly beautiful place! Congrats on FP-ed!
    Kathy

    Like

  6. Wow — simply breathtaking photos! 🙂

    Like

  7. Wow, beautiful photos. Thanks for taking us along on the journey. 🙂 (And congrats on Freshly Pressed!)

    Like

  8. befit7 says:

    It’s a cool place to live in!!!!!

    Like

  9. photomi7ch says:

    Some great views Pete enjoyed the tour.

    Like

  10. ournote2self says:

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  11. Thanks for sharing. I am planning a trip with my sister to France in the fall!

    Like

  12. kbaran01 says:

    Amazing pictures – my boyfriend is studying in Paris for a year and a half and we have been looking into some weekend trips to take…this might have to be it. Simply breathtaking!

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      You won’t be disappointed if you go there. I usually go to the Alps but the Auvergne was somewhere special – the only other tourists we saw were French so I guess it’s not so well known outside France. Enjoy your trip!

      Like

  13. Eva McCane says:

    wow….i’d like to see that view in person!

    Like

  14. Such breathtaking, majestic scenery! Really enjoyed the read.

    Like

  15. Great pictures! And I love the title of blog/travel book “Tales from the Hills”!

    Like

  16. Would you give us please any piece of advice about landscape photography?

    thanks in advance and congrats!

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      I’m fairly new to it myself and don’t feel too qualified to give advice but I guess the atmospheric conditions helped here – along with some stunning scenery. To show how much difference the weather makes check out part 2 of this post where conditions were a bit flat and part 3 where they were near perfect. One thing I usually do is use a walking pole to steady the camera – usually because it always seems to blow a gale when I try to photograph anything! There I had a go – thanks for asking.

      Like

  17. Sajeevs blog says:

    Beautiful pictures especially of the clouds floating among the mountains. Would love to visit France:)

    Like

  18. whatsaysyou says:

    Very nice photos you have. And panoramic too.

    Like

  19. sketchjay says:

    Great photos, I am really loving the clouds!

    Like

  20. Beautiful – thank you for sharing.

    Like

  21. Harold says:

    France is a beautiful place through your pictures and words, thanks.
    Congrats on being FP!

    Like

  22. Looks fun. I’ll be heading to France in June. Might have to make a side trip down to that region.

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      It’s well worth going. The route on your own site looks something of an epic – I’ve done some hiking in Colorado and like the look of the Long Trail (Vermont) but that one looks some distance!

      Like

      • So far it’s just a vision, but the idea is to create another long north/south National Scenic Trail. Certainly epic to do a thru hike, but if it becomes a reality, doing a day hike section should be quite enjoyable.

        Like

      • Pete Buckley says:

        What’s the one in the Rockies – is it called the Continental Divide Trail? I did a couple of days on that in Colorado. Yes the whole lot would be a mission but the single days were really good.

        Like

  23. CarsOfficial says:

    Thank you for sharing the breathtaking photos.

    CarsOfficial
    http://CarsOfficial.com

    Like

  24. custompaperpoint says:

    so spectacular place and congrats on being freshly pressed.

    thanks for sharing beauty full post.

    Like

  25. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  26. Tofi Luk says:

    In case you may want to join my weblog’s Q BLOG AWARDS 2011:
    http://thequeerlifestyle.com/the-queer-lifestyles-q-blog-awards-2011/

    Like

  27. gardening says:

    wow! very beautiful! I wish I could visit the place.

    Like

  28. mechlectic19 says:

    I’ll add this to my list of hikes when I move to Puy-de-Dome later this month. Can’t wait to check out parts 2 and 3. Thanks!

    Like

  29. Suncool says:

    so gouges.this picture is so beautiful.

    Like

  30. Hi Peter –

    I spent a lot of time in France during the early 90s. Unfortunately, my adventures were only in the north; from Strasbourg to Paris, up to Calais crossing the channel to Dover. I never made it more than 100 kilometers south of Paris. How sad, especially after viewing your breath-taking spectacle in your blog. I had known about the beauty of southern France. I just never made time the few years I lived in Slovenija and Croatia to see it. Thank you for the excellent blog post. Happy Tuesday to you. 🙂

    Like

    • Pete Buckley says:

      Hi Charlie – thanks for the comment. I used to go to Chamonix quite a lot but the Auvergne was a lot quieter. I guess it’s the Pyrenees I’d like to go back to most as I’ve only been the once.

      Like

  31. Looks fun. I’ll be heading to France in June. Might have to make a side trip down to that region.

    Like

  32. hamedstales says:

    hey can you check my blog and give me feedback?
    thanks

    Like

  33. i like ur pictur thanx u.

    Like

  34. Great post thanks for sharing. Your layout is excellent. I enjoyed reading today’s article very much.

    Like

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