Puy de Dôme and Old Volcanoes

Tuesday July 10:

In order to break up the journey, from Ste Foy la Grande in the West, to Bourg d’Oisins in the East, we decided to look for a site around Clermont-Ferrand.  

Around 20 years ago we, as a family, actually drove up the Puy de Dôme, a distinctive extinct volcano in a region of them (The Auvergne Volcano National Park).  It’s such a spectacular place that we decided to camp locally, at Camping Les Domes, Nébouzat.  The site was perfectly adequate but it was Puy de Dôme the following day we were interested in.

Click on image for full-size view

Another day , another World Cup match. This time watching France beat Belgium with some very excited French supporters at the campsite bar.

Wednesday, July 11:

An early start (but not early enough as it turned out) to get the first train up Puy de Dôme.  The days of being allowed to drive a car up Puy de Dôme are long gone.  There are two options, tourist train or walk.  Train it was.  The trains start at 9am and run every 40 minutes (possibly more frequently in high season).  We saw the 9am pulling out of the station as we arrived but that gave us time for a coffee before the 9:40.

Humberto parked beneath the Puy de Dome. It’s MUCH more impressive than it seems here.

Because of the gradient the train uses a gear-drive to winch its way slowly up the mountain.  You slowly spiral your way up and get some ever more impressive views across the amazing landscape.  Clearly, at some point in the distant past, it was a flat plain as far as the eye could see.  This plain was totally disrupted by volcanic activity and resulted in a truly unusual mountainous landscape.

You can just see the 9am departure we missed, spiralling up to the summit
Yours truly at the viewing platform on Puy de Dome. Not so good for anyone with a fear of heights……but then again what are you doing up here?

The views from every point on the mountain are spectacular and I’d love to revisit at different times of the year.  The summer heat meant there was a haze in the air, restricting the views slightly.  On a crisp cold morning the views must be quite incredible.

I can see Humberto from here!!!!!! The train station is on the left, 2 minutes stroll from the Motorhome park.

As on our previous visit there were several Parascenders flying on the updrafts.  It seems that the updraft is predictable and perfect for the sport.  It has to be the very best way to view the area… maybe next time I’ll pay for a passenger ride…maybe..possibly.

One surprise, and I’m not sure how I missed it last time is the temple of Mercury du Puy de Dome, “a Gallo-Roman temple built in the second century,  replacing a temple dating from the first century“.  It’s one of those things that make you wonder who the heck thought it would be a good idea to build something in such an inaccessible place.  I hate to think what the builder’s estimate was.

Temple de Mercure
I have to say that this looks like a hobby I could get addicted to…. but not everywhere is quite so perfect for it as this.

After this highly recommended stop we hopped on the next train down, headed for Humberto and then set the Sat-Nav for the Alps, and Bourg d’Oisins, and an area totally new to us both.

….to be continued.

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