Natural park and reserve
Natural Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes
The largest and one of the oldest natural parks in France, the goal of the Auvergne Volcanoes park is the protection and promotion of the vast inhabited rural areas, with an approach centred on sustainable development for today and the future.
It stretches over 2 departments (Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal) and includes 4 volcanic ranges: Chaîne des Puys (Puy de Dôme, 1465m), Monts Dore (Puy de Sancy, 1886m), Cézallier (Signal du Luguet, 1551m) and Monts du Cantal (Plomb du Cantal, 1855m).
|Don't miss, the Volcano Park Visitor Centre in Montlosier - Aydat.
An illustrated and interactive exhibition about the Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes and its natural and cultural heritage, inhabitants and their knowledge, leisure and outdoor activities...
A centre with temporary exhibitions devoted to artistic creations and exchanges.
Chastreix Nature Reserve
Incredible landscapes, wild natural beauty, exceptional flora and remarkable fauna, extinct volcanoes... The Chastreix-Sancy Nature Reserve is a microcosm of the Auvergne mountains.
This valley became a listed natural site in 2007. It measures 1895ha and includes 45 environments: cliff, lawn and Alpine meadow plant species (very rare in the Auvergne), magnificent bogs, beautiful beech groves, thickets of downy willow (a protected species in France)...
Don't miss: the source of the Fontaine Salée, bogs, the sharp ridges of the Sancy
Access: 3 'Petite Randonnée' footpaths cross the reserve, as well as the GR30 and GR4 which run across the ridges of the massif. One is a loop of the Chaudefour Valley, while the others leave from Chastreix or from Chareire in Picherande
Recommendations: Dogs, bivouacking, camping and motor vehicles are forbidden. There are notices at each entrance to the reserve; please respect them.
Nature reserve visitor centre in Chastreix
Chaudefour Valley Reserve
The Chaudefour Valley corrie is one of Auvergne's most beautiful glacial valleys. This valley measures 820.5 ha and became a listed natural site in 1991; it is famous for its sharp and spectacular levees; volcanic dykes revealed by erosion: 'la Dent de la Rancune' (The Grudge's Tooth), 'la Crête du Coq' (The Cock's Crest), 'l'Aiguille du Moine' (The Monk's Needle).
The combined effect of the altitude (1150-1854m), the steepness of the slopes and their orientation, and the continued use of agropastoral practices has created many diverse environments, which together make up a site of great ecological interest.
It has a wide variety of flowers (the Welsh poppy, downy willow, Auvergne dwarf sheepsbit...) and animals (Corsican mouflon, chamois, roe deer, stoat, Peregrine falcon...)
Don't miss: the Dent de la Rancune, the Crête du Coq, the waterfalls and springs including the Sainte Anne spring with its ferruginous, sodium-filled, carbonated water.
A footpath from the visitor centre gives access to the site.