Crédits photo bandeau The Chaudefour Valley in Chambon-sur-Lac
Listed as a national nature reserve since 1991, the Chaudefour Valley is an exceptional natural site for studying the wildlife, flora and numerous waterfalls. In this protected haven, you can walk to the glacial corrie where you’ll see the volcanic dykes, Crête du Coq, Dent de la Rancune and Aiguille au Moine.
The Chaudefour Valley is one of the three glacial valleys of the Massif du Sancy. It features some gorgeous scenery, a wealth of wildlife and some amazing geological sites. Very popular among hikers, the National Nature Reserve was created in 1991 to protect the valley’s natural heritage. Dogs and mountain bikes, for example, are not allowed inside the nature reserve.
Ranging from 1,137 metres to 1,854 at the top of Puy Ferrand, this beautiful glacial valley is home to some protected and typically Alpine flora and fauna in an 820-hectare landscape that will take your breath away.
What’s a dyke? In the heart of the valley, you can’t miss them: Dent de la Rancune and Crête de Coq! These two rocky outcrops are dykes. A magma vein emerged along a fissure before cooling down. Erosion, caused by a glacier in this case, then whittled away the softer surrounding rock, thus exposing these lava-stone columns that are now the delight of climbers!
The only way to visit the Chaudefour Valley: hiking! Even if Chaudefour is famous for its tour of the valley by the crests, it is a very accessible site if you stThe only way to visit the Chaudefour Valley is on foot! Although reputed for the crest trail that surrounds it, the site offers a much easier hike along the bottom of the valley. From the National Nature Reserve car park, it presents no particular difficulty and you can even extend your walk to the Biche, Pérouse or Moine waterfalls. With a bit of luck, you’ll spot some mouflons, chamois or marmots. And don’t forget to boost your strength by trying the ferruginous water of the Sainte-Anne spring.
Along the interpretive trail leading into the valley, you’ll find information panels about the habitats, wildlife and landscapes of the Nature Reserve.
So grab your hiking shoes, download the Sancy Explorer app, and follow the guide! To preserve the site, be sure to stay on the waymarked paths and refrain from picking or gathering.
Some 90 metres tall, Dent de la Rancune with its 39 routes is a very well-known climbing site. Beware, it is also one of the most difficult in France. For experienced climbers only!
Just next to it, the Crête de Coq offers easier climbing routes starting at level 4a. It reaches a height of 130 metres and is mostly south-facing. All in a heavenly setting! For safety’s sake, call upon a professional instructor to supervise your climb.
To accompany your vertical adventures, you'll find “Escalade 63”, the climbing guide published by the French Mountain Climbing Federation, in bookshops or online.
The Vallée de Chaudefour Nature Reserve Centre standing at the entrance to the valley is open from May to September. Information, exhibitions and nature walks with the reserve wardens are available through the summer season to help you learn about this beautiful valley’s wealth of flora and variety of landscapes.
By observing a good practice code we can help protect this fragile and extremely precious natural heritage.
The Reserve rules and regulations mainly prohibit: