Walking holiday in Auvergne - Cantal volcano is a walking tour that takes you to the heart of the Massif Central. You walk Europe's largest extinct volcano and the enchanting summits, ridges and valleys that constitute this walkers' paradise. In the process you climb Auvergne's highest peaks or 'puys,' the original 'chimneys' of the volcano, which include Plomb du Cantal and the emblematic Puy Mary.
Walking holiday in Auvergne - Cantal volcano is a challenging tour befitting of the modern ‘no pain, no gain’ adage. Nevertheless, it is well within the capabilities of all fit individuals who walk regularly. Moreover, we provide options that can reduce either walk lengths or the climbs on certain days. It’s a walking holiday in France that can be hiked in five days, but we strongly recommend an extra night in either Thiezac or Mandailles, or both, in order to fully appreciate and savour the beauty of this extraordinary region. By the end of the week of walking Cantal’s ridges, valleys, upland moors and domes, you will feel an eternal bond with Cantal and each and every Puy with which you have had the privilege to get acquainted.
Walking the Cantal volcano is a liberating experience. It may not help you with your French, but it should inspire you to re-fresh that long-forgotten knowledge of physical geography that you considered to be mere book-learning first-time around.
Finally, regarding the extra night in either Thiezac or Mandailles, both provide options for extra short walks. A rest day in Thiezac is recommended for those walking the full Day Two itinerary; whereas a stop over in Mandailles would ensure you get to see and film the heights of Puy Mary and Puy Chavaroche – both of which are susceptible to afternoon mist that can descend quite quickly. Moreover, this option would also be a safeguard against those occasional storms when you would certainly not wish to be on the high ridges and peaks. Consider it as an insurance policy – you’ve come all the way to walk Puy Mary and it would be a great shame to miss out.
Tour SummaryArrival day. Enjoy a ramble around historic Murat (2-star hotel)
Day 1: Murat to Lioran
18 kms, with 750 m altitude gain & 400 m descent (walkers’ inn or chambre d’hote)
Day 2: Lioran to Thiézac via Plomb du Cantal.
Full option, 22.5 kms, with 750 m altitude gain of & very gradual 1000 m descent.
Shorter option, 16 kms, and avoids an ascent (2* hotel)
Day 3: Walk to Mandailles.
11.5 kms, with 750 m altitude gain & 600 m descent (walkers’ inn)
Day 4: Circular walk from/to Mandailles via Puy Mary.
Full option, 18 kms, with 980 m altitude gain of & 1190 m descent.
Shorter option, 14 kms, and avoids 250 ms of ascent (walkers’ inn)
Day 5: Mandailles to Lioran via Puy Griou.
11 kms, with 765 m altitude gain (650 if you don’t climb Puy Griou) & 500 m descent (385 if you don’t climb Puy Griou) (walkers’ inn or chambre d’hote)
Departure day. Transfer to Murat.
The St Jacques gateway
Your experience commences with a climb to Murat’s pilgrimage shrine, a fitting start to a fine day’s walking along a variant of the Compostella Trail. The cows are friendly and you are rewarded for your efforts by the day’s grande finale: a climb to Eagle's Beak Rock and Venus Point, at 1700 ms and 1669 ms respectively.
Cantal with aPlomb
You are collected from Murat station and taken to your welcoming overnight chambre d’hote or walkers’ inn not far from the foot of Plomb du Cantal. The next morning you can either take your time scaling Le Plomb (two to two and a half-hours walking) or buy a ticket for the ‘telepherique’ and ride the cable car to the top. Either option provides spectacular vistas, and the chance to enjoy the 360 degree panorama that awaits and an easterly vantage point over the volcanic upland. Then you commence the delightful descent along a Roman trail that follows a fabulous ridge and wide upland moorland before arriving in the charming village of Thiézac and dinner in a comfortable hotel.
Road to Mandailles
Suitably refreshed and well-nourished, your second day sees you climbing out of the the Cère valley along the splendid Chemin de Croix en route to your next convivial overnight stop at a walkers’ tavern in Mandailles, nestled in the Jordan valley to the north west. In between you walk some fine countryside, and a narrow ridge, that gives a southerly vantage point over the grandure that is Puy Griou and Puy Mary and Puy de Peyre Arse.
Your last day’s hiking can be adjusted length-wise to suit. Whichever option you take, you will marvel in the picturesque and staged ascent to one of France’s hiking ‘musts’, Puy Mary. You gain access via the much vaunted Bréche de Rolland and complete the Heavenly trilogy by follow the ridge over Puy Chavaroche tat leads you back down to the convivial atmosphere of your walkers’ inn for a second night.
You've seen it from so many angles, so here's the day you get to touch one of the Volcano's main iconic vents. The views are a fine end to a memorable week's walking.
Or browse our short walking holidays at: Walk in France
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