Road Trip Postcard in Auvergne France (Part 5): The Scenic Route to a Volcanic Park

in Pinmapplelast year (edited)

Scenic Route.png

Hello Hive Travelers,

The sound of the ice maker and ice cubes filling up the tray made me long for cooler weather. I could almost see the disbelief on your face right now but yes, while the rest of the world longed for the sun, I am sipping my coffee while sweating in places I never thought possible.

It took months before I could continue the Auvergne series as life spontaneously brought my sister and her family here to the resort village for a one-week visit.

Detours are my favorite part of travel as with life in general. The alternate route brings raw experiences and unexpected discoveries that sparked many travel conversations. Allow me to take you on a journey through the volcanic hills right at the heart of France.

One bright and sunny summer back in 2012, my husband and I spent a week in an organized family getaway in the volcanic region of the Massif Central.

In the first part of the series, I talked about where we stayed, things to do around the area, and how to get there.

Experience an Organized Family Vacation in Le Lioran, France (Part 1)

Le Lioran is a winter ski resort in the Massif Central that transforms into an adventure-packed nature hideaway from June to September. It is perched on the mountains of Cantal, right at the heart of the sleeping Cantal Volcano, the oldest and largest volcano in Europe.

During our journey to visit Salers which was the second part of the series, we made several stops. One of them was this quaint village whose name I couldn't recall.

We just had a heavy lunch of the region's traditional specialty called Truffade at the hotel. Imagine pancake-like layers of shredded potatoes and bacon almost to the consistency of mashed potatoes baked in loads of cream, Gruyere, and Cantal cheese. The dish will guarantee a drowsy drive under the bright sun so a coffee stop to stretch the legs and caffeine buzz was more than welcome.

Col Du Pertus - Mounts of Cantal mountain pass

Auvergne, The Land of Volcanoes

I didn't know much about the Massif Central before taking this road trip but I later learned that if you're fascinated by volcanology, this tectonic hotspot is the best place to learn about it in Europe. It is home to the biggest stratovolcano on the continent and a hiker's dreamland.

The unspoiled landscape with its impressive green peaks made up of "Puys" meaning hills stretches wide occupying two departments- Cantal and Chaîne des Puys. The latter is a 45-kilometer long chain of 80 volcanoes about 3 to 5 kilometers in width with Puy de Dome (1,465 m) as its highest peak. The Chaîne des Puys - Limagne Fault is a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1

There are two ways to access the Auvergne Volcanoes Region Nature Park in the Cantal Mountains side. We took the more scenic route of Mandailles Saint Julien, the D317 road. @iamyohann drove the small sedan along a meandering mountain road lined by pine trees in varying shades of green and steep ravines.

There were numerous observation decks along the way which led up to the Grand National Site of Puy Mary. The family was kind enough to oblige to my photographic whims to stop wherever it was safe enough to do so. They happily took photos as well at the same time.

Our road trip was centered on Cantal Volcanoes and the sign of Auvergne Volcanoes Region Nature Park revealed that we had arrived.

Parc des Volcans D'Auvergne is the biggest regional nature park in France that spans 395,000 hectares in the surface area 2 It is 6 hours southbound from Paris by car.

To illustrate how huge the volcanic nature park isSource

The extinct and dormant volcanoes of Massif Central are said to have been formed 60 million years ago due to the collision of the African and European tectonic plates. When the European plates slipped under the former, this triggered the appearance of fault lines which gave birth to the appearance of Cantal Volcanoes 13 million and 3 million years ago.

The Auvergne Volcanoes Region Nature Park has limited parking spaces. We parked the car along the side of the road and walked to get a better view.

Puy Mary is a pyramid-shaped summit of a trachytic extinct volcano. It is said to be an arduous climb on a beaten path. There are many versions of its height but according to the wiki, it is 1783 m.

We didn't attempt to climb the summit due to the lack of time and I could easily blame the truffade that we ate for lunch. Instead, we followed the path around the surrounding areas to admire the vast terrain and its conical peak.

My Takeaway

The Volcanic region of Massif Central is not only for volcanology and geology aficionados. It is a hiker's wonderland where you'll be enthralled by ravines, forests, lakes, dormant and extinct volcanoes, valleys, and architecture made of volcanic stone.

It is huge! We have only seen a small fraction of the Cantal Stratovolcano during the entire trip including Puy Griou and Plomb du Cantal.

To encapsulate what a vacation in the Cantal Mountains is like as succinctly as I could muster, delight in Auvergne's gastronomy - Saint Nectaire and Cantal Cheese, truffade, Tarte aux myrtilles (blueberry tart), sip a lot of Saint-Pourçain wine and then hike in this tectonic paradise till you drop and repeat.

Having said that, catch the next post about the Burons, the house of cheese making.

Do you like Eat-and-Hike getaways? Are you a volcanology junkie? Then this is a great destination for you.

Thank you for reading!

Related post about Auvergne that might interest you:

Part 1 - Experience an Organized Family Vacation in Le Lioran, France
Part 2 - Salers
Part 3 - Murat
Part 4- Road Trip Postcard in Auvergne: Day Hikes Around Plomb du Cantal
Puy Griou

1 The Chaîne des Puys - Clermont Auvergne Tourisme
2 The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park - France Voyage
Geotours France 1: Cantal and the Chaîne des Puys
Cover image edited with Canva

Discovering Arni.jpg

"I am an old soul who simply loves coffee, who finds joy and beauty in both tangible and the unseen."


Curiosity and imagination lead to unexpected experiences. Interested in Nature, Places, Roads Less Traveled, Minimalism, Authentic Living, Anything French, and International Cuisine. Feel free to follow her, re-blog, and upvote if you enjoy her content.


I hope I get to visit this place one day.
Charming places, hope you have amazing experiences! ❤️🥰

Thank you @ykdesign ❤️🙏 Wishing you the same and may you find yourself one day enjoying the breeze on this winding road.

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Hello Priyan @priyanarc, many thanks to you and DIY Hub for the feature, highly appreciate it. Wishing you a lovely weekend

It's an adventure that a lot of people wanna try. The place looks cool though the weather is hot😂.
Beautiful houses plus extraordinary scenery.

Hello Lerre, it was an unusually bright day but despite the sun and cloudless sky, it was pleasantly cool, like someone turned on air conditioning outside, definitely favorable for hiking. Nostalgia hits on hot days like today.

Now, this looks like going on a chilling road trip. I pretty much felt that diet as you described. keeping the bacon aside in my regards. haha. Oh, and does nausea hits you on these spiral road trips? It makes me so here.
Kept on scrolling the post to see the matchy-matchy first, I wont even lie. lol :D

Hi @suzn.poudel, thinking about it made me hungry 😁 I think there is vegetarian truffade too. So far the winding roads and curves there were smooth. Fortunately, I had never experienced nausea in the car. What precautions do you usually do for such trips?

Haha, you really have sharp eyes. I haven't thought about it but I think Yohann and his Dad were matchy-matchy. Judging from the previous post, we weren't twinning yet back then lol.

The vegetarian would be just great. :D For a veggie here, it would be a rollercoaster ride to find a nice spot. I end up eating fruits, and sometimes veggie fast foods or breakfast foods(anytime in the day). While less food(depends on places though) it impacts the belly, traveling on the spiral roads with that, and if the driver is in rush; Nausea hits you hard. The precaution is simple; Take an anti-nausea pill before your ride, if nausea hits you, tight your belly with your hand. haha. I esp love rainy seasons here, the smell feels different that also goes like an anti-nausea pill tbh.
A family with similar likings. Unconditionally. That's a beautiful bond developed unconsciously.

I remember the first time I went to France 2 decades ago, I was Lacto-vegetarian. I mostly ate bread, veggie pasta, salad from the supermarket and cheese, lots of them. There are more and more options for vegetarians in restaurants these days so it would be okay. I swear by the anti-nausea pills especially with seasickness before sailing in choppy waters.

Same-same with the foods that I am currently into. lol, The retro has become available in the towns but in the countryside, it gets tough. Sea would also cause me trouble. Never-ever been into it.

Eating out in the countryside, I agree, offers limited choices. Have a great week!

That place you visited is such a beauty, the houses are beautiful too. I think I fell in love with Auvergne (^_^)

I find the slate roof and volcanic stone masonry blend really well with the environment. The walls became a sort of inspiration for the raised beds in the garden but the result wasn't as good as the original buildings above, grateful still that they are strong enough to hold the soil together😊

It is very nice that you and your wife can visit different places and share your travel experiences with us. As a traveler, I also love to visit, see and know different places 😍 I would love to see volcanic mountains. I hope I can go on such a trip and share it with you.

Hi @baycan, I had been using my husband as a model mostly in my posts but I do pop in there occasionally 😊 I guess that's the upside to travel blogging, to be able to re-visit places by writing about them. I am stricken by restlessness so Hive helps a lot curb the wanderlust. Thank you for your kind words and may travel be a part of our immediate future.

Your Welcome 🌈🙏

Eat and hike getaways - that's my jam!

You're like me in that you do all the history and fact research on a place after going there. haha.

That looks like a really cool spot for hiking indeed. We were actually supposed to go to that area last weekend but we switched our plans to the Netherlands sort of last minute. I'm not sure if I'm going g to make it there now. I may have to experience it vicariously through your series. Luckily you do a great job showcasing it.

I thought so too, eat and hike getaways are definitely your jam. 😁

You're like me in that you do all the history and fact research on a place after going there.

Haha yes, I pretty much don't research about any place I visit before the trip. It spoils the surprise and due to avoidance in placing any expectations so I don't get disappointed. My husband doesn't like planning trips either but he's much better at it in terms of research and checking stuff until one time he complained and gave me the task to plan an entire trip including the budget. That was the most taxing thing ever haha. I hate planning itineraries, I just want to arrive at a destination and figure it out as I go along.
The drawback to that though is I miss certain destinations and I regret not doing research beforehand.

What's great about travel blogging is I get to learn more about a particular place afterward and somehow freeze them online to read again when I miss a certain place.

Who is in charge of your travel planning usually?

Yeah, I hear you. Travel planning is definitely a challenge. It takes a lot of time and can be a real headache. I do pretty much all of the planning. Sometimes its minimal to make it more spontaneous and other times I do a bunch of research. Spontaneous can be great but it sometimes backfires in that we miss something important or whatever. I rarely pre-research history or interesting facts though because it takes way too much time. One thing I will say is that having interesting facts or stories about a certain place or monument makes seeing it much more enjoyable, especially for the person you are with. Like, it's more interesting for my wife if I bring her to a cool building that has a story behind it vs just showing her the building. It's like a guided walking tour in a way. Like I said, I rarely do that anymore though. Too much work.

Ah, so you're in charge of the travel planning.

One thing I will say is that having interesting facts or stories about a certain place or monument makes seeing it much more enjoyable, especially for the person you are with.

Yes, knowing the story behind locations does make us see them from a different perspective. Some castles, museums, and historical monuments do have tour headsets and when it's a place of interest, they're cool to listen to as well. I did join a free walking tour a few times that were highly recommended and enjoyed them because the tour guides were often funny and theatrical loaded with interesting trivia.

Hiya, @LivingUKTaiwan here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made it into our Top 3 in Daily Travel Digest #1533.

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It's always an honor, thank you very much @livinguktaiwan and @pinmapple team 😍

i agree, the detours when traveling usually create the most beautiful moments, spontaneous and full of adventure. so sunny pictures, and no clouds in the sky, the landscape is great!

Hello Katrin, it was an unusually cloudless day and then the next days after that became grey and towards the end of that trip rainy. Miss sunny days with a cool breeze like that up in the mountains. Where we live, there's a free sauna all day long 😁 Thanks for your lovely message, highly appreciate it.

So beautiful! How I wish I would see these routes in France. The area is so green and so peaceful...I would like to visit the whole of Provence particularly Bordeaux and the lavender fields....The only place I was able to visit in France was the town of Menton when we stayed there for a day during our cross country from Vienna to Andalusia, Southern Spain.

Hi Mers, that must have been a beautiful road trip from Vienna to Southern Spain, crossing the south. I suppose you took the coastal road to Andalusia if you passed by Menton? Like you, I would also like to visit Provence and the southeastern part. The closest to Spain from France I had ever been was on the Pyrenees, Pau, Lourdes, and Tarbes. How long does it take to cross that by road?

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Europe family trip couldn't look any better!
@discoveringarni has taken a journey through France with her family. The sunny fresh vibe can be felt by looking at her photos.
Keep em coming girl! <3

Thank you so much for the mention @mamalikh13 Wishing you a lovely weekend ahead

You're welcome dear... :)