Visit Puy-de-Dome, France
On a clear day, the views of the volcanoes around Puy-de-Dome are among the most beautiful and familiar in France - but don't overlook the many other scenic highlights and traditional French towns elsewhere in this picturesque department
Selected places to visit in Puy-de-Dome
The Puy-de-Dome department is in south-central France, in the Auvergne region. The department falls in two main parts, east and west of the A75 motorway that runs through the centre of Puy-de-Dome. To the east falls the Parc du Livradois-Forez, while to the west is the northern part of the Parc des Volcans d'Auvergne.
The capital of the department is Clermont-Ferrand, with the abbey at Mozac and the town of Riom a few kilometres to the north. The renowned Volvic water comes from the town of the same name a little way south-west of Riom.
The best known destination as you head west to the volcanoes parc is Puy-de-Dome itself, the volcano that gave the department its name. This is an obligatory stop for visitors to the department and the Chaine des Puys string of volcanoes that traverse the region, with spectacular views stretching as far as the eye can see. Remember in passing that the volcanoes here were created as récently as 10,000 years ago - 15,000 years more recent than the cave paintings at Lascaux in the Dordogne!
The region west of Issoire enters the higher Massif Central region. There are several attractive villages to discover, and a great amount of very impressive scenery. Among the villages to visit are the ‘most beautiful villages’ of Saint- Nectaire, Saint-Floret and Saint-Saturnin; the castle and village of Murol; and the 19th century ski and spa resort towns of La Bourboule and Mont-Dore.
A good way to appreciate the scenery is to take the road that leads out of Chambon-sur-Lac signposted to the Reseve Naturelle de la Vallee de Chaudefour. The road leads across a high pass, the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert (a popular, if challenging, cycle route), eventually reaching Mont-Doré.
To the east of the department, the church at Orcival and the small village of Saint-Sauves d’Auvergne are popular destinations.
The theme park at Vulcania, near Puy-de-Dome, is a popular attraction with families with various volcanic / earthquake type entertainment.
The less mountainous east around Parc du Livradois-Forez includes much fine scenery, less mountainous than the west. The renowned cheese town of Ambert is in this part of Puy-de-Dome,
Between the two designated natural parcs, visit not just Clermont Ferrand, but also the attractive town of Issoire and its renowed church. The small village of Usson a few kilometres east of Issoire, and Montpeyroux a little way north, are both highly recommended, and the listed National Monument of Villeneuve-Lembron Chateau is a few kilometres to the south. Note that these places are along the autoroute and would make ideal places to break your journey if you are travelling south.
See a list of all Puy-de-Dome communes
Map of Puy-de-Dome
French version: Puy-de-Dome (Francais)