Puy-de-Dome: tourism and sightseeing
Visit Puy-de-Dome, FranceCar Hire Villas
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
The Puy-de-Dome department is in south-central France, in the Auvergne region and in the heart of the Massif Central. The capital of the department is Clermont-Ferrand.
Puy-de-Dome divides naturally into three main areas for the purposes of a visit:
- a central region that runs north to south through the centre of the department (following the A75 motorway);
- the region to the east that is within the Parc du Livradois-Forez;
- the western region, the most visited part of which falls within the Parc des Volcans d'Auvergne
We explore each of these regions below:
Western Puy-de-Dome and the Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes
The world renowned Volvic water comes from the town of the same name a short distance south-west of Riom.
Close to Volvic the Chateau de Chazeron at Loubeyrat is one of the most interesting medieval castles in the region and also has attractive and well maintained gardens, and the substantial ruins of the Chateau de Tournoel are also an imposing sight.
The best known destination as you head west into the Parc des Volcans d'Auvergne is Puy-de-Dome itself, to the west of Clermont-Ferrand and the volcano that gave the department its name. This is the highlight for visitors, with spectacular views stretching as far as the eye can see along the Chaine des Puys range of volcanoes that traverse the region.
These volcanoes here were formed as recently as 10,000 years ago. That is, 15,000 years more recent than the cave paintings at Lascaux in the Dordogne!
The theme park at Vulcania, near Puy-de-Dome, is a popular attraction with families with various entertainment based on the themes of volcanoes and earthquakes, and is a well thought out park which successfully combines education with entertainment - but don't tell the children!
A natural highlight which we particularly recommend is the viewpoint from just outside the village of Queuille, which overlooks extensive forested slopes and a large loop in the Sioule river.
To the east of the department, the church at Orcival is one of the most impressive in the Auvergne, and the small village of Saint-Sauves d’Auvergne is also pleasant to explore.
Continuing south through the Parc des Volcans there are several attractive villages to discover, and very impressive scenery. Among the highlights we recommend are Saint- Nectaire; the castle and village of Murol; and the 19th century ski and spa resort towns of La Bourboule and Mont-Dore.
The popular ski region called Super-Besse is also situated here in the heart of the volcanoes park.
A pleasant way to appreciate the scenery is to take the road that leads out of Chambon-sur-Lac signposted to the Reserve Naturelle de la Vallee de Chaudefour. The road leads across a high pass, the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert (also a popular, if challenging, cycle route), eventually reaching Mont-Doré.
Eastern Puy-de-Dome and the Parc du Livradois-Forez
Although less visited than the famous volcanoes to the west, the less mountainous eastern region of Puy-de-Dome in and around the Parc du Livradois-Forez also has a great deal of attractive scenery, typically forested hills and open fields and moorland.
In the north-east of the department the town of Thiers, best known for the famous cutlery produced here, has a notable historic centre with some impressive half-timbered houses.
Not far to the north of Thiers the village of Chateldon is in an attractive setting overlooked by a medieval castle.
The medieval Chateau of Alteribe just south of Thiers is also highly recommended to visitors interested in antique furniture and rugs.
Further south, other places of interest we suggest you visit include Courpiere, Olliergues and Billom, each with their own interesting characteristics and part of an interesting route that tours the highlights of the Parc du Livradois-Forez.
The town of Ambert is also to the east of this part of Puy-de-Dome, best known for its renowned cheese and also with an interesting historic centre to explore.
The largest town in Puy-de-Dome is Clermont-Ferrand, best known for its imposing gothic style cathedral built in black rock, and with several other monuments of interest to discover.
Also in this region between the two designated natural parcs we recommend you visit the attractive town of Issoire, which has an important roman style church and a pleasant town centre.
The small village of Usson a few kilometres east of Issoire, and the village of Montpeyroux a little way to the north, are both highly recommended, and the listed National Monument of Villeneuve-Lembron Chateau is a few kilometres to the south.
Note that Usson and Montpeyroux are very close to the A75 autoroute and make ideal places to break your journey if you are travelling towards the south of France.
Map of places to visit near Puy-de-Dome
See more places, tourist attractions and local markets at visiting Puy-de-Dome
See an index of all Puy-de-Dome communes
French version: Puy-de-Dome (Francais)