Travel to Auvergne

Day 5 Picherande - Puy de Dôme - Clermont-Ferrand – Picherande (137 Km.)

Auvergne


 

(in 60 Km.) Puy de Dôme: The Puy de Dôme is one of the youngest volcanoes in the Chaîne des Puys. The most recent eruption was in the year 5760 BC. From the summit (1,465 m) offers a magnificent view of the chain of puys. To the north we will see some with crater (Petit Puy de Dome, Grand Suchet, Puy de Côme, Pariou and Louchadière) and others that do not (Petit Suchet, Clierzou and Sarcouy). To the south all the volcanoes have crater: Monchier, Barme, Mercoeur,etc.

Puy de Dôme
Puy de Dôme

The Puy de Dôme attracts many tourists and it is cataloged as a Grand National site. Formerly it could be climbed by car or bicycle by a pronounced spiral road (it was stage finish in some editions of the Tour de France), but nowadays is prohibited. Since June 2012 can be raised only by train or walking. Some adults went up by train with the younger children and the rest climbed walking by the Chemin des Muletiers (from the parking lot located on the Col de Ceyssat, about 45 minutes of climbing).

Puy de Dôme - Temple to Mercury
Puy de Dôme - Temple dedicated to Mercury

The rise in train takes only about 15 minutes, but had to do a lot of queue to board the train. Train tracks (next to a service road) advance on what was the old road, allowing to preserve the existing flora and wildlife. The first section advances by the midst of the understory, but when it gain height, leaves the understory and offers stunning views. At the summit we find different paths that offer us a 360 degree panorama of the entire Chain des Puys.

Puy de Dôme - View over Pariou volcano
Puy de Dôme - View over Pariou volcano

Besides the views, at the summit highlight a Gallo-Roman temple, built in the first century, dedicated to Mercury, the ruins of which were discovered in 1873 and a TDF (Télédiffusion de France) antenna dedicated to the diffusion of audiovisual programming (There is a project to eliminate it and recover the nature in the summit). We walked down by the Sentier des Muletiers. This is an old pedestrian path with 450 meters of altitude that progresses in zigzag and, it is said, led the pilgrims to the Temple of Mercury.

Puy de Dôme - Chemin des Muletiers
Puy de Dôme - Chemin des Muletiers

(in 14 Km.) Clermont-Ferrand: In the afternoon we took a walk through the city in which highlights his black lava stone cathedral. We left the car in the car park beneath the Place de la Poterne, which is the source of Amboise (1511). It is a beautiful work of Renaissance style carved with Volvic lava, crowned with a Hercules carrying weapons of Amboise. A mere 200 meters away is the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l´Assomption de Clermont-Ferrand), built in Gothic style between. Its two towers are visible from afar and are one of the symbols of the city.

Clermont-Ferrand - Cathedral
Clermont-Ferrand - Cathedral

We could not visit the cathedral because it was already closed. It is a Gothic cathedral. We could barely see the blue rose window that is placed over the north portal, and the rose window with orange hues dominating the south portal, both from the fourteenth century. We walk down by Rue des Gras and to the left is the Jaude Square, noted for the equestrian statue of Vercingetorix, inaugurated on October 12, 1903, work of Frédèric-Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor who is best known for designing the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Clermont-Ferrand - Jaude square
Clermont-Ferrand - Jaude square

Returning to the parking we walked through another point of interest in the city, the old center around the Victory Square. The truth is that we leave many things pending to see, as for example the basilica of Notre-Dame du Port, one twelfth-century Romanesque building located between Place Delille and the cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.

(in 63 Km.) Picherande: On the way back to the gîte we took the opportunity to make a couple of photos of the castle of Murol and Lake Chambon.


 

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