An unspoilt territory covering 2,700 km², forming one of the five regions of the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Nature Park, the natural site of the Mounts of Cantal is Europe's biggest stratovolcano! This circle with a diameter of around 80 kilometres appeared around 13 million years ago, and occupies most of the department of Cantal.
The erosion of ancient glaciers created twenty or so valleys stretching around its culminating points: the Plomb du Cantal, the highest peak in the Mounts of Cantal, at 1,855 metres in altitude; the Puy de Peyre-Arse (1,806 m); Puy Mary, a Great Site of France (1,783 m), Puy Chavaroche (1,739 m); Puy Griou (1,690 m) etc.
A hiker's paradise, the Mounts of Cantal make up an extraordinary territory of green landscapes surrounding typical buildings, often made of volcanic stone with slate roofs, a characteristic of the region.
There are countless walking opportunities on the ridges and peaks, or on the slopes of the old volcano, among the beech and pine trees, for all ages and all levels. 140 kilometres long and ranging in altitude from 750 to 1,855 metres, the GR 400 takes you around the Cantal volcano in around 8 days. For a shorter hike, there are routes of 20 to 45 kilometres for ramblers to enjoy.
A climb up the Puy Mary, starting from the Pas de Peyrol, the highest road pass in the Massif Central, or up the Plomb du Cantal or Puy Griou, will lead you to splendid views! From these peaks, hikers can survey the planèzes, basalt plateaus that formed during volcanic eruptions.
In winter, you can go skiing on the slopes of the Cantal Massif, at the resort of Le Lioran, which offers all snow sports, from downhill skiing to snowshoe hiking through cross-country skiing and dog sled rides. At the foot of the Puy Mary, starting from the Serre or Lascourt pass, some fifty kilometres of marked and secured cross-country skiing and snowshoe pistes await winter sports fans.
The Mounts of Cantal are also a refuge for a variety of plants and animals, including mountain species like chamois, mouflon and marmot.