This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.
The Puy-de-Dôme volcano (1,465m) is the highest summit of the Chaîne des Puys – a chain of more than 80 sleeping volcanoes running through the region of Auvergne from north to south. The Puy-de-Dôme and the other Auvergne volcanoes are relatively young, with the first eruption taking place 95,000 years ago and the most recent one just 8,600 years ago.
Located 10 km from Clermont-Ferrand, a visit to the summit of Puy-de-Dôme volcano is one of the best things to do in Auvergne. From the top, you can admire a magnificent 360º panorama over the volcanoes of Auvergne, and it is also a beautiful place to paraglide to lofty heights for even better views.
Puy-de-Dome was also a place of worship in ancient times and, later in 1911, the finish line of the challenging Michelin Aviation Prize. Which such an incredible history and great nature, it is no wonder the Puy-de-Dôme volcano is listed as one of the ‘Grands Sites de France’! The Chaine des Puys is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2018.
Climbing to the top of Puy-de-Dôme is not a difficult task, but there are other ways to visit Puy-de-Dôme for non-hikers.
Ways to Visit Puy-de-Dôme Volcano
Two paths climb up to the Puy de Dome: the Chemin des Chèvres and the Sentier des Muletiers. You can take the Sentier des Muletiers to climb up to the summit and use the other path to climb down.
The Sentier des Muletiers hike is the most popular way to visit Puy-de-Dôme, and it runs up the south face of the mountains. The Chemin des Muletiers was the path taken in ancient times by the pilgrims up to the Temple of Mercury (more on this later).
The ascent is not difficult but still requires a good pair of hiking boots. The starting point of this hike is the parking at Col du Ceyssat (arrive early to find a good spot for your car). From there, it’s a 2km hike and 365m climb that can be done in 45 min – 1 hour. You can also start from La Maison du Site for a 6km hike that usually takes 1,5-2 hours. If the sky is clear, you can see up to Puy de Sancy!
The Chemin des Chèvres hike (4.9km, 3 hrs) takes hikers to the top along the north face, with stunning views of the Puy Pariou, the Puy des Goules and the Puy de Côme.
La Boucle des Dômes
With more time and a bit of planning, the Boucle des Dômes multi-day hike is the best way to explore the volcanoes of Auvergne. This 3-day hike (50km) is well marked, and you can get great views of the different puys (Puy-de-Dôme volcano included) and the massif of Sancy.
The point of departure /arrival of this hike is Gare du Panoramique des Dômes (Orcines), at the foot of Puy-de-Dôme. You can reach this place with your car (free parking available) or a shuttle bus from Clermont Ferrand (www.smtc-clermont-agglo.fr / 04 73 44 68 68).
There are few places to dine and sleep during the hike, so booking in advance is paramount.
Best Places to sleep for the first night (18km, 5 hours)
- Logis Volcan Sancy
- Les Gîtes de Récolaine
- Camping Les Dômes
Best Places to sleep for the second night (14km, 4 hours)
- Gite de l’Etape Communal de Mazaye
- Auberge de Mazaye
Take the Panoramique des Dômes Train
This rack train is definitely the most comfortable way to visit Puy-de-Dôme. Hop on the train, and enjoy the breathtaking landscape on this 15min journey to the puy’s summit. The train station is located at Chemin du Couleyras, in a place named ‘La Font de l’Arbre,’ in Orcines.
Buy your train tickets here. If you are traveling with kids, you can combine the ride up to Puy-de-Dôme with a visit to Vulcania, the theme park dedicated to volcanoes, located not far from Puy-de-Dôme volcano.
Things to Do in Puy-de-Dôme
What to do at the top of Puy-de-Dôme volcano? In addition to the activities described below, there are always other animations and guided visits proposed for families or adults alone. You will find the full list of things to do in Puy-de-Dôme for the day in the Information Center at the summit.
A Coffee with a View
Start your summit explorations with a coffee (or your favorite drink) from one of France’s best rooftop bars, with unbeatable views! If you need more than a coffee, there are three dining areas at the top of the Puy-de-Dôme, depending on your budget and appetite.
Temple of Mercury
The Temple de Mercure was a Gallo-Roman temple built in the 2nd century AD and dedicated to Mercury, the Roman God of trading and protector of travelers. The temple was built with local trachyte, assembled in large blocks for the visible parts, with filling made up of smaller trachyte blocks, and it was a high place of pilgrimage at that time.
The site was discovered in 1872 during the construction of a meteorological observatory. A project to restore and enhance the sanctuary of Mercury is being implemented by the Department and the French State.
Stroll around the Summit
Explore Puy-de-Dome’s lunar landscape by following one of the three itineraries around the summit: the pilgrims’ way, the path of the conquerors, and the path of the curious.
We especially enjoyed the path of the conquerors (35min walk), where we learned the history of the puy’s meteorological observatory (the spaceship on the first picture), and Eugène Renaux and Albert Senouque’s crazy adventure. These two men flew from Paris to Puy-de-Dôme in less than 6 hours to win the Michelin Aviation Prize in 1911 – something that was considered impossible at that time.
Puy-de-Dôme volcano is a great place for paragliding: the Chain of the Puys from the sky is amazing! I am scared about these things, but we saw some people flying around the summit, and it looked fun. Action Parapente organizes tandem flights (also first flights) over the volcanoes of Auvergne.