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The Puys Chain Trek

Sentiers de France - 9 days

  • The Puys Chain Trek
  • 9 days / 8 nights
  • Max. group: 10 Persons
  • Difficulty: Easy
Overview
Route
What's Included
Accommodation
Starting Point
Packing List
FAQ
Trip Dossier
Safety
Sentiers de France
How to Book

Overview

> Discover extinguished volcanoes whose shapes create the landscape of Auvergne
> Walk around most of the Puys: Puy de Mercoeur, Puy de Pourcharet, Puy du Montjuger
> Climb to the summit of Puy de Sancy, the highest point of the Massif Central

For more than 40 km on a north-south stretch, over one hundred volcanoes align to form what is known as the Chaîne des Puys. The youngest of these volcanoes is less than 5000 years old. Several hundred meters higher than the hard rock plateau on which they stand, these volcanoes are all different, even in their types of craters. Covered by forest and meadow, they offer vast green spaces. Towards the south, the Monts Dore stand as the remains of a volcano that was active several millions of years ago, which ice and water have eroded, giving way to magnificent deep valleys, waterfalls, lakes and the Puy de Sancy, the highest summit of the Massif Central.

Important: All our walking holidays are available from March to the middle of November.

Route

What's the plan?

Day 1 - Arrival at VOLVIC.
This small village is located at the entry of the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne and on a lava flow that came out of la Nugère volcano. Volvic is famous for its natural springs, in which the water is of the highest purity and contains few minerals. The city is also known for its hard stone. Many houses, the Saint-Priest Church, as well as the very unique cemetery are all made of this stone - Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a two-star hotel. 

Day 2 - VOLVIC - ORCINES (21 km – alt. gain: 700 m).
All along this walk, you will discover extinguished volcanoes whose shapes create the landscape of Auvergne. You will begin your walk through the woods, climbing the Puy de la Nugère so as to descend towards the La Nugère Pass. You will continue making your way across other Puys volcanoes: Puy de Junes, Puy de la Coquille, Puy Chopine, all of them former craters. You will then walk down to the granite plateau and will pass round the Puy des Goules to join Orcines, a pleasant village located a few kilometers away from Clermont-Ferrand - Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a two-star hotel 

Day 3 - ORCINES - LASCHAMP (20 km – alt. gain: 500 m).
The day will be long but instructive, beginning with a visit to Vulcania, a resort where you will discover the fascinating world of volcanoes and earth sciences. You will then start walking. You will pass around the Puy de Come and Le Grand Suchet before climbing the Puy de Dôme, which stands 1464 meters high. The ascent is quite hard but worth the effort! The panorama from this height is outstanding and lets you discover the whole Puy Chain, more than one hundred volcanoes! This sacred mountain was coroneted by a temple dedicated to Mercury, of which only a few ruins remain and in no way represent the splendor and richness of what it once was. You will then follow an old Roman path to the Ceyssat Pass and arrive in Laschamp for a well-deserved rest - Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a two-star hotel. 

Day 4 : LASCHAMP – AYDAT LAKE (18 km – alt. gain : 300 m).
You will continue your journey through the volcanoes, crossing through the forest, and passing around most of the Puys: Puy de Mercoeur, Puy de Pourcharet, Puy du Montjuger. You will admire two volcanoes with open craters: the Puy de Lassolas and the Puy de la Vache, truly one of a kind. A part of the crater was destroyed by a lava flow or an explosion. You will continue to the Puy de Vichatel and the Puy de Charmont, accessed by the la Ventouse Pass, still by way of the forest, and arrive at the Aydat Lake, a volcanic barrier lake - Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a 2-star hotel on the lakeside. 

Day 5 - AYDAT LAKE – SAINT NECTAIRE (24 km – alt. gain: 300 m).
You will cross Aydat and the villages of Phialex and Fohet before crossing a big plateau covered with pastures and broken into two parts by the Gorges de la Monne. Along the way, you will discover the Allée Couverte de la Grotte. You will traverse the village of Olloix whose church holds a beautiful recumbent statue. You will pass around the Puy d’Olloix and will walk to Saint Nectaire, crossing the villages of Lenteuge and Sauvagnat. Saint Nectaire is actually the union of two villages: Saint Nectaire le Haut, dominated by a great Romanesque church, and Saint Nectaire le Bas, a spa resort with more than 40 volcanic springs Dinner, lodging and breakfast in a two-star hotel. 

Day 6 - SAINT NECTAIRE – BESSE EN CHANDESSE (23 km – alt. gain: 500 m).
Crossing the hamlet of Chautignat, you will reach Murol, situated on a picturesque spot and dominated by a lovely 13th century fortified castle. From the top of the keep, you will have a beautiful panoramic view of the La Couze Valley, Les Monts Dore, and the Chambon Lake, at which you will arrive by crossing the Bois de Bouves (Bouves Wood). You will follow the south bank of the lake to the charming village of Chambon-sur- Lac, and will walk up to the Saousses Plateau. Then, you will make your way to Le Saut du Cheix (Cheix Waterfall) and the hamlet of Courbanges, through forest and pastures. Finally, you will descend into the valley of Besse-en-Chandesse, a little medieval village which has conserved its ramparts and many old houses made of lava - Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a two-star hotel. 

Day 7 - BESSE – SUPER BESSE (17 km – alt. gain: 550 m).
You now find yourself in the Massif des Monts Dore. You will leave Besse by passing through the hamlet of Olpilière and you will cross the pasture-covered Montagne des Fraux (Fraux Mountain) to reach Pavin Lake, one of the nicest of Auvergne. Encircled by forest, it appeared after an explosion that cut in the North flank of the Puy de Montchal a huge crater that progressively filled with water. You will pass around it, following a nice, shady little path and then admire it from the top of the Puy de Montchal. Indeed, from here you will have a gorgeous panoramic view of the surrounding area and the volcanoes of Auvergne. You will then descend into the valley to walk up to Super-Besse, passing Notre-Dame-de-Vassivière and the Hermines Lake on the way - Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a two-star hotel. 

Day 8 - SUPER BESSE – LE MONT DORE (7-hour walk – alt. gain: 600 m).
By the Couhay and la Cabane Passes, you will climb to the summit of Puy de Sancy. Standing at 1885 meters, it is the highest point of the Massif Central. The panorama is gorgeous and largely worth the effort! You will continue along the crests dominating the beautiful Chaudefour Valley and across the Durbise Plateau, a vast stretch of poor grazing lands. You will then arrive at the La Croix St Robert Pass, and the Puy de l’Angle. You will now begin your descent towards the Mont Dore by passing the Grande Cascade (waterfall) and the wooded flanks of the Dordogne Valley whose source lies at the foot of Le Sancy. The Mont Dore spa-town, stretched out along the river; is your very pleasant destination for the evening. Dinner, lodging, and breakfast in a two-star hotel. 

Day 9 - LE MONT DORE.
Tour ends after breakfast

What's Included

Included:

√ Luggage transfer
During the trek, we will make sure that your luggage gets from one hotel to the next before you get there. You will leave your bags at the hotel lobby at the beginning of the day and you will find them at your next hotel upon arrival.

√ Sentiers de France's Dossier
Before the trek, you will be given a Dossier prepared by Sentiers de France. This dossier includes a set of maps (1/25 000 scale) with the route marked on and detailed route notes describing the trail. It also includes a daily itinerary together with information about facilities and places of interest along the trail.

√ Meals
8 breakfasts and 8 dinners are included during this trek. These will be provided at the hotels. The other meals during the trek are not included. Sentiers de France will give you a list of nearby good restaurants for you to go out and enjoy the traditional Frech cuisine!

√ Accommodation
You will spend your nights in 2 star hotels along the way. Accommodation is normally in double or twin-bedded rooms, with en-suite facilities. 

√ Emergency assistance
Sentiers de France will be available for you in case of an emergency. You can always contact them by phone or email and they will be there to solve any inconvenience that you may face during your trek.

Excluded:

× Flights
The total amount excludes flights to and from France. You will also have to make your way to the starting point of the trek on your own.

× Accommodation before and after the trek
Before and after the trek you have to take care of your own accommodation.

× Personal expenses
All personal expenses such as drinks at the bar, washing and other similar expenses are for your own account.

× Travel Insurance Including Repatriation
Your international travel insurance is your own responsibility. It is important that your travel insurance also covers trekking trips. Discuss your itinerary with the insurance company before you travel to France.

× Entrance fees
The entrance fees to museums, castles, or any other point of interest along the way are not included in the price of this trek.

× Drinks
The price of the trek includes the meals along the way. The drinks, however, are not included. 

Accommodation

Accommodation

During this 9-day trek in the Puys Chain you will spend your nights in 2-star hotels along the way. Accommodation is normally in double or twin-bedded rooms, with en-suite facilities. Sentiers de France will take care of all the arrangements. On the Dossier, you will find all the information regarding your accommodation. Also, your luggage will be taken from one hotel to the next, you only have to worry about enjoying your trek!

You will be staying in the following hotels. Should any of the hotels be fully booked, you will be accommodated in another hotel of the same category.

Day 1 - Volvic
Day 2 - Orcines
Day 3 - Laschamps
Day 4 - Aydat
Day 5 - Saint Nectaire
 
Day 6 - Besse en Chandesse
Day 7 - Super Besse
Day 8 - Mont Doré

Starting Point

Getting there and away

By train: Volvic is on the Clermont-Ferrand-Le Mont Dore regional line. Change at Clermont Ferrand from Paris Gare de Lyon (several trains per day). Your return will be made from Clermont-Ferrand.

By car: Volvic is accessible by the A71 motorway, (exit Volvic) And then, by route D986.

Where to park: unsupervised free car park are by the Volvic rail station.

Packing List

Packing List

We encourage you to travel lightly and don’t have too many bags and clothes. It’s up to you to decide what additional things to bring. Depending on your total trip time in France, you may have bags that you won’t need on the walking tour. We suggest you make arrangements to store bags during the hike if you won’t need them (you can leave them in a locker room in railway stations for example). This short list is for the walking side of the tour and we presume you will bring comfortable casual wear to use during the evenings or on a free day:

– The most essential items of equipment are a good pair of walking boots and a suitable daypack.
– Waterproof jacket and over-trousers (rain gear)
– Thick socks for use inside walking boots
– Comfortable trousers and/or shorts
– Extra sweater
– Sun hat
– Trekking poles or walking sticks

FAQ

FAQ

Best Season
From May to October but be careful this area is very crowded in summer. We recommend you (if you can) to come outside this period. Nevertheless, this area attracts a lot of tourists and you have to reserve earlier to get the best rooms.

Arrival in Europe
We suggest you consider arranging your travel so that you arrive in Europe at least two days before your hike is scheduled to start. By planning to arrive early, you safeguard against potential delays or cancellations of flight and you have extra time to adjust to the new time zone so you’ll feel more relaxed when your hike begins.

Getting to the starting place
We explain in the detailed itinerary and in more detail in the Route Notes how to reach the starting point and the first hotel where you will stay. We shall send you all these details if you take your trip dossier at the reception desk of the first hotel.

Transfer between the airport or the nearest station and the starting and finishing points of the tour are not included in the tour price. We shall be pleased to help you. Feel free to e-mail us if you are facing difficulties.

Lodging and food
One of the best things about these tours! You will discover and enjoy the cuisine of the region you visit. Sentiers de France books and pays for your accommodation, normally in double or twin-bedded rooms, with en-suite facilities.

All breakfasts are included. We also include evening meals as specified in the brochure and dossier only when the restaurant attached to the hotel has a good reputation, otherwise, we invite you to have dinner outside and give you a list of nearby good restaurants. When we include dinners, these are from a menu of 3 or 4 courses (menu du terroir for CL tours and gourmet or degustation menu for LU tours) For each course you can choose between different suggestions. Drinks and coffee are not included.

Lunches or picnic lunches are not included, but many overnight stops are in small towns and villages where picnic material can be bought from local shops before you start your day’s walk; alternatively, a packed lunch can be ordered the evening before from your hotel.

Luggage
Be careful, baggage-handling services are not available in the French hotels. Be prepared to carry you your own bags up narrow staircases, many hotels or inns do not have elevators. We strongly advise you pack adequately but lightly and limit baggage to an amount that you can easily handle.

We arrange the transportation of your luggage from one hotel to the next. We ask you to leave your luggage at the reception desk on setting out each morning.

Sentiers de France passport
You will receive a nontransferable passport delivered by Sentiers de France (it looks like a credit card). It replaces the traditional voucher. You will have to show it at the reception desk of the hotels or to the taxi driver… Take care of it!

Training
It is very important to be in good physical shape when you start the tour. We strongly recommend you to go for a number of walks of the same length of the tour’s stages during the weeks before the departure wearing the boots that you will use during the tour. You will make sure your boots are well broken-in and that they fit properly.

Trip Dossier

Trip dossier

We shall send this dossier to you within 2 weeks before the departure date after receipt of the balance or total payment if you live in Europe. An additional special delivery (UPS, DHL) fee is requested for people living outside Europe who want receive the dossier at home. Otherwise, you will find the dossier at the first hotel and we send you all the details to reach it by e-mail.

This trip dossier includes:
– detailed walk route notes and interesting background information about the area
– detailed local information about places to visit en route, recommendations for places to eat in the evening when dinner is not included
– a comprehensive list of what to take with you
– information and contact details of the different places of accommodation where you will stay, for different taxis that carry your luggage and that can escort you a day if you are tired or injured
– Labels to tie to your luggage in the tour
– Sentiers de France Passport instead of accommodation vouchers.

Safety

Safety

Our treks in France are absolutely safe. In our dossier you will find a detailed map of the route you have to follow and information and contact details of the different places of accommodation where you will stay, and for different taxis that will carry your luggage, Moreover, a 24-hour helpline is available for you during the whole trek in case of an emergency. We will be there for you every step of the way!

Sentiers de France

Sentiers de France

For more than 20 years, Sentiers de France has helped lovers of walking to explore France’s most beautiful landscapes.

The company was born from the travels enjoyed by Jean-Marc and his wife, Katie. A keen walker, but lacking the time to create his own itineraries, Jean-Marc searched for an agency to provide what he wanted: great walks, restaurant and hotel recommendations, taxi services to transport the bags to avoid being laden down all day and above all maximum freedom and comfort.

He searched in vain. Rather than admit defeat, he decided to create Sentiers de France to explore France, but on his own terms. No guides, or groups, so he could set off when it suited him and above all be completely free during his walk. Hotels, with two or three stars, to offer the best conditions in which to relax after a long day of walking and above all great restaurants in which to recharge energy levels, while savouring the gastronomic riches of each region being explored.

We often forget it, but France, a key tourist destination, offers an incredible variety of landscapes. Each region has its riches, whether gastronomic, œnological, cultural or historical.

All the walks have been created and tested by Jean-Marc, and then later given the seal of approval by our hundreds of walkers who by filling in our customer satisfaction surveys help us to improve and enrich what we offer. Every year, new circuits are born as we discover them and as they are requested. We all want different things, which is why all our routes are à la Carte. Nothing is carved in stone, Jean-Marc wants Sentiers de France to evolve constantly.

We evolve as required. This is how, a little while later, our cycling and scenic car routes were born. There is more than one way to visit France, which is why for many years, we have offered cycling holidays in the Loire Valley. The area’s rich history has left its traces here, with magnificent châteaux created by our kings. And of course, let us not forget Touraine’s many wines, renowned around the world.

So as not to miss anything, we have travelled France’s most beautiful routes through the most beautiful regions. Often, due to a lack of time or information, you can pass by magical places without realising. Our scenic car tours will ensure that you do not miss a thing and you will discover the very best.

Now, Sentiers de France has evolved once more. Eugénie,has joined the Sentiers de France team. Jean-Marc is working on a daily basis to pass on his incredible know-how and his experience of the paths and routes of France.  In this digital era, Sentiers has launched on Facebook and Instagram so that you can always stay up to date with our latest finds. Finally, we have developed our website, to modernise it, so it better reflects our great company and so you can join our great community of walkers, cyclists and drivers as easily as possible.

How to Book

How does it work?
On Bookatrekking.com you can find and compare the adventures of your dreams. Is this trekking adventure your match? In that case, you can proceed to book. For the treks in France, you can book your trek by paying 15% of the total amount. However, 45 days before your trek, you must pay the remaining 85%. If you book within 45 days of your trip, then you must pay the full amount. 

Bookatrekking.com uses only the safest payment methods. Once your booking has been received, your place is reserved, your place is safe and you can look forward to your chosen trekking.

After you have made your booking, you will receive an e-mail confirmation with all the necessary information and the contact details of the trekking company. If you have any questions or if you want to clarify something, you can obtain information directly from the right person. Of course, you can also always ask us your question. Send us an e-mail on support@bookatrekking.com

The trekking company will also receive your details and can therefore always contact you and provide you with extra information.

Important: This trek must be booked at least one month before the departure day of the trek. This has to do with the fact that the trekking company needs that time to make the hotel reservations for you and prepare the trekking notes for your trek.

Cancellation Policy
You wish you didn’t have to, but there is no other way: You find yourself having to cancel your plans. In this case, you lose your deposit, but since you haven’t paid the large sum yet, you at least save that. If you cancel your trip within 45 days before the trek, then the amount is non-refundable. Please do let us know if you cannot make it. A no-show can be a small disaster for your trekking provider, who did its best to block your dates. View our complete cancellation policy here.

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