Come and discover the Chaîne des Puys, an exceptional world heritage. The Chaîne des Puys-Faille de Limagne has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2018.

The Chaîne des Puys is accessible all year round

The Chaîne des Puys – Limagne Fault has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2, 2018. The Chaîne des Puys in Auvergne includes 80 volcanoes over 35 km, 50 m to 500 m high, on a granite plateau, at 1000 elevation. Among the volcanoes of the Massif Central, the Chaîne des Puys is the most northern and youngest group: 95 to 000 years old (8500 if we include the Pavin).

However, the territory of the Monts Dômes is not limited to volcanic buildings. Many lava flows emitted during the eruptions masked the valleys, caused dam lakes, and the "sprinklings" projected during the explosive phases enriched the soils of the plateau.

Puy Pariou at the first pole

Several types of volcanoes coexist in the Chaîne des Puys d'Auvergne

As a result, it is the most diverse volcanic ensemble in Europe:

  • “Strombolian” type volcanoes, the most common in the Puys range: the cone is formed by the accumulation of ejected scoria (called “pozzolan” in the region), at the top a crater forms. Lava flows are emitted, forming what are called "cheires". Since the lava is generally quite fluid, these flows can be very long. Some, by blocking the bed of a river, can form lakes, such as the Guéry lakes and Aydat.
  • "Pelean" type volcanoes (Puy de Dome, Puy Chopine, Grand Sarcouy, etc. in the Volcanoes of Auvergne) are formed by the progressive extrusion of very viscous lava, accumulating in the shape of a dome. The dome can explode suddenly releasing gases: fiery clouds that go horizontally, at very high speed, destroying everything in their path. No crater is visible, there is practically no lava flow, it being too viscous.
  • the "maars", or crater lakes, come from magma which, rising to the surface, meets a water table or an underground watercourse: part of this water then vaporizes under the effect of heat, which leads to a significant increase in pressure in the basement. The rocks on the surface are suddenly ejected like a champagne cork. the Servieres lake or Lac Pavin, are fine examples of maars in the Chaîne des Puys.  
The Servières lake in the foreground and the Puy-de-Dôme in the background

UNESCO World Heritage listing of the Chaîne des Puys

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognizes this exceptional geological site. The objective of UNESCO, created in 1945, is to “preserve places of universal value in order to transmit them to future generations”.
Supported by the State, this registration is the culmination of a long process of 11 years, of a partnership between the Departmental Council of Puy-de-Dôme, and local universities for the scientific aspect and the Regional Natural Park of Auvergne volcanoes for management. This international recognition is part of more than 40 years of protection and enhancement actions, including the classification of the Chaîne des Puys for its landscapes in 2000 and the Grand Site de France labeling of the Puy de Dôme since 2008.

This unique landscape is to date the only natural property registered in metropolitan France and one of the rare tectonic properties of the World Heritage. It joins a prestigious list: the Grand Canyon, Kilimanjaro or the Great Barrier Reef...

Why a UNESCO World Heritage listing?

The 80 volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys and the great fault of Limagne testify to a colossal phenomenon that shapes the face of the Earth: the breakup of continents. This site shows how the earth's crust fractured, collapsed, allowing magmas to rise and massively lifting the surface. This geological history is visible in the landscapes and accompanies the imagination of the visitor when he contemplates these volcanoes. Note that the Chaîne des Puys, made up of around 80 volcanoes, contains the most compact and diverse collection of volcanic forms (domes, cones and maars) that can be found on earth.

Of course, this registration is not an end in itself. It commits the State, the Departmental Council of Puy-de-Dôme and local actors to implement the necessary means to ensure the preservation and transmission of this exceptional natural asset. An operational management plan for the site formalizes these commitments.
All information on UNESCO registration.

The Origins of the Earth: promotional film for the World Heritage application for the Chaîne des Puys and the Limagne fault.

Chaîne des puys and rules of good conduct

Pierre SOISSONS
  • Like any natural site, this one is fragile and it must be preserved by respecting a few rules of good conduct when practicing numerous activities:
  • Follow the marked paths, do not leave the paths and do not take shortcuts across the slopes which could accelerate erosion.
  • Keep your dog on a leash, especially when approaching herds.
  • Go around the grazing herds and close the fences behind you.
  • Pick up trash and light fires only in authorized areas.
  • Avoid picking wildflowers and disturbing wildlife.
  • Respect private property and prohibitions of passage.
  • Find out about hunting seasons and adapt your itinerary.
  • Practice motorized hiking only in authorized places (information in town hall).
  • Also, do not hesitate to inquire at the Tourist Offices.

Discover the Puy de Dôme and the Chaîne des Puys, a rare and unique site in the world

You will not be able to access all the puys, but many marked hikes, of varying durations and distances (1h15 to 14h; 3,3 to 49 km for the Dômes loop) allow you to contemplate them. As for the GR441, it allows you to go around the Chaîne des Puys in 6 days. It is possible to reach the summit of Puy-de-Dôme on foot via the mule path from the Col de Ceyssat (allow about 45 minutes).
In order to better understand the geology of the Chaîne des Puys – Limagne fault, the Departmental Council of Puy-de-Dôme offers many outings.
You will also not be able to access the summit of Puy de Dôme by bike or on horseback, but you will be able to circulate freely at the base of the Puys.
Also, if you don't want to walk, you can take the Panoramic of the Domes, cogwheel train that will take you to the top of the Puy de Dôme in about fifteen minutes.
At the top of the Puy de Dôme, the view is of course exceptional: view of the volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys but also of the Massif of Sancy.
You will find restaurants, the Espace GRAND SITE DE FRANCE (tourist information point, museum space with temporary exhibitions), a picnic room, walking trails, activities throughout the year, the Temple of Mercury currently under restoration. It is also the starting point for lovers of paragliding flights.


Access

The chain of Puys is located in the natural Park rregion of the volcanoes of Auvergne, west of Clermont-Ferrand. It is a group of volcanoes aligned on a strip 3 to 5 km wide and just over 45 km long.
The summit of the Puy de Dôme is accessible on foot via the mule path or with the cogwheel train, the Panoramic of the Domes.
Many puys are also accessible on foot.

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