The Dordogne is born in the heart of the volcanic massif of Sancy.
Thus, the spring waters on the eastern side of the Puy de Sancy, the Dore, and those from the western slope of the Puy de Cacadogne, the Dogne, come together to form a single torrent: the Dordogne.
The Dordogne will travel 483 kms passing through St-Sauves d'Auvergne, the Avèze gorges until it forms the Gironde estuary and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
The puy of hell
It constitutes with the narse of Espinasse, a volcanic unit born from a Strombolian volcano. The Puy de l'Enfer takes its name from popular legends.
The Puy de l'Enfer erupted at the same time as the narse.
This cone is composed of a succession of strata rich in ash and volcanic bombs and strata formed by cooled lava flows.
The Puy de l'Enfer was formerly exploited as a pozzolana quarry.
Its name certainly comes from the presence of swamps which have always been perceived as disturbing by the populations and from the color of its slag.
From the side of the Puy de l'Enfer, you can admire the Monts-Dore and the Puy de Sancy.
The loose rocks of Orcival and Gelles
A curious phenomenon and the result of erosion, loose rocks have always fueled legends.
The loose rock of Orcival is the result of erosion.
Blocks of underground granite are brought to the surface of the ground by erosion and then washed away by runoff water. Several granite blocks are stacked on top of each other, in more or less stable equilibrium. This block of granite of about 250 tons oscillates a few centimeters on another block of granite under the spectacular effect of a simple human impulse. (Source: Orcival Town Hall)
The loose rock of Gelles.
Located 200m from Mont-la-Côte (signposted at the crossing of Mont-la-Côte on the edge of the D204), a huge rock of about 7 meters in length of granite holds extraordinarily in balance. It can be moved by pushing it by hand at its eastern end.
"The strength of fifty men did not make its oscillations greater than those of a child" wrote Monsieur Mercier, a doctor in Rochefort-Montagne, in 1836.
But beware, the legend says that a deep night enveloped the whole country when young people wanted to overthrow it, believing that it was hiding gold.
Some call it "the Gates of the Sun", because of the stones aligned below the site which would be in alignment with the rays of the sun during the summer solstice. (Source: Gelles Town Hall)
In the town of Saulzet-le-Froid, the Narse d'Espinasse forms with the Puy de l'Enfer an exceptional volcanic ensemble.
The Narse is a bog formed in a maar.
Vast volcanic explosion crater. This maar was formed about 11 years ago, from the meeting between the magma and the La Veyre stream. This meeting caused volcanic explosions at the origin of the creation of the Puy de l'Enfer.
The maar filled with water and formed a lake before becoming a swamp (narse) a few millennia later.
Formed during the Ice Age, the Narse d'Espinasse is home to the largest population of Siberian Ligularia in France. This yellow plant, which flowers in August, is inherited from the Ice Age but this cold vegetation is now threatened by global warming.
From the narse, view of the Monts-Dore and the Chaîne des Puys (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2018).
The Cherie de Como
The Cheire de Côme is the largest of all. It extends over 9 km long, 2 to 3 km wide and up to 130 m thick. It corresponds to old volcanic flows, eight basalt flows from the Puy de Côme (note that access to its double crater is prohibited by municipal decree of January 22, 2002 to protect it from erosion). They are now covered with moss and offer the visitor a chaotic terrain with a succession of mounds and depressions. The Cheire de Côme is certainly the thickest and most curious of the Chaîne des Puys: there are ice holes, where the ice forms in July even more abundantly when the heat is intense, just like stones " signed”, which marked, perhaps, the limits of seigniorial or religious domains, today disappeared…
From Orcival: Take the D27 towards Nébouzat. At the roundabout take the 4th exit (D2089). Turn right and cross the village of Olby (D554). Pass the village of Ceyssat and turn left towards Mazayes (D52). Starting point of the hike: take the direction of Mazayes, the departure panel is located at the bottom of the parking area on the right (note: on the left departure from the PR puy de Côme).
The Gorges d'Aveze
Located in the northwest of Artense, near the town of Avèze, it is on foot that you must discover these steep and wild gorges dug by the Dordogne river.