The dramatic and remote Cantal Mountains of Auvergne offer challenging yet rewarding walks for those who like to be out in the hills all day – away from the crowds and well and truly off the beaten track.
Your route takes you through volcanic mountains, known locally as puys, linked by ridges, coated with moorland and dotted with stone shepherds’ huts. Here, amid ‘Le Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne’, the scenery is somewhat reminiscent of the English Lake District, yet without the lakes and without footpaths scarred into the landscape, but with plenty of opportunities to spot marmots, chamois, mouflon and even wild boar.
The Auvergne is more remote, more unspoiled, and more captivating because of its very ‘Frenchness’. The paths that crisscross these atmospheric mountains are less well trodden than in other regions, though you can stride out ahead with confidence using Inntravel’s detailed walking notes to guide you safely from one tiny hamlet to the next.
Walk across the flanks of Puy Girou before reaching the summit of Plomb du Cantal, the highest point on the walk; wander through sunlight-dappled woodland near Thiézac to see the remarkable 41-metre Faillitoux waterfall that pours over basalt columns of hardened lava called ‘orgues’; and follow the ridge over Puy Chavaroche for far-reaching views over the surrounding valleys and mountains including magnificent Puy Mary.
From the tiny village of Les Chazes, your route leads you on through Thiézac, St Cirgues, Mandailles and Le Falgoux before reaching Salers, a superbly preserved medieval town of handsome mansions where your walk ends.
As befits this enchanting mountain landscape, your accommodation consists of traditional auberges and chambres d’hôtes, where your hosts keenly welcome walkers, offer a comfortable stay and lay before you hearty food including tangy local cheeses made from the milk of the chestnut-coloured Salers cows which graze in the surrounding mountain pastures.