Puy de Sancy / puèi de la Crotz / “Mount of the Cross” is the highest mountain in the Massif Central and therefore the highest mountain in central France (the highest in France except the Alps and the Pyrenees). It is part of an ancient stratovolcano which has been inactive for about 220,000 years. The northern and southern slopes are used for skiing, and a number of cablecars and skilifts ascend the mountain. Skiing has been practised on the mountain since the early 20th century. Two local priests traversed the Puy de Sancy on skis in 1905. In 1936, a cable car link was built from Mont-Dore to one of the needles just below the summit. In December 1965, a cable car accident injured ten passengers and killed seven others. Super-Besse is another ski resort, located on the southwestern slope. The valley to the north is also the source of two streams called Dore and Dogne, which unite to form the Dordogne River, which flows through the nearby spa town of Mont-Dore and on to the Garonne estuary.
The region of Puy-de-Dome is rich in mountains, lakes, forests, spas, medieval villages and chateaux. To the west are extinct volcanoes, the puys (volcanic peaks) of Monts Dore and Monts Dome, this is mountain country which offers excellent opportunities for walking, climbing and riding. To the south east are the Monts du Livradois and Monts du Forez, this is a wild, remote area and one of the least populated in France. In between these two contrasting areas are the gentle valleys of the Allier and the Dore which is a fertile land of orchards, vineyards and farms, called the Grand Limagne (limagne translates to Valley in Auvergne). The department includes large sections of two great regional parks, the Parc des Volcans’ d’Auvegne and the Parc Livradois-Forez.Standing at 1465 metres, Puy-de-Dome is the highest peak in the Monts Dome range of puys, it is a sacred place of worship for the Celts. It is a spectacular sight throughout the year but especially in winter when it is blanketed in snow.It is one of the most challenging climbs of the Tour de France. Walking or driving this road will reward you with spectacular views across 70 peaks and 11 departments, not to mention the shops, bars, restaurants, a hotel and even the remains of a Roman temple. It is a popular place for hang-gliding due to the hot currents rising around the mountains. To the south of the region are the Monts Dore which include Puy de Sancy the highest peak standing at 1885 metres. There is a cable car to the foot then a 30 minute walk will bring you to the summit with panoramic views. In winter there is plenty of skiing, cross-country and downhill and also dog-sledding. Mont Dore and La Bourbole are both spa towns in the valley below.
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