Cheese & Volcanoes

Aug 22, 2012
Rise and shine! Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a morning person, I love the occasions that I actually do get up early. Nothing’s better than a fresh summer morning showcasing nature that’s just waking up. In Murat, the early morning was particularly charming: morning fog rising from the fields, first rays of sun striking powerfully through the bushes, and sounds of cowbells carrying over the fields. Now, adding a freshly brewed coffee and a real French croissant to the equation definitely results in matinée parfait!

The undertaking of the day was to get to the summit of Plomb du Cantal. There are actually a couple of different paths leading to the top, and they all start by the cable car (also open summer time) down at Le Lioran ski center. We started ascending along a path following a ski slope, so the first hour was quite a steep push. The weather was fresh but sunny with only a few clouds hanging very low, now already below us. At some point we got to a road that zigzagged all the way to the top- this part was really just an easy walk. The views were fantastic over to the Puy Mary (largest volcano in Europe) and the valleys around us! 

We came across many mountain bikers who apparently had gone up with the cable car and then just rode down the slopes along these paths made for them- with a speed that looked fierce! In effect, this place is such a good place for so many different outdooring activities like skiing, hiking, riding bikes or for instance horseback riding. The thing is, it’s not as steep and cliffy as the Alps, which makes things much easier for certain sports.

We got to the top after only two hours of walking and the actual summit was so full of flies that it made it impossible to stick around too long. At the feet of the summit there’s also a restaurant that has a nice outdoor terrace where you can have a bite with a view before heading back down. But if you don’t want to head down just yet, the hiking trail continues along the ridge towards the next village, the only thing is to plan the transportation between the starting- and the ending point of the hike. We had a car down at Le Lioran station, and so we needed to get down to the same spot. The good thing was that we didn’t need to descent the same way, which made it that much more interesting…

By the time we got down to the car, the rain started to fall. Perfect timing. The rest of the day we’d be driving through the park all the way to the other end of it- a small commune called Le Mont-Dore (next to Puy de Sancy). We had been hiking here once before, and had also enjoyed the little town known for its thermal springs, great location for outdooring (also has a ski resort) and many restaurants. Also, it’s a great place to fill up on local products (lots of cheeses) in one of its many little shops. 

In the evening we walked around, got some local delicacies to bring home, and enjoyed a really nice meal in a cozy restaurant called Le Boeuf Dans l’Assiette (meaning: the meat on the plate). We had actually eaten here once before in 2010, and had a great experience back then, thus I wanted to bring my parents there to taste some local food like Truffade. It’s kind of a mix of sliced potatoes and tome fraîche cheese- a typical hefty mountain dish, usually served with fresh salad. This really reminded me of some other mountain dishes such as Raclette or Tartiflette, both of which also contain potatoes and cheese. After a good day of hiking, there’s nothing I’d rather eat then some of these…

The following day we had a long drive ahead of us, all the way till Paris. But before that, we got to enjoy bit more of the landscapes of Auvergne and the famous peak of Puy de Dôme

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to get to the top, as we didn’t want to leave the driving too late… But then again, it only meant we’d still have something new in store for us for the next time around!

{All photos @ Voyages of Discovery}


Auvergne – Cantal Area:
- Labeled as Grand Site de France
- Many hiking trails and also an easy access via road + small hike to the top

Auvergne – Massif du Sancy Area:
- Highest peak in Massif Central (1886m)
- Cable car + hiking trails

Check out the delicious cheeses of Auvergne
- These are all amongst my favorite cheeses of France!

- We had a good plate of Truffade and also other meat dishes
- Nice atmosphere with fireplace and traditional decoration


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