Puy de Sancy, the highest peak of the Massif Central


Located 50km from Clermont-Ferrand, Puy de Sancy is the highest mountain in the Massif Central. The mountain towers over the ski resort of Super-Besse and the spa town of Mont-Dore.

The mountain of Puy de Sancy

Puy de Sancy © MOSSOT - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Puy de Sancy © MOSSOT – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The culminating point of the Massif Central and the region of Auvergne rises 1,885 m above sea level but 585 m above the ski resort of Super-Besse and 890m above the spa-town of Mont-Dore.

Puy de Sancy is known in Occitan as ‘puèi de la Crotz’ meaning “Mount of the Cross”. It is believed the mount was an active stratovolcano which activity ended some 220,000 years ago.

Puy de Sancy © Clément Beckert - licence [CC BY-SA 3

The mountain peak © Clément Beckert – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The mountain is part of the Monts Dore range which also includes the summits of Puy Ferrand and Dent de la Rancoune. The Monts-Dore range is part of the Auvergne Volcanic Regional Nature Park.

Puy de Sancy by Torsade de Pointes

The summit by Torsade de Pointes

Four valleys starts from Puy de Sancy: Chaudefour, Fontaine Salée, Biche and Dordogne.

The later comprises of two streams which rise on the northern flanks of the mountain: Dore and Dogne which later unite to form the Dordogne River. The great river is 483km long and flows through the spa-town of Mont-Dore, the regions of Limousin and Périgord before flowing into the Gironde estuary along with the Garonne.

The mountain is home to a wide variety of fauna usually found in the Alps: chamois, marmots and mouflons.

The slopes are used for skiing. The nearest and largest ski-resort is Super-Besse with 43km of downhill ski trails and 125km of cross-country skiing.

Mont-Dore by Torsade de Pointes

Mont-Dore by Torsade de Pointes

The mountain range is crossed by the GR4 long-distance walking route which connects the Atlantic Ocean in Royan to Grasse on the French Riviera via the Charentes, the Périgord, the Massif Central, the Cévennes, and Provence.

The top of the mountain is accessible via a cable-car built in 1936 from the little town of Mont-Dore. A pathway with 864 steps leads to the summit and the orientation table.

The view from the summit by Tangopaso

The view from the summit by Tangopaso

From the summit a wide panoramic view extends to the Monts du Cantal and, on a fine weather to the Mont-Blanc and the French Alps.

The view from the summit by Tangopaso

The view from the summit by Tangopaso

For more information, visit the website of the Puy de Sancy Tourist Board.



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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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