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The Puy Mary, a volcano at its peak

BY catherine levesque

Even though it is not the tallest of the range, the pyramide silhouette of the Puy Mary (1787 m) is recognizable from any other peak once you have become the least bit familiar with the Monts du Cantal. An Auvergnat "Mount Fuji" of sorts, awarded 'Grand Site de France' in 2012, similar to the Mont-Saint-Michel and the Pointe du Raz. Why Mary? A tribute to one of the first missionaries to visit Haute Auvergne.

Victim of its unyielding beauty, ease of access, and the view all the way to the Mont Blanc...on a clear day, this symbolic summit has benefitted from projects in order to preserve the surrounding environment from over-visitation.

From the Pas de Peyrol, the highest road pass in the Massif Central, you can park your vehicle, then make the 30 minute hike on foot up the path to the viewpoint indicator map located at the top of the summit. Surrounded by slopes and mountain pastures, one can gaze upon the rocky dome of the Puy Griou (1 690 m), the highest peak in the range, the Plomb du Cantal (1 855 m), and various other peaks which give testament to numerous eruptions which have given shape to the Cantalian Stratovolcano, the largest volcano in Europe (2 700 m²). Coming back down to the pass, the visitor's center will help you to better understand the site, as striking as it is moving. With the help of a 17-minute video and audiovisual demonstration, it is easy to see that the Puy Mary represents the heart of the Cantalian volcano, from which spirals out seven glacial valleys perfect for a number activities, in winter as well as summer. All that's left is to discover them.


For more information on hiking:

Lever du soleil au Puy Mary©H.Vidal