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Cantal, hiking country

by catherine levesque

140 kilometers marked off in red and white for 4 635 meters of difference in altitude: the emblematic GR 400 tracks across the largest volcano in Europe and can be hiked in eight days (or less) from Murat.

around the cantalian volcano

The path, which traverses heights from 750 to 1 855 meters altitude, is possible for any experienced hiker, with possible lodging at each step, most of which are certified Rando Accueil. Less-experienced hikers need not worry; you can also hike the monts du Cantal in loops, over two or three days in order to better appreciate these landscapes at your own pace.






Tracking over passes and soaring ridges, green pastures and isolated craters, the GR 400 circles the spectacular pyramid that is the puy Mary (1 783 m), which one can approach from the Prat de Bouc pass, Albepierre-Bredons, Laveissière, the Lioran ski station, Le Claux, the Eylac pass, Le Falgoux, Le Fau, Mandailles or Thiézac.

from the plomb du cantal to the puy mary

From the Super-Lioran, the Cère Valley loop (38,5 km) offers a beautiful viewing point of the Puy Griou (1 690 m), passes through Thiézac and comes back by way of the Plomb du Cantal (1 855 m), highest point in the département.

The Falgoux galcial valley loop (39 km) will take you from the Puy Violent to the Puy Mary. You can also reach this Grand Site of France by the Jordanne Valley loop (34 km): from Mandailles, you climb back up towards the Puy Griou, follow the ridgeline to go past the famous Brèche de Roland which takes you to the great Puy Mary, then on to the Puy Chavaroche.

With a good pair of hiking shoes and a backpack, don't forget the ever-essential latest edition of the guide Volcan du Cantal, published by the French Hiking Federation. Keep in mind that the hiking paths are open from mid-May to mid-November, and that 100 meters of inclined terrain hiked by foot feels like a kilometer of flat terrain. Also, a strong hiker needs around an hour to travel 400 meters.


Detailed map of the route


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