Clermont-Ferrand and the Regional Nature Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes,

The dark volcanic steeples of the cathedral of Norte Dame in Claremont-Ferrand can be seen for mile as you approach the city. 

We were heading into the city for the marche and bread from a tiny but fabulous boulangerie we found on our last visit.  

It seems the marche was elusive or we had the wrong day, however we found the boulangerie and Amr emerged looking like he had won the lottery with his ‘pain de puys’. It is the lightest centred, crispest crust bread we have ever eaten.

Wandering the small streets and its small individual shops we always seemed to find our way back to the cathedral.

 Entering it from the heat outside it was a cool respite, and what a treat. 

 The it is renowned for the stained glass windows, and they are amazing, with the sunlight flooding through they really lit up the workmanship and stories depicted in them.

Back out in to the heat we headed for Mont Dore. The whole area is part of the Regional Nature Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes, and everywhere is dotted with ‘puys’ or old volcanoes which provide lots of walking areas.

Approaching the town from above you see it spread out before you in the valley below. 

 Parking up and walking into the small centre laced with restaurants and souvenir shops the whole atmosphere is very ‘alpine’ you could be mistaken for being in the Swiss alps! That said it is a popular skinning area in the winter.

Heading back to camp Amr spotted the puy (hill) he decided we were to climb the following day!

So pre-warned, the following day we headed to the puy ready for our hike. Fortunately not as hot or sunny as the day before we made our way upwards, and upwards….. stopping every few hundred yards ‘to admire the view’!

The path was lined with electric wires to prevent you wandering off path or the local cows wandering onto it.

 With all the beautiful views around, what does an electrical engineer find fascinating? How the connections are made on the electric wire and pointing out one which has been wired incorrectly!!!

We managed to make it to the top eventually and were rewarded with 360 degree views.

Heading homeward we stopped at the Lac de Chambon where everyone was enjoying the fresh but cool looking water. 

 Then the Chateau Morel but decided we were too tired to visit so satisfied ourselves with photos from the road above!

Around the whole area churches and chateaux are atop the puys surrounded by houses looking like mother hens with their chicks! 

However one such hill has a beautiful white statue which can be seen for miles around. 

The village of Veyre-Monton has the statue of the Vierge de Monton standing proud with 360 degree views of the whole area. As we wound our way through the village it was full of people preparing for the following days festival ‘Pelerinage de Notre Dame de Monton’ where there would be a procession from the church through the village and up to the statue.

 Sadly we would miss the opportunity as we would be travelling south to our next (overnight) stop in Arles. But we did get to see the Vierge  without anyone else around!

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