Cantal, Europe’s largest volcano, offers walkers a multitude of long distance “GR” hiking trails as well as “PR” marked out-trails, on steep mountain slopes and high mountain ridges, through forests and pastureland, and along beaten tracks and secluded footpaths. Read on to discover five unmissable hikes in the Massif Cantalien that we have selected for you!
If you’d like to reach Cantal’s highest summit on foot, then here’s how. Follow the GR 4 trail (red and white marking) from Le Lioran, gradually taking you away from the resort. It’s a tough climb and after making your way up through some woodland, you will reach pastureland for the grazing cattle and the Puy du Rocher. Here, enormous volcanic rock boulders are perfect spots to sit and have a break and contemplate the scenery. Keep your eyes and ears open along the way as nature could have a few surprises in store: natural sculptures rising up to the sky or the whistle of a marmotte. One last push and the Plomb du Cantal lies before you at an altitude of 1,855 metres. The viewpoint table at the summit will help you name all the emblematic summits that make up this huge volcano.
The starting point for this hike is the Font de Cère car park at Le Lioran resort from where you will begin the steady climb up to the Col de Rombière. From here the footpath lies before you, a mountain ridge, exposed in places, offering an unforgettable panoramic view of Cantal’s great volcano. The GR 400 marked-out trail leads you past many emblematic sites along the way, namely the Peyre Arse, the Brèche de Roland pass, the Col de Cabre before the climb up the Puy Mary. At each point, stop and take the time to savour the breathtaking scenery. THE must-do hiking trail in the Massif Cantalien and one that keen hikers amongst you will love.
This is a gentle but magnificent hike leading you along the ridge from the top of the Plomb du Cantal down towards the village of Thiézac, overlooking the valley of the River Cère all along the way. As you leave the summit, the footpath is a little bit steep but not really very difficult. The panoramic views are absolutely stunning, the track widens and you’ll love the pleasant stroll downhill, the Monts du Cantal mountain range spread out before you. Look across and see if you can spot the emblematic Puy Griou, Puy Mary or the Elancèze.
Your goal might well be to climb to the top of the Puy Griou. The starting point for this hike is from the hamlet of Les Chazes near Saint-Jacques des Blats. The name of this marked-out trail is the “Vacherie du Griou” and it is the shortest and easiest route to approach this iconic summit of the Monts du Cantal mountain range. After wide tracks and footpaths, through woodland and then across some pastureland, you’ll suddenly find yourself at the foot of this giant. The perfect spot for a rest and the chance to take in the magnificent view of the Plomb du Cantal and the Puy Mary. Then, for the brave and sporty amongst you, begins the tough climb to the top of this phonolite rock cone. An incredible view is your reward when you reach the summit.
This particular recommendation doesn’t come from me, but from Patrick, a local inhabitant of Vic sur Cère and a real hiking enthusiast. “This particular hike offers an extraordinary view of Cantal’s great volcano! The ridge that extends between the Téton de Vénus and the Bec de l’Aigle is undoubtedly one of my favourite passages. And if you’re quiet you might even spot a chamois at a turn in the path.”
Full details of all of these hikes are available at the Tourist Information Centre on our touchscreen table that presents all the marked-out trails in the area. All the marked-out trails are also presented in leaflet form that can be printed out for 0.50 € each. Pay us a visit before you head off for helpful tips and our personal recommendations.
le 20 February 2019