Puy de Dôme is -in a sense- the volcano of french volcanos, probably the most known of them all to general public. It's not the highest one, nor the most beautiful one, but it's placed a short distance away from the city of Clermont-Ferrand (capital of the Puy de Dôme department). That makes for an easily seen mountain with an easy access. You can even drive up to the summit, for there's a toll road around it. But if you decide to put your boots on, there is also an easy path (called Chemin des Muletiers - path of the mule drivers) that starts at the nearby Col de Ceyssat and allows you to reach the summit plain in 40 to 60 minutes.
Getting ThereThe obvious place to enter the region is Clermont Ferrand, the capital city of the Department. It's got fine communications, never mind if you come by train, plane or in your own car. Once you get there, only 13 km by road will stand between you and the summit (by road, that's it). But here in SP we are supposed to like it the hard way, aren't we? Therefore, count about 16 km to the Col de Ceyssat trailhead. You will find a rather big parking area there, together with a couple of bars where food and drinks are available.
The route from Clermont Ferrand to the Col de Ceyssat is the D941. Leave the town center via the Raymond Bergougnan avenue and get going until the small village (almost a peripheral quarter of Clermont Ferrand) of La Baraque. That's where you will have to follow the signposts towards Bordeaux (road D942). Turn right towards the Col de Ceyssat after an additional 3 km or so, the crossroads is properly marked towards "Puy de Dôme", and take care to turn left in the only crossroads left after that. That way you will avoid the summit road and reach the trailhead of the Chemin des Muletiers
Red TapeThe road to the summit is a toll road. You must pay (6€ - september 2009) if you want to take your car to the top, or take one of the shuttle buses. As far as I know, access for cyclists willing to test themselves against one of the famous climbs of the Tour de France is free - though seriously restricted in time: they are limited to climb (and get down again!) in the two hours previous to the daily opening of the road for motor vehicles.
CampingHonest? No need for camping or anything similar. Puy de Dôme is just a short uphill hike with splendid views. You will be able to sleep anywhere else. Nevertheless, I will gladly update this information with any suitable campings in the area - just in case anyone wants to stay around and do some more hiking in Auvergne.
The Tour de France
For 13 times, the violent slopes of Puy de Dôme have seen the end of a Tour de France stage. And some of the biggest all-time riders have lived sport glory up there. It all began in 1952, when Fausto Coppi had the honour to inaugurate for the cycling story the road to the summit before achieving the final victory of the race at Paris, and -for the moment- ended in 1988 with the victory of the danish rider Johnny Weltz. Between these two moments, other stage winners were
- Federico Martín BAHAMONTES (Spain): 1959 (final winner of the 1959 Tour)
- Julio JIMÉNEZ (Spain): 1964
- Felice GIMONDI (Italy): 1967
- Pierre MATIGNON (France): 1969
- Luis OCAÑA (Spain): 1971 and 1973 (he would be the final winner of the 1973 Tour)
- Lucien VAN IMPE (Netherlands): 1975
- Joop ZOETEMELK (Netherlands): 1976 and 1978
- Angel ARROYO (Spain): 1983 (2nd in the final classification of the 1983 Tour)
- Erich MAECHLER (Switzerland): 1986
External LinksTourist guide: All you might need to know about the Puy de Dôme french Deparment.
Cycling profile: Complete information for cyclists, covering the whole climb from Clermont Ferrand to the summit.
Course des Muletiers: A mountain race to challenge all lovers of uphill running. Only once a year!
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