Puy de Peyre Arse is, for the many mountaineers who really know the mountains ("Puys") of the Cantal, its most attractive summit.
Peyre Arse (probably meaning "prominent stone" or something similar), is not the highest but the second in height, behind the Plomb du Cantal, some 50m taller, but mostly flat. Peyre Arse, the only other one over 1800m, has on the contrary a complex striking shape, with three ridges separating three valleys (Jordanne, Impradine and Santoire), with rocky features on each side, involving easy scramble.
Furthermore, it is the peak the most centrally located in the range of the Cantal, offering interesting views 360° around.
Peyre Arse is easy to recognise from far because of its double-top. The main one is rocky, with basaltic boulders, but the second one allows pitching a tent on it, as well as the hollow between them, which makes the most fantastic bivouac one can spend in this range.
If you are a nature lover, if you start early and if you are lucky, you will perhaps meet the several herds of Chamois introduced in 1979 from the Alps (more information in french here.
In witer, climbing the Peyre Arse makes also a really rewarding mountaineering trip.
Many trailheads are possible for this peak.
Those coming from the side of Clermont will perhaps find the Santoire valley more convenient, which those coming from Aurillac will prefer the Lioran. From both sides, there is also the pass Pas de Peyrol, which also allows switching from one valley to the other for those who wish to try the trailhead opposite.
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With three ridges, the Peyre-Arse logically has three main routes, each very interesting and worth trying.
It's likely that the hiker will try a loop, combining 2 of these 3 routes.
1: Route from the Pas de Peyrol : This is the most direct route, climbing first the Puy Mary, descending it on the other side, and then passing a famous gap on the ridge called "Brèche de Roland", identically named after the one in the Pyrenees. This gap can be tricky if snow is present. Then, we climb the easy west ridge to the summit of the Peyre Arse. A loop can be done either with the route 3, involving some walk on the road from Pas de Peyrol to Col de Serre, or route 2, which involves a much more serious hiking day, possibly via Puy de Chavaroche and Puy Griou.
2: Route from Le Lioran : This is another popular route: We climb to the pass Col de Rombière (perhaps visiting Puy Griou on the way), then climb to the Puy Bataillouse, a fine summit separated from the Peyre arse by a little pass called Col de Cabre. The loop with route 3 is a very rewarding trip in the wildest part of the Cantal, via the Roche de Vassivière and the Puy de Seycheuse, then getting back into the Sanroire valley.
3: Route from the Santoire valley : This is from far the less frequented route, but equally rewarding, not to say the most. This area hosts the previously mentionned Chamois of the Cantal. Starting in La Gravière, near Lavigerie, we only need to find the tricky starting point, keeping the little cross on top as a target, which can be reached making a diversion on the right side. Once there, we need to follow the ridge until the top. In few places it is quite narrow and rocky, which provides a beautiful felling of moutain-hiking. We finally reach the secondary top, then the real one. Both loops with the 2 other routes are described above.
The Cantal is a natural park, but with no strict regulations, except the most obvious (no garbage, no fire, etc). Leaving the trails and wildcamping over the treeline will not cause any problem.
Just one point: with dense cattle-breeding, mind to close back the gates behind you when you happen to cross one.
Unfortunately, there is no mountain hut in the whole range of the Cantal, and the basic hikers accomodations are not very common, since this region is rather famous for gastronomy tourism, traditions, etc, rather with B&B of a certain standard.
One will find many accomodations on this page.
There is also no official campsite...
Since the bivouacquing rules are not very strict in the region (let's say bivouacquing is not common at all here...) one will easily set a tent over the tree line in the evening without any trouble.
There are also some basic unguarded sherperd huts open to hikers, called "burons", in various state, and whose list is here:
Two of them are particularly well located :
* Buron du Rauffet, in the eponym valley south of the Roche Taillade
* Buron d'Eylac, North West of the Puy Mary
A very well located guesthouse, reasonnably cheap, is located in Lavigerie: