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The Cantal
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Areas & Ranges
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Areas & Ranges

The Cantal

The Cantal

Page Type: Area/Range

Object Title: The Cantal


Page By: visentin

Created/Edited: Oct 3, 2008 / Jan 17, 2011

Object ID: 449315

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This used to be an album, which I turned into a region for practical reasons. I plan to update the content soon.

The mountains of the Cantal

Winter Panorama from the Puy de Peyre Arse

This album is a summary of excursions I made mostly in the Cantal mountains, a region of the Auvergne in the French Massif Central, as well as in the Sancy and the Cézallier in few occasions.

The mountains of the Cantal are of volcanic origin. There is not as many volcanoes as tops but all of them from the same one. This was a huge cone which was eroded during the ages and got a star-shaped network of glaciar valleys.
Despite not owning Massif Central highest top, located in the nearby Sancy (a little-brother giant volcano, smaller but younger hence less eroded), the Cantal is undoubtly the most mountainous area of all the Massif Central, where you can practice mountaineering in the proper meaning of the word.

Cantal tops are called Puys. Some of them share the celebrity, for different reasons.
* Puy Mary is a fine pyramidal peak, very popular because served 300m below by the highest road-pass of all the Massif Central, the "Pas de Peyrol".
* Puy Griou is strange striking pile of volcanic rocks. It is said by some to be the location of the former chimney of the ancient big volcano, and might have re-erupted further on.
* Plomb du Cantal is excentred from the main range, lying lazily on the other side of the pass of Le Lioran. This is Cantal's highest top, but not sharp at all, and more famous the ski station on its south slope.
* Puy de Peyre-Arse, 2nd in height, has a central position and a striking shape visible from everywhere, with 3 fine ridges to ascend it. Its eastern slopes hosts the only herd of Chamois of the Massif Central, imported from the Alps. This is the most demanding peak. I climbed it 4 times and once slept on its top... this is my favourite.
* Puy Chavaroche is the westernmost high Puy of the Cantal, and offer fine views to the rest of the range.

Believe it or not, the Cantal are the shortest mountains to hike reacheable from Paris. When I worked there, I took several times the Friday night train via Clermond Ferrand to start the hike in the early morning from the Lioran station, or occasionally from Murat, tent packed on the rucksack for Saturday night.

I didn't have a digital camera at this time so most of these pictures are of poor quality, but I hope they will give you an idea of the magic moments these mountains provided me several times.

Map of the valleys

View Cantal in a larger map


Puy Griou in January, CantalPuy Griou in January, CantalPuy Griou, Puy Mary and Puy Peyre ArseCrête du Coq et Dent de la Rancune, CantalThe Cantal tops in JanuarySunrise from the Puy de Peyre Arse, Cantal. Puy Griou in backgroundMonts du Cantal
Puy Mary (1.783m)Winter Panorama from the Puy de Peyre ArsePuy Mary from the Vallée de la Jordanne, CantalPuy Mary from Puy de la TourteJanuary sunrise on the way to the Bec de l\'Aigle, CantalPuy de Peyre ArsePuy Mary (1783m)
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