Explore the Volcanic Regions of France

In France, Volcanoes are a term automatically associated with the Massif Central within Auvergne. This is an ancient location with mountains, and extinct volcanoes covering over 15% France. The northern region is flat, stretching from Moulin to Vichy and Montlucon. They end farther South in the Allier gorges near Clermont-Ferrand, this is the place the volcanic lands begin.

Origin of Auvergne Volcanoes

The Auvergne volcanoes formed when the African and European tectonic plates collided 60 million years ago. The thrust produced triggered the Alpes Mountain range formation. For around 25 million years, the magma slowly rose to the surface in the Massif Central northern part, forming what is currently a tourist attraction in France. The Massif Central was an active volcanic area throughout the Tertiary and Quaternary epochs. Definitely yes, Auvergne is the land of volcanoes.

City on Top of a Volcano

Everywhere you find something that fire-forged in Clermont-Ferrand. In fact, the shop fronts, in the town of Auvergne, the statues and also the pavement stones are chiselled from volcanic rock. The town of Auvergne has 63 fountains, and most have gushing spring water that is drinkable, and these beautiful landmarks are carved from black stone.

The Notre-Dame cathedral is dramatic and looms over the coral-coloured roofs in the city. Right from its foundations to the twin spires gargoyles; the cathedral is built from volcanic rock. In fact, the ground is a blaze beneath your feet as Clermont-Ferrand was originally built above an extinct volcano. Likewise, across the entrance of the cathedral, facing Rue des Gras, the shopping street, you can witness a second volcanic peak, the Puy de Dome.

Clermont-Ferrand

The gothic cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand is entirely made from volcanic rock.  This cathedral is a religious structure featuring fiery stonework. In fact, the geometric floral designs find its inspiration from the volcanic rock, and they are built into the Basilique Notre-Dame du Port’s walls.

Nearly 30kms west is the stately Romanesque church, Notre-Dame d’Orcival, entirely cut from volcanic rock.  Keeping with the same distance in the east is Glaine-Montaigut, a tiny village that has a volcanic stone graveyard of the Saint-Jean church. The ornate interior of the church is dazzling.

Volcanic Panorama

Auvergne’s 40kms of volcanic seams present a distinctive masonry. In geological terms, the volcanoes have rumbled for over 6000 years, and today they are under a carpet of greenery and rock pyramids. Oddly, there is a lightning rod in this region that stands tall. Here in 1873, was the Gallo-Roman Temple of Mercury. Two years after, the ruins were discovered, this peak is now a well-known scientific site. The site is also revered as a spiritual one, featuring a physics lab constructed on the dome. Now crowning the summit is a television antenna.

Wild Hikes

There is geological past to the west of the craters. The Sanadoire and Roches Tuiliere are two dormant volcanoes that have been carved into a U-shape with the movement of the glaciers. However, in the Massif Central, the highest peak is the Puy de Sancy which is to the north of the Auvergne in the mountainous region.

Hikers now pace this ancient volcano; trekkers reach the top and reap rewards of watching stunning views. Also, a haven of wildlife, this area is home to 200 mountain goats and around 500 wild sheep, apart from mountain-dwelling squirrels. There are birds and vultures also visiting annually.