Did you know there are still many volcanoes in France? In the Auvergne region not less than 80 summits can be observed from the observatory of the Puy de Dome. If your children are interested in learning about volcanoes the Auvergne is an excellent place to go to. You can do several hikes and you can visit Vulcania, a combination of an educational site and amusement parc!
We went to the Auvergne twice, once in April when the Puy de Dome still had snow on it, and once in summer.
The driving distance to the Auvergne, and it’s capital Clermont-Ferrand for instance would be approximately 3,5 hours from Geneva. It could also be a nice place to stop if you are heading elsewhere in France in summer.
Puy de Dome
The Puy de Dome is the highest and most known volcano of the Auvergne. It’s highest point is at 1465 meters and you can take a nice panoramic train from the town of Orcines to go up there. During the 15 minutes train ride you have a beautiful view of the Chaine des Puys, which is the name of the landscape of all the volcanoes together. On top of the Puy de Dome activities are often organized. When we were there at Easter there was an Easter egg hunt and other activities for kids. On top of the Puy de Dome you can walk around on a path way and enjoy the 360 degrees view. There is a restaurant at the bottom of the train station, as well as on top.
For more information on the panoramic train: https://www.panoramiquedesdomes.fr/
We very much enjoyed our hike to the crater of the Puy Pariou, despite the bad weather. Puy Pariou is one of the most emblematic volcanoes of the Auvergne. It is the volcano you see on the Volvic water bottle. It took us approximately 2 hours of walking to get to the crater. During the hike, the kids liked observing the volcanic rocks that still lie everywhere. The hike is partly through forrest and partly through fields.
The whole family liked going to Vulcania, which is a good combination of an educational site, with some cool rides the kids will appreciate as well, all in the theme of Volcanoes! It is located at approximately 20 minutes from Clermont-Ferrand.
We specifically liked ‘Premier Envol’, a bird’s eye view of the Auvergne where they show you a movie as if you are a bird flying over the area. Our children of course like all the rides where you get into a vehicle or simulator, and the 3D attraction Dragon Ride. There are also areas where children can play and learn about science in a fun way.
Their website: https://www.vulcania.com/en/
Other things to do in the Auvergne
The Auvergne has beautiful nature and landscapes. It has nice lakes to swim in in summer, well maintained hiking paths for family hikes, and nice villages with historic sites.
Château de Murol
We have visited the beautiful Murol castle located on the Massif du Sancy. You can visit the castle both on a guided tour as by yourself, and in summer they had a nice theatre play where they had both actors and a decor projected like a movie on the castle wall. Often animations incude the presence of knights and other medieval characters.
We went to Clermont-Ferrand for some shopping and to go to the movies. A lot of shops are located around the main square, place de Jaude, which looked nice and lively in summer.
Where to stay
Have a look at this nice holiday home close to Vulcania.
Or This Gite in the town of Murol where the castle is, with playgrounds for children.
Or this hotel in the town of Orcival, right in front of a big cathedral made of volcanic rocks, where we stayed during our Easter break with our children. The staff members were very kind to our children!