Saturday, September 26, 2009

More From The Puy Mary

The Puy Mary is the second highest of the extinct volcanoes in the Massif Central at 1,783 meters (about 5,850 feet). The highest is the nearby Puy de Sancy at 1,886 meters (6,188 feet). On the day we were there, the fog and clouds blocked our view of the other peaks.

On our way up the southwestern flank of the mountain.

You can drive nearly to the summit. The highest you can get in your car is the pass called the Pas de Peyrol at 1,589 meters (5,213 feet). There's a small parking area there, and an interpretive center, souvenir shop, and a small restaurant. From there you can walk up a staircase to the actual peak. We didn't; there was nothing to see.

Interesting thistle-like plants.

I read that this is the highest mountain pass that cars can reach in continental France. It's a favorite route of the Tour de France bicycle race. The race's route has come over the Pas de Peyrol eight times, with the last being in 2008. I'll bet the weather is better in July than it is in September.

Remnants from a recent bike race. It says that the pass is in 2 kilometers. Ouf!

A bit down from the pass we saw what's called a gîte d'étape, a small cabin maintained by the park for hikers to rest in or even spend the night. The building was pretty, and we could see that a wood fire was burning inside. I'm sure it's a sight for sore eyes (and feet) after a long hike up the mountain side.

The gîte d'étape. I don't know why the drawing is backwards. Maybe it's the house that's backwards.

After we crossed the pass, we headed back down the mountain's northern flank toward a valley where we were hoping to see some cheese being made. Well, after a few fits and starts, we found a place where we could watch the cows being milked, but no cheese making. You can read all about that on Ken's blog.

The valley called Cheylade.

The valley to the north was clear, and the sun was shining brightly down on the green valley floor. It was very inviting and we enjoyed our ride through the valley on our way to see the milking. But the day was getting rather long at this point and we were about two hours from the house, so we headed for home.

Ken walks out for a better view.


  1. Is there an ouf written on your hedge somewhere?

  2. I've noticed that you haven't been stopping for drinks much during this trip? Must be because of the driving. ;p

  3. carolyn, not yet!

    evol, the drinking was done at home in the evenings so as not to detract from the thrills of the sharp curves and deep drops along the road.

  4. Very cool! It looks SO high.


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