Mont Dore was picked as a stopping point on our travel from Bordeaux to Lyon to spend more time with extended family. It was a convenient stopping point that would highlight more of France for us. We liked the idea of visiting a more nature based part of France for a change from the cities. We spent two nights, which in hindsight was not enough.
The region is playground for fans of the great outdoors, with numerous hiking trails, scenic pit stops and then in winter it turns from a lush green into a white playground for the those that love snow based activities.
Mont Dore is in the Auvergne region which not only has it all for the outdoor enthusiasts from summer to winter, but the region also lays claim to being the only region in France which has five cheeses of ‘appellation d’origine protégée’ (certain cheeses are ‘protected designation of origin’ -PDO, a certification granted for cheeses and wines based on the regions of origin) – Auvergnes’ famous cheeses are:
- St. Nectaire
- Fourme d’Ambert
- Bleu d’Auvergne
The Fourme d’Ambert is used to make the famed Trufade ; pan-fried potatoes with slices of the cheese placed on the top and melted down – a delicious hearty meal to help you handle the cold better. (apologies for the poor photo quality).
As we drove to Mont Dore from sunny and warm Bordeaux, it felt like we were also leaving the warmth of summer behind us as . On the drive into Mont Dore we were greeted by a gorgeous rainbow and much cooler conditions.
The town itself is small enough to walk around to the shops, the spas, restaurants and is the launching place for all your outdoor activities.
As we arrived very late in the afternoon, we had limited time to explore, except check into our hotel and find a place to eat – we were exhausted so made our way to the closest little restaurant we could find for a basic pasta and pizza fare… a bit boring but had to be a quick meal for the kids.
The following day, after a lovely breakfast at the Hotel Le Castelet, we headed out to the funicular for the ride up the mountain. The funicular is the oldest one in France and is the first electric one every built. The ride is ideal to get a sense of the vast area of Auvergne with views of Mont Dore below, la Vallée de la Dordogne and La Grande Cascade. The top of the ride is also the launching place for leisurely hikes. Once we reached the top, we discovered the Trees Adventure du Capucin (acrobranches) and so Mr. Techno and my 8-year-old took off for several hours to complete their adventure – little one was too young to, so had to resign himself to some basic activities, but he did not find this too cool.
On day two we headed out to the cable car ride (téléphérique) up to summit of Puy de Sancy – 1886m – the views are amazing as you hike to the summit. However it was rather cold and windy the kids were not feeling so adventurous as we had hoped – it did feel like we were going to be blown off the mountaintop by the wind. (take warm gear)
The area has so many options that it really is worth spending several days exploring the volcanos, lakes and taking on some hikes. Our visit was a little too rushed and wished we had had the time to visit some of the volcano craters and Vulcania theme park.
To Do in around Mont Dore
- Acrobranches (trees adventures)
- Funiculaire – Puy de Sancy
- Grande Cascade – waterfall
- Vulcania Theme Park (did not have time to do this one)
- La Bourboule – about 5km from Mont Dore
- Thermal Spa
We chose the hotel as it was reasonably priced and located. We arrived on a wet and rainy late afternoon and were warmly welcomed. The rooms were nicely heated and very comfortable. The hotel has a private parking lot as well which was very handy.
The only aspect we did not enjoy was their indoor pool – it is in a small enclosed space and was not particularly inviting. The kids had a quick dip and were happy to leave, which in itself says it all. Having said that, however we are probably more used to outdoor pools and warmer summers.