Mineral, thermal, cascading… volcanic
Refreshing natural attractions
Famous, celebrated and wild. Nourishing, wholesome and refreshing. Here, water comes to us directly from nature. Taste the flavoursome waters of Volvic. Sink back into the health-giving waters of the spa in Châtel-Guyon. While away a picnic on the riverbank. Soak your feet in the waters of a lake. Take time out to indulge in a spot of fishing… In Terra Volcana, water is present in every form.
Need refreshment in the heat of summer ? Find inspiration in the words of Maupassant: “[Those who came to take the waters] were attracted above all by the beauty of the countryside and the charms of this little village […] and the reputation of the gorge, this curious stretch of valley that opens onto the great Auvergne Plain and ends in a wild and magnificent gully cut by a stream that cascades over the giant boulders, forming a small lake in front of each one.” These lines written by the famous 19th century author will lead you straight to the stunning waterfalls of Enval Gorge!
But you can also dip your feet in the cool waters of the Ambène.
On the Limagne Plain too, water is everywhere. The Val de Morge, winding between the village of Saint-Myon and the little town of Artonne, is a lovely spot for gentle walks and refreshing dips, a string of little corners of paradise along the river.
And what about fishing?
On your own or with a fishing guide, fishing of every kind is on offer in Terra Volcana. Because Limagne is home to a host of rivers and streams perfect for fishing that feed into the mighty Allier. Choose your spot in the endless countryside to tickle trout in category one rivers like the Morge, Chambaron and Mirabel or do battle with pike or zander in the River Allier.
The main tributary of the Loire, the Allier is regarded as “one of Europe’s last surviving major wild rivers”.
The 420km-long river runs a varied course, relatively little changed by man compared to the other major waterways, and forming an important ecological corridor. The plant life growing along it varies with the river’s ebb and flow and is constantly being renewed by the actions of erosion and periods of spate.
This has created a wide variety of habitats along the Allier, home to an amazing biodiversity: no fewer than 600 plant species, 40 different mammals (including otters and beavers), over 100 species of nesting birds, 50 to 60 species of butterfly, 40 species of dragonfly… and, of course, a healthy population of wild salmon!
Things to do on the banks of the Allier
Popular with outdoor leisure enthusiasts because of its wild nature, the Allier is best explored on foot (lots of waymarked footpaths) or by mountain bike. And kayaking is a great way to get up close and personal with this mighty river. Lastly, it’s also highly prized by anglers, particularly for game fishing.
Where to find the Allier in Terra Volcana
In the north of Terra Volcana, the Allier flirts with the villages of Maringues, Saint-Priest-Bramefant and Saint-Sylvestre-Pragoulin, Luzillat and Limons. In Luzillat and Limons there are pretty river interpretation trails – prepare to get your feet wet!
The étang grand at Pulvérières
A sensitive nature area managed by the Auvergne Bird Protection League, the Étang Grand at Pulvérières is an 18-hectare wildlife lake. One of the few wetlands in the northwest of the Chaîne des Puys Volcanoes, it’s a beautiful area of rich biodiversity.
Created by Carthusian monks in 1650, this artificial lake provides a unique home for numerous bird species. These include both migrating birds who stay for short periods en route to and from their winter homes, and other species who live here all year round. On the Great Crested Grebe Nature Trail, keep your eyes open… If you’re lucky, you may spot this unusual bird’s noisy courtship dance, or catch a glimpse or the sound of the coots and skylarks that frequent the waters here. Die-hard twitchers and newbie birdwatchers will find the information boards and observation hides very useful, increasing their chances of spotting species found only rarely in Auvergne.
But the riches of these wetlands attract many other species too, including dragonflies, amphibians, fish and otters, along with a host of butterfly species. Of the butterflies, one species in particular has star status: the Alcon large blue. This rare butterfly has a very unusual life cycle, relying on an ant to ‘adopt’ it during the lava stage and using an ant’s nest as its host – otherwise it would not survive!
The river Ambène and end-of-the-world waterfall at Enval
The source of the Ambène lies west of Charbonnières-les-Varennes, 900 metres up in the foothills of the Chaîne des Puys Mountains. On its subsequent journey, the river is courted by the Coulée Verte greenway at Riom, and from there runs its way through to the rapids and gorge at Enval. Beyond Enval, the Ambène flows into the River Bédat to the north of the village of Entraigues.
If you’re after a lovely cooling walk in summer, the A.P.A.G.E. path (named after the local association that created it) runs through the shady chestnut forest lining the river to any number of lovely picnic spots on the river bank.
VAL DE MORGE
Between the village of Saint-Myon and the little town of Artonne, the River Morge has carved out a pretty valley dotted with old water mills. Part of the European Natura 2000 network and officially recognised as a Sensitive Nature Area, this flourishing valley is explored by a waymarked footpath that starts in Place de l’Oche in Saint-Myon. Spring is the best time to walk through the valley.
The SARDON river and vallée de Sans-Souci
If you follow the course of the Sardon, walking along the wooded slopes on the 4km path there, you’ll discover the peaceful Vallée de Sans-Souci. The 19th century author Guy de Maupassant used to wander here during his sojourns in the area to take the waters.
It was here, not far from the Château de Chazeron, that in 1880 a retired schoolmaster came to live a reclusive life as a hermit. The remains of his little house are still visible today. To those that crossed his path, he explained that he’d chosen to live a life ‘sans souci’, without a care in the world. The name stuck, and this place has been called La Vallée de Sans-Souci ever since.
Today, visitors like to walk along the Romeuf stream and cool down by the Cascade de l’Écureuil waterfall. And it is also in the Vallée de Sans-Souci that you’ll find the Experience Game, accessed from the Parc Écureuil high ropes adventure course just down the road.
Swimming pools for exercise and recreation
Keen to get some exercise and swim some lengths? Looking for some leisure time, a chance to have fun in the water? Or do you simply want to enjoy an intimate mother-and-baby moment in the paddling pool or water play area? The swimming pools of Terra Volcana offer the perfect way to cool off, combining physical exercise with fun and frolics in the water.
In Terra Volcana, you can choose between the municipal baths in Châtel-Guyon and the Bétrice Hess swimming pool in Riom.