Monday, 29 August 2016

Puy de Dome

The last time the Tour de France used the Puy de Dome for a stage finish was 1986. Sadly since that time, the road up to the top has been closed to normal traffic. It's now used only by service and emergency vehicles.

The train for the Puy de Dome
The only way to the top, other than hiking, is to take the train. It's now a modern, Swiss built, electric, rack railway, that can move 1200 people per hour at peak times. The track uses what seems like one half of the road up to the Puy, halving its width and contributing to its closure for normal traffic. It is worth it, but the removal of bicycle access is regrettable. Since riding is no longer permitted, we drove to the Puy de Dome, and took the train up.

The views from the top, which is at 1464 metres above sea level, are nothing short of spectacular. There is a path around the summit, offering views for all points of the compass.

Other extinct volcanoes dominate the area
The Puy de Dome is the highest of a chain of extinct volcanoes in the area. The others can be seen clearly from the top.

The massive antenna dominates the Puy
A massive antenna dominates the Puy de Dome. It is the sister of the one on the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, above the Col du Tourmalet, and the one on the top of Mont Ventoux. They are broadcast antennae for television and FM radio. There are also other transmitters and observation stations at the top.

Paragliding is very popular on the Puy

The shape of the Puy, and the winds that blow here make it very popular for paragliding. Today, taster sessions were being offered, and there were often a number of paragliders airborne at once. It's possible to take off, fly around, and land back at the same spot, making commercial operations very convenient. There is no need to pack up kit and lug it back up to the take off point.

We spent quite a while photographing and videoing the flying, before heading to the cafeteria for some shelter from the strengthening wind, and some sustenance.

After a visit to the shop, we took the train back down and headed once more for Le Mont-Dore. On the way to the Puy de Dome, we'd noticed a couple of things to look at. We stopped to do so on the way back

The Basilica at Orcival
In Orcival, a village not far from Le Mont-Dore, there is a huge basilica. It utterly dominates the place.
Roche Tuiliere and Roche Sanadoire
A little further down the road are a pair of heavily eroded volcanoes, known as Roche Tuiliere and Roche Sanadoire.
Angela managing to keep warm despite 'English' temperatures
And then it was back to the hotel, and initial preparations for departure tomorrow. It's been an epic holiday.

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