We chose the winding route via Clermont Ferrant from Geneva, Switzerland to the western Pyrenees because it traverses the region Auvergne of France with a lot of nature, marvelous little villages, and the stunning mountains and extinct volcanoes of Massif Central. There we did three superb hikes including its major peak Puy de Sancy which is with 1885 meters sea level the highest point between the Alps and Pyrenees.
Before we came to the region Auvergne we enjoyed the unusual warm weather in mid October 2023 with swimming in Lake Geneva and in Lake Lac des Eaux Bleus (10 kilometers northeast of Lyon). Outstanding was our hike to 1623 meters high Crêt de La Goutte in the French Jura mountains - close to the Swiss border where we could see Lake Geneva and the northwestern ranges of the Alps.
View to Mont Blanc (highest peak of the Alps) from Crêt de La Goutte
The famous Chaine des Puys - chain of volcanoes few kilometers west of Clermont Ferrand includes 48 cinder domes, 8 lava domes, and 15 maars and explosion craters. Of course we climbed up its highest point - Puy de Dome on a sunny but windy day. There are transmitters, a restored Gallo-Roman temple of Mercury, a lot of other buidlings including the station of its rack railway and many, many tourists on the summit.
On the next day we hiked to the volcanoes Pay Pariou, Le Petit Suchet and Puy de Clierzuou. Unfortunately the weather was a little bit foggy and rainy but we could explore some interesting caves which had been used by the French resistance in the second world war.
Hiking Puy de Sancy was a strenuous trip because we did a circle from the skiing resort Mont-Dore including the three secondary mountains Puy de Cacadogne, Puy des Crebasses and Roc de Cuzeau.
On our itinerary southwest we strolled through the smaller but nice towns Aurillac, Figeac and Caylus - all with a lot of history
The 14 years old girl Bernadette Soubirous had had eighteen Marian apparitions in a cave close to Lourdes in the year 1858. She had been canonized in the year 1933 and thus Lourdes became one of most important pilgrimage destination on earth with more than 3.5 million visitors per year. Pilgrims believe that the water of the source in Bernadette's cave heals diseases - Countless purported miracle cures have been documented there.
We feel that the spectacle in Lourdes is a little bit weird but touching. Nice is that pilgrims of different religions, cultures and countries are coming to Lourdes - like a global come together.
On October 20th 2023 we spent our last day in France in the beautiful town Oloron-Sainte-Marie which is like Lourdes on the northwestern foothills of the Pyrenees.