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European Volcanic Park, in Puy-de-Dôme First time venue
Population: 1,660 in Saint-Ours-les-Roches.
Specialities: potée, truffade, Auvergne gastronomy.
Personalities: Maurice and Katia Krafft (vulcanologists, died in 1991), Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (instigator of the Vulcania project). Bénezet Vidal (author from Auvergne).
Sport: stage of the Tour de France 2023.
Culture: exhibitions and projections on the theme of volcanoes. 3D screen. Slides, games.
Economy: tourism.
Labels: Unesco World Heritage for the Puys chain. 
Websites and social networks: /

"L'Aventure volcano-sidérale" au planétarium © Vulcania


The peloton already rode in the immediate proximity of the site where the Vulcania park was established in 2001, notably during the climbs to Puy de Dôme or on the way up the Ceyssat pass, reached first in 1951 by local hero Raphaël Géminiani and then in 2020 by Simon Geschke when the park, situated 12 km from the summit, already existed. Two great races on the Auvergne and national calendars take place close to the park, the Circuit des communes de la vallée du Bédat, which has seen riders as prestigious as Richard Virenque, Jean-Christophe Péraud or Romain Bardet win, but also the Durtorccha (organised by the communes of Durtol, Orcines and Chanat), which boasts riders such as Nans Peters or Kevin Geniets on its list of winners. Among the regional riders, can be mentioned Jean-Claude Theillière, 13th of the Tour de France in 1969. The 1966 French road champion hails from Blanzat, 15 km from Vulcania. 

Jean-Claude Theillière sacré champion de France sur route en 1966, aux côtés de Raphaël Geminiani © Presse Sports
Rphaël Geminiani dans l'ascension du col de la Ceyssat sur la 9ème étape du Tour de France 1951 © Presse Sports


Chaîne des Puys - Limagne Fault on the Unesco World Heritage List
The "Chaîne des Puys - Limagne Fault" tectonic high spot is an emblematic element of the West European rift, created in the wake of the formation of the Alps 35 million years ago. It covers an area of 24,223 ha with a buffer zone of 16,307 ha configured to give strategic protection to the core areas. The boundaries have been drawn to include the geological and landscape features that characterise a tectonic-volcanic assemblage and include the long Limagne Fault, the panoramic alignment of volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys and the inverted relief of the Montagne de la Serre. Together, these features demonstrate how the continental crust cracks and then collapses, allowing deep magma to rise and causing widespread uplift at the surface. Unesco notice:  

Volcano of Lemptegy
Fifteen minutes from Clermont-Ferrand, the Lemptégy volcano, which has been awarded the Grand Site de France label, offers an unusual journey and a complete change of scenery at the centre of a unique volcano. This strombolian cone was chosen at the end of the Second World War for the extraction of its volcanic slag. Thanks to this industrial activity and to the collaboration with the scientific world, the internal structure of the volcano, patiently stripped of its rocks, is today revealed in a striking way. A gigantic ten-hectare cavity funnels into the heart of the volcano, thanks to the eleven levels of mining that cut into the cliffs and reveal the colours and strata. On foot or by train, the guides accompany the visitor through the meanders of the volcano, where numerous "treasures" await them: bombs, volcanic chimneys, lava flows... The visit lasts 2h30. It includes four stages of discovery: an immersive tour, a guided tour by train or on foot, and an evocation of the soul of Lemptégy.  

Puy Choupine and Puy des Gouttes
The puy des Gouttes culminates at 1,134 m in altitude and is dominated by Puy Chopine and its rocky spire (1,181 m in altitude). These two sites are intertwined. Puy des Gouttes is an ancient strombolian cone formed about 30,000 years ago. It was intersected by Puy Chopine (about 10,000 years old) during its formation. It can be identified by its rocky spire formed by the extrusion of cold acidic magma through the crystalline base. It is comparable to the lava spire that appeared spectacularly in Martinique in 1903, during an eruption of Mount Pelée. The formation of Puy Chopine was impressive: during its explosion, ash was found as far away as Switzerland due to its plume, which rose 7 to 10 km high. Its eruption produced a gigantic mudflow covering a Mesolithic settlement in the Marsat valley. Numerous bones were found preserved by the flow. The ancestral activity of pastures has left behind symbolic elements in the landscape, such as the fountain of the Fathers. The name "Fathers" refers to the monks who, in the Middle Ages, ran a religious estate here.  

Sarcoui Cave
The Sarcoui cave is located on the side of the Grand Sarcoui volcano. It is also called "the cauldron" because of its resemblance to an inverted cauldron: its dome shape with a flattened top gave it this popular nickname. The lava from which the Grand Sarcoui originates is very clear, almost white. It is called "domite". The Merovingians exploited the flanks of the Sarcoui as a quarry, extracting blocks of lava to make sarcophagi. This activity is said to have given the volcano its name: Sarcoui. Other similar quarries are present in several domes. These historical quarries bear witness to the extent of exploitation in ancient times (Gallo-Roman and early Middle Ages).

Grotte du Sarcoui vu de dessus © Creative Commons 4.0/Maxi Mega-YoloSwagg
Vue du Grand Sarcoui avec sa grotte depuis le Puy des Goules © Creative Commons 3.0/Gegeours
Le puy Chopine (à droite) dépassant du puy des Gouttes (à gauche). © Creative Commons 3.0/Gegeours
L'ancienne carrière du volcan de Lemptégy © Creative Commons 3.0/Père Igor
Panorame aérien des volcans du Puy Pariou et du Puy de Dôme © Getty/Iurii Buriak


Auvergne potée
The potée is one of the rustic dishes designed to better cope with the winter weather. Therefore, the Auvergne potée is a dish composed of many vegetables including cabbage, turnip, carrots and potatoes. Meat such as lean bacon, pork leg and sausage are also added to make the preparation a success. When the ingredients are combined, they are simmered for hours in a large pot and the cabbage is roasted with the sausage. In keeping with tradition, the broth is poured onto thick slices of rye bread on the plate.

La traditionnelle potée auvergnate © Getty/Nobtis

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