The Sleeping Volcanos

(View from the top)

There’s a lot I didn’t know about volcanos. Like, they are called dormant if they’ve erupted in the recent past and they are extinct if they’ve erupted in the distant past. We visited Le Puy de Dôme volcano and it’s dormant… sleeping. So not extinct then? Fortunately, I didn’t know this before we stood on top. As I also didn’t know that recent past, can mean 15,000 years ago, no harm done. Unless we are very unlucky today isn’t the day it blows.

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(Oh look a train…)

We were driving for about an hour when we saw signs for Puy de Dôme. We’d been here years ago on the motorbike and Denis said, Pourquoi pas? (his favourite French phrase) meaning, why not? The sun was shining and it seemed like a nice opportunity for a walk. It was… after a train ride up the steep bit.

P1080407(That’s a visitor center on the right)

This whole area, Chaîne Des Puys, is full of volcanos and I learned that there are three different types. (1) The Dome, lava seeps our through a gap near the top of the mountain, leaving a dome shape when it cools. (2) The Cone, where the lava blows the top off the mountain leaving a saucer shape. (3) The Maar, lava and water mix and there’s a huge explosion creating a crater with a lake. There are examples of all of these around here.

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(That’s one of the cone volcanos)

The Romans recognised Puy de Dôme as the perfect place to build a temple, so they built one. The ruins are still here. The Romans were way ahead of their time and invented creative ideas for lifting huge blocks. There was a video (in French) explaining how they did it. It involved a notch in the huge stone block and a block of wood, a similar size to the notch and some clips. I wish I had pictures to help me explain but trust me it was ingenious. Oh, now I’m wondering if the notch shaped block of wood might have actually been a notch shaped block of metal… apologies to any Romans reading.

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(There was a beautiful view out this window…)

The French recognise the beauty here and have been visiting the Dôme for a long time. There was even had a steam train at one time. It used to be you could drive up to the top too but now you can only walk… or take a little tourist train. We took the train.

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(Our fellow travellers)

The train leaves every half hour at this time of year and travels slowly up to the summit, passing walkers and even cyclists. We didn’t wave out at them but they made us feel absolutely thrilled to be sitting inside. One needs to know one’s limits after all… or does one? Possibly one is just choosing an nice easy day in France.

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(And Denis on the edge…)

Pourquoi pas? Mairead.

Ps Puy means ancient mountain, isn’t that lovely?

(There’s the Puy de Dôme)

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