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Your Holiday at a Glance

Independent Walking Holiday
  • Tour of the Cantal Mountains

Dates for 2023
  • Everyday (subject to availability) from mid May to mid October
  • From £1135
  • From €1260
  • Prices per person based on 2 sharing a room
  • Loyalty scheme reduction applies for returning customers (see terms and conditions)
  • A sumptuous green landscape of wild and rugged ridges, elegant peaks and glaciated valleys
  • Exciting and dramatic walks which take you off the well trodden paths on to rocky ridges and airy summits
  • A rich upland flora and fauna
  • An important rural heritage with picturesque well preserved villages and farmsteads made up of sturdy and pretty houses.
  • A unique site - the largest volcano (now extinct) in western Europe
  • A mixtire a day walks and moving between guest houses, to experience the best of the Cantal mountains
  • "Location absolutely spectacular. (Enjoyed) the superb mix of hiking, French culture, great companions, stunning scenery, beautiful flowers - the whole package!" R. Taft, USA
  • "It is authentic: home-cooked food in generous amounts. A knowledgeable host who takes an interest in what you are doing each day. A relaxed, convivial environment. Very encouraging/supportive of my French! No pretensions or affectations." D. Fuller, UK see more testimonials
Accommodation and Meals
  • For this unique walking holiday in the Cantal you'll stay in 4 different hotels and guest houses, which vary in character from traditional bed and breakfasts to conformtable 3 star hotels. Where possible, we choose accommodation in historic properties, providing authentic and comfortable ensuite accommodation in exceptional locations in the shadow of the Cantal Mountains. The evening meals are taken in your guest house and are tasty local dishes.

What's included
  • Transfer between Lioran / Murat train stations and your first and last guest house,
  • 9 night's accommodation full board,
  • Full walking notes and maps - see example walking notes,
  • Bag transfers
What's not included
  • Travel to Le Lioran train station and from Murat train station in France. Lunches on arrival and departure days . Any excursions, entrance fees or transport on rest day. Travel insurance

See our centre-based Cantal walking holiday

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Tour of the Cantal Mountains

The Cantal in France is home to some of the finest mountains that make up the Massif Central. On this self-guided walking holiday there is a mix of day walks and moving between guest houses allowing you to explore the Cantal mountains to their fullest. The Cantal massif is the extinct remains of one of the largest volcanoes in Europe. Erosion by ice and water has since created a series of ridges, peaks and valleys of stunning beauty that you'll simply never tire of. Beautiful U-shaped valleys radiate outwards defined by rugged and airy ridges that eminate from rocky summits. The rich green hues of the steep mountain slopes and the wild untamed nature of the mountains give them an almost British feel. Its southerly position means that it has relatively high levels of sunshine and relatively high temperatures.

In addition, the Cantal has a rich historical legacy through its rural settlements and farms. The local architecture is simple yet easy on the eye, the sturdy cottages blending seamlessly into the mountainous backdrop. In this upland area, the local dishes are simple yet appetising. For example, la truffade is a typical mountain dish made from cheese, potatoes and bacon. The area is also a haven for wildlife, including birds of prey, deer, marmots, mouflon, chamois and a host of wild flowers.

Find out more information about the Cantal Mountains, how Cantal's volcanic landscape developed and its average weather conditions

Walking profile

This independent walking holiday will suit those people who enjoy following mountainous ridges and standing on lofty summits. The hikes or walks on this trip range from 10 - 20km in length with an average of 800m of ascent. (Maximum daily ascent 910m). The terrain is mountainous. For the most part the walking is at the easy end of the challenging grade. The paths are generally good although they can be rough and stony in places and sometimes you’ll follow minor less well-defined paths. There are some sections where you will need to use your hands for stability or progression. Alternative paths to these sections will be detailed in the notes. The holiday is suitable for the regular hill walker. Some walking experience in mountainous terrain would be a distinct advantage and you should be in good health..


Location Cantal Auvergne massif central France independent walking holiday

Day to Day Walking

Day 1: Arrival

Welcome at Le Lioran train station (or Murat) and transfer to your comfortable 3 star hotel in St Jacques des Blats.

Day 2: plomb de Cantal (6hrs, +910m)

A circular walk from your hotel which goes to the highest summit in the Cantal at 1855m. The views from the top are far reaching and allow you to view all the other summits you are doing during your week. The final approach to the summit is dramatic.

Day 3: St Jacques des Blats - Theizac (6,30 hrs, +900m)

Climb back upto the ridgeline just south of Plomb du Cantal via the ridge of Arpon du Diable. From there, follow the GR 400 trail south over Puy Gros along a broad ridge with great views, before plunging down towards the Cere Valley via the Chaos de Casteltinet. Stay in a small and charming guest house in the village of Theizac.

Day 4: Theizac - Mandailles (5hrs, +800m)

From Theizac, climb steeply back into the mountains on the GR 400, passing over your first summit of the day, Puy de la Poche at almost 1500m. Then follow the ridgeline to the summit of l'Elanceze, which has great panormaic views. Your trail then passes over Col du Pertus before descending to the pretty village of Mandailles St Julien in the beautiful Jordanne Valley, which will be your base for the next 3 nights.

Days 5 and 6: Choice of walks for your next 2 days including:

Puy Griou (5 hrs, +700m)

Climb towards the the Puy Griou a beautiful isolated volcanic peak. Those who are happy with easy scrambling can go to its top for unique stunning views. On your return there is the option of going to the top of Puy de l'Usclade.

Cabrespine (6 hrs, +875m)

A wonderful circular trail which starts by following the GR400 along the Jordanne Valley. After hiking along a beautiful balcony trail the path climbs up onto the ridgetop. Successive climbs leads you over three summits which great views to west and down the Jordanne Valley. A final promontory overlooking the valley makes a great place for a rest before descending to Mandailles from Le Piquet.

Puy Chavaroche (6 hrs, +875m)

Follow a picturesque climb past historic, rural buildings and pasture to reach the ridgeline. Climb to the summit of Puy de Chavaroche at 1739m. From here you have an extension to the summits of Roche Taillade & Roc d’Hoziéres before descending back to Mandailles.

Your guide book will have a description for climbing Puy Mary from both Mandailles and the next centre at La Boudio. For the purposes of this description it is included as part of days 8 and 9.

Day 7: Mandailles - La Boudio (5-7hrs, +600m or +900m)

Follow the Jordanne Valley to Col de Cabre. You can take a path to the head of the valley which reaches a beautiful combe or take a path which climbs close to Puy Griou and then follows higher ground on the GR. Depending on the weather and how difficult you wish to make this day you can descend directly into the beautiful U-shaped Santoire Valley or climb up Puy Bataillouse and the beautiful Rocher du Bec de l'Aigle at 1699m. Descend through farmland to La Boudio.

Days 8 and 9: Choice of walks for your next 2 days including:

Puy de Peyre Arse (5hrs, +910m)

A great day's walk for those who enjoy aesthetic mountain routes away from the main paths. You’ll ascend the superb, rocky north east ridge of the Puy de Peyre Arse. This is a beautiful ridge ascending 700m that leads almost directly from the B&B to the lofty summit. After a moderate descent you’ll scale the various summits of the Puy Bataillouse before descending directly to your B&B.

Puy Mary (6hrs, +700m)

A great walk that takes in the summit of the Puy Mary, the emblematic mountain of the Cantal range. You'll climb to the Col Serre from your B&B before following a ridge to the base of the mountain, which you’ll then traverse. The summit and  descent ridge provides some of the finest views in the Cantal. Your walk then follows an amazing and dramatic ridge (pictured right) with a small section of scrambling to the Col de Cabre before descending an isolated glaciated valley back to your B&B.

Puy de Niermont (6hrs, +630m)

Once you’ve climbed out of the glaciated  valley you’ll follow a picturesque ridge to the summit of Puy de Niermont at 1620m for fabulous 360° views, providing a good overview of the Cantal Mountains. Afterwards, explore the unique landscape of the Limon plateau with moors and pastures, punctuated by small hills and valleys. 

Day 10: Departure

Breakfast and transfer to Murat train station

Cantal ridge near Puy Mary Auvergne Massif Central France independent walking holiday

Summits and ridges above Falgoux Cantal Auvergne Massif Central France independent walking holiday

Puy Griou Cantal Auvergne Massif Central France independent walking holiday

jordanne valley cantal hiking

walking cantal auvergne france

independant hikes cantal french holidays

Puy Griou Cantal Auvergne Massif Central France independent walking holiday

Above Mandailles Cantal Auvergne France independent walking holiday


Book this Holiday

e-mail contact high point holidays about cantal self guided walking holiday

For useful advice about independent walking and preparing for your self guided holidays please take a look at the articles in our top-tips section.

Once you have booked on this independent walking holiday in the Cantal mountains of France, further information about the walking, the region and what to bring, will be sent to you. We do have a web page dedicated to what clothes and equipment you should bring. In addition, our travel shop has direct access to all the top walking and travel retailers. Please contact us if you need any further information.


Accommodation & Meals

On this self-guided walking holiday in the Cantal mountains of France, you'll stay in 4 different places, two of which will be mini-centre-based stays of 3 nights each. The accommodation is a mixture of comfortable hotels and small guest houses with local character where you'll be reserved a warm and generous welcome.

You'll be provided with packed lunches prepared by your hosts for you walks. Evening meals will be taken at your guest houses. They serve tasty local specialities which will set you up nicely for the next days' walking. Below you'll find a couple of examples of our first choice accommodations.

Name Type Details Rating  
La Boudio Auberge/gite Lovely terrace of traditional stone buildings in a great setting at the foot of the Cantal mountains 2/3 star equivalent La Boudio Auberge gite Cantal Auvergne France independent walking holiday
Enclos du Puy Mary Hotel/guest house Small hotel and restaurant in a beautifully renovated stone property built around 1800, located in the Jordanne Valley 3 star  
Travel Options

Travel Options

You have 2 main options for getting to Le Lioran train station and back from Murat: driving or taking the train. You can also fly into a number of airports such as Paris CDG and then take the train.

By Train

Eurostar and the TGV provide a services from London to Clermond Ferrand via Paris. (Note you'll need to change stations in Paris.) From there you take the regional ter trains to Le Lioran, the closest station to your first accommodation. The nearest station for the return journey is Murat.


If you cannot get a service to match your request, phone the number on the Rail Europe website. We can organise your travel arrangements for you if needed.

By Car

Once in France, the journey from Calais to the Cantal takes about 9 hours (excluding long breaks). Tolls amount to about 55 euros each way. Channel ferry crossings from Dover are provided by a number of operators including P&O Ferries & DFDS seaways. Crossings are also provided by train with Eurotunnel. Parking at the first or last accommodation and transfer to get your car at the start or end of the holiday.




ridge walking near Puy Mary Cantal Auvergne France independent waking holiday
looking at Jordanne valley and puy griou cantal
Jordanne valley Cantal Auvergne France independent walking holiday
View from Puy Griou Cantal Auvergne France independent walking holiday
Cantal Auverge France independent walking holiday griou
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