Activities in the Massif du Sancy

The region is a haven for cyclists, hikers, paragliders, mountain bikers, and anyone who prefers to enjoy a peaceful week in beautiful nature. Around Saint Donat, there are several hiking trails that you can explore with a hiking map, GPS, or various hiking apps on your phone.

From Super-Besse and Le Mont-Dore, two cable cars take you to the top of Puy de Sancy, the highest mountain in the Central Massif at 1886 meters, both in summer and winter. The view from the top is magnificent. On a clear day, the Alps are visible. The Dordogne River originates from this mountain.

For sporty cyclists, there are plenty of challenges, both on the road and for mountain biking. Bicycles can be rented nearby. We have various travel guides and IGN maps with hiking, mountain biking, and cycling routes available for loan.

Cycling in the Massif du Sancy

For sporty cyclists, there are plenty of challenges, both on the road and for mountain biking. Bicycles can be rented nearby. We have various travel guides and IGN maps with hiking, mountain biking, and cycling routes available for loan.

Our Auberge is located on the southern slopes of Puy de Sancy, making it an ideal starting point for an excursion in the mountains of Cantal, including Puy Mary or the plateaus of Cézallier.

The Tour de France is a regular guest and finished in Super Besse and passed Puy de Mary in 2008, 2011, and La Tour d’Auvergne in 2020. In 2023, a stage will end on Puy de Dome, and it will pass through the Massif du Sancy the next day, just a 15-minute drive from us.

Here are just a few examples of passes, all of which can be included in day trips or half-day tours:

Le Col de la Croix St Robert on a bicycle
  • Chastreix-Sancy – 1414 m.
  • Col de la Geneste – 1372 m.
  • La Stèle – 1245 m.
  • Super Besse – 1307 m.
  • Pas de Peyrol (Puy Mary) 1589 m.
  • Col de la Croix-Morand – 1401 m.
  • Col de la Croix-Saint-Robert – 1426 m.
  • Col de la Croix-Maubert – 1167 m.
  • Col de la Chaumoune – 1155 m.
  • Col de Guéry – 1264 m.
  • Col de la Malmouche – 1141 m.
  • Col du Baladour – 1207 m.
  • Côte de Saint-Anastaise – 1166 m.
  • La Banne d’Ordanche – 1327 m.

Horseback Riding

In Chastreix (10 minutes from St. Donat), Patou organizes horseback riding tours in the beautiful surroundings of Puy de Sancy. Whether you are an experienced rider or a beginner, during the rides, you can develop a special bond with the horses. One of the activities in the Massif du Sancy that we highly recommend!


In this mountainous and volcanic area, there are numerous streams, rivers, and lakes with fantastic fishing opportunities. Just behind the Auberge, there is a small stream with several waterfalls. Lac Pavin offers excellent fishing opportunities. The fresh Dordogne River originates from Puy de Sancy and is full of fish. We can provide you with information on obtaining a fishing permit in the area.

Water Sports

There are several lakes in the area for walking, swimming, pedal boating, water skiing, etc. The most famous lakes are Lac Chauvet, Lac Pavin, and Lac Chambon. The lakes of La Tour d’Auvergne and Super Besse are 15 minutes away. The large lakes of Bort les Orgues and Lastioulles, centers of water sports, are a half-hour drive from our Auberge.


Puy de Sancy and other volcanoes in the region are known for their excellent paragliding opportunities. Paragliding sites are generally accessible by car or cable car. You can take the cable car to Mont Dore and Super-Besse on top of Puy de Sancy to jump from the highest peak in the Central Massif!

Thrill-seekers can also enjoy canyoning, the Super Besse zipline, canoeing, rock climbing, and hot air ballooning.

Theme Parks

Vulcania – an educational theme park with numerous 3D movies, exhibitions, and attractions for all ages, focusing on volcanoes and the Earth.

Lemptegy – Immerse yourself in the heart of a REAL volcano. The Lemptégy Volcano promises an unusual journey and a complete change of scenery in the heart of a unique volcano. Family or group, enthusiast or beginner, we make volcanology accessible to everyone. On foot or by train, follow an enthusiastic guide through the twists and turns of the volcano, where many “treasures” await you: bombs, volcanic chimneys, lava flows…

Mont Dore Aventure – Ideal for tree climbers and Tarzans! Take an introductory course and then make your way through the different treetop routes.

The Cheese Route

Auvergne is globally known for its wide variety of cheeses. Saint-Nectaire, Cantal, and Bleu d’Auvergne all come from this region. Throughout the region, there are routes on foot, by bicycle, or by car to visit farms and dairy factories. A Saint-Nectaire farm is located just outside Saint Donat, and during the season, cheese-making demonstrations are organized daily.

Route du fromage (the cheese route), le Saint-Nectaire


The Massif is home to numerous castles, often spectacularly located on the slopes of mountains and volcanoes. Near Auberge de la Providence, you can visit the Château de Murol, a beautiful example of 13th-century military architecture. Medieval performances are held here every summer.

Also near Saint Donat is the Château de Val, located on a beautiful peninsula with water sports and bateau-mouche.

Towns and Villages

Clermont-Ferrand – The nearest major city to Saint Donat is a beautiful old town with numerous museums, cafes, and a Gothic cathedral that could be straight out of The Lord of the Rings. An ideal excursion!

La Bourboule and Le Mont-Dore – Two idyllic towns with 19th-century thermal baths, modern spas, museums, and charming shops. Perfect for an afternoon stroll.

Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise – This quaint medieval town is less than a half-hour drive away.

Saint-Nectaire – A town with a gem of Romanesque art, the 12th-century church.

Orcival – A jewel of medieval architecture with its beautiful cathedral.

The basilica of Saint-Nectaire
Walking on the Puy de Sancy with children

For Children

There is plenty for children to do, such as the Vulcania park, the cable car to the top of Puy de Sancy, children’s museums, a kangaroo farm, and cheese farms with tours.

At the Auberge, we entertain children with toys, table tennis, Wii, and, weather permitting, an outdoor playground.

Near the Auberge, hidden treasures can be found by solving riddles and using a GPS.