Sedate spa town
See www.sancy.com. Strung along the Dordogne, here a modest upland river, Le Mont-Dore’s tall, thin houses and spa hotels squeeze into a narrow cleft in the wooded hills. Popular with curistes and walkers in summer, skiers in winter, the spa town boasts the usual complement of sedate thermal establishments, a public garden, boules players under the plane trees and an tourist office bristling with glossy brochures and walking guides.
The main attraction is the Puy de Sancy (1,885 m), highest of the Mont Dore chain, which can be scaled by serious walkers or with the help of a télépherique (4 km south via the D983). The views from its dramatic ridge-back summit are stupendous. A pretty half-day hike from the valley strikes south-east to the Grande Cascade waterfall. Or make use of the beautifully preserved 19thC funicular railway which trundles up through the beech and fir woods to the Salon du Capucin, a large clearing above town and starting point for many trails.