Welcome to Auvergne! Today we take you with us on a hike and not just any one: La Banne d’Ordanche from Lake Guéry in Auvergne.
On the occasion of the Pentecost weekend we were joined on our trip to France by our best friends from Switzerland (and even Canada) to share a few days in nature. 🙂 During this weekend ate quite a lot of BBQs, had a few (too many) drinks but we also did a very nice hike that we wanted to talk to you about in more detail today. Take out your walking shoes, warm up your calves and come with us on the slopes of the volcanoes of Auvergne!
In the first part of the article we will tell you a little about our impressions during the hike and show you some pictures. All the practical information and the map can be found later in the article.
Ascent to the Banne d’Ordanche
For this hike we started by going to the edge of Lake Guéry. This lake of volcanic origin is especially known in the region by fishing enthusiasts! In fact, since it is the lake of Auvergne which is the highest in altitude (1244m), it is very regularly frozen and fishermen can come here in winter to fish on ice. Having come in May we reassure you that there was no more ice to be seen but for having soaked my hand in it, I guarantee you that I would rather consider fishing there in winter than swimming there in summer… 😉
After a first look at the lake, our little team set off from to attack the ascent to the banne d’Ordanche.
We admit it, for once we hadn’t really studied the course in detail and personally I thought it would be quite a hard hike… I had seen pictures from the viewpoint and automatically I told myself that the thighs would suffer when climbing. 😉 So the good news is that actually not at all! The ascent to the Banne d’Ordanche from the lake is really very easy! The slope is regular and constant and as a result we were all still feeling pretty fresh when we arrived at the top!
For the record, the Banne d’Ordanche is a summit of volcanic origin that culminates at 1512m. Its name “Banne” means “horn” in Auvergne… Not sure if I really saw the shape of the horn, but what’s for sure is that the 360° view from the top is really nice!
We also took advantage of the spot to take our lunch break with the Puy de Sancy in front of us, which was still covered with a beautiful white coat.
Note: If you want to go up to admire the view from the Banne d’Ordanche but don’t want to walk too much (or if you are on the road with Granny) know that there is a parking lot at the foot. You can easily find it on the map below. Basically it’s just at the top left of the peak where the road stops. From this car park the walk is less than 2 hours round trip.
For our part, we found it a little too bad because there are a lot more people at the top… But well, being a whole team, it was clearly not going to be us who would be able to complain about the lack of peace! 😉
Towrds Puy Gros
After our picnic we went back on the road as best we could… I say “as best” Because yes, with Benoit we are used to having picnics but when we are alone (understand by that in lazy mode) we often settle for a piece of bread and a piece of cheese… There, having all our friends with us, this picnic turned into a feast: Sausage, ham, bread, maple mustard (thank you Canadians), hard-boiled eggs, Saint-Nectaire, maple cheese (thank you Canadians again) and all kinds of other good things! In oter words, it was with a full stomach that we got back on the trails back to our next stop, which had a name very appropriate to how we felt: the puy Gros! (which translates to Fat Puy) 😉
From the Banne d’Ordanche it takes less than an hour to reach Puy Gros. The latter is almost at the same altitude, but as it would be too easy to be able to go in a straight line, the path makes us dive back a little on the plains before going up quite steeply. (Fortunately the ascent is short) 😉
The view from the top is a little less “panoramic” in the sense that it is less steep around us, but it is still magnificent!
Nota Bene: Don’t drink too much during the picnic break (I’m obviously talking about water… to those who might wonder). 🙂 So yes, when hiking you have to be well hydrated, but just know that the plains of Auvergne are immense, it’s “flat” and above all that there is not a single tree or bush in sight. I might as well explain that for pee breaks you have to be fast and above all, use some tricks to keep other hikers “far enough” . #NowYouKnow
End of the hike at Lake Guéry
From Le Puy Gros we set off again towards Lake Guéry. This section is a little less “scenic” in terms of viewpoints, but on the other hand being in May we had the chance to progress in a kind of giant daffodil field. No ok, in reality, there is indeed a beautiful well-marked path, but the thousands of flowers around us made this part much more “Wouahhhhhh”.
We had finished with the climb and it was therefore without the slightest difficulty that we did the last few kilometers before enjoying the terrace of the Auberge du Lac for a well-deserved beer! Well yes, who says hiking means beer, right? 🙂
Organize your hike in Auvergne: Practical information
Map of the hike at the Banne d’Ordanche
If you want to go hiking, we have prepared a small map for you. Since the route is a loop, it is obviously possible to do it in both directions.
Start and Finish: Guéry Lake (several free car parks are available towards the hostel or at the Col de Guéry).
Duration: about 4h30
Elevation change: 400m up and 400m down
Difficulty: Accessible to all. No difficult passages to report.
Accommodation in Auvergne: what to choose? The options….
Auvergne is vast, I grant you…. And in terms of housing, we have many choices too! For our part, as we were a group of 10, we decided to rent a house. To do this we went through Airbnb (when we look for accommodation for 10 the field of possibilities is narrowing drastically…);)
For a group of friends (or even for a family getaway) renting a flat or house is really the best if you want our opinion. more intimate than the hotel (with a bathroom for 10 I explain to you that in terms of proximity we were served) it is also an opportunity to get together for a good homemade meal.
To find a property we recommend you as usual to check on Airbnb (if you are not yet registered you can do so here and you will receive 25€ of free credit) or otherwise to go through Hotelscombined and filter the searches for holiday rental / apartment. To give you an idea our “country” house has come back to us at 300€ for 2 nights for 10 people… or 15€ per day and per person… The more the merrier (and the less we pay) 😉
In case you’re curious, this is the airbnb we booked
In Auvergne? Don’t miss the farm Saint Nectaire!
A real institution in Auvergne I could not decently do an article on this region without at least mentioning the Saint Nectaire cheese! During our stay I don’t know how many kilos (yes yes we do count in kilos here) we ate, but it had become a classic for picnics, aperitifs and meals… 🙂
You can find them in small portions and half wheels (or wheels) in many grocery stores or mini-markets, but my advice is to stop right in a farm! While driving in Auvergne you will regularly see roadside signs indicating the farms that sell them and there is nothing like buying them directly from a farmer! Its price? Count 25€-30€ per 1.5 kg wheel in the grocery store. At the farm it’s more like 12€-18€…. A good reason to take two at once, I’m telling you!
PS: So absorbed by the idea of eating it that we didn’t even think to take a picture of it ourselves… 🙂
Weather in Auvergne: always leave well equipped!
I wanted to end this article with a little personal recommendation…
In Auvergne, your rain jacket you will not forget!
During our hike with the friends we had the weather on our side and we spent the whole day dry! But believe me, by telling you this, we are not joking. The day before our friends arrived, we had gone for a hike with Benoit. The weather was fine and the forecasts did not suggest anything very bad. Everything looked so nice that we even strongly hesitated to take our rain jackets (note to ourselves: in case of doubt, we should always take them!). Just as we were at the furthest point from our car, the sky darkened in just 5 minutes and the first drops fell on us.
Not being made out of sugar we didn’t care and continued our way. 5 minutes later the “a few drops” turned into a downpour of water and then we even had a violent hailstorm! Fortunately we were able to more or less find shelter under a tree…. But let’s face it, we finished the hike by wiping off absolutely all our clothes up to our underwear! 🙂 What about the rain jackets, you will tell me? Well, they were officially the saviors of our computer equipment!
Not having yet checked in our accommodation we had all our belongings with us in the car. And since we never leave our computers and electronic devices in the car, we had them on our backs. As the sky was pouring down on our heads, we had to make a choice: protect ourselves or the bags… The choice was quickly made. 🙂
Brief second note to ourselves: having a rain jacket AND a rain cover when we leave with our computers on our backs!)
In short, if you come to walk in Auvergne, always keep an eye on the sky… There are very few mountains around, so the slopes of Auvergne are very prone to very localized showers. If you are “down” in the plaines it is not very risky because you will always find some trees to take refuge, but you really have to avoid being on ridges during storms! So if you see big clouds forming above you, don’t hesitate to turn back and leave the exposed ridges.
Now, this time we just have to wish you beautiful hikes to come to Auvergne! The area is really beautiful and we will certainly come back for a walk to climb on the puy de Sancy and eat a little more Saint-Nectaire. 😉
Thanks again to our friends for joining us…. I give you a small picture of the fine team “saint-nectaire & randonnée” in full! 🙂
Big hugs and see you soon on Novo-Monde for the rest of our trip in France! #CheeseIsLife
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