Preparing highest pistes at Le Mont Dore

Massif du Sancy

Le Mont Dore & SuperBesse, Auvergne, Central France

Traditional Le Mont Dore is lift-linked to purpose-built Superbesse, to offer relaxed family skiing.

The Massif dominates the Auvergne’s dramatic volcanic landscapes 50km SW of Clemont-Ferrand.

It’s dominated by the 1866m Puy du Sancy, highest peak in the Massif Central.

Wide view of ski pistes and draglift at Le Mont Dore, Auvergne, France

The Ski Area

The Sancy Massif has four downhill ski centres: Le Mont Dore, SuperBesse, Chastreix-Sancy and Chambon-des-Neiges. The main downhill areas are Le Mont Dore and Super-Besse, which are linked to create 85km of groomed terrain.

The combined piste networks of Le Mont Dore and Super-Besse should be varied enough to entertain a relaxed, mixed-ability family group for a week, or a more experienced intermediate for a couple of days’ break.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1200m - 1840m
Le Mont Dore
Pistes Total:
41 km
17 Green
9 Blue
5 Red
1 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 14
1 Magic Carpets
9 Draglifts
3 Chairlifts
1 Cable Cars
Massif du Sancy
Pistes Total:
84 km
21 Green
17 Blue
15 Red
5 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 38
2 Magic Carpets
25 Draglifts
9 Chairlifts
2 Cable Cars

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Family in falling snow at Le Mont Dore ski village, Auvergne, France.

The Ski Village

For traditionalists the choice really boils down to Le Mont Dore or (rather less convenient, distance-wise) La Bourboule, each of which is a charming and historic spa towns with lots of character and plenty of choice for dining out and shopping. However, there’s no denying the convenience value offered by SuperBesse, which was purpose-built at the foot of the slopes, removing any need to drive or bus to and from your accommoodation. And nearby is the village Besse, which is high on traditional Auvergnat ambiance and well worth visiting while you’re here.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Two skiers on piste at Le Mont Dore, Auvergne, France.

Best For

The Massif du Sancy is worth considering for anyone looking for a quiet, unpressured ski break combining solid value for money with an interesting and generally uncrowded setting. The appeal broadens further with the radically different settings of traditional Le Mont Dore and purpose-build SuperBesse.

While there are currently no budget flights into nearby Clermont Ferrand (despite it being a major domestic hub for Air France) the area’s central location represents the closest skiing to a lot of people based in France. In which case it’s a useful ski-break destination.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Freestyle area at Super-Besse
2 Snowparks
2 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Nine sectors on both sides of the mountain with link routes.
250km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Solid value for families & beginners.
  • Dramatic scenery.
  • Something to tell your friends.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Lack of convenient low-cost flights.
  • Uncertain snow-cover - timing is all.
  • Not for the mile-hungry.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Keep a careful eye on webcams to ensure that conditions are good before heading to the Auvergne.

Practical Information

Getting there

By road
Road access has improved over recent years with the A89 autoroute. A20 : Orléans, Châteauroux, Limoges, exit 45 (RN 20 then A 89). From Limoges to Le Sancy : 190 km
A71 : Paris, Orléans, Bourges, Clermont-Ferrand then A 75 (exit 3, Aubière, Bordeaux : RN 89 / exit 6, Besse, Champeix). From Paris to Le Sancy : 460 km

By train
Travel to Clermont Ferrand then change for local services to La Bourboule and Le Mont Dore.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with OUI.sncf


Where to stay

Le Mont Dore: Most of the accommodation lies within the town, with plenty of small hotels and self-catering accommodation from which to choose. It’s a short drive to the ski station, which has free parking - or you can catch a shuttle bus.

Tried and testedLe Buron de Dame Tartine

Route du Sancy
Le Mont Dore
+33 (0)4 73 65 28 40

Comfortable and spacious rooms in contemporary style with traditional features. Some rooms have a view of the Massif du Sancy. Convenient for the slopes, cosy restaurant.


Super-Besse: It’s mostly self-catering accommodation here, including a couple of large hotels which mainly cater for families and groups, and offer both half and full-board at reasonable cost.

Tried and tested Le Gergovia

Super-Besse
Tel: +33 (0)4 73 79 60 15

A friendly family hotel whose decor was pure 70s. Basic standard en-suite rooms with views over the ski station.


La Lauzeraie Chambres d’Hôtes

La Bourboule
Tel: +33(0)4 83 81 15 70

Exceptionally well-appointed double rooms from €75 inc breakfast.


Tried and testedAuberge La Cabanne

Murat-le-Quaire
Tel: +33(0)4 73 81 19 25

Offers simple accommodation and real, home-cooked food.


Where to Eat

Le Mont Dore has a wide selection of restaurants serving authentic Auvergne cuisine, plus the ubiquitous pizza.

Lunchtime in Super Besse

Super-Besse has restaurants and cafés on sunny terraces at the foot of the slopes, serving snacks and meals at reasonable prices.

La Bourboule has plenty of restaurant options, especially along the Boulevard Georges Clemenceau.

Tried and testedHôtel Le Puy Ferrand

Le Mont Dore
Tel: +33(0)4 73 65 18 99

The hotel has an impressive restaurant and serves lunches on a sunny terrace overlooking the Massif du Sancy. Reservations recommended.


Tried and testedTour de la Biche

Super-Besse
Tel: +33 (0)4 73 79 65 31

Served hearty food including onion soup, tartines (potatoes with creme fraiche and parsley with gratin of Tomme d’Auvergne) and salads, plus raclettes, truffades and fondues. A good choice for vegetarians.

For evening meals, try the medieval village of Besse et Saint-Anastaise, a short drive away.


Hôtel Le Clos

8 Rue de Barbalade
Quartier La Villetour
63610 Besse et St Anastaise
Tel: +33(0)4 73 79 52 77

An excellent restaurant where reservations are recommended.


Insight: Le Mont Dore

Wide view of snowboarder on upper piste at Le Mont Dore ski area, Auvergne, France

Insight: Le Mont Dore

While the Auvergne lacks the sheer gravitas of the French Alps, it does possess one unique attraction: the chance to ski down the flanks of an extinct volcano in the startling landscapes of the Parc Régional des Volcans. Stop and think about some things and you find yourself wanting to do them, and this was one of those things. We couldn’t wait.

The drive down proved similarly refreshing, with higher sections of the A89 autoroute southwest of Clermont-Ferrand dusted to Quebec-like whiteness long before the Le Mont Dore exit. The historic spa town, one of the oldest winter sports centres in France, sits at the foot of the 1886m Puy du Sancy, a sitting target for any passing snow-clouds. Sure enough, by the time we reached our accommodation the nervous flurries had built into steady snowfall, creating a familiar silence as night closed in around us. Tomorrow was already beginning to look promising.

Better still, we seemed to have this small corner of paradise pretty much to ourselves and spent all morning floating around the peaks and valleys in near-silence.
Top of Le Mont Dore cable car station.
Le Mont Dore’s relatively modest ski area is well served by its lift system.

Perfect snow in Le Mont Dore

Sure enough, flinging back the shutters next morning revealed the snow-covered Massif towering over the upper end of the valley. After a fortifying breakfast we wasted no time in heading up to the Val d’Enfer cable-car for the long haul to just below the 1825m Pas de l’Ane. The final, near-vertical ascent revealed how far temperatures had plunged overnight, the huge rocks below the top station all but hidden beneath steely-blue ice as yet untouched by the early morning sunlight.

After alighting we snapped eagerly into our bindings and surveyed the vast winter landscape spread out at our feet. There’s no mistaking the volcanic origins of these mountains, which rise so assertively from the much flatter surrounding landscapes, or the uniqueness of the skiing experience.

Thanks in no small part to to a calm, wind-free night, the freshly-fallen snow looked and felt just perfect — as good as we’ve ever skied in France, in fact, proving once again that altitude alone is far from being the whole story. Better still, we seemed to have this small corner of paradise pretty much to ourselves and spent all morning floating around the peaks and valleys in near-silence.

Footnote: an intriguing dual personality…

Le Mont Dore is not only an ideal place in which to build confidence, but is also hauntingly beautiful beneath a pristine blanket of snow. Mile-hungry skiers, though, will soon want to seek out fresh surroundings in neighbouring Super-Besse. Getting there means taking a drag-lift link, which can close during adverse weather conditions. The alternative is a 40 minute drive, although through the kind of scenery which makes this less of a chore than it might appear. All the same, it’s a cab ride we don’t intend to take.

The resort, which sits high above the remarkable medieval village of Besse, is purpose-built and has, unsurprisingly, a very different feel from that of its neighbour. But if the architectural style isn’t exactly inspiring, the terrain most certainly is. Most of it radiates from the 1850m Puy de la Perdrix, and accommodates most tastes and abilities with a selection of runs which drop down through forest glades above the village and the frozen Lac des Hermines.

Super-Besse is deservedly popular with families, including those with mixed interests. We joined a guided snow-shoe walk and during the course of a couple of hours gained a whole new insight into our natural surroundings, in the agreeable company of appreciative fellow trekkers. Snow-shoeing enables you to get to places even skiers never see, and this is a good place as any in which to make a start. MountainPassions heart icon