At the foot of the volcanoes

Can you imagine that once upon a time this place had volcanoes?

Geologically the Clermontais is situated in a line at the end of the volcanic chain of the Auvergne which finishes its course in the Mediterranean offshore from the Cap d’Agde. Some of the basaltic vestiges such as the necks*, dykes* and basaltic columns* are still there to prove it.

The most remarkable example of the neck and dyke is to be found in the higher part of the valley of the Salagou, on the ruins of the château of Malavielle. The site is remarkable for its strange stones and its black basalt blocks on which the growing lichen shows very beautiful compositions. Then, while climbing the slope to get to the chateau, you will see that the vestiges of a neck as well as some of the dykes shoot out of the ruffe*.

Think of how this place, which only 1 million 400,000 years ago was like a gigantic firework. The spectacle must have been mind blowing!

To see the basaltic columns follow the direction of the dam from the lake Salagou, then cross over at the foot of the plateau Germane where you will see a wonderful example of one of these erected giants.

To find out more, visit the Lodève museum to discover the story of the evolution of these unique landscapes, recounted in an entertaining way.


*Ruffe : clayey or sandstone sediments loaded with iron oxide
*Neck : the remains of a volcanic chimney
*Dyke : vestiges of a magmatic rock
*Basaltic column : fossils in the form of prisms made from molten lave