Restaurants, paragliders, scientists, shepherds… They enliven the top of the Puy de Dome all year round.

Anthill. During this summer season, on the top of the Puy-de-Dôme, the catering establishments are at full capacity. The bistro restaurant and cafeteria serve an average of 400 people each lunch break, and that’s not counting the bar and two takeaways…

In ten years, the offer has increased markedly thanks to the flow of passengers from the Panoramique des Domes. “Today we had about 20 employees to 45,” says Franck Giugy, catering manager for TC Dôme.And if during the free movement of cars the restaurant also worked in the evening, then it received visitors only from April to October. “Now we are only open for lunch, but almost all year round,” continues Frank Giugi. This has an economic impact, including on our suppliers who are working harder.”

Air force, TDF operator, shepherds…

The restaurant workers are not the only ones among tourists and backpackers who bring the top of the Puy de Dome to life in a professional setting. There are paragliders, air force personnel, TDF operator technicians, shepherds or even scientists from the Clermont-Ferrand observatory of physics of the globe – the first to settle on the summit in 1876.

“The view from the office is quite pleasant”: about the Puy-de-Dome, a report with the drivers of the Panoramic House.

The latter have equipment there to “measure short-lived gases or even take samples of cloudy water to analyze its composition,” explains Jean-Luc Baraille of the observatory, located on the Sezo campus in Clermont-Ferrand, whose employees climb to the top on average . twice a week to the summit for repairs or during measurements.

Improved quality measures and label

The commissioning of the Panoramique had a direct effect: with the disappearance of cars, buses and therefore their emissions, the measurements improved. “These measurements were much more affected by localized pollution at the summit when the cars were climbing,” confirms Jean-Luc Barail. We then had to filter the resulting data to account for this local context. Train arrivals have improved. the quality of our measurements, which helped us achieve the GAW (Global Atmosphere Watch) label in 2014.” This is awarded by the World Meteorological Organization to several reference stations for the study of the atmosphere.

The sky here is not only desirable for scientists. It is also an excellent site for paragliders, of which there are no doubt more and more at the top. “But it’s not about the train, it’s because there are so many more paragliding schools, in ten years we have increased the number of instructors from 8 to 25,” says Xavier Basel, an instructor at Aéroparapente since 2007. nothing will change for us if there are more people upstairs.”

From the Gallo-Roman pilgrim to the story of the colossal temple: Treat yourself to the Puy de Dome as a sacred peak

Because of his activities, he has an ambiguous eye for the Panoramique des Dômes, which paragliders must now use to reach the summit. “When we got on the train, there was more flexibility, we could take off later in the evening, at sunset, which is more difficult today, given the time of the last train, especially in May and June,” he regrets. Out of season, when there is only one train every 40 minutes, so it is necessary to organize … But we adapt. Optimizing the advantages and minimizing the disadvantages?!”

Sheep at work upstairs
This is one of the main objectives of the Puy de Dome: in order to maintain an open environment, the aim is to encourage the presence of sheep and their shepherds. Thus, the latter have returned to the top since 2014, initially thanks to a partnership with farmer Jean-Luc Tourret.

Photo by Franck Boileau

“Their presence allows for the sustainable management of this site and the containment of tree and shrub shoots that have appeared upstairs over the course of several years in the context of global warming,” said Philippe Morges, director of the Great Estates. Puy de Dome. “We have 350 sheep upstairs that graze around the antenna to support the site,” says Christian Pichon, president of the Orsines Mountain Pastures Shepherd Cooperative. before returning in September.”

Broadcasting site since 1956.

This is the lighthouse in the Puy de Dome, a landmark of the Auvergne. The TDF antenna (formerly called Télédiffusion de France), 86 meters high, was built in 1956 on top of the volcano. Its operator uses it for TV and radio broadcasts in France, as well as mobile coverage of the summit.

115 years ago, the first train descended the slopes of the Puy de Dome: a retrospective of this epic

Prior to the construction of the rack railway, the TDF also provided maintenance for the access road to the summit, as well as its snow removal during the winter, day and night as needed, in the event of an emergency. Now the company only cares about the area between the station and the antenna; TC Dôme, the manager of the Panoramique des Dômes, took over the responsibility for the approach to the summit ten years ago, but only during the daytime.

Building harmonization

Apart from this transfer, the commissioning of the train did not have a noticeable impact on the activities of the IVS. “Now there is only one way to get to the Puy de Dome, so we just have to take into account the ascent and descent intervals,” notes Luc Lecouvre, Rhone-Auvergne heritage manager at TDF. “Our technicians go there two days a week on average. “

On the other side of the train, Luc Lecouvre has been overseeing the harmonization of equipment upstairs in recent years. “We are working on homogeneity of the site, with a more integrated fence, the same cladding between our buildings and those of the army or university. While working on the Temple of Mercury, we feel a visual change on the Mountaintop. .”

Arthur Sesbron

Leave a Comment