Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Section

Vulcania - educational recreational park - Auvergne

[wce_code id=1]

Vulcania, in the heart of the extinct volcanoes

Vulcania is located in Saint-Ours-les-Roches between Orcines and Pongibaud, 15km north-west of Clermont-Ferrand, the capital of Auvergne.

It is right in the heart of the Chaîne des Puys, a group of 80 volcanoes which were active between 45,000BP and 30,000 BP.

Vulcania is an educational recreational park and museum dedicated to the study of volcans.

The volcanologist Maurice Krafft is at the origin of this ambitious, expensive and much disputed project.

Krafft and his wife died in 1991 in the pyroclastic flow that followed the eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan.

Inside the cone

A controversial project

The controversy about the project, however, is still active.

The former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who was then the president of the Regional Council of Auvergne, supported the development of Vulcania.

The project, however, raised an outcry from the conservationists who opposed the destruction of the natural site.

In 1997 the spokesman for the movement of safeguard of the volcanoes of Auvergne indeed denounced the project as a pure:

"ransack of one of the most unique landscapes in France."

The Green Party members of the Auvergne regional council policy group called for a local referendum on the cost of this project which represented:

"the equivalent of a third of the annual investment budget in the region."

A petition that gathered 16,000 signatures allowed the safeguard committee and the neighbouring communities to file appeal to the administrative court.

This action delayed the development, however, didn’t stop it.

The case took political proportions when the land was put up for sale by sealed bid.

Giscard's bid was lower than that of another buyer.

However, he asserted the Auvergne Regional Council's right of first refusal in order to bypass the buyer.


Vulcania was therefore inaugurated in 2002.

The Austrian architect Hans Hollein designed the impressive cone which recreates the interior of a volcano.

This volcanic cone is the entrance that takes the visitors down to the depth of the site and its museum.

It has become the iconic image of the park.

Vulcania offers countless virtual and inter-active tours and experiences, permanent and temporary exhibitions, activities, discovery trails and attractions (Grand Geyser, Aquatic Garden...)

The star attraction is of course the 4-D film The Réveil des Géants d’Auvergne - The Awakening of the Auvergne Giants.

Vulcania is very educational and works both for the children and their parents.

The attractions are indeed very informative and full of realism and excitement.

However, we found that the site lacks orientation maps and it’s too easy to get lost.

Department of Puy-de-Dôme
Coordinates Vulcania: Lat 45.813499 - Long 2.939004

Credits: Source photos Jean Piludu - Article translated in English and edited by and for - Photos Wikimedia: header - volcanic cone - symbol of the park theme 

Your Comments
Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval exterior

November 15 2020

Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval, the postman’s dream palace

Ferdinand Cheval, a rural postman who built from 1879 to 1912 his dream palace, the Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval, a masterpiece of Naïve Architecture
Tournemire castle and church in Cantal

June 25 2020

Tournemire, one of the most beautiful villages in France

Tournemire, one of the most beautiful villages in France, nestled in the heart of the Auvergne Volcanoes Natural Park in the Cantal department
Collegiate Church of St Laurent d'Auzon

June 14 2020

Collegiate Church of St Laurent d’Auzon in Auvergne

Collegiate Church of St Laurent d'Auzon, a gem of Auvergne Romanesque architecture and a major landmark of the Petite Cité de Caractère of Auzon
Picturesque village of Auzon, Petite Cité de Caractère in Auvergne

November 15 2019

Auzon, Petite Cité de Caractère in Auvergne

Auzon, a picturesque medieval town of Auvergne boasts an exceptional heritage that earned it the ranking of Petite Cité de Caractère
Translate »
Scroll to Top