Fontaines Pétrifiantes

Top choice in Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne

The Papon family put St-Nectaire's hot springs to creative use at the 'Petrifying Fountains', channelling the mineral-rich waters to make art. Calcium-heavy water lashing against an object gradually causes a mineral build-up; using a 14m-high waterfall, the Papon family let artistic moulds get drenched until mineral sculptures take shape. The well-designed museum and showroom are truly original and there's a gift shop full of mineral art.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne attractions

1. Grottes du Cornadore

0.35 MILES

Don a hard hat for a 45-minute tour of St-Nectaire's Roman baths, deep in a cave that glimmers with damp limestone. Two-thousand years ago, these man-made…

2. Église de St-Nectaire

0.35 MILES

This ornate Romanesque church on a hilltop is unmissable as you arrive in St-Nectaire, and it's worth the uphill walk to look inside. Within, you'll see a…

3. Maison du Fromage

0.35 MILES

Pick a round of St-Nectaire cheese, along with terrines, jams and other regional nibbles, from this dairy shop across the road from the Grottes du…

4. La Ferme Bellonte

1.18 MILES

To buy cheese from the source (and get a little muddy), take the winding road 3km uphill from St-Nectaire to this multi-generational family dairy farm…

5. Château de Murol


Roosting on a basalt knoll above Murol village, the 12th-century Château de Murol offers peerless views along with insights into a brutish medieval past…

6. Lac Chambon

3.67 MILES

The relatively shallow (and thus warmish) waters of Lac Chambon, 1.5km west of Murol, make this crater lake a much-loved place for families to splash…

7. Musée du Ski


An essential stop for diehard snow-heads, this pocket-sized museum exhibits a collection of vintage ski gear, ice skates, snow shoes and wintry miscellany…

8. Le Beffroy

5.76 MILES

One monumental gateway remains of Besse's medieval fortifications, crowned by the octagonal 16th-century Beffroy, the town's most distinctive feature…