Massif Central

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Massif Central
Puy de dome 2001-12-15.jpg
Puy de Dôme is the highest volcano in the chain of volcanoes Chaine des Puys
Highest point
Peak Puy de Sancy
Elevation 1,886 m (6,188 ft)
Coordinates 45°31′42″N 2°48′51″E / 45.52833°N 2.81417°E / 45.52833; 2.81417
Location of the Massif Central in France
Country France
Range coordinates 46°N 3°E / 46°N 3°E / 46; 3Coordinates: 46°N 3°E / 46°N 3°E / 46; 3

The Massif Central (Occitan: Massís Central / Massís Centrau) is an elevated region in the middle of southern France, consisting of mountains and plateaux. It covers 15 percent of the country.

Subject to volcanism that has subsided in the last 10,000 years, these central mountains are separated from the Alps by a deep north-south cleft created by the Rhône River and known in French as the sillon rhodanien (literally "the furrow of the Rhône").

The region was a barrier to communication until the opening of the A75 motorway, which not only made north-south travel easier, but also opened up the Massif Central itself.


The following départements are generally considered as part of the Massif Central: Allier, Ardèche, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Creuse, Gard, Haute-Loire, Haute-Vienne, Hérault, Loire, Lot, Lozère, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône and Tarn.

The following régions are part of the Massif Central: Auvergne, Limousin. Part of the following régions are in the Massif Central: Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées, and Rhône-Alpes.

The largest cities are Clermont-Ferrand and Saint-Étienne.

Volcanic rocks on the northern part of Massif Central dominate the south of France to the west of the Rhône valley, while limestone, granite, and slate (schist) dominate the southern part.


The Massif Central is a distinct physiographic province of the smaller Central European Uplands division. The entire region contains a large concentration of approximately 450 extinct volcanoes. One strip alone, running north to south and less than 60 square miles (160 km2), contains 115 of them.[citation needed] The Auvergne Volcanoes National Park is in the massif.


Mountain ranges, with notable individual mountains, are (roughly north-to-south):

Puy de Sancy (1886 m)
The Cévennes range


Causse Méjean


See also[edit]