The Massif Central (Occitan: Massís Central / Massís Centrau) is an elevated region in south-central France, consisting of mountains and plateaus.
Subject to vulcanism 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").
Long a barrier to communication, the opening of the A75 motorway has not only made north-south travel easier but it has also opened up the Massif Central itself.
The following départements are generally considered as part of the Massif Central: Allier, Ardèche, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Creuse, Haute-Loire, Haute-Vienne, Loire, Lot, Lozère, and Puy-de-Dôme.
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.
The Massif Central is a distinct physiographic province of the larger Central European Uplands
division. The entire region contains the largest concentration of extinct volcanoes in the world with approximately 450 volcanoes. One strip alone running north to south and less than 60 square miles contains 115 of them.
Mountain ranges, with notable individual mountains, are (roughly north-to-south):