Les Vignes is a little village by the Tarn river, at the bottom of Causse de Sauveterre limestone plateau, facing the Causse Méjean. Located in a sun-lit part of the valley, the place is ideal for terrace vine culture, which developed in the 18th century. The village is named from this culture (in French, « Les Vignes » means « Vineyard »). However, in the 20th century, the terrace vineyards by the Tarn river disappeared little by little because of mechanisation and phylloxera. Once, pine logs were thrown in the « pines ravine’ from the edge of the Causse Méjean down to Les Vignes. From….
Signal de Mailhebiau is the highest place of the Aubrac region, 1469 metres high. This peak, which has very gentle slopes, offers a beautiful viewpoint over the whole plateau of Aubrac but also of Mont Aigoual (in the Cévennes), Mont Lozère, the mounts of Margeride, etc. An orientation table can be used, on which is written a poem celebrating the beauty of the land. The Mailhebiau is a very eroded volcano where « volcanic bombs » (thrown pieces of lava) can be found. In the Aubrac region other volcanos can be hardly detected, because they are buried under a thick layer of….
The village Located in the Gorges du Tarn, Sainte-Enimie is a medieval village, with old and narrow alleys paved with Tarn pebbles, arched streets, wide staircases and pleasant terraces. Founded in the Gallo-Roman age, the village was once called Burlatis, and has been renamed in the Middle Ages after Saint Enimie arrived there. The legend of Saint Enimie The name of the village comes from Enimie, a merovingian princess, King Clotaire II ‘s daughter and Dagobert’s sister. This maiden, who lived in the 7th century, was famous for her great virtue, and spent her time tocure the poor and the….
From Le Vigan, you will follow the river L’Arre, tributary of the Hérault, where brown trouts and chubs swim. Don’t miss the view of the Old Bridge, at Le Vigan. This Romanesque bridge was built around the 13th century to cross the river, which before could only be forded. For a long time, this bridge was the only crossing point from one bank to the other, and linked the Causse to the Cévennes: it enabled to develop trade (cereals from the Causses, chestnuts from the Cévennes, olives from the valleys…) This bridge has become symbolic ofLe Vigan. It has 4….
An aven is a pit cave – a geological formation which is typical of karst areas, in the Causses. Most of the time, it has been formed by the collapse of the roof of a case due to the rain erosion of limestone. So an aven is a cavity whose access is in the ground and which looks like (in whole ou in part) a vertical pit. The openings and the depths of these cavities are of varying sizes: they are sometimes amazing. On the way to Saint Guilhem, you will walk not far from the aven des Crouzettes (a….
At Le Vigan, you can see the former town house of Faventines, now called “Castle of Assas“. This building of majestic proportions was built in the 18th century in the style of parisian town houses, by a high-society man: Pierre Faventines, tax farmers-general under Louis XV. This house is indicative of the sophistication of the city in the age of the Enlightenment: Le Vigan was in fact the main town in the Cévennes area. This town house has three storeys facing the courtyard of honour, and four storeys facing the French formal garden. Sculptures adorn the windows. Sold as property….
Among rivers… Located between the Aigoual massif, the Causse noir and the Causse Méjean, the village of Meyrueis lies at the confluence of several rivers: the Jonte, the Béthuzon and the Brèze. Il is probably this geographical situation that gave its name to the village. In fact, if several etymologies are possible, Meyrueis comes probably from the occitan words mesclar (“combine”) and rius (“river”), and means “combination of rivers”. There is also a Latin version: Mediis rivis (“among rivers”). Economy Pilgrims and shepherds with their transhumant flocks stopped in the village before continuing on their way. Moreover, since the Middle….
The village, located at the confluence of the Tarn with the Jonte, was once called Entr’aygues (“between two waters”, in occitan language). Its current name comes from the monks of the abbey of Aniane (Hérault), who went to this place in the 11th century to found a monastery and developp the cultivation of rose trees imported from Italy (in Franch, “Le Rosier” means “Rose Tree”). The spelling changed during the French Revolution, Le Rosier becoming Le Rozier, on the ground that something had to be changed… Only the church still remains from the former Benedictine monastery of Saint-Sauveur. The rock….
On the vast lands of the arid Causse Méjean grows an amazingly old tree: it is a field elm (the biggest in France), located at Saint-Pierre-des-Tripiers (Lozère). It should be a “Sully elm”. Sully, Minister of King Henri IV, planted at the beginning of the 17th century many elms and lime trees along roads and in the villages throughout France. Why? The aim was to provide wood for construction and the navy, but also to enjoy the pleasant shadow under the tree branches. Many so-called “Sully elms” are still alive in French villages but it is always difficult to establish….
Mont Aigoual Mont Aigoual (elevation 1567m), located within the Cévennes National Park, is the highest point of the Gard département, France. Mont Aigoual is famous as well for its view as for its weather records (temperature, winds, frost, snow). From the top of Mont Aigoual you can see, in clear weather, a good part of France, from the Alps to the Pyrenees, and from Puy de Sancy (Massif Central) to the Mediterranean Sea. To enjoy this wonderful view, plan to make a detour (the round-trip is 6 kilometers)! The Aigoual Observatory At the top of Mont Aigoual is the….
Notre-Dame-de-Bonheur (“Our Lady of Wellbeing”) – Bonahuc (in occitan) Coming from Camprieu, we leave the oceanic hillside of Mont Aigoual. We climb up the high valley of Bonheur (“wellbeing”) following along a large rocky band bordered by big blocks, which are the remnants of the “Draille du Parc-aux_Loups” (“Wolf Park Track”). To the right, the grassy and wooded slopes, which were, around the year one thousand, the migration pastures which belonged to Gellone (abbey of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert). In 1080, Gellone was given « Château de l’Espérou », on the top of the ridge nearby L’Esperou, by the lords of Roquefeuil, thus….
« In loco horroris et vastae solitudinis » It was a place of horror and profound solitude. This inscription, taken from a hymn of Moses engraved on the frontispiece of the door, on the eastern façade of the Aubrac monastery. In olden days, the Aubrac was a deep and dark forest that covered the whole mountain and extended well into the plain. Wolves and wild boars were the only inhabitants in these wild places. However, a wide, completely paved road , built by the Romans, crossed the forest all the way across. It was a section of a grand route….
In the 19th century, there were no roads in the gorges du Tarn. The road coming from Florac stopped at Sainte-Enimie. The blasting work began in 1889 and finished in 1905. The Gorges du Tarn are the longest in Europe (53 km) and have a depth of 500m. Before this date, the transport of travellers (and even that of agricultural materials) was assumed by the boatmen on flat bottomed boats called « toues » which were guided by poles . And this since the fourteenth century! Two services were provided shared by two companies which made it necessary to have….
After having generously donated, William of Orange was received at the abbey of Gellone by his friend Benedict of Aniane, former military officer like him, and finally settled there living a monastic life, having known a rather tormented existence as a layman, that of a famous warrior. After he passed away in 812 the abbey became a very famous place of pilgrimage, due to the renown of its benefactor and was an obligatory stopping place on the way to Santiago de Compostela. At the same time, the Via Tolosana, an ancient sheep migration track, was seeing a parade of pilgrims. The chemin….
The Prjewalski horse (or Przewalski) Is the last wild European horse. Even though it is very hardy, it has completely disappeared from the Mongolian steppes around the nineteen seventies. Today there are only about a thousand, living in land reserves and zoos. Hunting, competition with domestic horses and troubles affecting the border regions in Asia, have been fatal to them. One herd occupies the open spaces of the Causse Méjean and can be seen at the village of Drigas (the base is more precisely in the hamlet Le Villaret in the “Cévennes National Park”). This hamlet is linked to the….
The principal of migration is so old that it is anchored deep inside the animal, in the form of a kind of collective memory. Still today, the herds seem to have an intuitive knowledge of the tracks : they never move away from them. Pierre Clément says he has observed herds waking up and spontaneously leaving on the route at moonrise, obedient to a mysterious ancestral impulse… Could migration and the track be coded in the sheep’s genes? Here is a small resume of what we know, suppose… or dream… After the end of the last ice age, around -10.000….
The Cirque de Navacelles As well as many other famous sites of the Grands Causses, the Cirque de Navacelles is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, who come to admire the cut out of the Vis canyon, across the limestone and dolomite of the Causse de Blandas. At the bottom of the canyon, 300 meters lower than the Causse, the Vis descends in waterfalls to Navacelles. The village attached to rocks thus respecting a flat loop of cultivated fields at the bottom which circles a small limestone landform. The whole dominated by slopes covered by sharp scree,….