If you drive south, to the Mediterranean Sea or to Nimes or Montpellier, leaving the Cévennes, you will soon leave the rugged mountains made by the granite massifs and the schist and arrive on low limestone plateaus, where the sun enlightens the landscape, where you feel you arrive in a different country. You will pass through Anduze and may want...more
St Jean du Gard has a Mediterranean character, it is at the southern edge of the mountains, and the big central place, with its big planes is an example of this Mediterranean influence.Where ever I travel on the planet, I like to visit markets and here, I wanted to see if old friends were still there: in the end seventies, the village was very...more
St Jean du Gard was the end stop of Stevenson’s trip through the Cévennes; with his donkey Modestine, he walked down the Corniche from Col de St Pierre and soon arrived in a village which may not have changed a lot since his time.Narrow streets, arcades, coloured walls, almost Mediterranean, only the pavements and the presence of cars are signs of...more
When you wander around, by car, or walking, in the Cévennes, you see of course the mountains, and if villages are the places where people live, many places of the mountains also witness for human activity, far on the crests, on the slopes and this, since ages. . . . . On one of the passes of the “Corniche des Cévennes”, you may even see meadows...more
Between Florac and St Jean du Gard, you will pass through only two villages, on the Corniche and if you want to see some typical villages, you may want to drive down one of the narrow windy roads to the valleys; each village has its personality, its history, its people, colours, scents, atmosphere. . . . St André de Valborgne is built on the banks...more
During my explorations in the Valfrancesque, I one day arrived at a half ruined farm, where only one old man lived, with his dogs and sheep; after chatting for a while he told me his name was Fritz. Surprised, I asked him how come he has a German name? And Mr Lafont told me a beautiful story of a French soldier (his father) who had his life saved...more
Pompidou is the name of a French President (1969-1974), and it is also the name of the village you see on picture 2; St Flour is the name of a nice small church located on the territory of the village, but it is also the name of the city where President Pompidou was born, few hundred km from here. . . . . There are some strange coincidences...more
After a walk one way in the main street, the other way can be done on a small street and trail just above the village from where you can reach one of the churches and see the roofs and chimneys. Yes the chimneys here are a bit special.As much as the houses are well aligned in the main street, on the back, they are like intricate one in each other,...more
When you drive up the Corniche, you will see at Col du Rey, towards north a high limestone cliff, witness that the Jurassic seas covered the whole Cévennes, and at the feet of that cliff is the small village of Barre des Cévennes (picture 1), a very picturesque small settlement at more than 1000 m elevation. Except in Summer, few people inhabit...more
I was incredibly angry when I wanted to visit the bridge of Soucy, I had seen last time in 1983! The little track has been closed, the houses on each side have been renovated, are now holiday houses, and the owners closed the track with high fences and steel doors, with alarms; I don’t know who is the owner, but I thought to write to the prefect of...more
In the deep narrow valleys, the rivers are wild, make natural borders, more than the crests, and since middle age, bridges were the links from one mountain to the other; when you walk or drive in the area, you cross bridges which stand there since 500 years, 700 years sometimes; they have been restored sometimes, but they kept their original...more
Florac is worth a stop, even for a few hours, looking at the old streets, having a rest before driving up the corniche; Make a visit in the church and look at some of the statues (picture 1) there, notice that like in every French village there is a monument to the dead of WW1 (picture 2) (Florac to her sons dead for France), look at the locals,...more
Florac is still a sous-préfecture , with its 1900 inhabitants, but it is a small sleepy town with a few cafés, nice streets, some houses witnessing its former “splendour”, a nice stop before driving up the Corniche des Cévennes.The Tarnon river is the main river flowing on the eastern side of the city and the small Vibron river, its affluent,...more
The concept of “Silk Road” is a rather recent one in history (1876), created by German geologist, geographer and explorer Ferdinand Von Richthofen, during his travels in Central Asia; what we call Silk Roads exist of course since antiquity, but the name and concept is very recent, contrary to common belief. But what have the Silk Roads to do with...more
When you walk on small paths on the mountain slopes in May-June, you certainly will notice all the scents of the woods and scrubland, and one dominates over all: it is the scent of the blooming chestnut trees (picture 1), and getting close, you will see these are modest flowers, pale yellow strings like bounded in airy tufts at the end of the...more
In spring and summer, the heather of the Cévennes bloom brightly and their colours spot beautifully the mountain slopes in some areas; this common heather is adapted to the rocky environment and with the grass, rude rocks, and other small flowers, they make beautiful compositions (picture 1).Some parts of the crests are literally covered with...more
If you travel in Southern France by car, a wonderful scenic road to discover the Cevennes, is the “Corniche des Cévennes” between Florac (44° 19’ 34”) and St Jean du Gard (44° 06’ 21”), D9 road .If you head south, 5 km after Florac, take the small road left at “Le Mazel”, and soon the road winds up, taking you to the Col du Rey (the king’s pass),...more
In the Autumn, the chestnut tree, the bread tree, becomes the main feature of the landscape. It is also the main crop and for centuries it was the main food for the people living here as well as for the travellers. It symbolize well the Cevennes : harsh and difficult to penetrate from outside, smooth and welcoming when inside.more
During the Neolithic (6000-3000 BC), inhabitants of C?vennes erected many stones, called menhir or dolmen (when there is a flat stone on top of the others).Here is a website describing a hike through a menhir rich plateau (West of Mont Loz?re): http://causses-cevennes.com/randonnee/bondons.htmmore
This adorable little romanesque church is just a gem. It dates back from the XIIth century. Up to 50 years ago it was used as a barn! It makes a nice little excursion and is located in a peaceful setting.Concerts are organized regularly in this church with a very good accoustic. Here is a website with the concert schedule:...more
The main type of tree in the C?vennes schisteuses is the chestnut (le ch?taignier, Castanea sativa). Chestnut cover most of the mountain sides. The fruit is edible and used to be the survival crop for lean days, long before the potatoe made it accross the Atlantic! It was also used as timber and fire wood.more
The traditionnal roof of the Cévennes shisteuses is made of local stones. Shist is a type of rock (a metamorphic rock) that break into flat pieces. A bit more chipping, and it is perfect for a roof tile!In the old days, great care was taken to make the shist roofs with natural materials to insure no leaking would occur during rains. Now, people put...more
To go to and around Cévennes, the best is to have a car. And not any car, a small car, because most roads are really narrow and twisty, wide enough for one car only.
There are also buses which go from one village to the other.
Hitchhiking would probably work too, except you might end up waiting for hours for a car to pass by in the middle of nowhere in the off-season (outside of summer). It is not a very populated area!
I strongly recommand you to go to the local markets. They generally happen once a week in each village on the main square or road. Ask for the days to the locals. You can buy local products such as patés, sausage, honey...
Do not miss the bakery of St Germain de Calberte: delicious bread and pastries (go early in the morning, the best stuff goes away fast!).
This national park is very green and lush.We went there in the end of May to early June of 2004.The Cytisus Praecox (yellow herbs) was flowering !You can do hiking as well as mountainbiking in this park..In the Gorges du Verdon, you can rent canoes/kayaks to go down the Verdon river alongside the huge cliffs (Gorge). Good hiking boots !Water and...more
Riding your bicycle in Cévennes is a great way to discover the region. The roads are small (I mean secondary and not wide) and have hardly any traffic. However, in the Cévennes schisteuses, you'd better be in great shape; it is endless up and downs, and sometimes very steep!! Wear a helmet, and take water... duh... A raincoat is sometimes useful.more