Parks and nature

Barles

The village of Barles is worldwide known among geologists for the peculiarities of its territory, where giant fossil ammonites can be found which date back to 200 million years ago. The area is protected as the Réserve naturelle géologique de Haute Provence, and a fossils exhibition can be visited short before arriving to the village. Barles has a mining past, linked to the slate quarries and to the lime kilns and mills. There were also modest seams of copper, silver and coal, up to the II world war. […]

Fraïsse sur Agôut

The lovely, tiny village has many small blooming gardens: various groups of sparse houses base their wealth on fishing and bathing tourism in the local ponds or lakes. Archaeological vestiges dating back to the Neolithic are very important here as well. There is a nice example of rural architecture typical of the High Languedoc at a short distance from the village (1 km), in Prat d’Alaric: two buildings that used to […]

Gorges de La Frau

The gorges are located in an extraordinary chalky place and extend along 3 km, with overhanging walls being 3-400m high. The name probably comes from the Latin term fragor, in its double meaning of noise and fracture. The abundance of rains in the area determine the enormous quantity of vegetation: mosses, ferns and lichened larches. The Hers, which is the stream running through the area, looks mostly dry as it flows underground and comes to the surface again through various springs. The gorges are protected by the community network Natura 2000. […]

Mont Lozère

Mont Lozère is a wide barren ridge, dotted with granite rocks, which extends from west to east. It separates the southern protestant Cévennes from the catholic Gévaudan in the north. It had been used for centuries as a summer grazing for the sheep of Camargue and of the department of Gard. From the XII it had been a property of the Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St John, who then became […]

Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux (1912 m) is an insulated calcareous massif extending over about 25 kilometres: for this reason it is also renowned as ‘the Giant of Provence’. Its Occitan name is Mont Ventor, deriving from a pre-Latin root –vin (rise), widespread in the south of France, Piedmont and Corsica, together with the suffix –tur (distance). It indicates a mountain which is visible from a distance. The meaning of this ancient toponym had then been misunderstood, and from the X century the mountain was known as Mons Ventosus (windy mountain) also because the mistral sometimes blows on it at a speed between 100 and 200 kilometres an hour. This was also the name used by Petrarch, the first to climb the peak, thus being, thanks to this ascension, the forerunner of mountaineering. Mont Ventoux is a biosphere reserve of UNESCO and a site of importance for the community (SIC). […]

Montagne de Lure

The Montagne de Lure is a long ridge stretching from the west to the east. It is mainly calcareous and its geological origins belong to the massif of Mont Ventoux. It is characterized by wooded sides and a barren crest. Together with Mont Ventoux, it marks  […]

Réserve naturelle des Gorges de l’Ardèche

The gorges of Ardèche (Réserve naturelle des Gorges de l'Ardèche) is a protected area spread over 1575 hectares of forest, with a river flowing through its centre, winding with narrow twists and turns among the spectacular calcareous cliffs. The geologic origin of the territory is an ancient tropical sea, which covered all the south of France around 125 million year ago. The alpine orogenesis of the Tertiary Era (60 million years ago) raised calcareous rock deposits and fractured them deeply. It is precisely in these fractures that the erosion of meteoric waters dug out the gorges. There are numerous spectacular karstic phenomena: grottos, fossil meanders and natural arches. Pont d'Arc is the most renowned and visited; it is not reached by our route, but it can be seen from the carriage way D 290 on the south of the Vallon-Pont-d'Arc. […]

The Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi links the Mediterranean and the Atlantic through various streams and the waterway of the Garonne, connecting the towns of Bordeaux, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Béziers and Sète. It was built on a project of Pierre-Paul Riquet in order to transport wheat between 1666 and 1681, during the reign of Louis XIV. The water that feeds the channel comes from the Montagne Noire through a system of pipes and reservoirs. After the railway was built, the channel ceased to be the main means of transportation, but it is still used by tourists. In 1996 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. […]

The Causse de Blandas

The Causse de Blandas is a karstic upland delimited by the course of the Arre to the north and the Vis and the Causse de Larzac to the south. Around 800 hectares of the upland are protected as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) by the European network Natura 2000. It consists of wide, bare enclosed pasturelands, which are particularly interesting for the specific flora of chalky soils and the presence of dolmens and menhirs. […]

The Dentelles de Montmirail

The Dentelles de Montmirail are the farthest western strip of land of the massif of the Baronnies, which includes the Montagne de Lure and Mont Ventoux. The Dentelles de Montmirail owe their name to the sharp profile of their peaks and walls faces, on which there are about 600 ways for rock climbing. The rock is of Jurassic limestone and the environment is typically Mediterranean, with holm-oaks and Aleppo pine trees. At the feet of its faces there are fine vineyards and some mineral water springs. […]

The Gorges de Galamus

The stream Agly dug a narrow gorge in the limestone and dolomites dating back from the Lower Jurassic to the lower Cretaceous (between 205 and 108 million years ago). The two sides look very different because  […]

The Merdelou

The Merdelou is an important mountain for the Occitan world. It is part of the Monts de Lacaune, the southern foothills of the Massif Central, and its crest represents the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and faces the valley of the Garonne. The name, Merdellon in Occitan language comes from “mer de lonh", which means “sea from far away”. The Mediterranean can easily be seen from here during clear days. […]

The Moulin de Trédos

The Moulin de Trédos was built in the middle of the XVII century over some Roman ruins. The mill is fed by a complex system of irrigation ditches (besals o beals) and is nowadays a tourist facility. […]

The Parc National des Cévennes

The Parc National des Cévennes is spread over a territory with an extremely low population density (about 10 inhabitants per square kilometre), due to a massive exodus of the population started during the first world war, and in a slow phase of recovery only since the ’90s. The natural environments are extremely diversified: the high Cévennes, a southern offshoot of the Massif Central, are characterized by […]

The Pech de Bugarach

The Pech de Bugarach (m 1230) is the first true Pyrenean peak on the route and it is the summit of the Corbières massif. It is interesting from the geological point of view as the more recent layers (Cretaceous marls) are below the more ancient rocks (Jurassic limestone). There is an extended view over the Pyrenees, over the Montagne Noire and over the Mediterranean Sea from the peak. The isolated summit of the Pech de Bugarach struck the imagination of many, such as Jules Vernes, Victor Hugo and in recent times Steven Spielberg, who was inspired by the Pyrenean mountain (sighting location of UFO) for the screenplay of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which was however filmed in the USA. […]

The gorges and the Cirque des Navacelles

The gorges and the Cirque des Navacelles can be seen from the Blandas viewpoint. The Cirque des Navacelles is a dead meander of the river where the homonymous village is located, on the hill in the middle of a 285 m deep circular depression. The empty river bed is cultivated with grass and overlooked by the steep walls of the gorge. A waterfall indicates the place where the river broke the meander’s peduncle about 6000 years ago.

The village of Navacelles is charming and is completely built in stone. The name, which originally was Nova Cella, underlines its monastic origins. Navacelles was mentioned for the first time at the beginning of the XI century as property of the Gellone abbey of St-Guilhem-le-Désert. […]

The lake of Allos

The lake of Allos (54 hectares)is the widest natural lake at a high altitude in Northern Europe. There is a hotel-refuge on its shore and slightly above there is the small church of Notre-Dame des Monts. […]

The mill of La Foux

The mill of La Foux is located at the resurgence of the Vis; although the river starts at an altitude of 1300 m on the Montagne du Lingas, it sinks below the chalky upland of the Larzac. The waters come to the surface again after an underground course that takes 28 days. The mill is located at the resurgence, which has an average flow of 1,200 litres per second. It was working until the beginning of the XX century and it has recently been restructured. It consists of two buildings with a stone penstock feeding a horizontal wheel. It used to be a wheat mill, furnished with four grindstones made of chalky stones. […]

The upland of Sault

The chalky upland of Sault was named after the Latin word saltus, forest, since the whole district of the Pays de Sault is rich in forests. The average altitude of the upland is around 800-900 metres. Forestry and agriculture are the main activities. The meat of the Gascon cattle breed and the mountain potatoes are valuable products of this territory. An important agricultural show takes place in Espezel every year at the end of October. […]

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