More than a mountain chain, the Cevennes are in fact a plethora of many-sided open spaces and hills. The summits are made up of a succession of slightly undulating plateaux, sometimes green like the Mont Aigoual or markedly flat and bare as on the Mont Lozere between Le Bleymard and Le Pont de Montvert. This area makes up the center of the Cevennes National Park. The western part of these high grounds slope gently downwards on either side of a dividing line of water originating at the extreme end of the Mont Lozere, on the crests of Jalcreste and Minier.
The countryside opens upon vast limestone spaces that are called the Causses (“Cans”). Below these bare surfaces, the Mediterranean side of the Cevennnes region is hollowed out by deep and narrow valleys (“les valats”), dominated by crests and swept by the force of the windy torrents common of the Cevennes. Before rejoining the Languedoc plain, the southern valleys widen and transform under the influence of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the past, the Causses and the Cevennes were the domain of the forest and wild animals. The “Beast of Gevaudan” present in the 18th century caused great fear in the area for several years. Today the region is mainly the domain of wild boar and hikers.
The real emblem of the “cevenol” countryside is the chestnut tree, also called the “bread tree”. Chestnut trees are found all over the Cevennes as are incredible green oak and other hardwood trees.
The population of the high valleys in the Cevennes has dwindled more and more over the last century. Animal farming makes up the bulk of activity in the area, however the economy of the Cevennes relies heavily on tourism. It is an ideal region for nature lovers but also has a rich patrimony and architectural heritage, a rich and sometimes terribly violent history.
When walking in the Cevennes, it is possible to come across old Protestant temples like in Anduze or Catholic churches, each serve as memories of the dreadful religious wars of the 17th century and reminders of the violent and bloody period of the Camisard wars;
Also the “magnagneries”, silk worm breeding houses which were the source of wealth of the Cevennes in the 19th century. Numerous hamlets and villages with typical Cevenol architecture are worth visiting: the fortified village of La-Garde-Guerin, Le Pont-de-Montvert, Florac, seat of the Cevennes National Park, St-Laurent-de-Treves, with its dinosaur footprints engraved in the limestone, Meyrueis and Roquedols castle.
Between two swimming expeditions in the refreshing and clear waters of the Gardon, it is therefore possible to discover the beauty of the countryside of today and yesterday.