The Cévennes, known to the Romans as Mons Cebenna, form the southeastern section of the Massif Central, lying between the valleys of the Ardèche and the Hérault and falling steeply down to the Rhône basin.
This beautiful range of hills has an average height of around 1,500m/4,900ft, rising to 1,702m/5,584ft in Mont Lozère (Pic de Finiels). The hills consist mainly of slate and the plateaux of limestone. Between the sharp-edged hill ridges (serres) are canyon-like gorges, the best known of which are the Gorges du Tarn.The Cévennes form the climatic boundary between the mild Mediterranean region and the harsher Massif Central, so that they have a varied pattern of vegetation. The forest clearance which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries to supply the charcoal needed by the numerous glass-blowing establishments gradually came to an end around a hundred years ago, and since then much reafforestation has been carried out. The varied landscape of the Cévennes, alternating between areas of forest, barren grassland, bare moorland and deeply indented valleys, offers a haven of solitude and tranquillity. The National Park of the Cévennes was established in 1970 to protect the typical fauna and flora of the region.The Corniche des Cévennes is a beautiful scenic road running through the hills for some 50km/30mi between Florac to the northwest and St-Jean-du-Gard to the southeast, offering views of the two highest peaks in the range.The foreland region to the southeast, an area transitional to Provence and Languedoc, already has a Mediterranean climate in which olives, vines and mulberry trees extend far into the hills.The coal mined round Alès has made possible the development of ironworking and chemical industries.During the 16th C wars of religion, and after Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes, these inaccessible mountain regions offered a place of refuge for the Huguenots. The persecution of Protestants led to the Guerre des Cévennes (1702-1710), a rising by the Huguenots, who became known as the "Camisards" from the shirts they wore. Finally the killing was ended by an amnesty. The descendants of the Huguenots still meet annually at the famous Musée du Désert in commemoration of these events. The population of the Cévennes is still largely Protestant, even though Protestants were not granted equal rights in France until 1804, under the Code Napoléon. The clearance of the Cévennes forests was halted by a series of well conceived measures introduced by Georges Fabre, director of forestry, from 1875 onwards.
Mont Lozère is a granite hill reaching its highest point in the Pic de Finiels (1702m/5,584ft), accessible only on foot, which offers magnificent views of the whole Cévennes region. To reach it, drive from Le Bleymard in the direction of Le Pont-de-Montvert; the starting-point of the climb is the Col de Finiels (1,540m/5,050ft).
Mont Aigoual (1,567m/5,141ft) rises to the southeast of Meyrueis. On the summit is an observatory, established in 1887. There are impressive all-round views, extending in favorable conditions to the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, and sometimes to Mont Blanc and Maledetta.
Camprieu - Bramabiau Abyss
In prehistoric times, the site was used as a temple. Now it is a fine example of subterranean caves, many of which are still being formed by the running water.
Anduze, southeast of St-Jean-du-Gard, was around 1625 a base of the Protestant forces led by the Duc de Rohan. The picturesque old town, with a clock tower of 1320, is, with the nearby pass, the Porte des Cévennes, a good starting-point for trips into the hills.
Bambouseraie de Prafrance
The "bambouseraie" of Prafrance was started in 1856 when Eugene Mazel purchased the property. This interesting garden contains a variety of over 100 species of bamboo. The eastern plants thrive in the rich soil of the Mediterranean climate that abounds around Cevennes.
This annual 10-day festival runs from late July to early August and includes at least five performances such as orchestral, choral and chamber concerts as well as piano, violin and vocal recitals.Since its inception in 1987, the festival events have taken place in the Castle of Banne near Les Vans.