The Nîmes-le-Vieux Trail showcases a variety of typical Causse Méjean landscapes: stony arid hillocks; a few hollows of deep soil overlaid with winding plough lines; steep promontories looming rampart-like; and vast stretches of craggy rocks, whose shapes fire your imagination and captivate you.
Nîmes-le-Vieux: a trail to the very core of dolomite rock
The block field of Nîmes-le-Vieux was given its name in 1908 by its “discoverer” Paul Arnal, the Protestant pastor of Vébron. In 1910, the journal Causses and Cévennes published an article about the site by the famous geographer E.A. Martel: “Unlike Montpellier-le-Vieux, it is not a collection of enclosed spaces 100 m deep and grouped around a central rocky range, but a cliff front, a projection of the Causse Méjean surface that presents a long stretch of semi-circles all bristling with hundreds of carved, sculpted Dolomite rocks full of holes…”
A “handmade” landscape
The hamlet of L'Hom stands sheltered from the north and west winds by a rocky barrier, on the edge of a basin of deep soil (doline) that is the reason for its being built in this very spot.
Imps of shrubs and rocks
Birds as light as sprites and as quick to vanish find shelter and food here. The combination of short-grass prairie rich in both grasses and herbaceous plants (and frequented by insects and rodents), and rocky areas offering much shelter means that many varieties of bird can be observed.
A drop, time and an abyss
This ruiniform relief has resulted from the dissolution of the bedrock, which has left behind the most resistant parts and given them the most varied shapes. The areas that are currently hollows have been subject to the most intense erosion, which has in some places created arches, vaults and even small gorges. Since the Causses emerged from the sea during the Mesozoic, rainwater from the lower strata of the atmosphere (and hence high in carbonic acid) has entered the bedrock through its many fissures and permeated its depths, speeding up its erosion.
Even on bare rock, plant life manages to get a hold and evolve increasingly plentiful habitats for species that are increasingly demanding. From lichens to flowering plants, this is the great adventure of plant life, starting from the driest mineral substrate.
When the herdsman...
The chorus of the “Chanson du Bouvier” inflects in the vowels of the alphabet (to which ancient civilisations attributed the virtue of an incantation) the “divine name which must not be pronounced”. Bouvier is also the old name for the Arcturus constellation (Boötes), which is near Ursa Major and looks as though it is following the latter’s Plough through boundless space, as a herdsman follows his cattle.
From the car park, walk about 150 m through the hamlet, then turn left after the agricultural buildings.
This walk has six numbered information panels. Horse-riding or mountain-biking are not allowed on or adapted to discovery trails.
Tourism & national parc'house
Col de la Serreyrède, 30570 Val d'Aigoual
04 67 82 64 67
The Maison de l'Aigoual houses the tourism office Mont Aigoual Causses Cévennes and the Maison du Parc national. This visitor centre provides information on and raises awareness of the Cévennes National Park, its sites and events as well as the rules that must be observed in the National Park's central zone.
On site: changing exhibitions, video projections, Festival Nature events and shop Open year-round
Access and parking
Col du Perjuret, on the D 996 from Florac or Meyrueis, or on the D 18 from Mont Aigoual. At the Col du Perjuret, head towards L'Hom, where the walk starts.
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