Florac 160 km (on horseback)
This trail takes you from the Cévenol valleys to the forested Aigoual massif, and from the arid plateau of the Causse Méjean and the vertiginous paths of the Gorges du Tarn to the granite solitude of Mont Lozère. Come and discover the route of the epic horse race, the Florac 160 km – your turn to follow in the traces of the legendary stallion Persik!
The iron-rich water of Salce
After a small detour from the hamlet of
Salièges to the river Tarn, you will come across a spring of ferruginous water. For a long time, the ability to prevent (or cure) alcoholism was attributed to this water rich in Fe2+ ions, and made famous by a sketch by the stand-up comedian Bourvil. It supposedly supplies the iron that would normally come from regularly drinking alcohol. A small construction indicates the Salce spring (the path from Salièges is way-marked), as does the red tinting from iron oxide, which you find in many contact zones between schist and limestone.
Ash trees, like the ones that border the path, like cool and damp environments. They were planted alongside paths by locals because ash branches, cut towards the end of summer, provided additional fodder for livestock.
A beautiful view onto Mont Aigoual (1,567 m) – a mountain of winds, fog, snow and rain. Banks of clouds coming from the Mediterranean rub against its slopes and can cause violent precipitation (also called Cévenol episodes). This temperamental mountain is home to the last mountain weather-station in France.
The Draille de la Margeride
The draille follows the ridge and crosses the Can de l'Hospitalet. This drovers' road enables the flocks of the plains (from the southern Cévennes and the Crau) to get up to the northern Gévaudan (Aubrac, Margeride, Mont Lozère). This draille is only a branch of a bigger network on which livestock still migrates today.
Summit of Mont Aigoual
At an altitude of 1,565 m, the climate is harsh: weather conditions are the same as they would be at 2,000 m elsewhere, with only four “frost-free” months a year. Winds of above 60 kph blow on 265 days a year, and the average annual temperature is 4.8°C. Trees do not have enough time to complete their life cycle. Local plant formations are those of the montane zone: subalpine short-grass prairies.
Did the menhir-builders move in the same landscape that we see today? Current archaeological knowledge does not allow us to reproduce with great accuracy what the landscape of Mont Lozère’s slopes would have looked like in the late Neolithic. Yet the birth of agriculture and livestock rearing in the Neolithic without doubt opened a new chapter in the relationship between humans and nature. For the first time in their history, populations designed the landscape by dotting it with monuments, but more importantly by developing agricultural and pastoral activities. Today – 5,000 years later – human interventions are carried out based on Natura 2000 measures, which focus notably on keeping open spaces intact and maintaining agro-pastoral activities.
The village of Les Combettes is built in a natural depression, as its name indicates (combette = little valley). The exhibition on display in the communal oven building emphasises how late Mont Lozère was first settled. By the Upper Neolithic (around 3500 BC), the region of the Grands Causses was widely settled, following a population increase. The first agro-pastoral communities formed, creating farms and villages and clearing land to grow cereals and breed livestock, whilst still hunting and gathering. These groups are behind local megalithism. The age of metals put an end to the practice of erecting menhirs, but dolmens were in use for a while longer.
The Manoir d'Issenges
This fortified house, built from 1624 onwards, is an example of a type of rural seigneurial estate inherited from the Middle Ages. The complex consists of three buildings: the main building with its almost square ground plan, and two long and low wings of farm buildings, which together enclose a courtyard open to the gardens to the east. The entrance is via an archway located at the southern corner of the main building. This building must have had four corner turrets, a projecting tower in the centre that contained the spiral staircase, and an entrance topped by a pediment. This fortified look was reinforced by musket slits and a parapet, or at least a brattice over the entrance gates. The turrets have been demolished and the central tower reduced in height. The mullioned windows have been preserved. A stone shows the date of 1624.
The draille de la Margeride
The ascent to Issenges is on the draille de la Margeride. A draille is a path used by herds of goats during the transhumance: moving up to the mountain pastures in June and coming back down again in September.
“I moved my sheep to summer pastures all the way in the Margeride. I'm from up there myself. When I was a kid, there were many of us in the family, and whenever we saw a transhumant [seasonally migrating] shepherd pass by, my dad would say: one day you'll have to go off with a shepherd... I left and became a transhumant shepherd. My first stopover was Bonperrier. Then we'd eat at L'Hospitalet, and go down to Florac for the night. I moved pastures with 4,000 sheep.”
The European beaver (Castor fiber)
The calm deep stretches of the Tarn are good areas to settle for the European beaver, which lives in a lodge dug into the river bank. An essentially vegetarian animal, it bases its diet on cellulose. It eats young shoots, bark, aquatic plants, and foliage that is abundant in the riparian forest. It is thus useful in regulating the woody vegetation of river banks, facilitating the development of riverside fauna and flora. Through its activities, it prevents the potentially dangerous accumulation of dead wood during floods. It does not build dams.
From Ispagnac, go through the village towards Florac. As you leave Ispagnac, take the D 907 bis to the first fork on your right. Take this lane and cross the river Tarn. Continue on the lane until you reach Biessette, Biesses, Fayet, Salièges and then Florac. From the former train station in Florac, take the former road below the N 106 towards Le Pont Neuf (where you can also go into Florac). Cross that bridge, then turn left towards St Jean du Gard. Cross the Barre bridge on your left and take the GR70 to Balazuègnes. Head up the small Briançon valley towards the Col de l'Oumenet pass. Go through Le Bouquet and continue to Barre des Cévennes. From there, head towards the Col des Faisses and then Col de Solpérière passes (GR7). Use an old local track to reach L'Hospitalet, and then take the former draille or drovers' road (GR7), the Col de Salidès pass to reach Aire de Côte. From Aire de Côte, head uphill to the summit of Mont Aigoual (GR66). From the summit, make for Prat Peyrot and then for La Serreyrède on the GR60. From La Serreyrède, go downhill to Le Devois (Camprieu), then uphill to La Croix de Fer; continue to Meyrueis via Bout de Côte (GR6). From Meyrueis, climb onto the Causse Méjean and continue to La Croix de la Croisette and then to La Tombe du Géant (GR6). Take the road for 2 km towards Drigas, and continue on a track on the right. At the centre of Drigas, take the fork towards Hures and then Le Fraisse. Go through Mas de Val and then downhill to Sainte-Enimie on the so-called “Camin Ferrat” track. Climb onto the Causse de Sauveterre using the former track, heading to Le Bac and then Champerboux (GR60). From Champerboux, go to Sauveterre and continue on to the Col de Montmirat pass via La Baraque de l'Estrade (GR44). Cross the N 106, ride along the D 35 and take a track going downhill to Les Combettes. From Les Combettes, go uphill again to Faux (GR 68), then fork off towards Les Laubies/Les Badieux to reach the buttes in Les Bondons before joining up again with the GR 68 heading downhill to Florac to the bridge over the Tarn.
This trail goes through several sheep pens: please shut gates behind yourself. Keep dogs on a leash. The trail is way-marked in one direction only (clockwise). For overnight gites that accept horses, please contact the tourist offices in Florac and Meyrueis.
Tourism'house and national Parc at Florac
Place de l'ancienne gare, N106, 48400 Florac-trois-rivières
04 66 45 01 14
This office is part of the National Park's associated tourist-information network, whose mission is to provide information on, and raise awareness of, the sites and events as well as the rules that must be observed in the National Park's central zone.
On site: exhibitions, video projections, events and shop Open year-round
Access and parking
From Mende or Alès on the N 106 to Ispagnac
Report a problem or an error
If you have found an error on this page or if you have noticed any problems during your hike, please report them to us here: