Le Mas Breton
This path reveals several aspects of life in the Cévenol valleys in the old days. The traces of humans adapting to this terrain can be seen in mills, terraced cropland (bancels) and irrigation channels (béals). The path goes through chestnut groves and holm-oak forests, which are the emblematic vegetation of this part of the Cévennes.
Above the road, you can see ten or so crop terraces (bancels), built in a small valley between two rocky spurs. Until 1962, these sheltered terraces were still planted with potatoes and vegetables. In this area, it took human ingenuity to build small walls in the tiniest hollow so as to accumulate and retain soil in which to grow food to live on. Often, soil was brought up from the valley bottom in baskets to improve these terraces. In the valleys, it was retained by purpose-built dams, so-called tancats. (P. Grime)
In 1809, there were 1,268 mills in Lozère, about one for every 100 inhabitants. These mills stopped work in the late 19th or early 20th century. There were wheat mills, but also oil mills. Nowadays, the ruined mills are very often partially hidden by lush vegetation, which includes alders (easy to identify by their red roots, which like to soak in the river). (P. Grime)
It is worth noting the difference in exposure, and therefore in vegetation, of the two slopes. The side of Le Masaout faces north, is less steep and has been planted with sweet chestnuts, which prefer deep, well-drained soil. The slope climbed by the path is steep and south-facing, and up to a certain altitude is thus better suited to holm oak, a variety that likes dry environments and contents itself with poor soils. The oaks can be found growing quite high up this slope, while the chestnuts grow in the small valleys, where a less shallow layer of soil has accumulated. (P. Grime)
Follow the D 62 towards Le Pompidou for about 750 m, and, just before La Roquette, take the first path on the left, which goes downhill to La Coste. Then follow the road that goes downhill on the right. After the bridge, take a path on the left and follow the brook to the bridge below Le Masaout. From a waterfall, follow another béal, which goes through zones of sparser vegetation where you may spot a few abandoned vines, to reach the edge of the pond and mill at Le Masaout. Do not cross the bridge, but take the path that goes uphill continuing your current path. At the crossroads, continue straight ahead (ignoring a track on the right that goes to Molezon Romanesque church, 500 m away) to reach Le Mas Breton. Pass below the hamlet and continue onto the track, which has a hairpin bend. Shortly after this bend, take a path going uphill on the left to La Coste, where you will join up with the road leading to your parking spot.
Make sure your equipment is appropriate for the day's weather conditions. Remember that the weather changes quickly in the mountains. Take enough water, wear good shoes and put on a hat. Please close all gates and barriers after yourself.
Information center Le Pompidou
La poste, 48400 Le Pompidou
04 66 60 31 26
This centre 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. :
Access and parking
D 62, on the ridge between Le Pompidou and Barre-des-Cévennes, 2.5 km from Le Pompidou (point 784)
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