From Mas de La Barque, this path takes you to the second-highest summit in Lozère, Pic Cassini (1,680 m). It offers panoramic 360° views over Mont Lozère and all the way to the coast – and sometimes as far as the Alpes !
Mas de la Barque
The small family ski station of Mas de la Barque was inaugurated in 1968 to meet the expectations of people living locally. But in 1981, there was precipitation but not much snow; in 1982 the winter was mild; 1983 was a very hot year; and 1984 and 1985 were very cold (record: -23.5°C). These climate hazards gradually shifted the station's focus onto cross-country skiing; downhill skiing was phased out from 1994.
This forest is both protective and productive. Silver firs are grown for timber; beeches (known locally as fayard) for firewood. But above all these trees serve to keep soils in place, break the wind, and stop the snow. The extreme weather conditions in this mountain environment (fog, violent storms, heavy snowfall, droughts) make forest growth unpredictable. The old beeches have been felled; only tall young trees have been kept to regenerate the beech forest. The creeping pines, planted over 80 years ago, are a frugal mountain species that makes do with poor soils.
The first geometrical map of the Kingdom of France was realised, at a scale of 1:864,000, on the initiative of Louis XV. It is known as the Cassini Map. The Cassini family produced four generations of scholars. The first Cassini, an astronomer, began to apply a geodesic system that consisted of measuring the position of a point on Earth using bearings, namely the polar axis and the Equator. His descendants established a precise map of France (180 sheets) by triangulating a large number of bearings, such as Pic Cassini. It was used as a model for France's Ordnance Survey maps and today has practical applications in many fields (toponymy, phytosociology, etc.).
From the car park, take the large path heading due north into the beech forest. The path climbs gradually and enters a forest of creeping pines before arriving at the Col de l'Aigle pass. From the pass, continue due west on the track and then a stony path to reach the peak of Pic Cassini. From the summit, go back down to the Col de l'Aigle by the same route, and then take the path on the left that runs parallel the ridge and forms the limit between the cantons of Villefort and Le-Pont-de-Montvert. Go over a small grassy pass sprinkled with gentian flowers and, in the hairpin bend, go downhill on the track on the right. Walk through the beech forest, then the firs. In the hairpin bend, take the track again all the way down to Mas de la Barque.
This walk is not suitable for foggy weather. Mountain-biking is prohibited between the Col de l'Aigle pass and Pic Cassini. 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.
Access and parking
From Génolhac take the D 362 road, from Villefort the D 66, to Mas de la Barque
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