This walk at the foot of the Bougès mountain range takes you onto the Languedoc draille (drovers' road) and over the watershed between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It has beautiful views onto the Cevennes, the Aigoual massif and Mont Lozère.
Saint Maurice de Ventalon
Saint-Maurice-de-Ventalon is the canton's most centrally located village, at the crossroads of Mont Lozère and the Cevennes. To reach the hamlets of Le Tronc and Le Masmin, you have to cross over the Ventalon ridge. The village's families are mostly multiple job holders, living partly on farming, bee-keeping (restored trunk-hive at the entrance to the village), livestock rearing and renting out horses for hikes. The village was once a very convivial place, with a post office, school, shop and cafe that drew the inhabitants of this vastly spread out village. “In Saint-Maurice-de-Ventalon, an accordion-player was hired for the ball on the saint's name day. This took place in July on the little square. The organisers went around the village to sell the “fougasse de Paillasse” (a Provencal bread made by Mr Durand, the baker in Vialas, nicknamed Paillasse). People played skittles. Many came – the inhabitants of Saint-Frézal, Soleyrols, etc.” (Léa Carrière. Vent des Bancels. issue 31)
Saint-Maurice-de-Ventalon is a land of springs, located on the watershed and consisting of three catchments. The river Luech has its spring in the uplands and joins the torrents of the Rieutort and Gourdouze before flowing into the Cèze and finally the Mediterranean. The Gardon d'Alès also has its spring here, which flows through Saint- Frézal-de-Ventalon and then to the Mediterranean. On the Atlantic side, the rivers Goudesche and Alignon calmly wind their way through meadows and into the Tarn.
The Languedoc draille
This draille (path for seasonal livestock migration) is known as the Languedoc draille and has seen tens of thousands of sheep pass by that have come up the many drailles from the Midi, combining into ever larger flocks before reaching the summer pastures on the Mont Lozère plateau. The plant cover, grazed and trampled by so many sheep, had no time to grow back. A few flocks and a few shepherds still keep the tradition alive. Other flocks are brought to the summer pastures by lorry.
Head downhill on the road that goes through the hamlet of St-Maurice-de-Ventalon. Cross the bridge and go back uphill above the isolated house opposite the hamlet. Take the path on the right that climbs above the broom bushes to an enclosure for horses (please close the gates) before coming out onto a road. Cross the road to get to the Col de Malpertus pass. Take the forestry track that forks right and goes uphill to the east into a private forest. Follow the track until it joins the draille, a large track that is also the GR 68 long-distance hiking-path and goes straight up to the Signal du Ventalon beacon. (Optional detour to the beacon with its viewpoint indicator). Head to the Croix de Berthel. Walk past the ruins and take the draille (also the GR7 and GR 68) to Plo de la Nassette. Take the first path on the right, which leads first through a forest and then over a broom heath on the south-facing slope. The path comes out at the temple by the side of the road.
Steep path at first. 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.
Office de tourisme Des Cévennes au mont Lozère
le Quai, 48220 Le Pont de Montvert sud mont-Lozère
04 66 45 81 94
Access and parking
From Alès, take the D 998 to St-Maurice-de-Ventalon
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