Across the Massif Central by mountain-bike
Mont Lozère et Goulet

Across the Massif Central by mountain-bike

Architecture and village
Causses and Cévennes / UNESCO
Fauna and flora
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The trail has a total length of 1,390 km stretching from the Morvan to the Mediterranean! It crosses a wide palette of scenery, geology and heritage that you can discover at your own rhythm by mountain-bike or electrically assisted mountain-bike, with friends or family.
You will cross breath-taking scenery, from the granite uplands of the Mont Lozère to the majestic forests of the Aigoual massif via the vast limestone plateau of the Causse Méjean, which is cut through by the spectacular Tarn and Jonte gorges ! Discover the fauna and flora of these mountain ranges and meet the men and women who live there.

39 points of interest

  • Flora

    The prairie's botanical rivals

    Marker 4.
    Below you, vast areas have been planted with pines and other conifers. The interest and regional and European rarity of short-grass prairies mean that they must be clearly demarcated from the forest. In fact, natural seeding of pines, carried onto the prairie by the south wind, has created a new forest. This plant dynamic, which is entirely logical at the altitude, gives the forest the upper hand over the prairie. The European Union is currently helping local participants to fell these new trees so as to protect the prairie. On your return leg, you will see other indigenous tree species which could encroach on the prairie in the same way (beech, birch).

  • Landscape

    An endangered landscape

    Marker 3
    This vast expanse of short-grass prairie, an area of historical and natural heritage, is endangered today. The surface area of this relic has been much reduced over the past few decades. While the summits are made stable by the prairie, the mountain side presents evidence of erosion (denuded rocks) that is the result of foresters’ attempts at reforestation. On the ledge, pines are starting to establish themselves at the expense of the prairie. These zones have become fragile and need better management of all the territory’s elements. Shepherds will have to guide their flocks carefully here, so as to avoid making erosion worse but also to eliminate pine seedlings.

  • Fauna


    Vertebrates benefit from the plants or from small prey, especially hares or the common lizards with its thick tail, which is coveted by the reptile-eating short-toed snake eagle. Among the birds of prey, you may spot the characteristic silhouette of a Montagu’s harrier or hen harrier, with their low contour-hugging flight. Among the many passerines, you may spot the Northern wheatear, a summer guest, sitting on a stone, or more rarely a grey partridge. If you listen, you may well hear larks singing.

  • Flora

    Low-growing plants and shrubs

    A large amount of sunshine encourages many low-growing grasses from other botanical families to appear among the fescue and nard. They are almost all perennial. They form a veritable tangle of plants. Among the pretty alpine flowers are the spring pasque flower and the blue dwarf spring gentian in summer. Other, smaller plants are perfectly capable of “making holes” in a short-grass prairie that is less intensely grazed than before. Grass networks that lose in density develop weak points that shrubs exploit to grow at the very heart of the prairie: blueberries, which are here associated with lingonberries (cowberries) and calluna, a type of heather.

  • Fauna

    Small grassland creatures

    Marker 2
    Each spring, a demographic explosion of fauna prepares itself to burst forth in the summer. Earlier in the year, the thousands of small creatures to be seen here have not yet finished their metamorphoses, and the various species are difficult to recognise as larvae. Subalpine short-grass prairies attract a specific mountain fauna that is getting rarer everywhere else in Europe, such as the Stauroderus scalaris cricket, which tirelessly enlivens the pastures with its summer concerts. Crickets only eat plant matter whereas grasshoppers, such as the wart-biter, tend to be carnivorous. Many butterflies visit the flowers.

  • Flora

    Subalpine short-grass prairie

    Marker 1
    Like garden or sports pitches, short-grass prairies are shaped by mankind. Grazing and controlled burns are the tools for their maintenance here. The main plants are nard and fescue, perennial grasses related to wheat. If you cut (graze) one of their stalks, five more will soon form; if you trample them, they multiply and become very dense. This kind of “torture” creates a thick plant cover that stabilises the sparse dark soil, which is derived from erosion of the ever-present granite. Here, then, are some clues for the appropriate management of this environment, which becomes weakened if neglected.

  • Natural environment

    Natural evolution of beech and oak groves

    Marker 1
    This steep terrain consists of a mass of fallen granite rocks (scree), which makes it unusable by domestic animals. The beeches and chestnuts growing here have thus evolved naturally, the only intervention being felling for timber or firewood. Other species are also associated with tree cover (hazelnuts, blueberries, ferns, etc.), as well as rocks covered in mosses, which attest to the relatively damp conditions.

  • Landscape

    The Tarn valley and its landscapes shaped by human activity

    Marker 2
    The open scenery overlooking the Tarn offers a grand panorama. The landscape has been profoundly shaped by the presence of humans and their flocks. Farmers practise slash-and-burn farming to contain the spreading forest. This needs to be regularly repeated to stop Pyrenean broom from getting the upper hand. On the plateau, you will see hay meadows and, along the edges of plots, pruned ash trees (whose branches are used as animal fodder in the autumn). Some birds of prey like these open spaces, where hunting rodents is easier.

  • Geology

    Granite boulders


    Marker 4
    Granite, which is used for dressed stone as you saw in the hamlet, is a vulnerable rock on the geological timescale. The erosive power of water is furthered by the cracks that divide the rock. These occur because of the stresses to which granite – which rose as magma at the end of the Paleozoic – has been exposed since cooling. The speed of this erosion depends on the climate. This is why whole, undamaged granite blocks break off. They form particularly picturesque block fields (felsenmeer) once the coarse sands have disappeared.

  • Water

    The river Tarn

    The Tarn has its spring at an altitude of 1,550 m under the ridge of Mont Lozère. Having carved its way into the granite bedrock, it separates the Bougès massif from Mont Lozère. After Bédouès, it meets the river Tarnon and slowly enters the limestone region, in which its bed is increasingly deep. At its confluence with the Jonte, at Le Rozier, the Tarn leaves the department of the Lozère.

  • Know-how

    Fages Sawmill

    Upstream from Bédouès, you will see a sawmill, which mainly produces wood to make  crates and pallets. It also produces some timber. Today, local forestry companies utilise wood in a number of ways: for energy, paper pulp, timber, crate-making and construction.

  • Fauna

    The brown trout (Salmo trutta fario)

    This trout lives in our waterways and is an indigenous species. This stock is a part of our heritage. Its size varies with the quality of the water, fishing pressures, and the nature of the riverbed (hiding-places). In the summer, it hunts in white water and on the surface, and catches insects. In the winter, it eats larvae on the bottom. Reproduction begins in November and is staggered throughout the winter. The female lays its eggs on a gravelly stretch of the riverbed, into which it has dug a pit using its caudal fin. The male deposits its milt over the eggs. Once they are fertilised, the eggs are covered with gravel.  Reproductive success depends on variations in the water flow and especially on the risk of the spawning areas drying out in dry winters.

  • History

    Saint-Saturnin chapel

    Saint-Saturnin chapel stands at the heart of the village, surrounded by its cemetery. Inside every wall boasts a magnificent painted décor. It was built in the 12th century. Guillaume de Grimoard (the future Pope Urban V) was baptised here in 1309. It is next to the town hall (mairie) and is well worth a detour.

  • Geology

    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.  

  • Agriculture

    The gardens of Ispagnac

    Ispagnac is in the contact zone of limestone, granite and schist bedrock. The valley of Ispagnac is irrigated by the river Tarn and, being protected from the north and north-western winds, it enjoys an almost southern climate. This has earned it the nickname of “garden of the Lozère”. A market gardener and two wine-makers are based here.

  • Architecture

    Quézac Bridge

    This bridge crossing the river Tarn gives access to the village of Quézac, located on the left bank. Around 1350, Pope Urban V decided to fund its construction to facilitate pilgrims' access to the collegiate church of Notre-Dame de Quézac. It was finished in the 15th century. Its history is punctuated by partial destruction in floods, and by more or less solid rebuilding. It became a listed monument on 27 August 1931.

  • Water

    Quézac mineral water

    Quézac mineral water emerges naturally from the Diva spring, near the entrance to the village, in exceptional surroundings which have been naturally protected for centuries. This pleasant-tasting water is rich in mineral salts and trace elements and is also well-known to be beneficial for the stomach. The spring's water actually comes from Mont Aigoual. According to scientific studies, it takes 30 to 40 years for it to re-emerge in Quézac, after first settling in aquifers, where it acquires its effervescence naturally (rare in France).

  • History

    Notre-Dame de Quézac

    The collegiate church of Quézac – today Notre-Dame church – was fortified in the 14th century at the instigation of Pope Urban V. The first building is believed to have been erected in 1052 in honour of Our Lady of Quézac. Legend has it that a   ploughman found a black Virgin while ploughing a furrow, which he brought into the church. However, it disappeared during the night, and the next day was found again in the furrow. The decision was taken to build an oratory on the spot chosen by the Virgin, and soon large numbers of pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella visited Quézac. Today, a stained-glass window illustrates the dedication of the collegiate church to Our Lady.

  • Architecture

    The Château de Charbonnières

    In a bend of the Tarn downstream from the village of Montbrun stands the Château de Charbonnières. While the former castel has lost some of its defensive elements, it has nevertheless preserved a knightly characterand traces of many historical episodes of the Tarn valley. It is first recorded in the 13th century. Its defensive role was tightly linked to a whole “fortified system” downstream of Ispagnac, which consisted of Quézac, Javillet, La Roche, Rocheblave, Montbrun, Castelbouc, Prades and Sainte-Enimie.

    The château has three rectangular //buildings arranged in a horseshoe shape around an internal courtyard. The facade overlooking the Tarn has a square tower that dominates the river. Access to the internal courtyard is via gates under a semi-circular arch. From the courtyard, a stone staircase leads up to the chapel, whose doorways is decorated with fleur-de-lys. The modest interior has a ribbed vault framing a keystone engraved with the arms of the Montesquiou family, lords of Charbonnières from the 13th century onwards. The other parts of the residential building have handsome fireplaces, a monumental staircase and fine vaulted halls. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the château became the property of the Volonzac Malespina family and, in the 19th century, of the Boutin family. It is not open to the public. 
  • Water

    Not always a docile river!

    For 52 km, from the point it enters the canyon at Quézac to Le Rozier, the Tarn has no overground tributary. However, it is fed by about 170 karst springs stemming from subterranean aquifer networks. These springs release the rainwater absorbed by the avens, dolines and fissures of the Causses plateaux. When reserves are high, the water gushes with great force from the karst environment. Locals say that “the corks are popping”. In the event that the tributaries of the Tarn (the Mimente and Tarnon) rise and add to the springs, the time will have come to move the furniture upstairs.
  • Water

    The spring of Castelbouc

    The vast spring as you enter the hamlet has four outlets, including one at the back. These openings, out of which water surges during heavy rain, reinforce the translation of the Occitan bouc as bouches (“mouths”). All springs are fed by a catchment area of varying size. Here, the catchment area is the sector of Aven du Pic de l’Usclat, Aven du Loup (Cros garnon) and Aven du Crapaud (Fretma) on the Causse Méjean plateau.
  • History

    The strange legend of Castelbouc

    For you to judge…
    The etymology of Castelbouc is castel blanc, meaning “perched on the rock” in Occitan.
    Legend has it that during the Crusades the castle’s lord was the only man to have remained behind in this little hamlet of dwellings built against the cliff. He had many female visitors, and it was important to him to satisfy their needs. Unfortunately, the Crusade was so long that he was unable to keep going to its end. When his soul left his body, an enormous he-goat was seen hovering over the castle tower… Ever since, a bleating sound followed by strange murmurings can be heard on the summit. This is the legendary origin of the name of Castelbouc...
  • Fauna

    The beaver

    Proof that I have been here might be a tree carved into a pencil shape; pieces of bark; wood chips; a heap of branches in the water; back or front paw prints in the sand. I’m the Eurasian beaver. I live near water. I’m active mostly at night, and sometimes at dawn and dusk if no-one disturbs me. From the Middle Ages (11th century) to the 19th century, times were hard for us. We were hunted by humans for our flesh, fur and because we were thought a nuisance. In the early 20th century, we had disappeared from many parts of France. Today, things are better – we live alongside and in the Tarn again.
  • History

    Saint-Chély du Tarn

    Saint-Chély-du-Tarn benefits from the three ideal conditions for founding a village: ample springs; construction materials (tuff rock) available on site; and, above all, a track connecting it to the Causse Méjean plateau. All the gorge hamlets are linked to the Causse by a path. Over time, these connecting paths were developed to varying extents – cobbled and/or consolidated by small walls – and they facilitated trade.
  • Flora

    Adonis vernalis (spring pheasant's eye)

    Whilst this member of the buttercup family might seem plentiful, it has become rare and is limited to a few places in France (Causses, Alsace) and south-eastern Europe. It can be seen in April-May in the steppe flora. This plant is protected – you may take photos but under no circumstances take the plant! It secretes a substance through its roots that tends to limit the growth of plants around it, especially legumes.

  • Fauna

    Przewalski’s horse

    Przewalski’s horses, the last wild horses in the world, are originally from Central Asia. They had been extinct in the wild for 40 years when a conservation herd was bred at Le Villaret with a view to reintroducing the species to Mongolia. Two deliveries of four families and a group of studs to Khomiin Tal, Mongolia, were organised in 2004 and 2005. There, the animals were released onto a territory of 14,000 hectares.
  • Flora

    The evolution of plant life

    At the pass stands a schist menhir (standing stone). To the north, in Trépaloup ravine, hewn flint implements bear witness to a human presence in the region since prehistoric times. Palynological analyses (studies of pollen fossilised in peatbogs) have allowed scientists to piece together the plant life on Mont Aigoual from 8,000 to 5,000 BC. Pine predominated, accompanied by birch and hazelnut. Then pine populations gradually diminished. The damp climate warmed up, favouring the spread of oak and hazelnut. Finally, the increased damp and cloud cover at altitude allowed fir and beech to develop. From the end of the first century BC, the substantial percentage of grasses shows that forest had receded in favour of pasture and prairies. This was the start of the great deforestation.
  • History

    The meteorological observatory

    Inaugurated in 1824, the meteorological observatory was built on the initiative of Georges Fabre, one of the pioneers of the reforestation of Mont Aigoual. His work with the botanist Charles Flahault enabled the creation of the arboretum of L’Hort de Dieu. The first meteorological data were gathered by agents from the French National Water and Forestry Commission. Since 1943, the observatory has been managed by the National Meteorological Office. It is France’s last mountain weather station that is inhabited year-round.  
  • Flora

    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.

  • Archaeology

    Archeosmart (Marc Limousin)

    Smartphone imprints appear on the rocks: fossils of the present that will become mysterious in the future. This carved stone, like the cup-shaped marks and other rock art of the region, discloses history revealed in matter and resonates with Malraux’s phrase: “The future is a present given to us by the past”.
  • Natural environment

    Pôle Nature 4 Saisons

    The Pôle Nature 4 Saisons of the Aigoual massif offers outdoor activities in all seasons in the central zone of the Cévennes National Park, overlooked by the legendary summit of Mont Aigoual (1,570 m). Discover our network of trails on foot, on horseback, by bike, or else by mountain-bike or with a donkey, as the fancy takes you!
    Children can explore the orienteering circuit or geocaching.
    For the sportier among you we have laid out trail running circuits!
    Prefer road biking? We have created circuits of varying difficulty levels so you can discover our villages and valleys.
    Try not to make any noise! Wildlife enthusiasts can spot mouflons and other animals.
    And if you would just like a gentle walk on the massif, the discovery trail “The cliffs of Mont Aigoual” is for you. There are various rest stops over its 4.5 km, with only 150 m in height difference.
    We look forward to seeing you on our paths.
  • Know-how

    On the Verge (Yoann Crépin)

    A doorway to a circuit of art within the natural environment.
    To fuse and interact with the environment and play with the seasons, time, light and weightlessness. To let humanity express itself through nature and nature express itself through humanity – a necessary interaction, a symbiotic interaction that inspires us to discover another world.
  • Agriculture

    La Serreyrède

    Before 1861, the house at the Col de la Serreyrède was inhabited by two families of farmers. They owned some livestock and had a vegetable garden, whose terraces you can still see above the La Caumette track. From 1861 on, the farm was inhabited by a forest ranger. It was only bought by the state body Eaux et Forêts in 1883, to be turned into a forester's house. It became one of Georges Fabre's headquarters during the reforestation of the Aigoual massif. The Cévennes National Park, tourism office and Terres d'Aigoual growers have now joined forces to revive La Serreyrède with the help of the Communauté de Communes Causses Aigoual Cévennes – Terres solidaires.

  • Agriculture

    The association "Terres d'Aigoual"

    The Cévennes National Park rents out part of the building to the association, enabling local farmers to sell their products directly to the public. The association brings together farmers who wish to promote what they produce and share their know-how. They also enjoy sharing their vision of farming- high quality produce and products,

    - human-sized farms,

    - mutual aid.

    Come and discover their products!

  • History

    From beech copse to mature plantation

    Marker 1
    Around 1850, before reforestation began, the inhabitants of the Cevennes were using local wood resources on a massive scale for heating and in industry, especially spinning-mills. Gradually, only a few beech copses remained, which were cut every 25 to 40 years. Grazing by tens of thousands of sheep further reduced the herbaceous plant cover. Much weakened, the plant cover was then also subjected to heavy precipitation, the so-called Cevenol episodes. It is against this backdrop that the lengthy work of the foresters began. To reduce risks and establish a lasting forest cover, the first technique was to make use of what was already present by converting the disused copses into mature plantations.

  • Know-how

    Productive forest

    Marker 2
    Another method of creating a durable forest cover is to plant or sow. This work is carried out either on bare soil or among existing tree stands. The Aigoual reforestation programme was a gigantic effort, requiring 900,000 days of work, the planting of 60 million conifers and 7 million deciduous trees, and sowing of 38 tonnes of seeds. Spruces and pines, which can be planted in full sunlight and grow quite quickly, were widely used. Under the forest canopy, preference was given to firs.

  • Natural environment

    Irregular forest

    This tree population consists of trees of very different diameters, ages and heights. Species are mixed: mainly pine, but also beech, rowan and whitebeam. This is an irregular mature forest, a forestry dynamic that is interesting for several reasons: it creates permanent forest cover; resistance to soil erosion; better resilience against storms or parasite attacks; regular production, etc. In the small clearing to the left of the path, the sunlight now penetrating to the forest floor has made natural regeneration of beech and fir possible, ensuring the renewal of the forest.

  • History

    The village of L’Espérou

    The village of L’Espérou lies on the border of Dourbies and Valleraugue local councils. A draille (track for livestock to migrate to summer pastures with their shepherds) crosses the village. As in many villages in the Gard, the two places of worship – one Catholic, the other Protestant – are opposite each other. The village is located in a varied environment that is suitable for outdoor activities and sports.

  • Architecture

    The village of Bréau

    The origin of the name is uncertain. For some, Breono is the Latin form of the Gaulish brogilos, which became brueilh in Occitan. Brueilh means copse, wood. For others, Breono comes from Brannus, an alternative name for Bellenus, a Celtic god. The temple (Protestant church) of Bréau dates from 1845. (...) It has the unusual characteristic of being octagonal; its steps were carved by local craftsmen. The first temple had been destroyed in 1664 by the King’s soldiers, assisted by requisitioned locals.


Only the section of the trail which crosses the territory of the Cévennes National Park is described here, from 
Bagnols-les-Bains to Le Vigan.
The suggested route can be covered in five stages: 
1 - Bagnols-les-Bains/Pont-de-Montvert-Sud-Mont-Lozère,
2 - Pont-de-Montvert-Sud-Mont-Lozère/Sainte-Enimie:
(1) on electrically assisted MTB, take the road towards Grizac,
(2) at the activity centre, cross the Tarn and head to Sainte-Enimie on the road,
3 - Sainte-Enimie/L’Hom: (3) for a technical section on the way to St-Chély du Tarn, you can climb to the Col de Coperlac pass from Sainte-Enimie on the RD 986 road,
4 - L’Hom/l’Espérou, 
5 - l’Espérou/Le Vigan.

You can find the whole route on the website:
  • Departure : Bagnols-les-Bains
  • Arrival : Le Vigan
  • Towns crossed : Mont Lozère et Goulet, Chadenet, Lanuéjols, Saint-Étienne-du-Valdonnez, Les Bondons, Pont de Montvert - Sud Mont Lozère, Cubières, Bédouès-Cocurès, Florac Trois Rivières, Gorges du Tarn Causses, Ispagnac, Mas-Saint-Chély, Hures-la-Parade, Gatuzières, Vebron, Fraissinet-de-Fourques, Rousses, Bassurels, Val-d'Aigoual, Meyrueis, Saint-Sauveur-Camprieu, Dourbies, Bréau-Mars, Arphy, Molières-Cavaillac, Bez-et-Esparon, Avèze, and Le Vigan


Altimetric profile


Make sure your equipment is appropriate for several days of hiking as well as the day’s weather conditions. Remember that the weather changes quickly in the mountains. Take enough water, wear sturdy shoes and put on a hat. Please close all gates and barriers behind you. Slow down in farms and hamlets. Be careful around livestock.
Is in the midst of the park
The national park is an unrestricted natural area but subjected to regulations which must be known by all visitors.

Information desks

Tourism'house and national Parc at Florac

Place de l'ancienne gare, N106, 48400 Florac-trois-rivières

https://www.cevennes-gorges-du-tarn.cominfo@cevennes-parcnational.fr04 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

Find out more

Tourism office Cévennes and Navacelles, Le Vigan

Maison de pays, place du Marché, BP 21, 30120 Le Vigan 67 81 01 72

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.
Open year-round

Find out more

Tourism office Coeur de Lozère, Mende

BP 83, place du Foirail, 48000 Mende

https://www.mende-coeur-lozere.frmendetourisme@ot-mende.com04 66 94 00 23

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.
Open year-round

Find out more



Parc national des Cévennes

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