Cros: the silk trail

Cros: the silk trail

Agriculture and livestock farming
History and culture
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As you travel through a valley shaped by silkworm farming, every step shows you signs of this commercial activity, now abandoned.
À Cros, la présence du mûrier est attestée au début du XVIIIe siècle. Car tout commence avec cet arbre, dont la feuille est nécessaire pour nourrir le manhan, nom occitan du ver à soie, francisé en « magnan ». L’élevage dure quelques semaines d’avril à juillet et nécessite une main d’œuvre nombreuse et des pièces spécialisées, les “magnaneries”. Cros fut aussi le siège de plusieurs filatures, transformant le précieux cocon en fil de soie.

7 points of interest

  • History

    L’oustalet des Italiennes

    This little house (oustalet) contained lodgings for the female workers, mostly from Italy, who were employed during silkworm breeding, to pick mulberry trees and, after the spinning-mills had been built, to unravel the cocoons.
    Local labour was also very important – everyone swung into action.
  • Know-how

    Les Arnaudes mill

    Like all mills at Cros, this one worked with a water reservoir, filled via a béal (canal) from the Vidourle river upstream. This wheat mill still has its millstones, engraved with the date of 1716. The first floor was set out as a magnanerie – a room dedicated to silkworm breeding – which was used until the 20th century. Some of the mulberry trees that supplied the worms’ food still stand in the surrounding area.
  • Agriculture

    From crops to forest

    Today, the village’s land is largely wooded, the forest having progressively spread since planting of crops and intensive farm use came to an end in the second half of the 20th century.
    Since the Middle Ages, land use in the Vidourle valley, as in all valleys in the lower Cévennes, had been divided into three, using a system that can be described by the Latin terms hortus (gardens), ager (cereal crops, meadows, grapevines and fruit trees), saltus (sheep pasture, chestnut trees, etc.)
  • Architecture

    The terraces of Mas Bourguet

    On the opposite slope of La Fage mountain, Mas Bourguet has a substantial spring, which ensures the village’s water supply. On the entire slope, terraces have been laid out to make cultivation possible. Stairs built into the thickness of the retaining walls let people pass from one terrace to the next. Everything is constructed out of dry stones, meaning without any mortar.
  • Architecture

    La Mazade hamlet

    The municipality of Cros consists of some ten hamlets. La Mazade (the Occitan word for hamlet) is one of the largest. In this plunging perspective, you can see, from right to left: the Protestant church; the Perrier spinning-mill; a house that has had a top floor added to set up a magnanerie; the Daudé spinning-mill; and other residences whose uppermost floors were used as magnaneries.
  • Water

    The Vidourle

    The Vidourle, a Cevenol torrent whose spring is at Saint-Roman de Codières, is a fickle waterway: almost dry in the summer, it can cause terrible floods in the autumn (the so-called Vidourlades), as it did on 17 September 2014. As it crosses Cros, the Vidourle even disappears underground, to reappear just before Saint-Hippolyte du Fort. Between Saint-Hippolyte and Sauve, it is once again subterranean, before re-emerging as the Fon de Sauve, which was long believed to be a real spring.
  • Architecture

    The spinning-mills

    Spinning-mills were not built at Cros until late, in the mid-19th century. Before that, the thread unravelled from the cocoons was sold at the Alès fair (24 August) or directly to the spinning-mills in Saint-Hippolyte and the wider region. Two spinning-mills were constructed within a decade: the Perrier mill in 1847 and the Daudé mill in 1856. They both closed in the 1920s, due to a lack of cocoons and outlets.


Altimetric profile

Information desks

Tourism office Piémont Cévenol, Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort

26, rue des boisseliers, 30610 Sauve 66 77 57 61

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

Access and parking

From Saint-Hippolyte du Fort, D1 69 upstream along the Vidourle river.

Parking :

Car park behind the temple (Protestant church).


CC du Piémont Cévenol
Parc national des Cévennes

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