3 of a route guide to leisurely motoring through France.
final stage offers a choice of routes from north of Mende, capital of
department, to the Mediterranean. The eastern route (this
page) takes you
through the beautiful Cévennes
national park, to a final destination at Les
Saintes Marie de la Mer, in the Camargue. The western route
(description coming) takes you through the Tarn Gorge, over the Causse
and down through Cathar country to the coast near Perpignan.
has selected a range of hotels along the
route. Click markers to book online with our partner Booking.com. There
are also campsites and motorhome overnighting
areas in many of the small towns along the way.
through France 3a:
Languedoc - Cevennes : From the Lozère to the Camargue
through the Cevennes mountains and national park
Continued from Byroads
Entering Languedoc on the D585 from Saugues, carry on due south until
Chateauneuf de Randan
Standing at over 1200
metres, this is one of the highest small towns in France outside the
Alps. T he town stands on a rocky outcrop
overlooking the surrounding
area. This part of France was much fought over during the Hundred Years
War, and Chateauneuf de
the stronghold of the baron Du
Guesclin. Today it's an attractive and very rural "bourg".
Leaving Chateauneuf, take the N88 as far as Mende
the Lot valley. There may be a few HGVs on this road, which is part of
the direct route from Lyon to Toulouse.
one of the smallest departmental
capitals in France. It has a small cathedral, and a historic
centre with shops. The cathedral, dating from the
Middle Ages, was largely rebuilt in the early seventeenth century. The
old city is also well known for its old public fountains and the
medieval Pont Notre Dame over the river Lot.
After Mende there are a number of routes across
the Cevennes in
the direction of Nimes and Alès - all of them on twisting roads. The
route selected on this page is the most scenic and also one of the
easier, as much of it is on higher ground.
Head south out of Mende on the N88 following
signs for Millau, Rodez and Alès.
For the next 100 km, you will drive right through
the beautiful Cévennes
the central area of which is one of France's original National Parks.
turn left onto the N106 following signs for
Alès and Nimes. After 300 metres, stop following Nimes and
Alès, and turn right onto the D986 signposted Ispagnac and Ste.
Enimie. After 5 km bear left onto the D231 signposted Molines and
Ispagnac. Two km later you will join the D31. Just before
Ispagnac, at Molines, you will reach the
For the Tarn gorge route and on towards Carcassonne (pink on the map)
turn right here. For the Cévennes route (green on the map), turn left.
You are now in the upper Tarn
Continuing on following the green route, just after the village of
Molines, you'll see on your left the bottling
factory for Quézac mineral water, which produces 20,000 bottles an
hour. 200 metres after the bottling plant, turn right to
medieval stone bridge over the Tarn .It is another 10 km up the Tarn
valley to the small town of
Watch out here for large birds of prey circling overhead.
Vultures were reintroduced into the Tarn valley back in the early
1990s, and today the valley and gorges are home to hundreds of nesting
pairs. With their 2-metre wingspan, these soaring birds are easily
At Florac ★
or just after Florac, turn right to cross the
river so that you exit on the D907 following Merueis and Saint Jean du
Gard. You are now driving through the heart of the Cevennes, an area
with a bloody history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, people
this part of France, far from big cities, converted to Protestantism.
But in 1685 King Louis XIV revoked the "Edict of Nantes", which had
guaranteed religious freedom, and Protestantism was outlawed. There
followed 30 years of strife in the Cevennes, during which many of the
Huguenot (protestant) villages were destroyed, and the people
massacred. The "Camisards" led a long-running guerilla campaign against
the catholic Royalists, and Protestantism was never defeated. Today,
the small towns in this area, including Florac, and many villages too,
have protestant "temples" as well as catholic churches. The story of
the struggle for Protestantism in the Cevennes is told in the small
Musée du Désert, near Saint Jean du Gard.
Mont Aigoual: at
1567 metres, this is one of the highest peaks in the Cevennes. It is
not on our route, but can be reached by continuing south on the D907
after Florac, then the D119, then the D18 and following the signs.
Don't miss the sharp hairpin turn off the D18 to the D119 in the
village or Rousses. There is a road to the top of Mont Aigoual, and on
a clear day, the views are stupendous.
Six kilometres south of Florac, turn left onto the
D983. At Col
du Rey (987 metres altitude), the D983 forks left, but you carry
straight on on what now
becomes the D9 which will take you almost to Saint Jean du Gard. You
are now on the "Corniche des Cévennes" - or Cevennes high
road -, a former royal highway first built in the 18th century to help
the King's armies to keep control over the unruly Cévennes. There are
lots of viewpoints along the way. At the
Col des Faisses
- 1018 metres, less than 2 km after the Col du Rey,
stop to admire breathtaking views over the Cévennes. On
entering the Gard department, the D9 becomes the D260 before joining
the D907 for the final 3 km to Saint
Jean du Gard
is an attractive small town, with old buildings and the added
attraction of the Cévennes steam railway.
From Saint Jean du Gard, continue to Anduze ★★
typical small Languedocian town, with a historic clock tower, grain
market and other old buildings - as well as being the other end of the
line for the Cevennes steam railway. Just outside Anduze don't miss the
, first established in 1856, covering 34 hectares,
the finest plantation of bamboos in Europe.
After Anduze, you are on the Mediterranean plain. It's still
you are back into a fairly heavily populated area with lots of roads.
Our recommended route will take you to Uzès ★★
very attractive small town with famous 11th century octagonal cathedral
tour, other medieval buildings, and popular markets;
- site of the amazingly preserved Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard ★★★
world heritage site) , then to
Saint Rémy de Provence ★
, past the
Roman remains and triumphal arch of Glanum ★★
(See Roman France
) then to les Baux de Provence ★★
across the Rhone and into Provence, at Arles ★★★
arena, museums). After Arles, cross back to the west bank of the Rhone,
and take the D570 across the Camargue
to les Saintes Marie de la Mer ★★,
destination. As you go, not the rice paddies and look out for the
native white semi-wild Camargue ponies.
Between Anduze and Arles, there are so many roads and
turnings in this area of coastal
plain, that a road-by-road route guide would take pages. Better
therefore to use a satnav, or get a good local map, and choose your own
way from town to town. You may want to include a visit to the historic
city of Nimes
or go to the Camargue via the ancient walled port city of
And then decide where to go next.
on Languedoc: see Languedoc