Wilderness and Curiosities
The camp-site is in close proximity to natural and historic sites such as: la Grotte des Demoiselles, le Cirque de Navacelles, le Mont Aigoual, le Lac du Salagou, Lodève, Clermont l’Hérault…
In the "Garrigues"
The Garrigues according to Wikipédia
Grotte des Demoiselles
On the Causses
"The causes are vast Jurassic limestone plateaux from the South of the Massif Central (between 600 and 1250 metres of altitude) situated between Millau (Averyon) Lodève (Hérault) and Florac (Lozére) they are cut through with deep gorges, sometimes tightened into canyons, and valleys are widened into “vallons” that rivers have carved out of their masses”.
Sites "Natural 2000" and "Opération Grands sites"
The Causse de Blandas
- Cirque de Navacelles
- Cromlech and dolmens
The Causse du Larzac
- The caves of Roquefort
- The Templiers and the Hospitaliers, 5 fortified sites:
The Causse Méjan
A fit further: +/- 2 hours drive from Isis en Cévennes
The Lac du Salagou: the region of Clermont l’Hérault and Lodève
- Grotte des Demoiselles
The “grotte” or cave des Desmoiselles is a veritable cathedral of abysses; it is equipped with the first underground touristic funicular in Europe which facilitates access to the greater public. Kids love it! Important geological site in the South of France;
Suggested in 2007 for the title of World Heritage Site from the UNESCO, by the Minister of Ecology and durable developments;
Classed 3 stars “worth the trip” by the Michelin Green Guide and in all the touristic guides.
You will be impressed by the dimensions of its’ “cathedral”, “52 meters high, 80 wide and 120 long), then by the extraordinary richness of its’ decoration.
Useful Information: The grotte des Demoiselles is open all year round.
34190 Saint Bauzille de Putois. Tel : +33 (0)4 67 73 70 02; Fax : +33 (0)4 67 73 32 32
Textual source: Grotte des Demoiselles
- Cirque de Navacelles
« Grandiose Cirque in the heart of the Gorges of the Vis which separates the Causse Larzac from the Causse de Blandas, Navacelles leaves breathless the accidental discoverer, vertiginous fault splitting the silent and infinite Causse. »
Every year the cirque de Navacelles attracts 300000 visitors, it’s one of the most visited places in the Hérault. The canyon, dug by the river Vis, offers a grandiose spectacle. The gorges, very steep, cut the limestone plateaux of the Blandas (Gard)and of Larzac (Hérault) on a height of 300m. Geologists estimate that the Vis took 2 to 3 million years to carve a path they the limestone. In the foreground, the river flows through waterfalls near the village of Navacelles, built on a meander dried up for over 6000 years.
- The caves of Roquefort
They are situated in the Massif Central on the Causse du Larzac, in the Averyron department, in the regional Natural Parks of the “Grands Causses” on the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
The caves of Roquefort are, originally, the caves are naturally created by the collapse of the limestone plateau of Combalou, on the border of the “Grands Causses”. On only two kilometres, a gigantic fissure has given birth to caves and faults called “fleurines” that, still today, assure a perfect ventilation in the caves arranged by man in the rock.
This particular situation gives birth to a cheese called Roquefort which the flavour is renowned.
Certain caves can be visited, notably that of the Roquefort society, of Roquefort papillon or the Roquefort Gabriel Coulet.
"Recipe" and technique of the Roquefort cheese:
The “Lacaunes” ewes graze between 750 and 1100 metres where the grasses present a better quality, they are milked morning and night (they give about 150 litres of milk each from November and June).
The ewes’ milk is curdled cut into small dice, according to methods from the traditional cheese-making methods for the Pays de Roquefort.
Then it is inseminated by the penicillium roqueforti, which is gathered in rye bread. (This is what gives Roquefort its personality).
After shaping, the cheese is drained and salted, 2 days on one side and 3 on the other.
Placed on chant and on des travées de chêne, in the heart of the caves travelled through by the “failles fleurines”, the Roquefort is slowly refined for 150 days on everage.
- The Couvertoirade: its history according to Wikipedia:
"The name Cubertoirata appears from the XIth century as on the delimitation of the territories now belonging to the Abbey of Gellone, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (Hérault).
From the XIIth century, the Templars are settled on the Larzac and the Couvertoirade. Their placement is due in part to the proximity of routes permitting to descend towards the Mediterranean coast to embark towards the Orient and the Holy Ground, in part to its donations.
From the beginning the Couvertoirade constitutes for the Templars a centre of agricultural exploitation. On these grounds they cultivate wheat, rear horses (for war) and cattle (for the meat, skins and milk). A village slowly established itself around the castle, still visible today.
In 1312, the order of the Temple is dissolved. The total of their goods come back to the Hospitaliers who become the new masters of the Couvertoirade. The village counts 135 fires in 1328, or approximately 800 people.
In the middle of the XIVth century, the “Routiers” (highway men) pillaged the Larzac. By fear of these armed groups, the villagers ended up fortifying the Couvertoirade from 1439 to 1445. Unfortunately this village has drastically depopulated.
This century of plagues succeeds to a century of repopulation and reconstruction to which many houses having conserved elements from the end of the XVth and start of the XVIth century are witness to.
In 1562, at the start of the religious wars, the Huguenots tried in vain to take the Couvertoirade. In 1702 the inhabitants arm themselves and restore the doors by fear of the Camisards, but the village will never be attacked again.
Despite the epidemics and the rumours is established a certain prosperity. In 1768 the Couvertoirade is set up under independent command, under the Knight Riquetti, the Baron of Mirabeau, already in command of Sainte-Eulalie. But the revolution will soon confiscate all the hospitalières’ possessions. In the XIXth century, the village is touched by the rural exodus. Since, the Couvertoirade relives thanks to its prestigious past.
- The Cavalerie: its history according to Wikipedia
"Situated on the North plateau od Larzac, the Cavalerie was created in the XIIth century by the Templars of the Sainte-Eulalie command, installed on the the plateau of Larzac as of 1152. Cavalaria in Occitan, designated the Templar Knights! These last settled first in a village about a kilometre and a half from the current one, bordered by the main road that crosses the Larzac, called "cami romieu", the route of the pilgrims to the place named “Lestrade”.
Following a conflict with the town of Millau, the Templars construct a new village on the actual site and oblige the population to move. Around 1180 appears the name of the Sainte-Marie de la Cavalerie church.
The Sainte-Marie church was included in the “house” of the Templars of Sainte-Eulalie in the Cavalerie. It comprised of a series of buildings around a small interior courtyard: church with its graveyard, loggings, square tower, and agricultural buildings, accessible by a door.
The village will develop itself around this large building. In occasions of danger the inhabitants would find refuge in the Templar’s enclosure. Yet this protection as well as that of the command of the Sainte-Eulalie will be judged insufficient during the Hundred Year War, where the Larzac, vaste open plain, badly defended but provided for in livestock, attracts the war folk. The commander of Sainte-Eulalie, Bertrand d’Arpajon, decided to fortify the important premises of his command: the Viala du Pas de Jaux in 1430, then the Cavalerie, the Couvertoirade in 1436 and finally Sainte-Eulalie in 1442. In the Cavalerie was built a quadrangular enclosure with three round tours at each of its angles, on the fourth angle can be found a castle, long walls and only two doors, the “poutalou” and the main door. The more ancient houses date from the construction of the fortified enclosure, in the middle of the XVth century. In that period, the Cavalerie counts the noteworthy, tradesmen, liberal professions, notaries and doctors. Outside the walls, the habitat is dispersed and the gardens alternated with the jasses, and the fenières.
The religious wars will test the populations and that of the Cavalerie from the XVIth to the beginning of the XVIIth century. The village is taken by the Protestants using ladders. In the 1580s the “castle” of the Hospitaliers is destructed by the Huguenots. Only the church, one square tower at the angle and the rectory remain. The round towers are lowered to “demilitarise” the village.
During the next century prosperity is restored and expressed by the construction of a tower before the main door and the townhouses. In this period, some Cavalériens will set themselves up on the island of Malta as negotiators. In the middle of the XVIIIth century, sees the creation of a large lane of communication, by the stand-ins, will improve the road network between Bordeaux for the Guyenne, and Montpellier for the Languedoc passing through Larzac... and the Cavalerie. It’s question of the “grand chemin”, the National 9. New perspectives are opened; built-up areas will develop as well as other large routes where will be opened taverns, hostels, post -relays and later on hotels. Many Cavalériens exercise this activity of transporting merchandise.
During the Revolution, the goods of the commander are sold and the local goods are divided. In the 1760 the church was partially rebuilt. The commanders’ two attics were sold privately as well as the grounds. At the start of the XXth century, in 1902, it’s the opening of a great training camp at Cavalerie.
Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon is situated in the valley of Cernon, very near the source, at the back of a valley moving backwards by carving through the plateau of Larzac.
Its’ history according Wikipédia:
Occupied from the Neolithic: many dolmens, tumulus, Gallo-Roman occupation (temple of Puech Caut Ist century after Christ). This Gallo-Roman occupation is to be put in relation with the strong economic activity of the “Samian” pottery workshops of the Graufresenque near Millau and the very close proximity to the Roman roads linking this site to the Dominita in the Languedoc.
One of the first religious sites of the Aveyron, cited by Saint-Dalmas, bishop of Rodez in the VIth century.
In the Middle-Ages, the local church depends on the Benedictines of Gellone.
In 1158, Raymond Béranger, king of Aragon and Count of Barcelona, in his quality as tutor to Raymond Berenger II, Viscount of Millau, too young to exercise his rights, gives the town of Sainte-Eulalieand the grounds around it, called Larzac, to Élie de Monbrun, with the permission to construct “towns” (villas) and fortresses (forcias).
From Sainte-Eulalie, the Templar organised the territory of Larzac, and construct in Sainte-Eulalie a great commanderie. By structuring the agricultural spaces, the Commanderie will become one of the most powerful of the South of France, thus participating to the Templar activities in Palestine.
At the end of the Templar Order, the town passed to hospitalière domination (1312).
In 1377, during the night of the 11th of July, François de Roquefeuil, a powerful neighbouring Lord from the House of Roquefeuil, burnt the castle to the ground and pillaged the town.
From 1442 to 1450, the towns’ ramparts are rebuilt.
In 1572, the town is pillaged by the Protestants during the Religious Wars.
During the Renaissance, the town became prettier: the castle became a holiday place for Commanders like Riqueti de Mirabeau, uncle of famous revolutionary tribun , and was dressed remarkable frescos. The village square is redesigned with the construction of a monumental fountain centred by four majestic plane trees. Access to the church is inversed and the heart is pierced with a baroque portal.
During the French Revolution, a great part of the splendour of Sainte-Eulalie is destroyed; the commandery is dismantled into 32 lots, sold to the highest bidder. The town takes on the name of “Source Libre” or Free Source, a reference to the sources of the river Cernon.
The town was re-baptised soon after the Revolution, Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon, a name that it has conserved until today.
Since 1970, the lots of the commandery sold at auction during the Revolution are once again reunited and the monumental lot is once again highlighted, open to be visited in the heart of the Larzac Templier and Hospitalier circuit.”
- The Hospitalet of Larzac
The commune is situated in the heart of the Larzac, on the N 9, 28 kilometres from Millau, on the border of the A 75.
Its history according to Wikipédia:
The Hospitalet gets its name and origins from a hospital that the Viscount of Millau, Gilbert of Guibert built in 1108 founded on the Larzac.
In 1174, Alphone II of Aragon donated the hospital to jean, prieur of the monastery of Cassan to the Diocèse of Béziers, the church Saint-Étienne-du-Larzac belonging to the monastery of Gellone since the XIth century, and the Rouquet, and the Mas Trinquier raised the Templar Knights since 1158. The Prieur of Cassand were the lords of the Hospitalet from 1174 to 1789.
The siege of the parish that was at Saint-Étienne-du-Larzac, of which the ruins of the church still exist a kilometre from Rouquet, on the commune of Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon, and the parish depended on the Monastery of Gellone. There existed then a chapel at Hospitalet for the service of the Hospital.
The fortification of the hospital began in the XVth century and provoked the transfer of the parish siege to Hospitalet.
Actually the church was built in 1764, probably on the site of a more ancient one.
The community was administrated by two consuls, renewed every year. The elections were held on the first Sunday of September, at the issue of the parish mass and in front of the graveyard door. Their aim was to relieve the taxes and lordly royalties.
The village has a school with a Regent teaching reading, writing and prayer.
On the 30th of September 1807, the parish enlarged itself with the merging of the mas of Egalières, of Sambuc, Trinquier and of Rouquet.
In 1834, the commune of Hospitalet was created, by dividing the commune of the Cavalerie, Saint-Jean-d’Alcas and Saint-Paul-des-Fonts. The two villages were situated in the frontal causes, which are characterised by hilly landscapes, at the foot of the Larzac. They are about 15 kilometres from Saint-Affrique and roughly ten kilometres from the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where we can visit the famous caves of Roquefort.
Its history according to Wikipédia:
1153 : The Mas d’Olcas is cited in certain texts.
1170 : The village belongs to the Abbey of Nonenque
XIVth century-XVth century : The village is authorised to fortify itself in defence against the pillagine (Highway Men) that rage through the region.
1573 : During the religious wars, the Abyss of Nonenque and its nuns must take refuge at Saint-Jean-d’Alcas after the pillaging of the Abbey. They will then seek refuge in the castle at Saint-Izaire."
- The Viala-du-pas-de-Jaux
The Viala-du-pas-de-Jaux is situated on the plateau of Larzac, 20 kilometres from Saint-Affrique and 35 kilometre from Millau.
Its history according to Wikipédia:
The Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux was gained by donation to the religious order of the Templars in 1150. It was then an important agricultural domain, in the middle of which was found a group of habitations and defences liked to the commandery of Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon. Towards 1430 the village inhabitants obtained the right to erect an attic tower to protect them from the pillages, Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon being too far away.
The hospitalière Tower XVth century: The highest and most important attic-tower of the Larzac, 27 metre high, crowned by a machicolation. A logging of Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem Knights sits atop the tower. At the summit: a 360 degree panorama over the Larzac.
- The Mont Aigoual
- The Abime de Bramabiau
A classed Natural Site, the Abime de Bramabiau is a natural cavity from which the river Bonheur or “Happiness” finally makes its appearance over-ground after coursing its way through untold stretches of underground rock. A 70 metre high fracture, its name originates from the old Occitan word “brame-biâou”. The Bonheur stream takes its source near the peak of Serreyrède, runs about five kilometres before plunging underground and splitting into several rivers that are gradually eroding the rocks that form their bed, before resurfacing a few kilometres later as the Abime de Bramabiau.
Discovered in 1884 by Edouard-Alfred Martel, perhaps Frances’ greatest cave explorer, it was only successfully crossed in 1888. The date of its crossing marks the birth of French caving. The Abime was only set up for touristic purposes decades later in 1925; this side of its potential was heavily pushed by Aimé Cazal. Despite its discoverers difficulty in making the crossing himself, a brand new set up in 2006 makes the 1 km circuit accessible to even the most inexperienced caver. It should be noted that you are advised to dress warmly in all seasons as the indoor temperature is around 10 degrees centigrade.
Textual and photo source : Wikipedia and The Abime de Bramabiau
- The valleys of Bonheur and of Trévezel at Saint Sauveur Camprieu on le massif of the Aigoual
"Two little rivers, the Trévezel and the Bonheur have differently dug their valleys. Taking their souce on the oceanic slopes of the Mont Aigoual, 2 kilometres the one from the other, they fashion their beds on the Camprieu plateau for finally reunite 20 kilometres downstream from Villemagne. On the Bonheur, a lake has been set up upstream of the village. Dinosaur footprints are visible on the plateau at the perte of the Bonheur and at the Puech de Bramabiau." Source: OT Valleraugue
- Le Lake of Salagou: the region of Clermont l’Hérault and Lodève
- The lake of Salagou
The lake is a magnificent touristic site where other than swimming, hiking, mountain biking and a few nautical activities are possible.
The history of the Lake of Salagou goes back to the 50s with the project of a dam, which was meant to create for one part a water reserve that would favour a diversity of cultivations (viticulture having become over-productive) and for the other part regulate the floods of the Hérault.
The works started in 1964 and went on till early 1969.
Although it was thought in 1968 that it would take years for the basin of Escandorgue to fill, one large stormed filled it half way in March 1969. Other rainfalls filled it almost totally in a few months, giving reason to the engineers’ calculations.
The lake has drowned a part of the communes of Clermont-l’Hérault in the East, Liausson in the South, Octon in the West, and Celles to the North. The water level is around 140 m of altitude. It is 7km long with a perimeter of 28km and depths reaching 45m
The lake of Salagou is also very interesting because of its geology: the basin of the Lake gets its beauty from its unique soil, the ruffe, combination of clay sediments and iron oxide. Its sedimentary rocks are dated at the Permian (-280 million years). It’s the result of a deposit in an aquatic environment of calm soft water. There can be seen ancient prints of Therapsides (in the Lieude).
Here and there you will find runs and basaltic chimneys, witnesses to ancient volcanic activities, but intense. br>
Textual source+image: Wikipedia
- Clermont l’Hérault
This fortified castle dating from feudal times occupies a strategic position on the "Pioch Castel", a plateau which dominates on one side the Herault valley and on the other side the gap through which passes the Bedarieux road.
The construction of this imposing fort is usually attributed to the first known member of the Guilhem family mentioned in 1130 as being the ruling lord of Clermont. It’s one of the most important and best preserved feodal castles in the Languedoc.
Its history: Lodève was the capital of a Volque tribe (the Lutevani), then become the Roman city of Luteva (known under the name of Forum Neronis). The oppidum of Luteva constitutes on the population centres of the Celtic Mediterranean. The city is raised to the rank of Latin colony. It is one of the stopover towns on the route of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle by the road of Arles. This city, Episcopalian until the Revolution, is one of the Royal textile centres under Louis XV and one of the only royal tapestry manufacturers, the other being the Gobelins Manufacture in Paris..
Monuments touristic places
* The cathedral of Saint-Fulcran of Lodève of the XIIIth century.
* The Museum of Fleury (native home of the Cardinal Fleury). This municipal museum, installed in the Hotel de Fleury where resided the ancient minister of Louis XV, is composed of an archiological and mineralogical part as well as a section dedicated to the Fine Arts. It is thus used to exhibit a private collection, comprised of paintings by Caillebotte, Coubet, Maurice de Vlamninck... It possesses an important number of works from Paul Dardé. Every summer there are organised painting exhibitions.
* The moment to the dead pacifists created by the sculptor Paul Dardé.
* The Dardé Halle, early 19th
* The carpet manufacture of the Savonnerie, part of the National Furniture.
* The ancient Episcopalian palace and the actual Hôtel de Ville.
* The façade of the hôtel de la Paix, renovated as in the early 1900s
* The church Saint Pierre of neoclassic style with triangular fronton on the face and cupola at the transept crossing.
* The Temple of Tibetan Buddhism inaugurated in 2008 by the Dalai Lama is also found in the Lodève.
Textual Source +image: Wikipedia