September 17, 2013

Cevennes Mountains

Cevennes Mountains

The past two days have been full of amazingly beautiful riding through the Cevennes mountains, first from Florac to St Jean du Gard, the next day a loop ride from St. Jean du Gard to Col de Mercou and Col de l'Exil.

Double J, with double bikes ... his and mine. He met me enroute from Florac to St. Jean du Gard.

Double J and me as I left for St. Jean du Gard

I had the great pleasure of meeting Double J, who rode with me for most of a morning. It was a chilly (to me) misty day, but he rode west and met me on the road from Florac. He and his wife graciously offered me hot coffee and cookies in their warm kitchen. It was a wonderful experience to be able to learn something of the area, and ride on little picturesque roads that I would not have seen otherwise, with a knowledgeable resident!

Along the route which will lead to the Col de Marquairès

Near St. André de Valborgne

After visiting with them, I rode on to St. Jean du Gard.


Canyon on the Gardon River enroute to St. Jean du Gard

The next day I rode back into the Cévennes, to Col de Mercou and Col de l'Exil. The mountains are tree-covered in this region, with a topology that is hard to capture in a photograph, but important to the history and culture here.

The Cévennes

I believe the photographic difficulty lies in the way that a camera lens tends to flatten distances, making it hard to see that between higher ridges there can be many many lower ridges, with their ridgelines varying in direction sometimes north-south, but equally likely somethig different.

Road leading to Col de Mercou

Twisting valleys in the Cévennes

This means that it would be very difficult to find your way deep into the twisting valleys on foot, or horseback, unless the traveler knows them intimately. From many vantage points I have been able to look down, and imagine that it would (especially before modern travel with our planes and  cars) take generations to be truly familiar with the landscape.

Roads climbing up out of the valley

Important to the area's culture and history because the rugged terrain has traditionally provided a relatively safe place to various communities, including during the Wars of Religion to Protestants, who found shelter here, and a base from which to fight for their beliefs.

Climbing to Col de l'Exil

Later during WW2 the mountains were home to large numbers of organized resistors who fought fiercely against the fascists ... whether those fascists were German, or French.

These histories linger here, a part, it seems to me, of cultural memory.

My ride the following day took me back into the mountains, on a loop that crossed three cols (passes, in French.) The riding was never very steep, and my bike Papillon and I traveled faster without the weight of panniers, left behind in the lovely chambre d'hotes where I am staying.

This post should have links, and more history, but I need to get moving, so will add them after returning home. This morning I head to Nimes.

View Florac to St. Jean-du-Gard in a larger map



  1. Love starting my morning by reading your escapades. Now that you have tired me out, I am going back under the covers. Don't tire poor Papillon out.

    1. Then I guess it must be my job to stay here, and keep riding and writing, don't you think? Now if I can only get photos up onto this post.....

  2. Bonjour Suzan, voilà de biens beaux souvenirs enregistrés sur la toile !

    1. Bonjour Jean-Jacques,

      Merci ... J'ai des très bons et beaux souvenirs ... ça ne fait pas de doute!

      Et la toile, pour "web" ça, c'est un nouvel mot pour moi, et il me plâit.


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