CIRQUE DE NAVACELLES - LODEVE - PAYS VIGANAIS
Nature in all its glory
WHY VISIT THIS TOP OCCITANIA SITE?
- Cirque de Navacelles, an ecological and geological gem that is also approved as a French Grand Site.
- The agropastoral landscape of the Causses & Cévennes listed as UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity.
- Lodève, Ville d’Art et d’Histoire on the Santiago de Compostela routes.
- The pretty towns of Ganges and Vigan.
CIRQUE DE NAVACELLES
What a sight!
The sight of the Cirque de Navacelles from the Blandas or Baume-Auriol belvederes is breath-taking. This 300m deep canyon is unique in Europe and caused by the crumbling of limestone plateaus and desertion of one of the bends in the Vis. The river found a more direct route by creating a huge waterfall that you can see in the hamlet of Navacelles. The Rocher de la Vierge, known as "the oyster rock", looms out of a green oasis in the centre of the cirque. What a contrast after going through the expansive arid Causses du Larzac, Blandas and Campestre!
Park at the site centre car parks. On-site: exhibitions, films, local food shop, restaurants, tourist information, free guided tours and a shuttle bus in summer to the centre of the cirque.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
At the Cirque de Navacelles
Go down to Navacelles to see the mule path bridge, waterfall and Notre-Dame Chapel ruins. Walk to La Foux mills and the Vis River's resurgence: spectacular! The Gorges de la Vis surround the site and run from Vissec to Madières on the lookout for orchis orchids, golden eagles and Eurasian otters. Terraced farms, vineyards, olive orchards and megaliths on the causses appear among cliffs and dolomites. And myriad local agropastoral heritage: droveways, troughs, "clapas" stone walls, drystone huts and farms.
Visit producers to buy Lucques olives, Pélardons, Vis trout, wine from the Larzac terraces, Vigan apples, Cévennes AOC sweet onions and more.
IN THE REALM OF GREEN TRANSPORT
On foot, horseback, donkey or electric bike: 300km of signposted trails are yours. Hit top trails such as the Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert trail or Tour du Larzac Méridional loop. Or go for one of 20 loops ranging from 2.6 to 17km available all year and near to an array of outdoor activities.
You can even treat yourself to a car-free nature getaway taking 3 days with a combination of public transport, walking and cycling!
Turn a corner and you'll stumble upon La Prunarède fortified farm, Saint-Michel-d’Alajou well and the old Saint-Pierre-de-la-Fage windmill.
GANGES, LE VIGAN OR LODÈVE
Choose your gateway
25km from the Cirque de Navacelles, Le Vigan stands proud with its Vieux Pont bridge, Château d’Assas, mansions and the Musée Cévenol museum in a former silk factory. East of Navacelles, a maze of streets and lanes characterises Ganges, the former capital of luxury lingerie with a thriving market. Episcopal city, textile centre and cultural town: Lodève in the south will enthral you with Saint-Fulcran Cathedral, Bishop's Palace, Halle Dardé and one of the last apothecaries in the Hérault still standing.
Dive into a cultural melting pot
In the Hôtel du Cardinal de Fleury, the expanded and renovated Musée de Lodève takes you back in time with its permanent collections presented in a new light: traces of life on Earth for 540 million years, mankind from the Neolithic period and the mark Paul Dardé's made in sculpture.
Visit Lodève's Manufacture Nationale de la Savonnerie weaving incredible rugs and also home to local artisans and potters from Vacquerie, Campestre and Le Vigan.
The Cirque de Navacelle is in South-East Occitania, 1.5 hrs from Montpellier, 3 hrs from Toulouse and near the A75 from Paris to the Mediterranean.
- By car: from the south, take junction 49 or 52 to the Baume Auriol belvedere. From the north, take junction 48 to the Blandas belvedere.
- By train: from Montpellier or Nîmes station, take the bus in summer (from 1 €/person with Hérault Transport and 1.50 € with Edgard).
- By plane: from Montpellier Méditerranée, Nîmes Garons or Béziers Cap d'Agde Airports.