MENDE, CŒUR DE LOZERE
The great outdoors have a tale to tell
Start with Saint-Privat Cathedralfounded by the region's very own Pope Urban V. Go up the 70m belltower with a guide from Mende Tourist Information: the views are incredible. Seek out beautiful mansionsnestled in the old town's lanes and squares: gaze at their fabulous doorways and stock up on the city's signature "croquants"(almond sablé biscuits). Continue to the banks of the Lot and soak up Notre-Dame Bridgethat has spanned the river since the Middle Ages.
Fork onto the D25 in Mende to climb up the Causse's terrible "Jalabert Ascent", a tribute to the cycling champion. Here you'll find an aerodromewhich starred in the final scene of French comedy La Grande Vadrouille.
In early July, Mende turns into the regional street theatre capital with the 48ede Rue Festival attracting over 50 companies and an incredible amount of IN and OFF performances.
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USING MENDE AS A BASE
The world is your oyster
Mende is a prime destination for bike tourism and mountain cycling ranging from family-friendly to sporty.
You'll also love walking or horse ridingon the hiking trails, motorcycling on the local roads or driving to visit Mende's nearby villages with character: Javols, Roman village; Marvejols, royal village on the edge of Aubrac; Châteauneuf de Randon, the fief of Du Guesclin, Chanacand its keep etc.
4 AREAS TO VISIT AROUND MENDE
Cévennes, Grands Causses, Aubrac, Margeride
Mende is at the core of everything that makes Lozère magical: its 4 natural regions. They each have their very own signature personalitiesand are partly listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites (the Causses and Cévennes). Step into the kingdom of the Cévennes National Park in the south. From the top of the Grands Causses, gaze at the Gorges du Tarn and Gorges de la Jonte. Aubrac in the north-west will make you feel like you're in Scotland. Explore the north-east's secret and unspoilt Margeridewith its hills and heaths.
Lozère is also great for exploring by motorbike. For example, hit "Route 48" starting in Mende and taking you to the Cévennes, Gorges du Tarn, Aubrac, Margeride and more.
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MENDE, CAPITAL OF GÉVAUDAN
What's the time Mr. Wolf? It's time to meet me!
Was a mystical creature actually a big wolf? We haven't forgotten the tale of the Beast of Gévaudan that scared the whole of France in the 18th century. Come to its native land and see the wolves living at the Loups du Gévaudan wildlife park in real life (and total safety) in Saint-Léger-de-Peyre (40 mins from Mende). Combi ticket available with the fabulous Bisons d’Europe wildlife park in Sainte-Eulalie (1 hr from Mende): visit by carriage in summer and sled in winter.
VALLON DU VILLARET
Play in a magical setting
Head towards Bagnols-les-Bains then Vallon du Villaret 25 mins from Mende. Whether you're sporty or allergic to exercise, you're going to love this theme park. Rope bridges, mysterious caves to make music with balls, watery fun with slides... the attractions at this one-of-a-kind French sitewere designed by graphic artists, poets and musicians. Everyone loves this park in the middle of the forest at the bottom of an old keep. A train and taxi ride from Mende.
Charpal Lakein the Margeride uplands supplies pure water to the city of Mende 40 mins away. A 9km trail runs around it. It's the biggest no-kill fishing site in France. You can fish for pike among others here.
Go green in Margeride?
What a great idea! If you like the great outdoors, nature and peace then Margerideis the place for you. The Margeride summits peak at 1000-1500m between Occitania and Auvergne 1 hr north of Mende. There are fabulous lakes and forests, heaths peppered with granite rocks and broom as well as wolves and bisons! Video 3 :19 © Lozère Tourisme.
Mende is the capital of Lozère north east of Occitania
By car: Mende is 25km from junction 39 on the A75 linking Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers. The N106 links it to Nîmes (140km) and the A9 (Spain-Paris).
By train: Mende train station. Intercités trains from Paris (change in Clermont-Ferrand). TER train from Nîme
By plane: Mende is 1.5 hrs from Rodez-Marcillac Airport and 2.5 hrs from Montpellier and Clermont-Ferrand Airports.