The Cevennes National Park is located in southern France, in the mountainous area of Cévennes. Created in 1970, the park has its administrative seat in Florac at Florac Castle. It is located mainly in the départements of Lozère and Gard, and covers some parts of Ardèche and Aveyron. The Aven Armand cave is located in the park.
This is an area of stunning natural beauty so it’s little wonder that it attracts so many visitors each year. In fact, it’s widely regarded as one of the best national parks in the country and a must see if you’re in the south of France.
But since this national park spans such a large area, one could be forgiven for not knowing where to start when exploring. Our guide on what to do and see at the Cevennes National Park as well as a whole host of useful information will serve as a great starting point to this breathtaking area.
What is Cevennes National Park?
The Cevennes national park is located in the south of France and stretches past the south east of Lozere as well as north past Gard.
The highest point of the park is a whopping 1699 metres at the summit of Mont Lozere and from this vantage point, you can see the untouched landscape that’s dotted with beautiful bodies of water, wildlife, valleys and so much more.
Read our Guide: What are French National Parks
But long before the area became a national park, there are stories to be told. The Cevennes national park was once the site of much bloodshed during the Camisard revolts. There are towns and villages within the region with exhibitions dedicated to the memory of this time.
What is the Cevennes National Park famous for?
The Cévennes National Park is the only wooded large National Park in mainland France and hosts many different species of trees. Over 1,500 sq km of forest (half deciduous, half coniferous) cover its central zones. Two-thirds of the trees are species native to the region and one-third are introduced species.
The huge variety of flora in the Park (2,300 species identified since 1820) is encouraged by its climactic diversity (oceanic, continental and Mediterranean); the chemical composition of its soils; and by its altitude range – from 378m to 1,699m.
Fauna in Cevennes National Park
The fauna is hugely diverse, with over 2,400 species. Mediterranean, Continental and Alpine species are all found here, as are species from forest, steppe and rock habitats, and those linked to humid environments.
The fauna consists of 70 species of mammals (more than 50% of the total in France), 195 species of bird (including 135 breeding species), 16 species of amphibians, 15 species of reptiles, 23 species of fish and over 2,000 species of invertebrates (including 1,824 of insects).
When Should I visit Cevennes National Park?
Cevennes national park is stunning no matter what time of year you visit. However, if you head out during the spring and summer months you will be treated to a display of more than 1700 flowering plants, which is great for nature lovers.
When you visit will depend on what activities you’re looking to get involved in. For example, the best time to kayak in Cevennes is in the early spring or at the back end of autumn as the rivers are much higher.
Keep in mind that in the height of summer, it can get very hot in the valleys so if you’re planning things like biking or hiking, this might not be the best time to visit. However, summer is a great time for people looking to take part in activities such as paragliding.
Things to do at Cevennes National Park
Get Out On The Water
The Cevenne is home to a lot of water based activities and there’s something for everyone. Kayaking is a great choice for people of all experience levels as there are different courses you can take.
Starting from hitting a 3km rapids course through to a more intense 12km course, you can enjoy the scenery from the water while giving yourself a challenge. As well as kayaking, the day excursions offer time to chill out on the water’s edge, have a picnic and take some snaps.
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If you like something a little more relaxed then there’s no need to head to the white water. There are canoeing opportunities at Ardeche that are much more laid back and the perfect way to spend a summer’s afternoon.
More than a century before this area became a national park, famous author Robert Louis Stevenson had trekked across the rugged landscape with his donkey. There is now a hiking trail dedicated to his memory that is also a hot spot for mountain bikers.
You’ll find beautiful chestnut forests, open fields and lots of interesting paths here which are perfect for adventurers.
Since the Cevennes national park is so vast, it won’t surprise you to learn that there are thousands of miles of hiking trails just waiting to be discovered. There are lots of limestone outcrops, old buildings and beautiful countryside along the way.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging then the GR67 trail is a lengthy 130mk, ideal for a multi day hike. For something less intense, why not hike between the many quaint hamlets and get chatting to the locals?
Are you feeling adventurous? Then the paragliding opportunities at Cevennes will be right up your street. There are many to choose from but we’d recommend one of the four take off zones in La Serrane.
There’s also a paragliding school for newcomers and if you need transport to the take off zones, this can also be arranged so everything is covered.
One of the great things about Cevennes is that it is a rock climbers paradise thanks to the heavy limestone presence and granite pinnacles.
Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned climber, there are things for you to get your teeth into. The best spot is at the Gorges du Chassezac where you’ll find more than a hundred climbing routes with varying levels of difficulty.
If you want something that’s a little more challenging then head to La Jonte where you’ll really be able to push your limits and develop your skills. However, this area does get quite busy during peak season so be prepared for a crowd.
Alternatively, you might enjoy the many canyoning opportunities at Cevennes which combine skills from caving, climbing and kayaking so it’s great if you want to explore different techniques. There is so much to discover here including abseiling and even high jumps at Tapoul Gorge.
There are a lot of tourist companies offering canyoning trips and there’s something for everyone. If you just want to test the water, then you have the option to book a two hour adventure whereas there are also day trips for something more intense.
For families, Via Ferrata is a must visit attraction within the Cevennes National Park. Here, you’ll be able to challenge yourself in the maze of ladders, bridges, steel cables and other obstacles. There are five courses to choose from and these vary in their difficulty and intensity.
For example, the Via Ferrata de Rousses is a short course that’s moderately difficult and is great for families. There are two routes here to further split intensity.
You might opt for the courses at Via Ferrata de Roqueprin where you’ll have amazing views of the landscape and the chance to try out one of the more difficult routes that includes a zip line. And you’ll need to zip down considering you’re 800 feet above sea level!
Should You Visit Cevennes National Park?
If you’re looking for an unspoilt paradise where you can get stuck into a lot of outdoor activities then there aren’t many other places better than Cevennes national park. Whether you want a gentle hike or want to take to the skies for a spot of paragliding and everything in between, this is the perfect location for adventurers of all ages.
What are the Cevennes mountains?
More than a mountain chain, the Cevennes are an assembly of many-sided open spaces. The summits are made up of a succession of slightly undulating plateaux, sometimes green like the Mont Aigoual or markedly flat as on the Mont Lozere between Le Bleymard and Le Pont de Montvert.
This is the centre of the National Park. The western part of these high grounds slope gently downwards on either side of a dividing line of water originating at the extreme end of the Mont Lozere, on the crests of Jalcreste and Minier.
The countryside opens out over the vast limestone spaces that are called the Causses.
Below these bare surfaces, the Mediterranean side is hollowed out by deep and narrow valleys (les valats), dominated by crests and swept by the force of the torrents of the Cevennes.
Before re-joining the Languedoc plain, the southern valleys widen and transform under the influence of the Mediterranean.
In 2011, the Causses–Cevennes was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the category of cultural and living landscapes.
Discovering Cevennes National Park
The Eco-Museums (a networks of sites) enable you to discover the natural and cultural heritage of the Park, by providing a coherent set of visitor sites and discovery trails.
The Mont Lozère Eco-Museum hosts a permanent exhibition at Le Pont-de-Montvert that retraces the natural and human history of the mountain. This is an excellent introduction to discovering the vernacular hamlets, historical monuments and trails of the area.
Walking in the park
The National Park is crossed by several linear long-distance hiking trails and local circular routes (Aigoual, Cévenol valleys, Causse Méjean and Mont Lozère).
There are nearly 300 short walking paths, signposted by local authorities in partnership with the Park. 28 discovery trails, and horse-riding, cross-country skiing and mountain bike tracks complete the picture.