The Causses and Cévennes became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 in recognition of its unique "cultural landscape". You can see more about this here.
Le Vieux Mas itself is in a tiny rural hamlet, of fewer than half a dozen houses. It is set on a hillside in about an acre of garden, meadow and woodland, and so feels remote from all hustle and bustle. It is at the end of a tiny lane, so there is no passing traffic virtually no artificial light at night, and it is almost totally quiet. The house is about 10 minutes up a winding road from le Collet de Dèze, which is on the N106 half way between Alès and Florac, within the Cévennes National Park.
is a wonderful area for outdoor activities such as
walking, cycling and river-swimming. It has also become
popular for travelling accompanied by a donkey, following
the steps of Robert Louis Stevenson. There are many marked
footpaths, tracks and trails, and you can hire equipment
(or your animal of choice) locally. The local rivers are
lovely to swim in and you can also fish - permits are
available from a shop in the village (though Alex did not
have one for his early efforts pictured here). There are
tennis courts in le Collet de Dèze and table tennis and
table football at Le Vieux Mas. In the summer there are
many other activities and attractions, such as Forest
parc a tree-top "parcours".
There are many museums and similar in
the area, including the excellent Musée des Vallées Cévenoles, which shows
local life from times past, and the Musée
du Désert which tells of the Camisards and the
religious wars of the times.
|Collet de Dèze is a busy village,
with a post office (and cash point), tourist office, bar,
restaurant, baker, pharmacy and a good small supermarket
with local and fresh produce. There is no need to go
further to shop, although we generally do a big weekly
shop in Alès (about 40 minutes away), which
has banks, hypermarkets and all the facilities of a busy
town. Florac (pictured, and also about 40
minutes) is a smaller town at the head of the Gorges du
Tarn, and an attractive place with an attractive market
selling local produce. There are many other markets of
varying kinds within striking distance of the
In the wider area of the Cévennes, Causses and Gorges, there is more fine walking, canoe trips to be made on the rivers, prehistoric sites to visit, as well as some of France's finest caves. The nature is wonderful, with many wild flowers in spring (including endemics) and good birdwatching. There is more about much of this on the Cévennes National Park website.
Vieux Mas is also close to some of France's most
interesting and historic towns and sites, and the coast. Arles, where Van Gogh painted his
most famous works, has a fine Roman amphitheatre. Avignon
is a chic southern town with the papal palace (pictured)
well worth a visit. Montpellier, another gracious
city, has one of the best art galleries outside Paris. Nîmes
our nearest city, has many Roman remains and an
excellent new Roman Museum. Pont
du Gard is world famous, another World Heritage
site, and needs no introduction. Uzès is another attractive town
with one of the best markets in the region. Many of the
smaller towns are worth exploring too: for example Vézénobres
(just beyond Alès) is an attractive medieval hill town
and the French fig capital with a festival of figs each
For a contrast, the Camargue is also within easy reach. A still-fantastic wetland, you would not want to stay there, but it is within easy reach of Le Vieux Mas.
In fact all these places are between a 1 and 2 hours drive and so easy day trips.