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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


The Cévennes 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.

Other local attractions include an excellent scenic steam railway and La Bambouseraie, a botanical garden devoted, as its name suggests, entirely to bamboo.

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 house.  

There are restaurants scattered across the area, from historic droving inns to Michelin recommended restaurants, with some good-value places locally.

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.

Le 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 October.

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.  





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