The Languedoc-Roussillon region is made up of the Aude, Herault, Gard, Pyrenees Orientales and Lozère departments. The region is officially the sunniest in France, and the miles of long sandy beaches offer the perfect place to enjoy the sunshine. Bordered by the Spanish Pyrenees and the Massif Central to the North, this region has a diverse landscape offering a host of activities and pastimes. Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine-growing area in the world, and is known as a popular haven for those seeking peace and tranquillity.
Lozère is the perfect department within Languedoc-Roussillon for those visitors wishing to avoid the tourist-traps of the coastline. As France's least populated department, Lozère offers its visitors the closest thing to traditional French living. The northernmost department of Languedoc-Roussillon, it has a population of just 130,000.
Lozère is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. The most famous inhabitant of the area was the legendary Beast of Gévaudan. Between 1764 and 1767 more than one hundred young people were brutally murdered by this mysterious beast, causing King Louis XV to send a trained hunter to put a stop to the slaughter. The marksman consequently hunted and killed a wolf, yet the murders continued. In 1767 Jean Chastel from Saint-Flour killed a beast with consecrated bullets, although to this day the true nature of this 'beast' remains a mystery, and is the root of several local legends.
Lozère was the setting for the young Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey, published in 1879.
Average Temperature in Lozère
|Period ||Celsius |
|January-March ||12 |
|April-June ||21 |
|July-September ||27 |
|October-December ||17 |
The department of Lozère is bordered on all sides by land, but the wider region of Languedoc-Roussillon has an extremely popular coastline boasting wonderful sandy beaches. While these attractions are some distance from the department of Lozère, the journey is well worth it for a day-trip to the beautiful Mediterranean coast.
Considering the famous mystery of the Beast of Gévaudan, it is hardly surprising that the modern tourist can still find the remnants of the local legend today. The Parc du Gevaudan is situated in the north of Lozère, and was built by a local wolf enthusiast with a fascination with these ancient creatures. The park is home to around one hundred wolves, which once roamed wild through the local forests.
Also in the North of Lozère lies the town of Chateauneuf-de-Randon. In 1380 one of the great battles of the hundred years war took place here. With a typically French feel, and largely unaffected by tourism, this town offers fabulous and unspoiled views over the Margeride plateau and is well worth a visit.
The region of Lozère offers a wealth of medieval architecture, its many castles testifying to the influence of the baronies of the Middle Ages. Some of the best surviving and most beautiful citadels include Randon, Tournel, Peyre and Florac. If you're looking for culture, history and architecture, you need look no further than these fascinating remnants of Lozère's past.
Lozère is the ideal place for outdoor family activity. Medieval Saint-Enime is one of the towns located around the Gorges du Tarn, and provides both a fascinating cultural visit and an exciting opportunity to canoe and hike in the area. The Gorges du Tarn is a magnificent natural attraction, but do be aware that public transport here is virtually non-existent. Travelling by car is the most convenient and straightforward way to access this beautiful part of Lozère.
If you or your children love wildlife, then Lozère is the ideal place for you. The Vulture Observation Centre, or Le Belvédère des Vautours, in Tripiers is a guaranteed hit with children. See the many different species; the colony where they have been reintroduced to the area; view their natural habitat and learn about their history in the region. Alternatively you can discover a herd of European bison living on a preserved 200-hectare site near Sainte Eulalie! The site is part of a plan to preserve this endangered species, and visitors can choose between a horse-drawn carriage tour (or sleds in winter!) lasting around 50 minutes, or a 1km pedestrian trail.
Another great family option is the mini-train ride to the Boisset farm, which departs from Saint-Enimie. A guided tour around the site takes you to a viewpoint overlooking the magnificent Tarn Gorges, and you can also visit the bighorn sheep enclosure and an archaeological exhibition.
Food and Drink
The 'tomme' cheeses of southern France are traditionally made from untreated milk, straight from the cow. One of the varieties of these rustic cheeses is the Lozère Tomme, which should of course be sampled by any discerning visitor to the region!
While the department may be the sunniest in France, Lozère nonetheless boasts almost 400 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails, over 30 kilometres of pistes, and 20 ski lifts for downhill skiing, not to mention the popular options of snowshoe excursions and dog-sledding. The unspoilt pistes will appeal to skiers who prefer resorts with a traditional feel, especially if visitors make the most of the many friendly mountain hostels.
The landscape of the region is diverse, and the gorges offer an ideal location for walkers of all ages and abilities. Why not stroll up to the small village of Runes in the heart of the National Park of the Ceyennes, where you can find the Runes waterfalls, or the 30m high Deroc falls in Aubrac? Alternatively, local guides offer tourists a host of walking tours spread over several days. With 2000 kilometres of long-distance hiking trails, the options for walkers and hikers are plentiful.
Walking, canoeing and hiking aren't the only options in Lozère. Why not make the most of the 400km of marked mountain bike trails in the Margeride area, or follow the trail through the beautiful Cevennes National Park? Those looking to enjoy some peaceful fishing will be in their element in Lozère, with its ten fishing rivers and numerous lakes, this department is ideal for anglers. Alternatively you could enjoy one of the many watersports acitivites available in the rivers and gorges of the area. Whether you prefer rafting, canyoning, tubing, water trails or kayaking, the Chassezac, Tarn, Lot and Allier rivers have everything to get you started.
The Lot Valley is the perfect place to visit if your passion lies in French wines. Here you will find vineyards originally constructed by the English in the Hundred Years War, producing wines that have been the chosen favourites of kings and popes throughout history.
Ease of Access
Though the relatively low level of tourism is undoubtedly one of Lozère's charms, it does make access to the department a little difficult. The nearest airports for flights direct from the UK are in Rodez and Nimes, though there is a much larger airport at Montpellier. Alternatively, the quick and comfortable TGV runs from Calais to Paris and from here to Nimes. For access to the tourist spots and attractions, it is definitely advisable to hire a car if you want to make the most of the area with ease.
Lozère is perfect for outdoor activities, wildlife and water sports, and offers a peaceful and tranquil option for those wishing to enjoy typical French living while making the most of the many exciting opportunities the region has to offer.