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About the book
This guidebook describes the nature and wildlife of the Cévennes National Park, Grands Causses Regional Park and adjacent areas in southern France.
- Landscape history
- Flora and Fauna
- Where to watch birds
- Finding orchids and other wildflowers
- 19 detailed routes with observation tips and 5 site descriptions
About the region
In the south-eastern part of the Central Massif in France lie the Cévennes and Grands Causses; a remote and mountainous region of great natural beauty. The mountains are covered in forest, mixed with extensive mountain heathlands, limestone grasslands, secluded river valleys and Mediterranean scrublands, thus creating a pleasantly varied landscape. Deep, rocky gorges (such as the famous Gorge du Tarn) add a drama to the landscape. The spectacle continues underground, where vast cave systems quarry into the bedrock – all in all the Cévennes and Grands Causses are one of the more spectacular regions of France.
The most striking feature of the Cévennes is the unspoilt of the landscape. Cultivated land is limited to the surroundings of the –highly picturesque- medieval villages. The poor schist and limestone soils have never been suitable for much else but grazing sheep or growing chestnuts, which explains the low population density and abundance of natural wealth in this region. In the Cévennes, you can spend days driving the narrow and winding roads or walking the many old stony tracks through completely unspoilt and rugged mountains.
Flowers, birds and butterflies
As may be expected in such a region, the flora is spectacular. With its toes in the Mediterranean and its head reaching up to a chilly 1,700 metres, the Cévennes mountains support a highly diverse mixture of wildflowers. The months of May and June are particularly beautiful, when the thin soils of the limestone grasslands come into bloom and display large numbers of Pasque flowers, rockroses, lilies and orchids. In summer, butterflies appear in abundance. The Cévennes and Grands Causses rank amongst the richer areas of France in terms of butterfly species.
One of the biggest attractions of the Cévennes is the large number of Griffon and Black Vultures that breed in the cliffs and forests respectively. These majestic birds accompany you on many of your walks. Other birds of interest are Golden Eagles, Citril Finches, Rock Sparrows and Ortolan Buntings- again a mixture of Mediterranean and Alpine species.
All in all, the Cévennes and Grands Causses have a high concentration of interesting sites, a wealth of flora and fauna against a backdrop of some of the most stunning scenery in France. It is therefore not surprising that so many naturalists have lost their hearts to the Cévennes.
The Crossbill Guide to the Cévennes and Grands Causses (2009) provides a beautifully illustrated and detailed guide to this fascinating region. Carefully selected itineraries allow you to discover the area at your own pace. A trip to the Cévennes can conveniently be combined with a visit to the wetlands of nearby Camargue, which is covered in the Crossbill Guide to the Camargue, Crau and Alpilles (currently in revision). Alternatively, you can go west to the French Pyrenees or east to the Vercors and Alps, or to the Provence.