What to see in the Grands Causses Park, the must-see sites and landscapes.

by | Oct 8, 2023

The historic Grands Causses region is largely known for its breath-taking nature. With this circuit we invite you to discover the Grands Causses Regional Park’s must-see sites.

The Causses are a series of limestone plateaus separated by rivers that run along impressive gorges surrounded by magnificent landscapes. This was a prehistoric refuge for wild horses and many species of vulture which like to glide along the cliff-faces, the region has an astoundingly diverse wildlife heritage. On the Causses, nature’s treasures are hidden, both under the ground in caverns formed by the effects of time and water erosion, and on the surface in the forests of the Causse Noir.

Walking on the Causse Méjean

Of the Grands Causses Regional Park, the Causse Méjean is one of Europe’s largest limestone plateaus. This spectacular landscape is marked by vast dry meadows, craggy rock formations, deep gorges and dense forests. The fauna and flora are exceptional, with many rare and protected species such as the Egyptian vulture, red kite, mouflon, wolf and the Montpellier maple. The Causse Méjean also has its own historic and cultural heritage, with picturesque villages, dolmens and menhirs as well as signs of human occupation dating as far back as the Stone Age. This region’s wealth of biodiversity and culture make it a preferred destination for hikers and nature lovers.

Start your hiking tour of the Causse Méjean with Villaret where you will discover a most unexpected form of wildlife: Przewalski’s horse. This species of wild horse is due to return to the Mongolian steppe, they roam almost freely on the Méjean where the climate is quite similar to that of Mongolia. The herd includes around 25 animals, and you can observe them from the edge of their enclosure.

Continue your discovery of the Causse with the Aven Armand, a genuine underground wonder listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. One of France’s most beautiful caverns, you will find this ‘aven” and its forms to be full of the unexpected. Visitors descend almost 200 metres by cable car, and then walk for an hour, in the company of a guide, to reach the cavern and enjoy the sound and light show that brings life to the stalagmites.

Stop by the Spéléo Café when you get back to the top. This restaurant on the Causse Méjean is located just opposite the Aven Armand, it is a welcoming place for lunch, a quick snack or just a drink.

Observing vultures in the Jonte Gorges

Then you should set off for Meyrueis to reach the Jonte Gorges, a true canyon which separates the Causse Noir from the Causse Méjean. Take the road that descends into the gorges and discover the splendid landscapes along the way.

The river Jonte loses itself in the vegetation as it makes its way between the cliff faces offering impressive views: the Roc St Gervais which dominates the landscape, the village of Maynial, perched over the water, the Sèvres and Chine ‘vases’ which are ideal nesting spots for many birds.

At one of the bends you will be able to get to the Vulture House (Maison des Vautours). This museum was designed to fit into the rocks of the cliff-face that towers above it, it presents an opportunity to learn a lot about these majestic birds. You will discover the story of their re-introduction into the region, and learn about their physiology, and get to see them fly for real thanks to the site’s telescopes.

Walking on the Causse Noir

Finish your descent of the Jonte Gorge at the village of Rozier, for something to eat or drink before setting off to discover the Causse Noir. This limestone plateau is very different to the Méjean, it is covered with black pine which is where it gets its name from. To discover the Causse Noir in an afternoon, take the road through the forest that leads to the Cité de Pierres. This accessible site proposes a one-day pass for less than €9 with which you can discover the Causse and its landscapes economically using its signposted and secure walking trails.

If you want to get a better look at this ruiniform chaos we recommend that you take the miniature train that crosses the site from which you can admire the most striking rock formations. Hikers might prefer to walk on the site’s signposted trails and discover all of the sites nooks and crannies.

Walking on the Causse Rouge

The Causse Rouge sits between the Tarn and Muse valleys, it stands out by its notable reddish colour which gives it almost unworldly appearance. The colour comes from the soil’s high iron content which reacts with oxygen to form this particular shade of red. Discovering the Causse Rouge is an unforgettable experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

If you have a little time left you can walk along the signposted trails to discover the varied landscapes including rock fields, arid plateaux, sudden cliff-faces and lush green valleys. The region’s perched villages give an idea of the local culture, with Roman churches, medieval chateaus and traditional farmsteads At the foot of the Causse you can stop at the village of Peyre to admire the spectacular views over the sudden cliff-faces and the Causse Rouge plateaus.

Article rédigé par

Joséphine Besson