Gorges of the Cévennes

The Cévennes Bike Trips (the Massif Central)

On this page, you will find...

If you would like to see a map of our different French routes, it is here.
And, for a comparison of our Cevennes route with our other French trips, see here.


France’s least accessible region is almost unknown to foreigners, and only a vague idea to the French themselves.  It is our favorite.

Dramatic moors and gorges, pristine rivers and forests, and villages built of the stone cut from the surrounding mountains, astonish all who reach them.  Imagine the Grand Canyon on the scale of Nova Scotia or the Cotswolds, and you will have an idea of what awaits you.

More varieties of local honey in the country store than there are cars on the road in a day.  Chestnuts just off the tree, goat cheese from the farm you just passed, and every wild mushroom flavor your dinner salad.  Duck, lamb and fresh trout pulled from the rushing streams offer alternate flavors.

This is a ride through the France of our (or their) forebears, through a world your children are unlikely to ever see, in any country.  Profit from it since you can — you will never forget that you did.


The following trips visit the Cévennes:



Roman Roads
(4 weeks)
Crosses the south of France (Bordeaux & the Dordogne, the Cévennes, Provence), and continues to Tuscany.

Tour de France
(3 weeks)
Visits the Cévennes plus two other French regions

Rivers & Canyons
(2 weeks)
Visits Bordeaux & the Dordogne followed by the Cévennes

Gorges of the Cévennes follows this itinerary exclusively.
Departure dates and prices are in the table, below.

 


Our Cycle Trips

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Departure Calendar
of our scheduled trips


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or...
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What's Included
...
...in the Trip Cost


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Other Trips We Offer

 

Day-by-Day Itinerary:  The Cévennes

Special note:  the isolation of this route means that most dinners are taken at the inn, often the only option in town. Quality doesn't suffer, but your freedom to wander off on your own for a dinner “away from the group” is limited.
Day of the Week
Description
Typical distances, in km
Friday
TRAVEL to SOUILLAC — “Access Package
For guests starting their cycle trips with the Cévennes itinerary, a pre-trip hotel night is included in the “Access Package,” either in Paris or in Souillac.

Souillac is a pleasant town on the banks of the Dordogne river, with lots to see, an attractive pedestrian center, and especially one of France’s oldest abbeys.  We recommend the night there, since this puts you where you need to be to join the trip on Saturday.  But an option exists to spend the night in Paris, and travel to Souillac by early train on Saturday.

Half Baggage
Travel to the trip
Saturday
Our Cévennes itinerary meets at midday, at the Souillac train station.

SOUILLAC - ROCAMADOUR
Our ride begins in the Dordogne Valley.  Pedal along the river, past the castle at La Treyne, and the Grottes (caves) de Lacave.  Carenac is one of the valley’s most beautiful towns.  Since the tour bus crowd is too out of shape to chuff up to the old village, you can enjoy a stroll in relative peace.

We leave the valley and come to the Gouffre de Padirac, one of the world’s most spectacular holes in the ground, though nothing at all like the New York subway.  Pastoral biking, ending with a climb to the Causse de Gramat.

Rocamadour, our destination, is a vertical town where public transport is provided by elevators and dead saints made of stone wander around performing miracles.

Half Baggage
25 - 70 k
Sunday
The LOT VALLEY
Morning to visit Rocamadour.  After lunch, a train carries us south to the Lot Valley.  Marathoners can skip all or part of the train to tack on extra k.

Stop in Figeac, to watch the
Travel Section crowd “antique” (who made that a verb?).

Then up the valley (the flattest riding you’ll see - don’t get used to it).  A quiet lane follows picturesque river banks... stop for café in each of the infrequent villages.  If you want some hill work, detour to beautiful Conques, where religious artifacts dispute center stage with ice-cream-and-post-card shops.  Night in a village along the valley.
50 - 125 k
Monday
The UPPER LOT
On up the Lot Valley on a beautiful road.  A quartet of pretty towns line our route, each with its own château.  Entraygues (“between the waters” in the local Langue d’Oc), sits prettily on a point of land between two rivers.  Estaing is the family seat of the former French president of the same name, and his brother was long mayor of the village.  Espalion pleases with tall tanner’s houses lining the river, and with aligot, a mashed potato and cheese concoction that has inspired more than one religious vocation.  St-Côme still has its medieval wall in place, and a beautiful hidden village inside.

The day ends with an absolutely impossible ride up a mountain.  Then 10 k looping down, through a chestnut forest.  You earned them!
75 k
Tuesday
The CAUSSE de la SAUVETERRE
Only two hills today, but each lasts half the day.  Oh well.  Consequently one of our prettiest days, and an introduction to two new types of scenery.  The causses, represented on today’s menu by the Causse de la Sauveterre:  a limestone plateaux swept by wind and grazed by sheep.  Also the spectacular Gorges created by the inevitable action of water on limestone.

Our night is spent at the bottom of a canyon that there is no point in describing:  you wouldn’t believe us, anyway.
55 k
Wednesday
GORGES du TARN, GORGES de la JONTE
Down the Tarn Gorge and up the Jonte Gorge.  This ride is simply amazing.  Villages built into the sides of the cliffs, vultures circling high overhead or nesting in the overhanging rocks, Bigfoot... you name it, it’s out here.  Even a climatic change between the two gorges.  Narrow roads where barely a car passes, delightfully peaceful.  And the terrain lets up, relatively speaking.

Meyrueis, our base for the next two nights, was a Protestant stronghold during the wars of religion, and commemorates the era by burning itself down every few years.  We just made that last part up.

Half Baggage
55 delightful k
Thursday
MEYRUEIS LOOP, GORGES of the TREVEZEL
Another of our favorite days, anywhere.  First up to the Causse Noir, and then along the Gorges du Trévezel, on a tiny lane in a pristine valley.  Cantobre sits on top of a column of rock, looking out over a confluence of canyons.  An en route restaurant only opens if you call ahead to reserve.  You can seek out lavender extract from a farm up on the Causse or ewe’s cheese from the local farms.

On the way home, visit the spectacular chambers of the Grottes de Dargilan.  Then coast back to Meyrueis, for an evening of shuttling between the town’s hot spots:  the crêperie and the bakery.  Sit on a terrace and watch the girl go by.

Half Baggage
70 k for our suggested loop
Friday
The CAUSSE MÉJEAN, FLORAC
Start with a climb onto the Causse Méjean, to visit the Aven Armand:  a giant underground cavern with the world’s largest known stalagmite.  Lunch can be had at a local farm, which makes its own jam, preserves its own mushrooms, raises its own cattle....

Then across the causse and down to Florac.  The scenes from the top of the mountain look more like Utah than like anyone’s image of France.

Florac is a regional center, where an exhibition hall outlines the work of the National Park, and the oh-so-different French approach to conservation.  Lots of fun pictures of otters, too.  Evening at the base of our last Cévenol hill.
50 k
Saturday
The LAND of the CAMISARDS, train to NIMES
More chestnuts, honey, tiny towns, goat herds and stunning views.  Yawn.  Pont de Montvert was home to France’s most important Protestant rebellion, and to Robert Stevenson’s donkey.

We return to civilization today.  Cycle out of the hills and to the railroad.  An hour on a country local brings us to the ancient Roman town of Nimes, in the Gard.  Some will continue their cycle odysseys, others will bid farewll to their metal steeds.

Half Baggage

Our post-trip Access Packages” presume the night in Nimes, which we recommend, as it allows you to complete the full biking day at a relaxed pace, and to spend the evening wandering among the Roman ruins of one of France’s best-preserved towns.

It is, however, possible to catch an evening TGV to Paris or Barcelona, if you prefer, or need to for an early flight the next day.  See the “Access Package” description for details.
55 k
Sunday
TRAVEL DAY
Those flying out head for the airport, to Paris or Barcelona, or on to your next biking week....

Gorges of the Cévennes — Facts & Figures
2018 Dates
Baggage Services Offered*
(optional)
Difficulty of the Ride
May 12 - 19
$2,250 US
$2,775 C
1,695€
Daily, Half

Challenging

The incredible views are at the cost of real climbs, and back-ups are poor.   Don’t start your trip here if you're new to biking, or if you hate climbing.  However, this is an idyllic 2nd week, even for newcomers.  You have all day to do each ride, as there are few “attractions” of the interesting city variety.  Just France’s most gorgeous scenery, beautiful villages, rural châteaux....

The isolation of this route makes it different from our others.  Back-up trains are rare, and shortening a day may require a rural taxi (yes, each village has one).  Budget 50€ to dodge a big hill or bad weather, and spend it on sheepskin slippers when you don't need to.

Later dates TBD
Follow this link to help choose them
Daily, Half
* Prices in $ and € do not include precisely the same things.  Click here for details.

Prices of Optional Extras (links lead to explanations)
Currency
$ prices include
the bike.
See here for information on bringing your own.
** At least 4 riders must subscribe to a given baggage service for it to operate. The services listed are those currently offered on the departure in question.  Services which appear in bold already have at least 3 subscribers (so, one more would ensure their operation).
Daily
Half
$US
$496
$158
$410
$C
$610
$190
$498
€uros
420€
130€
340€
190€

Reaching & Leaving Your Trip:  General Information on Access Packages
Specific information on reaching your trip’s start in... Souillac
Specific information on departing from your trip’s end... Nimes