inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Man Working for Nature

The Causses and Cévennes offer a wide variety of exceptional landscapes, the result of a long working relationship between man and nature. In this natural environment peoples of the Causse and Cévennes have always managed to work, farm and manage their herds in harmony with the land around them, creating this landscape over thousands of years.

There are four main areas:

• The Cévennes valleys, typically terraced, with schistose architecture and plant life harking back to the golden age of chestnut groves, and buildings from the silk-worm industry.

• The Aigoual and Lozère hills, with prairie domains, summer grazing by herds, and mountain forests, planted in the late 19th century and characterized by granite architecture.

• The Causses, limestone plateaux, shaped by centuries of farming and grazing, and an architectural heritage of both small buildings and monumental ensembles.

• The valleys and canyons, with terraced slopes

Larzac

Landscapes Shaped by History

The earliest traces of inhabitants in the region date back to prehistory. At the end of the Middle Ages, the expanding farming and pastoral economy have changed the landscape of the Causses considerably. It was the leadership of the Knights Templar and Hospitaller that brought real development to the Causse plateaus. Both Roquefort cheese and leather working in Millau are ancestral products that still give meaningful reputation to the area.

A second important period influencing the landscapes in the Cévennes began in more modern times and continued through the first half of the 19th century. The developing silk-worm industry made use of the innermost reaches of the valleys and required specialized silk-worm houses. After a century of decline, the Causses and Cévennes began a rural Renaissance In the 1970’s, and strived to protect the exceptional landscapes for future generations.

Pastoral activity

Farming and Livestock: Life's Source

The Causses and Cévennes are deeply marked by a long history of farming and pastoral activities that are still at the center of the local economy, today.

The ancient “drailles”, or livestock migration trails, still criss-cross the land like twine, uniting the Causses and Cévennes.

Thanks to the effort of various local groups and organisations, the Causses and Cévennes are living spaces. The prairies are maintained by grazing, the terraces farmed and the buildings are being restored and occupied by new generations of residents.

Architectural heritage

A Respected and Preserved Environment

In addition to farming and other rural activities, tourism, outdoor activities tourism in particular, is developing, exposing people to the area’s exceptional natural and cultural heritage.

Several organisations are at work preserving and promoting it. The architectural heritage, be it monumental or quite modest, is receiving particular attention. Many parcels are still intact, with Templar and Hospitaller boundary markers still indicating the old property lines. The lavogne watering holes, vaulted sheepfolds and cellars are still in use, the terraces are farmed and the paths are maintained.

Out of respect for authenticity, restorations use local materials (schist, granite, limestone and chestnut), and follow traditional building techniques.

With such an extraordinary heritage, the Causses and Cévennes people are committed and working hard to obtain the prestigious World Heritage title. It’s all about sharing this fabulous treasure with you and the world.

 Identity

- 5 “gateway” towns : Millau, Lodève, Mende, Alès, Ganges)
- 4 départements (Aveyron, Gard , Hérault, Lozère)
- 2 Régions (Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon)
- 134 communes make up the 3000 km2 of the area proposed for addition to the World Heritage list (the “core zone”)
- 97 communes in the buffer zone
- 231 communes au total and 6000 km2 of high lands in the south of the Massif Central, open towards the Mediterranean.

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